Someone stopped by searching for “front break holsters.”
Well, for starters, here is a Shorpy.com picture of a front break holster, being worn by a Maricopa County deputy in 1953.
For a full size view of the scene, click on this link to shorpy.com.
These holsters were quite popular in the days when a stag grip ornamented revolver was just the ticket for a rising young officer.
The core of the holster was a strong “clamshell” spring that wrapped around the the back of the holster, leaving the front open. The original Berns Martin holsters and almost all the clones had a deep recess that locked on the recoil shield and prevented drawing the revolver any way but the right way, out the slot in the front of the holster.
The draw was accomplished by “reaching for the plow handle,” using the first finger joint to unsnap the safety strap as your hand grasped the grips.
With the strap loose, the hand rotated to snap the barrel out of the holster, with the spring’s resistance enough to force your wrist to snap the gun into a hasty firing position.
I have seen a lot of holsters and “rigs” in my time, but I have never seen any faster holster than an original Berns Martin.
Of course, the front breaks have their warts. For one, a proper setup is to rivet the holster on a Sam Browne belt to keep you from rotating the holster instead of the revolver. It is a bit hard to adjust a riveted on holster, so you had to be right the first time.
In addition, too much practice in a short time would leave you with a sore wrist.
The greatest disadvantages are perceptual. The entire top of the revolver is visible from the front. That exposes the top strap and barrel to the elements, and it really does not look professional. Of course, when I have to get Roscoe out in a hurry profession look can go to blazes.
In addition, semi-autos have no recoil shield. While some holster makers have tried various dodges to get around the lack of anything to hang on to, I have not found front breaks practical for any of the various slab-sides on the market.
And the last disadvantage is the thought that front breaks allow the officers duty weapon to be easily taken away from them. My old boss lifted a flyweight officer off the ground by the gun butt as a demonstration – but it is hard to convince someone who spends his time with his boots under a desk that good front breaks do retain the duty weapon.
And, warts and all, I have a number of front breaks and like them when trouble might rear its ugly head. But if someone tries to sell you one for your 1911, leave it where you