12 – Fast-Draw Shoulder Holster

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

Fast-Draw Shoulder Holster From an Epicenter of Cowboys
Designed for both concealment and a fast draw, this “skeleton” pattern was popularized by well-known saddlemaker, Al Furstnow, out of Miles City, MT. Furstnow advertised it as a “Sheriff’s Lightning Spring Shoulder Holster” and “Absolutely the fastest action holster on the market today”. The rig was designed with a spring clip that secured the revolver’s cylinder yet could easily be disengaged by simply pulling the firearm out. It sold for $4.
Al Furstnow is one of the most well-known of the Western saddle makers. Born in 1862 in Wisconsin, he learned the craft from his German-born father and also studied under the famed J.S. Collins in Cheyenne, WY. Furstnow eventually made his way to Miles City, MT and opened “Al Furstnow Saddlery Company” in 1894.
Miles City had no shortage of cowboys in the late 1800s. It was literally teeming with open range cattle brought up from Texas to fatten-up before being shipped to slaughter. Furstnow was able to grow his business to making over 800 saddles a year! However, by the 1910s the open range was mostly fenced-off and the number cowboys plummeted. While keeping his Miles City shop open and under the control of his son-in-law, Al Furstnow made his way out to California in 1919 and opened a shop in Hollywood to make saddles for the burgeoning film industry. He passed away in 1925.
Today Furstnow products are highly collectible and this fast-draw holster is considered one of the more rare and sought-after of them all.