As a result of RF’s beneficence, I’m now the extremely proud owner of one of the slickest guns I’ve ever seen. The Gemini Customs SP101 is a thing of beauty and a joy to shoot – especially when it’s shooting .38s. And while lots o’ folks would relegate it to a specially padded and dehumidified corner of their safe, that’s just not me. I’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it by carrying it from time to time so I can, you know, see it. And shoot it at the range. Even though that will inflict the inevitable wear marks and occasional dings that come with using a gun the way it’s designed. But along with the the great gun came a problem . . .

For such a popular and widely sold revolver, there are relatively few decent choices in holsterage. There are plenty of options for the short-barreled 2.25″ SP101 version. But if toting the 3″ or 4.2″ gun strikes your fancy as it does mine, your options are few.

Sure, there’s always the Remora, but I’ve become pretty partial to the comfort of OWB pancake carry. So after a fair amount of furious Google-fueled flapjack foraging and a fair amount of forum scrounging, I ordered one of the few good options out there for my three-incher – the tastily named Simply Rugged Silver Dollar Pancake.

As each Simply Rugged holster’s made to order by owner Rob Leahy, don’t expect next day order fulfillment. As their web site spells out quite clearly, SR specifies a three to four week lead time (more for fancy scrollwork or engraving). And sure enough, 22 days after placing my order, my Silver Dollar showed up in my mail box.

The holster’s made of sturdy, nicely-formed leather that hugs the SP101 like its mama would. An optional hammer strap is available, but I didn’t opt for one as the relatively deep pocket of the Silver Dollar cradles the revolver snugly. The optional IWB straps I got, though, screw on and snap closed securely. Stitching is tight and even. And my oxblood model came complete with that freshly tanned, new leather smell. Ahhhh.

Strapping it on and loading it up with an actual gun provides more comfort and concealment than expected. While the holster’s made to order for the Ruger, it takes a little nosing to get the gun in, especially when you get down to the cylinder. So while there’s nothing to impede a fast draw, re-holstering won’t be quite as speedy. This may change with time, but given the leather’s moderate stiffness, my guess is that’s the way it is and a little help from my off hand will be required.

When it comes to strapping one on, the Silver Dollar fits snugly – but not too tightly – against the body making for very easy concealitude. In fact, it hugs my rounded form even better than my trusty CW9 in its pancake of choice, the DeSantis Speed Scabbard. The Dollar’s secondary, lower slot makes it perfect for cross-draw carry if you swing that way. I don’t…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I like to wear mine with a fairly sturdy 5.11 TDU belt because a proper gun belt still languishes on my wish list. Who knows…Father’s Day’s coming up (hint, hint). Anyway, given that the SP101’s not exactly the lightest heater I’ve schlepped on my appointed daily rounds (it’s a good 12 oz. heavier than my CW9), the Silver Dollar makes for extraordinarily comfy carrying. It rides at just the right height (for me, anyway) and doesn’t dig in while sitting either at the computer or behind the wheel.

When you want to go for the added stealthiness of IWB carry, the optional straps work nicely. They come with sturdy hardware and accommodate belts up to 1 3/4 inches. I probably won’t make use of mine often as I like the whole OWB thing so much, but it’s nice to have the option.

All was not powdered sugar, blueberries and maple syrup in Silver Dollar Pancakeland, though. As you can see below, after a few hours of carry I had a holster chalk outline on my best, most comfortable worn-ass jeans. So I emailed Rob to ask how to make sure that all the excess oxblood has been drained from my holster before putting it in contact with clothing again.

I got his answer within a few hours. After expressing his dismay (“That Sucks!”) he advised not trying to wipe it down, as that would likely only make things worse. He suggested applying some neutral shoe polish to seal it for now, but said he’d be sending a new one out ASAP. I appreciated the quick response as well as the shoe polish advice, but I’ll be leaving this one in the holster drawer rather than risking stains on any more of my duds.

