’Red’ Nichols, full name Richard Edward Dale (R.E.D.) Nichols, made his start as a holster designer/maker by apprenticing to world-renowned holster authority John E. Bianchi in 1970. He spent the 1970s and 1980s developing the Bianchi Holster company’s California-made product line and setting new benchmarks for styling, performance and construction. Then came the 1990s and his Nichols Innovation company was the world's first consulting-design service to the holster industry, where for a decade he created more industry standards for companies including Aker, DeSantis, Galco, Shooting Systems and dozens more around the world. And patents, lots of holster patents. Holsters have been his life-long passion since 1963 when Red’s ex-Navy brother David introduced him to guns and holsters; and then 1966 when Red encountered Chic Gaylord’s classic holster text Handgunner’s Guide at a local library. Retired to Australia since the turn of the century, Red still builds advanced holsters.
John Witty’s interest in gunleather grew from a desire to pair his handguns with proper holsters. He was prescient enough to order holsters directly from Berns-Martin and S.D. Myres while still a teenager. He, of course, still has them. John’s gunleather collection is focused on the first 70 years of the 20th Century and includes examples by H.H. Heiser, S.D. Myres, Berns-Martin, the George Lawrence Company, A.H. Hardy and many more. He maintains a huge collection of gunleather and its ephemera including catalogs and advertising. As with his firearms, condition and originality are important attributes that inform John’s acquisitions. He is a Life Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association, an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Smith & Wesson Collectors Association, and a member of the Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation. John is active online with Smith & Wesson Forum where he serves as Moderator and Expert Commentator. He is a native and life-long resident of South Florida and a proud Eagle Scout. Having recently retired, he can devote almost enough time to scraping the verdigris from his holsters. He is honored to have worked with Red Nichols on this Holstory.