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Beltster™ Reviews & Testimonials

The Beltster Holster
From Gun Guide 1999, By Wiley Clapp
Page 49

First, let's look at a unique holster system that can be made up for almost any pistol or revolver but seems particularly good for the P10. The holster is called the Belster and is made by Bandera Gun Leather (Bandera, TX 78003). The rig works on a principle much like that of the famous Yaqui slide, a slide-on holster existing of two pieces oiled leather sewn together to form a belt slide that's open at top and. bottom. Beltster designer Scott Key took the same concept step farther by simply making the holster integral with the belt. Mine is a 1. 75-inch-wide belt of high quality leather with an extra thickness of leather about eight inches long sewn to the inner side of the belt at a position over the right hip. The stitching that positions the extra material in place is shaped to form a pocket right on the belt. The pocket (holster) accepts the P10 and holds it securely against the body. Unlike other holsters of the same general design, the Beltster pocket is wet molded in such a way that it will not collapse and thereby make reholstering difficult. In use, the gun rides securely against the hip, draws quickly, and simply does not look like a holster after the gun is removed...

Excerpt from the “HandgunLeather” column by Roy Huntington in American Handgunner, Sept./Oct. issue, 1997.

Tired of hip holsters that often weigh as much as the new generation of lightweight guns they're made to carry?

It seems Scott Key, maker of The Beltster holster-belt had noticed this too. He said he basically "stumbled onto the idea" one day, but allow me to digress first.

The Beltster is, in a nutshell, a leather belt with an integral holster sewn into it. It's best described as a kind of Yaqui slide rig, but without the Yaqui. It's simply a place on the belt where Scott doubles the thickness of leather, sews the outline of a customer's gun, wet-molds it and finishes it all in some pretty colors.

Scott likes to call the style "belt integral carry" as opposed to "inside the pants" (ITP) or "on the belt" (OTB) methods. He brings up some good points.

With the OTB mode, it takes a combination of a quality belt, a well-designed holster and learning to live with the selection before it can become comfortable. Even then, you often have bulges to contend with (other than the bulging over the waist kind of bulges).

This is not to mention the added weight that the holster contributes to your carry load for the day. If you can carry with the ITP method, bully for you. I can't.

The Beltster, which retails for $60, handles the carrying of a concealed handgun with panache and simplicity. Total added weight is probably less than an ounce worth of leather and stitching. Bulging is kept to a minimum. Comfort, concealability and ease of carry is well up on the "I Can Live With This" scale.

The very best, hands down winning deal with the Beltster is the fact that once you slip the gun out, you're wearing what appears to be an attractive belt. There is no need to participate in the daily "put stuff on, take stuff off' routine of a standard belt holster.

When you get to work, you simply take Mr. Gun out of the slot and you're good to go. Fast, easy, efficient. I wore one for a solid month and quickly got used to it. I also quickly got spoiled with the convenience. My old favorite mode is a paddle holster for the ease of "off-on," but the Beltster wins, hands down.

The Beltster comes in oil tan, cordovan, brown and black with either a nickel or brass buckle. Widths can be either 1.5" or 1.75" and if my samples are any indication, the quality of the leather and workmanship is first rate.

One caveat, however. Scott pointed out something he's noticed when it comes to the Beltster. When cops order one, they usually specify that the holster portion ride directly on their hip, while most civilian's order it for the just-behind-the-hip position.

I would hazard a guess that since a cop wears a gun in the strong side hip position upwards of 10 hours a day, it's hard to get used to one in any other position. A civilian, on the other hand, can pretty much do what he likes.

If there's a down-side to all this, it's just a little one. In order to get exactly the carry you want, you might have to move a belt loop, but that's no big deal and five minutes with a needle and thread handles it easily.

Scott will make you a Beltster for just about any auto pistol and many revolvers. The covered trigger guard makes it dandy for Glocks and Sigmas and a lightweight 1911 disappears when worn with a Beltster. Scott's design makes an interesting alternative to the standard methods of carry and is worth looking into.

Give him a call regarding how to measure yourself because there is a critical measurement from the buckle area to the location you want the holster portion...

Lady’s Beltster
Scott sent a little 26" version for my wife, made for her Colt Pocketlite.380. She found that with jeans it couldn't be beat and let her get away with a very small handbag since she didn't have to conceal a handgun inside it.

Suzi pronounced it very comfortable and said it lent itself to a woman's curves and such, with no prodding of the tender spots. Suzi is usually a pretty critical customer and this endorsement is about as high in the recommendation category as it goes.

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Excerpt from Handloader Magazine, December 2001, Page 7
"Bandera Gunleather", Edited by Dave Scovill

A while back, Scott Key Shelton at Bandera Gunleather (PMP 300403, Bandera, TX 78003) Forwarded a couple of interesting products. Having sewn my fair share of gun leather over the years, testing various designs and leather, I’ve become somewhat opinionated about what works and what does not. Bandera seems to have hit a couple of nails square on the head with the BeltsterTM and an inside-the-waist holster.

The Beltster is designed to accommodate a 1911-style pistol, and I suppose, besides the Colt and its clones, the Beltster would provide a snug fit for any pistol that has a similar trigger guard/slide profile.
In practice, the Beltster is worn like a belt, with a separate section sewn onto the back of the belt to create a slot that forms a rather firm fit on the midsection of the Colt 1911. The tighter the belt is cinched around the waist, firmer the grip on the pistol.

