New Leather Project... the Duke Rig

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Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
Got busy the last two days, building a new gun belt for some of my smaller caliber Rugers. No loops on this one to keep the weight down and to allow it to be used with slide on's in the appropriate caliber. I've built one for .357's and found that it would hold .32-20's, and .32 Magnums as well...albeit a little looser. The belt itself is my version of the old John Wayne rig seen in many of his later movies.

I used light weight 4-5 oz. hide leather, doubled over, turned with the rough side out, then stitched together... The buckle came off a pre-1900 McClellan cavalry saddle's stirrup leathers. We'd tried to use that buckle on an earlier larger caliber gun belt but found that it needed some add'l clean up. This belt is narrower, (2-1/8" vs. 2-1/2") and I think that old buckle works better with it.

The gun is my 4-5/8" bbl'd Lipsey's Ruger .44 Spl. with home made crab apple grips. (Thanks for the tips, CaryC.) It's riding in my version of the old Tom Threepersons holster...the difference being that I don't close-up the muzzle end...that allows rain, sticks, and debris to fall through.

The belt rides nicely, noticeably more comfortable than its larger predecessor. The double layer of thinner leather conforms better. Originally, these doubled gun belts were used as money belts, carrying $20 gold pieces then in standard circulation.

Aside from the tedium of hand-stitching the belt's length, it's an easy project.

Regards, Rodfac

TheDuke44Spl.jpg


P1160849.jpg
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
Here's some add'l pics of the buckle and billets. I've built my own holsters since I was in my 20's (now 63), but have never built a gun belt until my #2 son built two for his brother and I last Christmas. It was so comfortable, and my pants weren't doing the "skate-boarder" dip with 45 oz of sixgun on my waist belt, that I decided to do the one I've always wanted...the Duke's rig from his last cpl of pictures. It worked out just fine..and is even more comfortable than it's big brother. We got into leather work fixing our tack..bridles, halters, and some small saddle work.

We build for ourselves, but I'd gladly answer questions if you have them.

P1220900.jpg

Old Cavalry buckle and billet.

P1220898.jpg

Both ends.

GunbeltM29Small.jpg

The larger rig for .44 or .45 ammuntion. The belt's 2-1/2" wide of 9-10 oz leather.

44Splwithrig.jpg

Same belt with a Tom Threepersons and my .44 Spl Lipsey.
 

mran1126

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
28
Location
Renton , WA
Rodfac.....What do you use to punch your holes for the stitching? I know there are several ways to do it. I have a pattern made for my Vaquero and the hole punching is the only thing I'm really wondering about. I'll have some welts to go through to. Thanks for any advice.
 

M'BOGO

Buckeye
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,949
Location
METRO DETROIT
Nice work all around sir. The stiching is very nice.


mran1126":zioyn6rh said:
Rodfac.....What do you use to punch your holes for the stitching? I know there are several ways to do it. I have a pattern made for my Vaquero and the hole punching is the only thing I'm really wondering about. I'll have some welts to go through to. Thanks for any advice.

There are books written on it, it's not hard but not easy. Check out http://leatherworker.net/forum/ there are some good how to's in the gun holster section, and the sewing section.

On your exact subject, form one of the pointers from above, took a pin punch, chucked it in a drill, hit it on a grinder putting a 30 degree flat nosed pointe on the end. Then finished up on a flat stone, the tip with three flats coming to a sharp point. punched the sewing holes, after grooving and marking the spots to be punched, then grooved the back side. Chased the holes with a proper sewing awl. My best looking hand sewing to date.
 

w5lx

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 25, 2002
Messages
334
Location
North Texas
Here's a scan of John Wayne's original rig he used in most of his westerns since the mid-50's that was pictured in the October, 2007 American Rifleman. The article was "The Duke's Colt." This rig was bought at auction and resides in the collection of Dr. Robert W. Azar, of Parkersburg, W.V. The original maker of the rig is unknown.


JohnWaynesHolsterjpg.jpg
 

cphilip

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
92
Location
South Carolina
Interesting post.... and very timely for me since I am having a "Duke Rig" made for my Single Six set up as we speak. Anyone else got more examples and pictures of them?
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
Many thanks for the kind remarks guys and for your pics w5lx, kinda makes me want to add the loops...

When doing a holster, I drill the holes using a drill press to keep a nice even stitch line. My sons, both of them use a hand drill and get similar results. Getting a good line is easy on the front...its the back that shows any off angle. I use a 1/16" generally but sometimes a finishing brad with the head cut off. The brad works for thinner stuff (only two layers of 9-10 oz), but the drill bit is necessary for multiple layers (where you're going to add a welt).

