Skip to main content

The ThreePersons Rig

The ThreePersons Rig
Holsters from Rocking K Saddlery (top) and Jeffrey Custom Leather are modern examples of the Threepersons design.

Tom Threepersons was among the most famous of all western lawmen of the previous century. He was by all accounts not only a formidable lawman but also a great cowboy, competing in rodeos prior to World War I, and a scout who served in the Pancho Villa Expedition under Gen. John J. Pershing.

Threepersons joined the Army soon after. His military service in World War I was confined to handling horses at Fort Bliss, Texas, and he stayed on until 1920. During this time Threepersons received a blow to the head from a horse. This serious injury dogged him the rest of his life, and he underwent several surgeries in later years.

He joined the El Paso police department after mustering out of the Army, working in some of the roughest sections of the city. According to service records Threepersons was shot five times during this period. Later, as a federal Prohibition agent he hunted bootleggers and smugglers. At one time he was run over by a bootlegger's vehicle and injured, although he recovered. He eventually moved from Prohibition to Customs work.

Still later, Threepersons worked as a sheriff's deputy and eventually left law enforcement for good at the age of 43. He continued work on ranches, which seems to have been his chosen vocation. He continued in this trade and became the foreman of a number of ranches. He passed away on April 3, 1969.


The original Threepersons holster was first made by S.D. Myres.

In Threeperson's day, purpose-designed police holsters were few, and most in law enforcement simply adapted holsters from the previous century to modern belts. The Mexican loop holster, for instance, was a fine holster for mounted use and was popular with drovers. However, it was less than ideal for use in a vehicle, when seated, or when conducting foot patrol. The draw wasn't fast and it had some slop in its fit to the belt.


Threepersons knew there had to be a better design. He cut all of the unnecessary leather from a Mexican loop holster, making it tighter and more useful for attachment to a trouser belt. He came up with a high-ride, open-top holster with a forward cant designed to be worn just behind the hip. While the originals used the hammer thong popular in the day (if it had a strap at all), variations of the holster soon were offered with a safety strap that added to the utility of the holster.

There is speculation as to whether the holster was designed by Threepersons on his own or whether it was a development of a maker at S.D. Myres, which first offered it as a style. Just the same, he appears to be the developer, much as Col. Charles Askins developed the Avenger holster that John Bianchi manufactured.

The Threepersons type was more versatile than other designs of the period, although the G-Man and Berns Martin designs had merit. It rides high on the belt, an advantage in every situation, and features minimal retention in comparison to modern tightly molded holsters. The forward cant is modest but allows a sharp, rapid draw. The exposed trigger guard wasn't considered a problem with the single-action revolvers Threepersons and most lawmen of the day in that area carried.

Tom Threepersons was a cowboy, Army scout and respected lawman who turned the Mexican loop holster into a more practical design.

The Threepersons holster became popular and led to the widespread adoption of similar holsters- leading to a move away from the Mexican loop and other cowboy holsters of its day. The influence of the design is seen in a number of holsters that followed, including those intended to be worn under a suit coat, where a rapid draw became more important than retention on horseback.


There are a number of makers who offer a Threepersons-style holster today, and I own several of them. For a leather holster worn close to the body, I do not like the thumb break as it sometimes binds and may be difficult to release. So sometimes I opt for the old hammer thong style, a feature many modern-day shooters might be unfamiliar with. The thong must be a bit longer at the tip of the hammer and is twisted a few times until it just fits over the hammer. The tension from twisting keeps the leather thong in place and allows it to be slipped off quickly. If loose, the thong isn't valuable in retention.

Regardless of style, the Three­persons design is far from outdated and makes for a good general-purpose holster, especially for field use and general carry of heavy handguns. I find it to be comfortable while offering a fast draw- providing utility, style and a sense of history as well.

 

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Taurus G3c

Taurus G3c

Taurus introduces the compact version of their wildly successful 9mm pistol; the G3.

Ruger Security 9 Compact

Ruger Security 9 Compact

This handgun lives up to what Ruger wanted to build: a solid, dependable, easy-racking carry/home defense pistol at a better-than-reasonable price.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball's Headache

The Hardball's Headache pistol drill is very similar to the El Presidente drill with a higher level of difficulty due to two added twists.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but these six compact high-capacity 9mm pistols stand out from the rest of the field.6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns Compact

6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns

Jeff John - July 08, 2020

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but...

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhatPro Tips For Controlling Recoil Training

Pro Tips For Controlling Recoil

Richard Nance - April 11, 2017

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged.SIG P365 Review Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

See More Trending Articles

More Holsters

Great new holsters (and belts) for street, range and more.2017 Holster Guide Holsters

2017 Holster Guide

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 15, 2017

Great new holsters (and belts) for street, range and more.

Blackhawk announced the release of a limited-edition T-Series Level 2 Compact (L2C) holster in recognition of National Police Week.Blackhawk National Police Week T-Series Holster Holsters

Blackhawk National Police Week T-Series Holster

Handguns Digital Staff - May 11, 2020

Blackhawk announced the release of a limited-edition T-Series Level 2 Compact (L2C) holster in...

Well-known for leather, Galco's Kydex Holsters From Galco Holsters

Kydex Holsters From Galco

James Tarr - September 12, 2018

Well-known for leather, Galco's "plastic" rigs are just as good.

Not all holsters are created equal. Aside from the safety/retention aspect, it's important to consider your daily activities, surroundings and preferred way of dressing to select the rig that's right for you.Holster Shopping for Women Holsters

Holster Shopping for Women

Eve Flanigan - September 04, 2018

Not all holsters are created equal. Aside from the safety/retention aspect, it's important to...

See More Holsters

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now