Surprisingly, the pistol is readily available but hardly, noticeable, unless the rear target sight gets into the fleshy part under your shirt, just above the belt. I had no problem with that, but some folks might. At any rate, I hardly ever carried a 1911 in a holster over the years because of the additional weight and bulk, but the Beltster has changed my mind about woods bumming with a 1911. An added bonus is that the Beltster hides a 1911 under a short jacket exceptionally well. I’m impressed.

The other holster is an inside-the-waist design, which in my sample is for a Colt Single Action. As some folks know, who have read my ramblings about the Colt SAA over the years, I favor a 43/4 barrel, mostly because it fits in my back pocket and, unless I happen to be doing somersaults, is pretty secure and protected. In short, I like to carry a handgun, but I don’t much care for bulk leather, especially the rigs that are designed for longer barrels.
The inside-the-waist design just about takes care of most of my objections regarding gun leather. It’s light but made of heavy enough leather to afford ample security. Moreover, it leaves at least one of my back pockets empty for more stuff, like coyote calls, knives or whatever.

Specifically, the design is pretty much an abbreviated single action holster with a loop on the outside, the loop is simply unhooked from the stud at the top, slipped under the belt, and hooked back on the stud. The only part of the outfit that is visible outside the waistband is the outside loop and the end of the stud. Overall, the concept is fairly comfortable, considering it puts the sixgun on the inside of your waistband and adds an inch or so to the waist measurement. The idea of the loop to hold the holster in place has been improved somewhat by simply sewing a loop to the outside of the holster. It serves the same purpose and eliminates the stud. At any rate, it provides a snug fit on the sixgun.

I also like the added touch of putting a tab on the front of the holster, in front of the hammer. Scott tells me the tab has been eliminated, but I will trim mine down and use it as a hammer block for now.

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Excerpt from the “Gun Leather” column by Bob Campbell in
Handguns, June/July 2003
Pages 12-14

At Bandera Gun Leather, Less Can be More

Recently, I was contacted by an associate who asked if I had seen the leatherwork being done by Scott Key. Working under the trade name Bandera, and based in the Texas town of that name, Key has gained a reputation for solid value and innovation. While a number of traditional designs are offered, he has added some fresh examples that are applicable to modern times. No shortcuts are taken, and the maker seems to have mastered several styles of leatherworking.

The popularly acclaimed Beltster is Key's most popular rig. This is a holster that is well made and practical with a. minimum of fuss. Key refers to John Bianchi's seminal work, Blue Steel and Gunleather, as inspiration for this design.

"The least amount of leather that will do the job is often the best," he believes.

The Beltster is an everyday carry rig. A gun belt has quite a bit of natural tension. The Beltster features what can be termed an integral belt slide. The two-layer belt has a holster in the design, allowing the user to slip the gun into the holster component of a well-made Western-style belt.

When a gun is not worn, the Beltster does not appear to be a holster at all. At first I was resistant to the concept. I was concerned with proper security and draw angles. After a few weeks of daily use, my fears were put to rest. The concept is indeed appealing, and it works.

The belt's tension is adequate to hold a heavy, long service gun in place, and it also keeps the gun riding close to the body. A sharp draw is possible with practice. In fact, the Beltster wears better than most belt slides. Instead of being hung on the belt, it is part of the belt. I like it very much.

At press time, the Beltster sells for about $65. That is a reasonable price for a well-made belt alone, but this one carries a holster as well. My 5-inch-barrel High Standard .45 fits well, but so does the short-barrel Para-Ordnance Companion. Depending upon the outer concealing garment, long- and short-barrel .45s can be worn comfortably with good concealment.

My favorite Beltster configuration is a special-order model. The belt is available crossdraw and lefthand, but my belt features two holster pockets. One pocket is for crossdraw with the cut just in front of the left hip. The other pocket is cut for the normal right-hand FBI tilt position with the gun worn just over the kidney on the strong side.

The weight is well distributed when wearing two .45s. The design offsets weight better than most double-handgun rigs. With a single gun, this variation offers situational carry. This is far better than switching holsters or buying an overspecialized "driving holster." The gun could be carried on the right hip normally and the crossdraw considered vehicular draw.

When carrying two guns, tactical options are not doubled. They have gone up exponentially. I never carried one handgun on a raid in 22 years of police work. Most often I carried a pair of .45s, sometimes a .45 and a magnum revolver, occasionally a .45 and a .40-caliber Glock.

When working with this agency, the patrol lieutenant, an FBI type, enforced the "9mm double-action rule." I wrote a three-page argument for the .45, offering to qualify to a higher standard than normal and, of course, supply my own .45. The chief was from California. His reply was, "I never said you couldn't carry a .45. I thought we were under the 'big boy rule' in the South. If you can shoot it, you can carry it." Our lieutenant did manage to limit the .45 to a SIG P220. I was fairly pleased with the SIG and considered this time to be a broadening experience.

Sometimes my second gun was a compact pistol such as a Star PD or Colt Commander. For those still working in such an environment, the Beltster is far simpler than anything I had to work with and is a good choice for two full-size .45s. Arguably, it is the final word in beltslide holsters.

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