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Custom Contender Holster Build January 2019
Dan Martinez  

I think it was a year ago, at the Handgun Hunter’s Challenge event, that Ben, Gerhard, and myself were talking about what handgun Ben should use if he were to ever go handgun javelina hunting. Since the time he became old enough to hunt javelina, Ben has primarily used a Thompson Center Contender carbine with an 18” barrel in caliber 6.5mm TCU. So naturally, the discussion went that Ben should get a handgun length barrel in that caliber plus a pistol grip and forend to be able to use his TC frame as a pistol.

Later, I was searching, and lo and behold, there was a new condition 10” 6.5mm TCU barrel for sale with dies. I decided that I wanted a 6.5mm TCU pistol, so I bid and won the Gunbroker auction, then separately ordered a Contender G2 pistol frame, grip and forend. I was now a first-time Contender owner. Primary purpose: javelina hunting, of course!

After shooting it with the stock iron sights, I decided to keep it that way. No scope. But to go hunting with it, I would need a holster.

The contender is a relatively large handgun. I could do a hip holster, but I thought that a better solution would be a chest rig. I was aware of a very nice chest rig, the Guide’s Choice™, made by a company called Diamond D Custom Leather in Wasilla, Alaska. When I searched their website, they did not list a holster for the Contender. Therefore, I would need to make my own. I had the technology, and I hoped that I had the skill.

My leather projects to date have included knife sheaths and rifle slings. I even made a sort of holster for a set of mini-loppers that I keep in my truck to trim bushes on the side of the trail to prevent desert pinstriping. But this would be my first attempt to make a gun holster.

To start, I laid the pistol down on a sheet of kraft paper and started tracing around the outlines of the gun. I adjusted my lines several times, folded it over as the holster would be folded, traced and cut. It was a bit of an iterative process which involved taping paper back on to my emerging pattern when I decided that the first cutout was not quite what was needed. Eventually I had the perfect pattern. In designing the holster, I kept a photo of the Guide’s Choice holster close at hand for comparison.

I knew that I would have to line the holster. That meant cutting the pattern out twice – once in thick leather, and another in thin pig suede. The pig suede was glued, then stitched to the flesh side of the thick cow’s leather. I also added a two-cartridge holder to the outside of the holster. One cartridge in the pipe, and two ready at hand should be all that’s needed in hunting scenarios.

Copying the Guide’s Choice design, the strap that goes around your midsection is a leather strap extended with a section of tubular nylon. This is so that you can easily tighten or loosen the fit as needed. The nylon strap uses a plastic quick-disconnect buckle to make it easy to put on or take off the holster. I re-purposed an old rifle sling for the strap that goes over your shoulder.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I look forward to field testing it on my upcoming javelina hunt.

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