Author Topic: Shoulder/chest holster for issue Browning  (Read 2462 times)

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Offline Fishbone Jones

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Re: Shoulder/chest holster for issue Browning
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2019, 16:21:31 »
I used the US leather underarm model for almost twenty years. Tanks, carriers, scout cars and almost anything else with a turret. Never had a problem.

It worked fine for me. YMMV.
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Shoulder/chest holster for issue Browning
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2019, 16:22:29 »

Ideally, when CAF finally gets around to procuring the new pistol, hopefully they can do a ground up look, involving proper SMEs, at how the pistol is to be distributed and carried.

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Offline Loachman

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Re: Shoulder/chest holster for issue Browning
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2019, 16:44:59 »
The subject holster, commercially (and briefly) known as the Satellite Sewn Products DH1, was designed for one specific purpose. It was less than ideal for that role, but it was the best that could be had under the circumstances of the times.

When I arrived at 427 Squadron in the summer of 1982, pistol carriage by aircrew was a bit of a problem. We wore standard webbing in the field, and a US-made survival vest in the helicopter. This required constant changing from one to the other, including transfer of the pistol from the cheap leather holster sewn on the front left side of the vest (with no mag pouch) to the standard webbing belt holster when leaving the helicopter post-mission and the reverse prior to departure on another. The only other issue option was the horrible green-painted leather holster on a single thin webbing sling in Blackadder1916’s earlier post.

A lot of guys bought commercial shoulder holsters. These also lacked stability as the lowest end of the holster and mag pouch were designed to be attached to a belt, which did not exist on the flying suit (we did not begin to get the two-piece flying suits until 1988). Some could also interfere with the vest, especially if operating over water as we still had the ancient Mae West life preserver, so there were multiple layers to juggle.

Shortly arriving at 444 Squadron in Lahr in 1986, I discovered Brigade Quartermaster, one of the first US mail-order aftermarket kit companies. After my first Fallex, one of the rainiest periods of my life, I ordered a buttload of Goretex items, plus a black all-nylon thigh holster. I’d never seen a thigh holster before, but decided to give it a try. I liked it.

The following year, a new Brigade Commander banned all non-issue kit except American rain suits, as he didn’t like getting wet either. Commercial shoulder holsters were included in the ban, and were named specifically. I continued to wear my Goretex rain jacket, with the issued one overtop as a disguise.

Somewhere around that time, the old US survival vests were replaced with the new, and still standard, Canadian Life Preserver/Survival Vest (LPSV). It’s a pretty good piece of kit, but still didn’t account for the field operation and tactical aspects of Tac Hel. There was no room on it for even a rudimentary holster.

We were also in the throes of dealing with new aircrew NBCD equipment, which was designed to support the CF18 operation but would have rendered us completely inoperable within twenty-four hours of a chemical threat materializing, whether chemical weapons were used or not.

The mask used the standard gas mask canister, but, instead of screwing directly into the mask, it is screwed into a small blower at the south end of an oxygen mask hose. The blower/filter combination attached to the lower left side of the LPSV.

I spent two pleasant months at the old Staff School on Avenue Road in Toronto in early 1988, and went home to Stratford on most weekends. On one of the first of those weekends, a couple of 4 RCR buddies introduced me to Brad Ditchfield, creator, owner, and chief designer of Satellite Sewn Products in Woodstock.

Development of the DH1 (Brad’s last initial and mine) began. While I really wanted to push for a thigh holster, we both believed that that would be too controversial for the CF in those days (and Brad had already done contracts for the CF as well as for some major police forces), so we worked on a shoulder holster as the best that we could likely achieve.

My design criteria were:

- Must work both within and without the helicopter (ie with both the LPSV and webbing) without removal from the body;
- Must not interfere with the NBCD blower/filter unit and hose;
- Must allow for single-handed pistol access while masked (ease of return of the pistol was not seen to be as important);
- Must have a pouch for two magazines; and
- Must not require attachment to a belt for stability.

To avoid interference with the LPSV and blower/filter unit and maximise stability, the holster and mag pouches were intended to be worn as high up/close to the armpits as possible, which would allow the holster and pouch to poke out through the arm holes on the vest.

We soon realized that there was a problem when bending at the waist, or adopting a prone position, as the whole rig would rotate forward. That was cured with an adjustable strap that connected holster to pouch across the wearer’s back.

We initially attempted to make it ambidextrous, as we did not believe that the CF would purchase both left- and right-handed versions, but could not come up with a practical method of doing this. In the end, convincing the CF to buy a small (ten percent) quantity of left-handed versions was surprisingly easy.

The original holster part worked well, and only one minor tweak, to ease production, needed to be made. The original magazine pouch proved to be extremely difficult to manufacture, but the second version was much simpler. The really tricky part was the harness. The first few attempts were cut from the standard webbing nylon in flowing, body-conformal shapes.

A few of the other Pilots and Observers in 444 Squadron expressed an interest in buying some. Brad sold them for the cost of the materials only - this was also our method of conducting user trials. I took about half of a dozen back to Lahr with me when the Staff School course was over.

The problems with the harness showed up on our next exercise. The holster with pistol tended to drag that side down. Although there was no discomfort, it looked crappy. It was quite well-received, however, and there were only two negative comments: one of the Armoured Observers lent his to an RCD buddy who was going on exercise before our next one, and he refused to give it back, and another Observer complained that he had difficulty getting his flying jacket off because he would forget that he had the holster on.

As these used the same fabric and buckles as the 82 Pattern webbing, and several guys were wearing them, they were never questioned by higher.

On a subsequent trip home on leave, I spotted a commercial holster with a much simpler harness design that seemed to keep the holster-side from dragging down. Our version of that worked much better than expected - perfectly - and, as it used standard nylon and cotton webbing, was simpler and cheaper to make. Brad made up a bunch of replacement harnesses for me to take back to the guys that had purchased the original design at no cost, and whipped up a few more units, again at cost of materials only, for a few more eager customers.

Now that we were satisfied with the design, I UCRed the green-leather-on-a-sling monstrosity and wrote a service paper extolling the virtues of and need for the DH1, got my CO of the time to add his endorsement, and fired it up the chain.

The really strange thing was that, in his next posting, he tried to shut it down as being expensive and unnecessary. Enough were bought for every aircrew position in 10 TAG, plus a few spares, anyway, but it still took a few years before the contract was signed and the holsters were delivered.

Brad continued to build his business for a few more years, then sold it to his parents and went off to bigger things. The last that I heard of him, a few years ago, was that he was in an executive position at Safariland.

I still have the original in my possession.

I was surprised, many years later, when the design was reverse-engineered and issued on a wider basis.

So it’s not perfect, but it was the best that we could do thirty-one years ago and I am reasonably proud of it.

I make only one simple request: wear it up as high as you can, and not flopping around at gonad level with the straps at max extension.