The monthly newspaper of the Single Action Shooting Society lists 36 Western leather makers, from Alfonso's of Hollywood to Wolf Ears Equipment. Of those 36 companies, at least 27 produce gunbelts or holsters. But standing tall among the providers of authentic cowboy leather of the frontier era is Old West Reproductions, ramrodded by Rick M. Bachman.
Fascinated From Youth
Born in Kalispell, Mont., in 1949, Bachman was exposed to vintage Winchesters as a youngster by the famous rifle-barrel maker Les Bauska. By age 13, he had a small but representative collection of vintage rifles, sights and other accessories.
A natural byproduct of Bachman's interest in antique guns include other accessories such as belts, holsters and catalogs. These catalogs were especially important because they offered a wide variety of original designs. Even more important were old saddle-shop catalogs that provided insight into those who made the old gear.
"There is a lot more to offering 'authentic' period leather gear than just saying you do," Bachman says. "You have to study the original pieces and the men who created them."
Bachman's collecting instinct assumed huge proportions, and he now holds some 3,000 items, including dozens of holsters, belts, scabbards and assorted western collectables, some of which can be seen in Richard Rattenbury's fine book, Packing Iron: Gun Leather of the Frontier West (Available from GUNS Books, $45.).
Bachman took the plunge in 1978 and entered the leather business full time. Deciding to concentrate on the era from 1849 to 1900, he established Old West Reproductions Inc.
"At that time, there were two other companies making old-time holsters," Bachman relates. "But I was the first to introduce authentic reproductions of the original leather gear made by such famous names as E.L. Gallatin, F.A. Meanea and the Moran Brothers. All of these patterns and others, including J.S. Collins, Main & Winchester, etc., come directly from the original pieces in my collection."
In 1990 he moved his family to the small town of Florence, Mont., which lies in the Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula. In a world that seems to move faster every day, Rick Bachman still operates his one-man shop and produces handmade, quality products as if the clock has been turned back to 1875.
On The Silver Screen
Apart from SASS competitors and western re-enactors, Old West Reproductions' clients include several TV and movie actors and production companies. Although...