All in all, though, I’m happy with the purchase. While the dearth of carry options for the non-snubby SP101s is a little annoying, the Silver Dollar is nicely made and makes carry a pleasure. As long as you’re not picky about your clothes.

Specifications

Material: cow hide
Colors: tan, black or oxblood
Draw:  right or left handed
Size: 6″ wide X 6.25″ high overall
Guns: works with 3″ and 4.2″ barrel SP101s
Price: $55 base plus $15 for IWB straps; optional carving and stamping available at added cost

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit and Finish: * * * 1/2
It’s a pancake holster, so there’s nothing really groundbreaking here. It’s sturdy, nicely designed, fits my gun and is well-made. Points off for having to use two hands to re-holster and giving my jeans scarlet fever.

Comfort: * * * * *
This is where the Silver Dollar really shines. It makes packing a heavy heater all day a breeze.

Concealability: * * * * *
Another really strong point. Even carrying a decent sized revolver like a longer-barreled SP101, the Dollar hugs your bod nicely making concealment under a shirt a cinch. And the optional IWB straps give you another deep cover option.

Retention:  * * * *
I didn’t opt for the hammer strap add-on, but there’s not much need. The Silver Dollar makes your SP101 feel comfy and right at home. Unless your regular routine includes somersaults and backflips, your gun will stay put.

Overall: * * * *
A good product at a reasonable price. It’s a great way to tote a non-snubby wheelgun (sorry Ralph) all day without needing a chiropractic adjustment. The staining is a definite aggravation, but props to Rob Leahy for handling the problem quickly and courteously. Assuming yours is colorfast, the Silver Dollar’s a nice option for Ruger revolverphiles.

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18 Responses to Gear Review: Simply Rugged Silver Dollar Pancake Holster

  1. Good review, sorry about your pants! Thats a sweet looking shooter, and I am very happy to see a leather holster review on here.
    Keep em coming!

  2. Nobody ever pays me in guns…

    Congrats on acquiring the most beautiful revolver on the planet. Seriously, I have had dreams about that gun. The holster looks great too. Love the oxblood (as long as it stays on the holster and not the pants).

  3. I absolutely love Simply Rugged’s work. I have 3 pancakes, one for a 3″ 629, one for a 2.5″ 686, and one for a 4 5/8″ new model vaquero. My father and brother have handfuls of them as well. They are definitely the best deal around when it comes to quality per unit price, or anyone elses prices for that matter. I’ve not had nor heard of a dye problem like you had, but I’m not surprised he’s getting right back to you with a replacement.

    -D

  4. I’ve had 100% success using the Amway pre-wash stain remover spray and no, I do not sell the stuff. It removed cordovan shoe polish from a kakhi pants that a dry cleaner previously failed to remove. I would like to know if the holster continues to bleed onto your clothes especially during the warmer weather.

    Your SP101 looks great (the blackened steel is handsome) and I am considering sending mine to Gemini (or someone else) someday for custom work minus porting and their added engraved logo to the gun to advertise their service. Allegedly, there is a top-class gunsmith here in Portland Oregon who is an expert on customizing the SP101 unfortunately he has a two year waiting list. How does your SP101 handle with the hammer being removed?

    • Beautifully. I don’t have a gauge to measure pull weight. I’d guess somewhere around 6-7 lbs. but it’s only a guess. RF had the trigger worked on so it has a lighter, smoother pull than it did off the shelf.

      • Good. I’m glad to read that it’s a good trigger pull for you. I’m assuming there aren’t any failures to fire without the added (heavier) impact of the full hammer falling. I have read that some gunsmiths are hesitant to do a full hammer removal of the SP101 out of concern that there won’t be enough weight or impact or something.

  5. I, too, love a leather holster. Somewhere I read the following break-in tip: put the unloaded gun in a sock (I have used both the old reliable athletic tube sock and a thinner dress sock, depending on fit) and then store it in the holster for a few days. That opens the draw/reholster fit nicely and also helps draw out any extra dye, etc.

