Cowboy Stuff: Wild Bunch Shooting Gear

The originators of Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) got the idea for shooting their next local IPSC match using their favorite single-action centerfire revolvers after seeing the classic Sam Peckinpah Western The Wild Bunch. This lead to today’s Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) and its latest “Wild Bunch” category, which allows shooters to use Colt M1911 pistols in .45 ACP as well as the Winchester 1897 pump shotgun. The latest change to Wild Bunch rules allows the use of Winchester Model 12 pump shotguns, as at least one of the movie’s Wild Bunch members was using a Model 12 during the aborted bank robbery. So let us take a look at a holster, custom Colt 1911 grips and a terrific new Cold Steel Bowie knife that are all perfect for Wild Bunch competitions.

Old West Reproductions

Rick Bachman of Florence, Montana, lost his job approximately 38 years ago. A collector of original Western frontier leather, he decided to produce top-quality copies of a few of his holsters and gun belts. The demand for his exacting copies was such that he never went back to another job. His leather goods are made of top-grade cowhide from the Herman Oak Tannery in St. Louis, Missouri. Bachman’s company, Old West Reproductions, takes pride in producing the same quality gun leather as would have been available from an early frontier saddle-maker.

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For Wild Bunch competitions, I chose Bachman’s 1911 Jock Strap holster with the optional safety strap. The Jock Strap holster has its pouch secured to a full skirt via a T-shaped piece of leather attached to the skirt with four rivets. The holster accommodates belts up to 2½ inches wide, with the holster riding vertically with no cant. The pouch is of the traditional wraparound style with a seam along the trailing edge and a closed toe. The top edge of the holster pouch is S-shaped, enclosing the triggerguard, with a deep cut exposing the pistol’s trigger. The optional safety strap, which snaps to the face of the pouch, is easily folded back and tucked behind the gun belt so as not to be in the way of a fast draw. The pouch has attractive border tooling and is finished in a reddish brown with all edges neatly burnished. An unusual feature is a small leather strap looped through the back of the pouch and skirt and tied off with a bleed knot to prevent any movement of the pouch in the strap.

The Bachman 1911 Jock Strap holster is a superior period-correct holster for Wild Bunch competitions. Bachman also produces traditional double magazine pouches, either open top or with flaps.

Buffalo Brothers Grips

Wild Bunch Gear, cold steel 1917 frontier bowie knife

Buffalo Brothers Cowboy Store 1911 Floral-Carved Grips

I decided to dress my Wilson Combat .45 ACP pistol up a bit for Wild Bunch matches by replacing the grips. After studying the Buffalo Brothers Cowboy Store’s website, I ordered a pair of the company’s cast poly-ivory 1911 Floral Carved grips in old ivory color. Buffalo Brothers produces an extensive line of polyurethane grips for Colt, Ruger and Remington single-action revolvers, S&W Schofield revolvers and Colt 1911 autopistols. They are available in several traditional carving patterns, such as American eagle, Mexican eagle, snake and steer head, and in four colors. The colors available are white, ivory, old ivory and black. One may also order grips with simulated cracks to appear old. The grips are shipped polished and shaped, but the customer must drill any holes required.

As received, my old ivory finish Floral Carved grips appear to be made of very old elephant ivory with full floral carving coverage. The carving is similar to that on hand-carved leatherwork. I easily marked the location for the screw holes on the grips and drilled them with a 7/32-inch drill bit. These grips are noticeably thinner than the factory grips and should be perfect for those with smaller hands. These Buffalo Brothers faux-ivory grips add the perfect look to my Wilson Combat .45 for Wild Bunch competitions.

Cold Steel Bowie

Wild Bunch Gear, cold steel 1917 frontier bowie knife

Cold Steel’s 1917 Frontier Bowie knife is massive, measuring 17-5/8 inches overall, and it comes with an exceptional, blued-steel-reinforced sheath.

Cold Steel has built and maintained an enviable reputation for producing top-quality knives of all types. In looking for an appropriate knife to hang on my Wild Bunch rig, I discovered the company’s new 1917 Frontier Bowie knife. This is a massive knife, measuring 17-5/8 inches overall with a 12¼-inch blade made of ¼-inch 1055 carbon steel and weighing in at 23.8 ounces. The blued blade has a deeply curved clip point and a long, wide blood groove, and it’s hand sharpened to a razor-sharp edge. The 5-3/8-inch handle is made of Rosewood with a slim and flat shape to prevent twisting in the hand and to provide instant blade orientation. Cold Steel describes the handle shape as a “modified pistol grip” that tends to lock one’s hand in place. The user’s hand is protected by a large, blued steel, S-shaped double guard.

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As a leather worker, if I was asked to construct a sheath similar to the one supplied by Cold Steel, I would charge close to the total cost of the 1917 Frontier Bowie and its sheath. All fittings are blued steel, with the lip being steel reinforced and the tip encased in steel. The sheathed Bowie may be carried tucked through one’s waist belt or attached to the traditional frog. The frog attaches with a heavy-duty swivel to a belt loop that will accept up to a 3-inch gun belt.

An interesting feature of this Cold Steel Bowie is the British proof test certificate that accompanies it, indicating it has passed the proof tests for a British sword or saber. I cannot imagine a knife that would be better to compliment my Wild Bunch outfit than Cold Steel’s 1917 Frontier Bowie knife.

For More Information

Buffalo Brothers Cowboy Store

Colt Steel

Old West Reproductions


This article originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of GUNS OF THE OLD WEST®, print and digital subscriptions to GUNS OF THE OLD WEST are available here.

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