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RARE 1908 – 1911 LATE MANUFACTURE RUSSET LEATHER HOLSTER FOR THE MODEL 1873 COLT SINGLE ACTION REVOLVERS WITH THE 7 ˝” BARREL – LEGIBLE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL STAMP – VERY GOOD SPECIMEN:  This 1908-1911 Russet Leather Holster, manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal, was a late production holster specifically made to carry Model 1873 Colt Revolvers with 7 ˝” barrels.  Somewhat of an enigma, and produced in very limited numbers – a total of 2,527 - these holsters were manufactured after the army’s change over to russet leather which occurred in 1902, and were apparently a made in response to a very specific need, as the Colt Single Action pistols with 7 ˝” barrels had long since been modified by shortening their barrels to 5 ˝”, or had been subsequently replaced altogether by a number of other models of pistols.  Although presenting something of a mystery, as the last of the full length single action revolver holsters produced by the army within the Ordnance system, these holsters are quite collectible and seldom appear on the market.  

As described on page 118, in US Military Holsters and Pistol Cartridge Boxes by Meadows, these holsters are similar to the Model 1881 Fifth Pattern Holster with the exceptions of a single hole in the flap as these holsters were intended to be used only with the one revolver, the Model 1873 Colt Single Action, and the addition of a brass tie down ring mounted in the plug at the bottom of the holster body.  There is a drain hole at the bottom rear of the holster body, always present on holsters manufactured with a tie down ring in the bottom plug.  There is also a hole obviously made by the soldier immediately above the bottom plug and punched through the holster tube at the side seam, apparently to serve as another anchor point for a second or alternative leg thong.  Why the soldier thought this was necessary is open to conjecture, but such soldier applied modifications are always an interesting feature.  While on the subject of attaching thongs, there is a short leather thong installed by the arsenal at the time of manufacture to the rear edge of the belt loop where it is riveted to the holster body.  This thong was intended to anchor the holster to a specific location on the soldier’s belt to keep it from sliding out of position. 

The belt loop is of the same size used on the Model 1881 Fifth Pattern Holsters, large enough to accommodate a looped cartridge belt, or any of the pocketed cartridge belts that were coming into use during the early years of the 20TH Century.  

The reverse of the holster belt loop bears the legible “ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL” stamp, a partially legible date of manufacture, “191?, and the inspector’s initials, “H.E.K.”.  As it is known these holsters were made in 1908, 1909, 1910, and 1911, the last digit of the date though barely legible appears to be a “0”.  The belt loop is also marked with a unit applied inventory stamp, “BAND 7”.    

Obviously issued, this holster shows signs of use; however the condition of this specimen is very good, with the stitching and all of the components, including the plug with the tie down ring, intact.  The body is full form and solid without being oil soaked, and there is a strong, legible “US” in the oval on the face of the holster.  The flap is full form, supple, and the stampings on the reverse of the belt loop are legible as noted.  The surfaces of the body, flap, and belt loop have some crazing, but the surfaces are stable.  The leather has an even deep russet color.  Given the limited production number, the apparent low survival rate, and the environments in which these holsters were used and stored, that they survive at all is remarkable. 

These 1908-1911 Russet Leather Holsters made for the Model 1873 Colt Revolvers with 7 ˝” barrels, are anything but common, and this complete specimen will be an interesting  addition to your collection, and would be an unusual piece to complete your Model 1904  Sabre Belt. (0113)  $850



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