For holster work I add a single layer welt the full length of stitching, then add one or two tapered welts up near the trigger guard to fill it out. The welts are glued in place prior to drilling with Barge Cement...a shoemakers contact glue. The welt is necessary for a good fit in front of the trigger guard where the frame is nearly 1/2" thick. This allows you to wet mold the leather to the gun, allowing a firm grip but making a smooth draw at the same time.

Using two needles and an awl, it's possible to stitch two layers of 4-5 oz. leather together(as I did on the rough out money belt pictured). But for heavy skirting/tooling 9-10 oz leather for holsters and single layer gun belts, drilling is necessary.

The drill point or brad needs to be as close to the dimension of the needles(blunt pointed ones) as possible. For stitching up the multiple layers of welt, it's snug enough, that I need to use a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the needle through. For each stitch, I add an overhand knot, securing each stitch in place, the heavy bee's wax on the thread helping to hold it snugly in place.

Drilling removes mat'l from the leather...and hence, a looser stitch. The brad does not "drill" it just pushes the leather fiber aside allowing it to close up again over time...a much tighter stitch, gripping the leather as it were..I'd use a brad every time if the welting would allow it.

Starting and ending the stitch line, I double the stitching back on itself. This locks the stitching in place, adds strength, and eliminates knots.

Finishing is another area for debate. Son #2 likes Neats Foot Oil, coloring the leather a deep brownish red...about the color of a 1930 '03 gunstock. Son #1 dies his work even darker, then uses a covering of clear sealer to prevent the die leaching onto clothes etc. I like the natural leather...and use for the most part Snowproof, a boot leather waterproofer. I glop it on thickly, then set in the sun in summer or use my wife's hair dryer in the winter to soak it into the leather. It turns a deep yellowy red with age that appeals to me, and the Snowproof is as good for the leather as anything you can use. I renew it once a year if I remember.

Again, thanks for the kudo's guys, but really, with less than a hundred bucks in tools and leather, and $20 worth of mistakes you can do it too. Call Tandy..can't say enough good about them.

Rodfac
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
M'BOGO... Just went to the site you recommended...very informative...wish I'd seen some of that information 30+ yrs ago...

Thanks for pointing it out...Rodfac

Dale53...good to see you here...been shooting in all this drizzle? Tried the 5-1/2" Lipseys Ruger with great results...still like the 4-5/8" one better for its ease of packing...

The new one was a little easier to sight in...front sight and rear sight in synch...centered. One click to the right..and I was on centerline. The elevation is off somewhat...will need to lower the rear sight blade a bit...I'm out the top with my standard 240 gr load, even with the rear elevator all the way down. Looks like it's possible..ie enuf blade to file down, or maybe take off .020" off the bottom of the rear sight cross piece. Keep in touch padnuh...spring is coming...I think. Dave
 

JWhitmore44

Blackhawk
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
987
Location
NW Kansas
I always liked the Duke rig and that is a nice looking belt. Kudo's for all that stitching :)

I have been needing to make me a belt and I want it with out loops as I use the same belt to carry different calibers.
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
I wondered too, if the rough out leather would only be a dirt, grime, and gun grease collector, but in the limited use I've had I find that it stays put...where ever you strap it on...almost like velcro. My other gun belts will ride up, especially in the back, and even when snugged up tight.

I stopped by Tandy a day or two ago and had a chat with the nice lady doing stitching behind the counter. She recommended a cpl of products that would more or less seal the rough out, and still retain the look and light color. I've tried one and it's working so far... and yep, I know that a pristene gun belt is a safe queen and there ain't no such bird at this farm house. I'll keep you posted. For the most part, on smooth leather, I use Snowproof, and have never had any regrets. But the rough out variety was a different kettle of fish...

I built another Tom Threepersons holster this morning, then stained and finished it to offer some contrast to the light color of the belt this afternoon. It fits my Single-Six in .32 H&R...a fixed sight gun with that odd birds head grip. I find it a pleasure to use, and have always wondered how that grip would handle some of the heavier calibers. In .32, it's like a .22, feels good in the hand and the short bbl allows it to pack easily..Pics below. Jim...I see a bird's head in your avatar...is it a .32 or a larger caliber...how's it handle recoil?

Regards, Rodfac

Sm32Duke.jpg
32Tom3persons.jpg
 

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