In my first article for USCCA, I mentioned how I, like so many of you, have had great guns that I managed to let get away from me. My list is particularly long and regretful. Many of those handguns left my hands with their holsters in attendance. Usually, I was glad to get rid of the leather since I was also getting rid of the gun that fit it. There was however, ONE combination that I had an equal level of regret over, and only one. A 1980’s Colt Agent .38 revolver that was paired with a now long defunct Bianchi Scorpio Upside-Down Shoulder rig in russet brown.
The Agent was the Parkerized version of that aluminum frame six-shot (vs. Smith’s six-shot Chief’s Special) snub that appeared along about 1982 or so. Colt had made the decision to offer this aluminum framed variant of their D frame line (Detective Special, Cobra and Agent) with a relatively rough but relatively durable exterior finish set off by a roughly finished set of walnut grips as a cost-saving measure. The grips still maintained the gold Rampant Colt medallion that was standard on Colt revolvers at the time. While the resulting revolver was scorned by some as not being up to Colt’s standard in terms of polish and fit (duh, that was the idea), it was much cheaper and had a finish that was ready for rough undercover use. This was particularly important, as there were no stainless steel compact revolvers on the market as of yet – blue and bright nickel was it. These features made this Colt Agent a standout. I carried it loaded with Winchester .38 Special 200 gr. blunt nose Super Police rounds for close encounters of the worst kind while working undercover in the less-than-desirable areas of Licking County Ohio in the early to mid-1980’s.
Bianchi Scorpio Holster
As I said, I had paired this gun with a Bianchi Scorpio Holster. Likely named after the famed 1970’s NYPD narcotics detective, the design of this rig was fantastic and popular back in the day. Setup for revolvers, the clamshell style holster hung underneath my left arm, butt down, with the barrel pointing up toward the top of my shoulder. Reaching across to the butt, the Colt would be drawn by pulling up, which pointed the muzzle to the rear, then away from my left side as part of the draw, then forward to the target. When I qualified with it, I didn’t have anyone standing to my left side on the firing line for safety. There was no snap or release to undo, but the Scorpio was still secure – much more resistant to a gun grab than the current crop of horizontal style shoulder rigs. And best of all, it required no restraining straps to hook onto your belt on either side. Thus, it stayed out of sight under a short jacket even if you raised your arms. Quick on and off, it was comfortable for all day wear. Few shoulder rigs can make the same claim.
I had searched for this type of rig for the model 642 Smith and Wesson .38 for quite some time. Bianchi had quit producing this rig long ago, and I didn’t want to mess with eBay for a used one. Patience is a virtue, or so they say, and I kept up the search. Recently I was rewarded with the shoulder rig I had longed for from a small company called Nevada Gunleather (www.nevadagunleather.com ) out of Las Vegas.
About Nevada Gun Leather
Nevada Gun Leather is a small mom and pop operation (truly, husband and wife Roger and Linda Schultz are the only two employees of the company in Vegas) that imports some excellent products made for them in South Africa.
While Nevada Gunleather has many shoulder rig styles available on their site, along with many other holsters both modern and western in style, it was their Model 155 Upside Down Shoulder Holster that drew me to their site. I requested a sample from Mr. Schultz, and was rewarded with a blast from the past – a modern reincarnation of the old Bianchi Scorpio, but in black this time for my Model 642 .38.
The Model 155 Upside Down Shoulder Holster
The holster body is molded to fit the five-shot J-frame Smith revolver, and the clamshell front is held closed and allows access by a wide elastic band. The holster is held suspended under the left arm by a wide and comfortable adjustable leather shoulder strap. An adjustable elastic band holds the entire rig in place around the right shoulder. Just like the Scorpio, there is no need for attachment straps to a trouser belt, allowing for a wide range of versatility for the 155 when matching it to your attire. The 155 slips off and on quickly and easily, and rides comfortably and inconspicuously all day long. The quality is high, and it should last for a lifetime. I am sure the other Nevada Gunleather products exhibit the same attention to detail.
The Upside Down shoulder rig isn’t for everyone or every gun. It’s for revolvers only, but there are models for the J-K-L-N Smith revolver line, as well as for the Ruger GP100 and SP101™ and the Colt Python. If a shoulder rig isn’t your style, Nevada Gunleather has a lot of other styles and choices for you. Alas the long gone Colt D Frame series, the one which I had the Scorpio rig for in the first place, is not listed as a choice. It has simply been out of production for too long. Maybe it will be reborn as a part of Colt’s continuing comeback. If it is, I will talk with the Schultz’s about adding a new addition to the Model 155 lineup.