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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the last few months I have been able to acquire two (2) M1911A1s, one from Cabela's / Bass Pro Gun Library and one from CMP. I already had a late Cold War-era M1916 holster and a WW2 holster, but got another WW2 holster from eBay last Friday. The Colt War era M1916 holster was still new in the package when i got it, and its tie-down is like a nylon shoe lace. Both Ww2 holster were missing their leather tie-downs, so I got a spool of leather cord from Michael's, a local craft / hobby store. After a little research, I cut two pieces at 48" each and installed them. BTW, I used Ballistol to treat the holsters and tie-downs. I have been well pleased with its results on leather boots and slings. Anyway, here are the finished products - Left to right, 1983 Bolen Leather Products with Remington 1911 R1, 1942 Sears Saddlery with Jan 1944 Remington Rand, and 1942 Boyt Harness with Dec 1944 Remington Rand.

 

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I don't believe the original die down was a bootlace. The original tie downs were wider and thinner than a boot lace, and normally a slightly gray color. It is not unusual to see a bootlace substituted for a tie down.

This holster rig has an original tie down.

 

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I've been pretty fortunate lately on finding decent belts, holsters, mag pouches and even the unopened Carlisle med kits for my ww1 ww2 pistols. The local cabelas had a complete rig included with a 1917 colt m1911 I grabbed a couple months ago and just grabbed a complete rig with a 1944 colt last week. The stuff seems to be coming out of the woodwork lately. Beautiful job at copying the same knot, I found a video on YouTube that walked me through it for one of mine
 

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GLYnn63,
Those are some beautiful holsters, your lucky these days to find them in such good shape.
Here's the only one I have.
I read some where [can't remember] that the holster's never came with a leather tie-down, that the two holes were water drain holes, and like many other things, some GI thought of the leather tie-down's, can you or JohnnyP clear that up ?
Sleeve Wood Everyday carry Belt Rectangle
Brown Luggage and bags Wood Bag Waist
Sleeve Grey Beige Bag Rectangle
 

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BTW, I used Ballistol to treat the holsters and tie-downs. I have been well pleased with its results on leather boots and slings. Anyway, here are the finished products - Left to right, 1983 Bolen Leather Products with Remington 1911 R1, 1942 Sears Saddlery with Jan 1944 Remington Rand, and 1942 Boyt Harness with Dec 1944 Remington Rand.

Would you mind telling us your process for using the Ballistol? Do you soak them or rub them with it or what? Scrub with a soft brush, maybe? Once you do whatever it is you do, do you let the holsters dry naturally or wipe off excess or what? Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OP here - I agree that the holes are primarily for drainage, but at some point in time (most likely WW1) GIs started to use them for tie-downs. Case in point, recently on another forum someone was selling some new in the package WW2 holsters that were found in a Canadian warehouse. and provided pictures with his ad. All of them (IIRC) had tie-downs. I have the Poyer 1911 book and he mentions the tie-downs as supplied as being elk hide. I could have been super authentic and gotten some from the internet, but I felt cowhide was sufficient. As you can see, even the newer Cold War-era black holster came with a tie-down from the manufacturer, although newer material and not leather.

As far as the Ballistol treatment, for the holsters I used a 3/4' wide small paint brush to brush it on. The leather absorbed it very quickly, and I didn't have to wipe them down. I only did the outside of the holsters. I let them sit for a day and added another coat, and repeated this for about 3 days, to get the appearance in the picture. I guess the leather was "thirsty" after all these years. For the tie-downs, after I cut them to length, I put them in a glass that contained some Ballistol and moved them around with a skewer stick until they had been coated. Then I pulled them through a old t-shirt rag to get the excess Ballistol off, and then installed them on the holsters.
 

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OP here - I agree that the holes are primarily for drainage, but at some point in time (most likely WW1) GIs started to use them for tie-downs. Case in point, recently on another forum someone was selling some new in the package WW2 holsters that were found in a Canadian warehouse. and provided pictures with his ad. All of them (IIRC) had tie-downs. I have the Poyer 1911 book and he mentions the tie-downs as supplied as being elk hide. I could have been super authentic and gotten some from the internet, but I felt cowhide was sufficient. As you can see, even the newer Cold War-era black holster came with a tie-down from the manufacturer, although newer material and not leather.

As far as the Ballistol treatment, for the holsters I used a 3/4' wide small paint brush to brush it on. The leather absorbed it very quickly, and I didn't have to wipe them down. I only did the outside of the holsters. I let them sit for a day and added another coat, and repeated this for about 3 days, to get the appearance in the picture. I guess the leather was "thirsty" after all these years. For the tie-downs, after I cut them to length, I put them in a glass that contained some Ballistol and moved them around with a skewer stick until they had been coated. Then I pulled them through a old t-shirt rag to get the excess Ballistol off, and then installed them on the holsters.
For my leather straps I found a braided leather belt that was almost the exact same size and color as the reddish/brown holsters and just cut them and unbraided the strands, I heavily oiled them and actually used wood stain on one to match a color of another holster and used YouTube to get the knot right. I have enough strips for more holsters than I'll ever own. To treat my holsters I used seal-1 and set them down by the wood stove to get warm enough to soak it in and buffed with a cotton cloth
 

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2 of them that got a single coating to at least put something into the leather vs being dry and neglected for so many years. I'll try the ballistol on another I just picked up. Thanks for another option to put oil/moisture into the leather, I also treated the inside of the holster where I could and store my heavily oiled pistols inside plastic bags.
 

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Have used Pecards for a long time with good results. Don't overdo it by applying heavy coats in hopes of faster results. Apply in thin coats and leave plenty of time between applications. Don't put heat or sunlight on the leather as it breaks down the Pecards before it can work.
 

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In E S Meadows's US Military Holsters and Pistol Cartridge Boxes (p274) an original specification sheet illustrates the tie down which is identified as a "Lace 7267136" which I take to be the part number. This and other original catalog illustrations lead me to believe holsters were issued with tie downs. During many years of military service I never saw a holster with a tie down. This leads me to believe the first GI who was issued the holster routinely repurposed it for a bootlace or some other utilitarian use.
 
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