    I’ve used this method several times, with success. Try it, you’ll like it.

  6. Another good source of quality leather holsters for hard-t0-fit handguns is Milt Sparks (www.miltsparks.com) of Boise, Idaho. I had them make me one of their NLG holsters for an S&W scandium Kit Gun .357 – 3″ barrel, adjustable rear sight and a high fiber optic front sight. Could NOT find a holster for it in any catalog or store. The holster is a beautiful job – holds the gun securely without a strap, but the gun draws smoothly. Hugs your waist, really nice work. They aren’t cheap – $141 – and you will wait anywhere up to 25 weeks to get it, but if you can’t find a good holster anywhere else, they can make you one. Well worth the money and the wait.

    • +1

      I own two Milt Sparks holsters, for a j-frame and a Glock model 26, and they are excellent. From people I trust, I’ve also heard good things about holsters and gear from Mitch Rosen in Manchester, NH.

  7. I can attest to the high quality of Rob’s holsters. I bought my Silver Dollar a couple of years ago for my 2.25″ SP101 and it’s the only holster I carry it in. Beautiful oxblood color with some customization available (mine is scalloped around the edge), comfortable and fits the gun like a glove.

  8. That is a fantastically beautiful gun.

    I know this is about the holster, but I don’t recall having seen that gun before. The previous post(s) make mention of more being available, but that was a year ago, and I can’t find any followup posts. Are there? Where would I look?

  9. I have two of Rob’s holsters, for my SIG P220 and P229. I love these holsters for their comfort and simple design.

    The colors can run. It’s a fact. To prevent transferring the color to your clothing, hold the holster under warm running water for a few minutes. You might be surprised how much dye washes off. After you let it dry, wipe it down and apply a generous coat of leather balm and then use some neutral paste wax. Depending on the leather, sometimes this washing causes the inside of the holster to develop “the shaggys” since Rob doesn’t trim the interior of the leather and the chemicals he applies to the leather flattens the natural nap of the unfinished hide. Once it’s washed away, it can cause guns to look kinda mottled from gun oil being matted by the shaggy leather. If this bothers you, you can use some sandpaper to smooth out the interior leather in the holster. This sounds like an ordeal but it’s really not. They are excellent holsters at a reasonable price.

  10. I use an acrlic based spray on my leather after dying. It gives the leather a sheen and seals in the dye. Also protects the leather from moisture. I get mine from Tandy Leather.
    My SP101 e inch barrel has a similar grip as yours and I wear a similar pancake holster for years. It is a great gun.

  11. I have the 2.25 inch SP101 and think the variety of IWB holsters is lacking. I found HolsterPro Gun Leather.
    http://www.holsterpro.com/
    I ordered a model 577 for IWB, $50. It took almost 6 weeks, but it was worth the wait. It’s a well made holster and works excellent for appendix carry. No stains on my clothes. I wouldn’t hesitate to get another holster from him. Pictures at
    http://shooterstotheline.blogspot.com/2012/05/new-holster.html

    I had tried a leather/kydex tuckable holster, but it just didn’t work for me.

  12. The best holster for the SP101 I know of was made and sold by Dillons. It is open bottom so the long barrel just sticks out a little, no problem for me. I carry a 45 in cooler weather but the SP101 is my hot weather gun and the Dillons holster is comfortable, tucks it in close, and is molded to the gun so it stays open for reholstering. Perfect. Alas, Dillons stopped making their own gunleather and went to Mitch Rossen which makes good holsters but not that one, so you will have to find one somewhere. I have worn out a SP101–came apart after 6-7,000 rounds of full power .357–or maybe it was my buddies handloads, and my holster became so worn it was a little loose. So I just this summer I broke out the reserve new one and expect it to last another ten years of daily summer use. I will be eighty then so maybe I will need it less. JRF

  13. I have a simply rugged pancake for my sr9 in the same oxblood color and absoloutly love it, it only took me about two weeks to get mine but probably because i live in the same town as the gentleman who makes these amazing holsters!

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