By Bob Boyd, Shooting Illustrated
Case in point: the Applegate, which is expertly handcrafted by Karla Van Horne of Purdy Gear, is a superb recreation of the Detective Wonder Holster originally produced by SD Myres of El Paso,TX circa 1930.
The unusual design of the Purdy “Applegate” aside, it’s a sturdy, working holster.
Designed to be worn on the belt, the pistol carried with the butt positioned at a downward angle against a thick piece of steel-reinforced leather. The pistol in question, my Colt Detective Special, sporting a unique “Fitz” conversion from the same era, fits (no pun intended) snugly between two pockets, one cradling the barrel, and the other cupping the butt. Drawing the pistol simply involves pulling the butt forward.
Part belt holster, part shoulder holster, in spite of the Detective Wonder Holster’s unique design, I’ve yet to stumble across an original Myres-made variant, and I suspect not many were made. Regardless, classic gunleather buffs like myself point to one particular event in history where the cement the holster Myres Detective Wonder Holster was called into action when one of the original members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, Col. Rex Applegate was involved in a gunfight while in Mexico shortly after the war ended.
According to legend, Applegate and a friend were accosted by a man waving a machete after dinner one evening. For whatever reason, that evening Applegate, who normally carried a 2-inch Colt Fitz Special chambered in .45 ACP was carrying a 2-inch Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless revolver —commonly referred to as a “lemon squeezer”—chambered in .38 S&W. He carried it muzzle up in an S.D. Myres Detective Wonder Holster.
Applegate responded as if still studying under Fairbairn and Sykes, emptying his pistol into the man with mechanized precision. All five shots struck the man in the torso, but failed to neutralize the threat. (The .38 S&W cartridge delivered a 146-grain bullet at an anemic 600-700 fps.) It wasn’t until his friend intervened, firing a dedicated pair from his Colt 1911, that the attacker finally met his demise. Needless to say, Applegate learned his pistol was a poor choice for self-defense and soon resumed carrying his big-bore “Fitz” Special.
Karla Van Horne’s recreation of this historically important holster is accurate, durable, and as aesthetically pleasing as the original. MSRP starts at $205, depending upon your pistol.
Photo thanks to Roy Huntington and “American Handgunner” Magazine