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(Updated October 15, 2010)

Leather Gear:

From the SASS Wild Bunch Handbook, Copyright © Single Action Shooting Society, Inc 2010, Second Edition:

HOLSTERS, CARTRIDGE BELTS, AND BANDOLEERS
• All pistols must be carried in a safe holster capable of retaining the firearm throughout a normal range of motion.
• Loose ammunition (i.e. ammunition not in magazines) required for reloads during the course of any stage must be carried on the shooter’s person in a bandoleer, cartridge/shot shell belt loop, pouch, holster, or pocket or be safely staged as required by stage instructions. Rifle and pistol ammunition may not be carried in a shot shell loop. No ammunition may be carried in the mouth, ears, nose, cleavage, or any other bodily orifice.
• Bandoleers, cartridge belts, and pouches for loose ammunition (i.e. ammunition not in magazines) must be of traditional design (e.g., bandoleers must be loose and not secured in any way to prevent movement). Modern drop pouches, combat style shotgun loops, wrist or forearm bandoleers, and such are not allowed. Pouches shall have a flap and must carry their contents loose, with no special provisions to organize the contents for rapid retrieval. Leather belt slide ammo loops are acceptable; however, shotgun shell slides may not be worn over shotgun belts. Shotgun loops must be in a single row.
• Cartridge loops must not have a metal or plastic liner. However, the entire loop may be made of metal.
• Shotgun ammo loops may not accommodate more than two rounds per loop, and rifle/pistol ammo loops shall accommodate only one round per loop.
• Ammo belts must be worn so all ammo is positioned at or below the belly button.
• Shotgun ammo loops must conform to the shooters contour (i.e., not tilt out from the belt).
• Cartridge loops mounted on a firearm’s stock or forearm are not allowed.
• Holsters and magazine pouches must be of traditional or military design and made from traditional materials, (e.g., canvas or leather).
• The holster must cover the entire length of the barrel and slide from the muzzle to the ejection port. No open front speed holsters allowed.
• If a holster has a flap or strap they need not be closed during competition.
• No metal or plastic “competition” type equipment allowed.
• No shoulder or cross-draw holsters may be used during competition.
• Magazine pouches must be worn on the opposite side of the body from the handgun.
• Magazine pouches must be worn vertical and conform to the shooters body (i.e. not tilt out from the shooters body).
• Magazine pouches can hold either one or two magazines.
• At least two inches of the magazine must be covered by the magazine pouch.

Looks suspiciously like this shooter is using his CAS holster for the 1911.

The Difference Between a CAS Holster and a Wild Bunch Holster

It's not just that a CAS holster holds a six-shooter and a Wild Bunch holster holds a 1911. A CAS holster must protect the gun, keep it from falling out under movement, allow a fast draw and a fast re-holstering.

But in SASS Wild Bunch competition* 1911s are staged after usage and never re-holstered on the clock. So the metal linings and funnel-like tops aren't necessary. They don't hurt anything, but they aren't necessary, either.

*IPSC, USPSA, and IDPA do not allow re-holstering on the clock for the same reason SASS doesn't, safety. Some local clubs do. This is not in compliance with the SASS Wild Bunch Handbook rules, and it would be hard to defend in court when the plaintiff's attorney brings up the fact that no other international organization allows it for safety reasons.

Mernickle Evil Roy rig with added shotgun slide

Pecos Clyde uses an integrated rig with shotshells, screw knife, and rifle rounds on the belt.

Arizona Redneck uses two belts. The pistol magazines are on the pistol belt. Putting them on the bottom belt can be a problem if a separate shotgun belt is used. The shotgun loops can get in the way. Arizona Redneck has since switched to a slide with shotgun rounds and rifle rounds on it mounted on the pistol belt.

Long Hunter, at his first Wild Bunch match under SASS Handbook Rules, Outlaw Trail, uses, of course, a Kirkpatrick rig.

Patton Holster

El Paso Saddlery made the original holster First Lieutenant Patton designed in 1915. They still do. It virtually requires the garrison belt to work properly. Compared to all of the other military holsters of the era, it is much, much faster, allowing a firm, firing grip of the firearm without dealing with a flap. If the safety strap is simply not used, it's an unimpeded draw. It is not quite as fast as a modern speed holster built to the limit of the SASS rules using modern concepts and materials.

It is shown with a shotgun belt, but there is no reason that a shotgun slide couldn't be put on the 2" pistol belt along with the magazine pouches.

