Good Gunleather: Milt Sparks Summer Special II
Gunleather is one the things few things left in America where old-world craftsmanship is still appreciated. Most folks are looking for the instant gratification of getting their new gear RIGHT NOW. But shooters still understand that working leather into a high-quality holster takes time and skill.
Milt Sparks is one of those companies where customers can expect to wait months for delivery of an order, but they still gladly line up to make a purchase.
As long as I have been interested in handguns, I have heard about the legendary Milt Sparks brand. The Summer Special was considered by the authors I followed to be an excellent scabbard for anyone wanting to discreetly carry a gun for self-defense.
Several decades ago, Milt Sparks began producing the Summer Special with the permission of the designer, Bruce Nelson. Sparks made a few design changes over the years, but the overall form has remained the same.
The Summer Special II was introduced by the company in more recent years. It is intended to be an addition to the line, not a replacement of the original.
The “II” is essentially the same as the first, with the exception being the new holster has interchangeable belt loops. This allows the user to change out belt loops to match the size belt he or she will be wearing. Matching the loops to the belt size is important for the best ride.
I wanted a Summer Special for many years, but as a cop working in Georgia, money was tough to come by. I was never able to justify the cost, and settled for another company’s less-expensive version of the scabbard.
One day, I stumbled across a shooter who had a Summer Special II he was looking to unload. For reasons that are still a mystery to me, he purchased the holster, but did not like it. As luck would have it, the holster was designed for one of my favorite carry guns: the Glock 19.
After a short conversation, we worked out a trade, his holster for my knife. Out of the blue, I now owned the holster I had wanted for many years.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been wearing the knock-off holster for several years, and it had done a pretty good job. I wasn’t sure if the Summer Special could live up to expectations. I’m very happy to say that it did.
From the minute I put it on, the Summer Special became my favorite IWB holster. The way the gun rode inside my waistband was vastly superior to every other IWB holster I had tried. While not as comfortable as a belt slide holster, the Milt Sparks was definitely comfortable enough for a car trip and wearing around all day.
The quality of the leather was as good as any I had seen on other holsters. The stitching appeared perfect, and the belt loops were rugged.
The Summer Special II has internal sight rails that prevent the gun from snagging during the draw. The draw is easy and fast. The leather against the pistol is smooth, while the leather on the outside of the holster is rough. The smooth leather reduces friction during the draw, while the rough extern helps the holster “grip” the inside of the pants to reduce the amount of movement during routine errands.
The mouth of the holster is reinforced so it does not close down if the holster is drawn. This allows the user to re-holster the pistol in a much quicker, smoother fashion.
There is a back flap of leather that rides between the pistol frame and the body of the shooter. This leather works very good to prevent discomfort from edges and safeties.
The belt loops are affixed by screws. The screws work in and out easy enough for a quick belt loop change, but are not loose enough to work free under normal use. I’ve had my SS II for about four years now, and the screws remain snuggly in place.
An IWB-style holster isn’t for everyone, but it works very well for me. I live in Florida now, and we have long, hot summers. Under a t-shirt, the gun virtually disappears. A Glock 19 isn’t the smallest pistol on the market, but with the Summer Special holster, the gun is secure and well hidden.
If you want to order a Summer Special for yourself, you can head over to the Milt Sparks website, or give them a call at (208) 377-5577. Bear in mind that there is a wait of 4-6 months before your holster will be made.
The Milt Sparks shop is like any other custom shop: you order and you wait. For old world craftsmanship, that is to be expected. Direct from the company, the price is $95. Custom leathers, such as sharkskin, will set you back a bit more.
There is good news, however. Currently, Brownells has a stock of Summer Special II holsters available for immediate purchase. As of this writing, they have right-handed models for the Glock 17/22, Glock 19/23, Glock 26/27, 1911, 1911 Commander, 1911 Officers, SIG SAUER P220/P226 and SIG SAUER P229. They are listed at $94.99.