Disclaimer: This review was not solicited in any way. Products were purchased by me for personal use.
My life with guns began with polymer pistols. Having done a fair amount of online research (and seeing these pics), I quickly decided to stick with kydex holsters*.
But after a couple of years, I was able to lay hands on something I'd had my eye on for a while--a stainless steel revolver. And let's face it, a revolver in kydex just seems wrong.
It didn't take me long to find out that my brand new, 3" revolver was one of the rarer 686 models and had few holster choices. I tried a couple of options from Galco--one IWB (inside the waistband), one OWB (you got this, right?). Both were quality production holsters, but not quite what I was looking for. I've gotten better at choosing holsters for carry guns, but that wasn't helping me here. So I tried to get back to square one.
When I picked up a Smith & Wesson revolver for the first time I was just browsing. It was a nice gun, to be sure, but not on the top of my list. Then I thumbed the hammer back to single action and heard that particular "click," and that was all she wrote.
My 686 didn't want just any old holster I could order on Amazon. It wanted something special.
Some intense Googling revealed Rob Leahy's Simply Rugged holsters. Members across diverse gun forums seemed to hold them in fairly high regard; I also read several reviews that stated Simply Rugged often beats their stated 2-3 week lead time, which is already fairly low compared to other popular makers. I decided to give them a shot, knowing I could not Simply Return them to Amazon this time. The plot thickens.
Rob offers a wide variety of leather holsters (and other products)--so much so that there was some difficulty choosing. Options also vary, which is nice--the base models are very reasonably priced for a custom order, and you can add a little or a lot of pizazz in the way of stamping or carved leather. They also offer holsters for a wide variety of guns.
The Sourdough Pancake option seemed the most practical, but ultimately I decided to forgo trying to conceal my 686+ for the time being and go for a sharp-looking rig that would show off my prized shooter. By this time I'd bought a couple of different grips for it and polished it to a nice finish, so why hide it now?
SimplyRugged.com describes the Cattleman as "The Flavor of the Old West encompassed in a rugged, secure, field holster," and touts it as a secure holster with "quick, smooth, draw and effortless holstering." Sounds good.
To complete the set, I also ordered the Most Versatile Ammo Pouch and the Split Six Speed Loader pouch. I've already gone on too long, but you can see them in the gallery above.
Having ordered just before Thanksgiving, I didn't expect the order until January. Most items have a lead time of 3 weeks, but the leather carving options pushes it to 6 weeks. I received an email saying it shipped after only 3 and had it in time to wear for Christmas.
And thankfully, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Some have the opinion that Simply Rugged holsters are practical, but, well--one guy called them "gun buckets."
I have not found that to be the case. I am extremely happy with both the looks and build of the holsters I received from Simply Rugged (yes, I ordered another--more on that later). The oxblood leather is beautiful, and though it's the first carved leather I've owned, it seems very well done.
The Cattleman also hugs my gun very well--I ordered the hammer strap because I'm That Guy and I like to be prepared, but it's easy enough to tuck away in my back pocket if I don't feel like I need it.
Something I hadn't even considered was the notch for the sights, which I attempted to show in the image gallery. I had some Meprolight Night Sights put on the 686, which are thicker than the stock sights, and I had not even thought to mention this when I placed my order. No problem; the Cattleman allows for that sort of thing. Draws smooth, reholsters easy.
It's also the proud, straight-drop, strong side holster I wanted. I'm a 99.99% concealed-carry guy, but that's what Glocks are for.
At family gatherings, barbecues, or at the range, my 686 looks and rides** great in my Simply Rugged holster. And in the end, that's the whole point.
* With due diligence, Glocks and other striker-fired pistols can be used safely. More on this soon.
** Do plan on using a real gun belt with a stainless-steel gun of this size, or you're just kidding yourself. Don't blame the holster.