Because of the behind-the-hip, muzzle to the rear design, the wrist must be "broken" to acquire a firm, firing grip, then rotated for shooting. But if you want an authentic period holster, it's probably the best

M1912 Swivel Holster

Officer wearing M1912 holster

99% of photos of Mexican Punitive Expedition cavalrymen wearing pistols show them wearing M1912 Mounted Holsters hanging from M1910 canvas pistol belts. This is the first model holster adopted for the M1911 .45 cal automatic pistol. This mounted version featured a swivel and leg strap to keep it from bouncing while riding,

This particular one is a high quality version from El Paso Saddlery hanging from an El Paso Saddlery 1911 Military Belt. This model holster is also available from What Price Glory. El Paso Saddlery makes a left-handed version as well. Cabelas sells the M1916 holster that William Holden wore in the movie, but they would have only appeared near the end of the expedition.

This particular one has a stud added to keep the flap locked up and out of the way, a really good idea if you want to be competitive with it.

It should be noted that soldiers wore their pistol belts around the waist, not the hips:

 

Lone Rider Leather Rig:

Jack Houston of LoneRider Leather made this integrated rig.

Jack designed it to be buckled in the back. The shotgun loops and rifle loops are built in. He made this as a door prize for a SASS Match. This is a lightweight, efficient rig, a lot more comfortable than a separate shotgun belt

 

The Mernickle Evil Roy Wild Bunch Rig:

Mernickle Evil Roy Rig

The leather gear you use for your main match guns won't work. You can try adapting your old belt and put a 1911 holster on it, or you can spend the big bucks and get a rig designed for Wild Bunch competition. The most popular holster is the Mernickle Evil Roy. 30 a week are sold from the Dillon catalog alone, and over 2000 have been sold. It was designed from the ground up as a Wild Bunch holster. The belt matches, with a US emblem in the back and useless loops for .45 Colt sized cartridges. It's 2.5" wide, so it gives good support.

Mernickle Evil Roy Wild Bunch rig showing the magazine pouches and ammo slide.

The double mag pouches are well designed. Mags come out easily, don't fall out, and don't strip off the top round when you pull them out. These, of course, are left handed. Enough people said that wearing two belts was a pain that Bob designed a belt slide for a few extra rounds, 4 shotgun and 5 rifle rounds. There will be stages where 4 is not enough shotgun rounds, match directors being what they are, so you need to keep a shotgun belt in your cart.

Evil Roy uses 2 belts, with the magazine pouches on the upper belt. He says his tests showed it to be faster. If you're really skinny, then it has the advantage of giving you more room. Now your shotgun/rifle slide can be on the top belt or bottom belt as desired.

Normal loading strips/blocks don't work because we need a loading strip that holds 6 shotgun shells and 10 rifle rounds. Jack Houston of LoneRider leather makes this one. it slips over the belt of choice. It's very comfortable and works quite well.

Bob Mernickle, after some prodding from me, came up with his own loading strip:

Mernicle Loading Strip

This strip clips on the belt. 10 rifle rounds on the inside, 6 shotgun rounds on the outside.

The Full Mernickle Evil Roy rig:

Mernickle Eviil Roy WB Rig

Evil Roy convinced me that the 2 belt system, with the magazines on the top belt, was faster, so I converted. The magazines must be on the opposite side of the body from the holster. You might, if you're left-handed, note that the shotgun/rifle slide is "right handed." The need for the shotgun ammunition exceeds that of the rifle and should be closer to the midline to save time.

Yes, I've lost weight, hence the pistol belt is on the next to last hole. Bob has promised to resize my belts.

Redwing Wild Bunch Screw Knife in a scabbard behind the holster. The on-the-holster scabbards apparently don't fit.

Rear View, with loading strip

The loading strip works on either belt.

Mernicle WB Rig showing 6 magazine holders

You'll need 7 magazines at least, and pouches for 6. 15-20 round stages are the norm, but 25 round stages exist. That means 5 magazines. For the 25 round stages I go to the loading table with 7 magazines and keep 6 in the belt. I need 4 magazines to get to 25 rounds, and one to drop. The sixth space is the "Barney Fife" magazine, a different color, backwards staged magazine with one round in it for situations where a malfunction has cost you one round in a string of 5. Put in this magazine. Fire the round. The slide locks back, and you can drop that magazine and insert another 5 round magazine for the next string.

Women's Rigs

Until mid-2010 women's needs in regards to Wild Bunch holsters had been ignored. At the time this is being written, Mernickle is working on a Holy Terror rig. We'll keep you informed.

Texas Tiger

Texas Tiger purchased an off-the-shelf Evil Roy rig at End of Trail for use at Outlaw Trail. Women are built different than men (Thank you, Captain Obvious). High waists make hip mounting of the belt mandatory. Her slim waist means that 6 magazines go to the middle of her back, but putting the mags on a belt at shotgun belt level made them too high. She wore the second belt because her '97 was throwing rounds out at inopportune times, and she thought 4 weren't enough.

Wild Bunch for Dummies, Chapter 5

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