Holster for a Beretta M1951 ‘Brigadier’

I have a lot of older guns and not a great deal of money, but since I’ve spent the last thirty years making sheaths for knives and scabbards for daggers and swords. The obvious solution was to make my own. I’d made a holster for this Beretta M1951 before, but it didn’t have a retention-strap and it would not fit over my new gun-belt. Further, I have learned a lot since I made that holster and could now do a better design.

My first holster for this gun. There’s no retention-strap, the construction of the belt-loop isn’t ideal and the loops don’t fit over my new gun-belt, which is made from two layers of 8oz. leather.

Time for a new one, and a mag-pouch while I was at it. The fundamentals of the design of the first holster are sound; it carries the gun high, and the secondary belt-loop holds the butt in tight to enhance concealment.

The holster leaves the grip fully exposed, allowing the gun to be properly gripped before the gun is withdrawn from the holster.
The new gun-belt is made from the same tooling-leather I use for sheaths and holsters, contact-cemented together and stitched at either edge. The gun shown with it is my Colt Police Positive Special in a paddle-holster I made for it.


I used 8oz. top-grain vegetable tanned tooling leather dyed British Tan then finished with a Carnauba Wax finish. The holster and mag pouch were double-needle stitched by hand with linen thread. I have a tool that cuts a groove for the thread, which decreases wear on the stitches so they are less likely to fail. I use a flex-shaft tool with a small drill bit to make the holes for the thread. I know, I know, I should use an awl to punch the holes. What can I say? I’m lazy. I cheat. Before stitching all parts were secured with contact-cement.

The finished holster and magazine pouch. The flap of leather behind the magazines prevents the base of the magazines from digging into my side.

The new holster would be designed for the gun to be carried ‘cocked-and-locked,’ with the hammer cocked and the safety applied. This meant I would want the leather to cover much more of the top of the gun. The retention strap would need to be angled to work properly with the angled back of the slide in order to hold the gun securely.

I had to add the retention-straps; when cutting out the holster I didn’t account for the need to angle the strap. Rather than start over entirely I cut the straps off and added new straps.

I used a piece of 1/4″ board to stretch the belt-loops to accommodate the very thick gun-belt, wetting them with dye to make them malleable. As the dye dried the leather stiffened, holding the shape.

I used a piece of board to expand the belt-loops on the holster and magazine pouch, my new gun-belt is quite thick and stiff.

The belt-loop on the back of the holster is a different construction than the original holster; that was a single strap secured only by contact cement and threads. The leather plate pierced with belt-loops transfers the strain to the leather rather than the stitching and glue. This is enormously stronger and more secure.

I used similar construction for the belt-loops on the magazine-pouch. The pouch is designed for concealed carry, and must be held tight to the body. This being the case I made the pouch with a flap to cover the magazine base-plates, which would otherwise dig into my side.

The mag pouches holds two magazines securely and comfortably.

I did make two small modifications to the gun. First I filed an under-cut in the front sight and filled it with bright orange enamel. Second, and more importantly, I slightly relieved the hole in the grip for the cross-bolt safety. It is possible for me to take the safety off with the side of my thumb, but by increasing the clearance around the safety if I grip the gun properly my thumb removes the safety every time without my thinking about it.
One advantage of the M1951’s design is that once the hammer is cocked and the safety applied you can still operate the slide to load or check the chamber.

With the hole around the safety relieved it’s now extremely easy to de-activate the safety with the thumb of my strong-hand. Now that it works I’ll want to refinish this hole so that it looks stock. Looks like I should probably have cleaned the gun before photographing it…
Though it is restricted to standard-pressure 9mm ammo, the Beretta M1951 is a fine handgun. It manages the modest recoil well and is quite accurate. This target was fired rapid-fire at seven yards.

The M1951 is by no means a modern handgun. It’s heavier than a modern polymer gun, holds half as many rounds in the magazine and it has a manual safety. This doesn’t make it a bad gun. It is commendably flat and very comfortable in the hand. The heel-mounted magazine release on the left-hand grip is not much slower than a more conventional release, with training at least. Contrary to their reputation this gun has no difficulty feeding hollow-point ammunition, and if it did I would use one of the ball-profile ‘ballistic-capped’ hollow-points. They are pretty inexpensive right now, too, usually under $300 for a decent Italian Police trade-in like this one.

For someone looking for a high-quality budget self-defense handgun you could easily do worse.

Sometime soon I’ll do a step-by-step post about making a holster.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 December 2020

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2 thoughts on “Holster for a Beretta M1951 ‘Brigadier’

  1. William M Rogers

    I would pay you good money to make me a holster and mag pouch for my M1951. I was issued a M1951 when I reported to AFSOUTH as leader of a CPD. I carried it for five years in a shoulder rig but had to turn it all in when I separated. Just got me a new (old) M1951and am having a hard time find an outside the belt holster and double mag carrier. Do an old man a favor and think about doing this for me. Keep firing until it locks back, then throw it at them.

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