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Mike Shelhart
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made my first holster in 1974 when a bunch of old buddies and I were helping out Phil Spangenberger of Guns & Ammo put on a wild west show at the Great Western Gun Show. The show featured a cool wild west demonstration with everything from Cavalry charges to the reenactment of the O.K. Corral Gunfight. I still have that holster I made for that skit. I played Ike Clanton and we put this show on twice a day during the weekend gun show.

We continued the shows, reenacting the Civil War up at Fort Tejon and eventually started a Custer period cavalry group. This is really where I got into making leather goods. I had been making other leather tooled items for fun, but found making historical reproductions was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about the Old West and our nations history.

M
y thoughts go back to our cavalry troop meetings where we all sat around in the evenings making sets of 1870 reproduction saddlebags. We'd get together in my front room and stitch saddlebags by hand. During that time we reproduced a complete 1870 period cavalry uniform, including carbine sling, Custer period bridal and bit and a set of saddlebags. Our group was Company I of 7th U.S. Cavalry. Fun times! It was during these times that I started to learn about original makers F.A. Meanea, S.C. Gallup, R.T. Frazier and H.H. Heiser Saddlery. These old companies built beautiful hand made leather goods that still rival goods made today. We continued the gunfighter group doing gunfight shows and parades.

Steamboat Playing CardsOne time we even got paid $5.00 an hour each at the Old Town Mall in Torrance for putting on a show. The five of us would split up and wonder through the mall all dressed up with guns on! Imagine doing that today! We would start shooting at each other and lead the people to the food court at the other end of the mall. We were supposed to get people in the mall to follow us down to the new food court. I would then get shot off the upstairs level tumble down and be dragged out through the food court and out the front door.

I've always loved the Cowboy Lifestyle and the Old West. When Cowboy Action Shooting came along I couldn't wait to make a rig and go shooting. The designs we manufacture today are the accumulation of those years of learning and historical knowledge of the Old West.

A
s active SASS & CMSA members and riding shooters, our goal was to produce a rig that looked original but was designed specifically for Cowboy Action Shooting. We take advantage of the modern leather tanning processes and buy most of our leather from Hermann Oak in St Luis. They have been in business since the 1880's and many feel are the undisputed best holster leather made. It is also the only leather that gives that oil tan finish that still remains our most popular finish over the last 10 years.

I hope we've done a good job in letting you know how much we enjoy making gun leather. My son Chad Shelhart now assists me in the business and is also one of the owners. He too shares my love of the Old West. My old friend Jesse Manibog use to say, "Shelhart you were born a hundred years too late!" Well maybe he was right! We will continue to make products for collectors, cowboy action shooters and sportsman.

W
e recently have developed our new antiqued look and are working on a few other new ideas. If you' re in the market for a holster, saddle, belt, cuffs, spur straps, shotgun pouch or saddlebags give us a call, we do Motorcycle saddlebags and chaps too. We'll continue to make our products the absolutely best way we know how! We will not compromise quality no matter what. We will continue to use modern methods and best leather hides, this truly is a labor of love. You have my personal guarantee that if you are not completely satisfied, we'll give you your money back. We make great products at a great price. It's not a holster—it's an image. Let us create one for you!

—Mike Shelhart
AKA I.M. Riggs

©2001 M. Shelhart & Co.
(909) 304-2745