Update on Holster Making

To both of my readers,

This has been a long time coming – five months in the progression, actually. First, I posted about my original holster making success. Then, I posted better pics of the original.

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Then, I posted an entry on the J-frame cross-draw that I built for my wife.

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At that point, I decided that I needed to seek to build holsters for other people, that lead different life experiences, come up with some new innovations in my holsters, and that I needed to do some torture-testing to some basic designs to see how well they hold up under extreme stress. I liked my holster, and Jenni liked hers, but how would anybody else like my holsters? How would they perform for someone else that had completely different habits in their daily routine? The holsters I had built yet were nice, but what set them apart from any other holsters, really? I know that I’m hard on shoes, so I tend to buy really well-made shoes that can take a beating and keep on looking good. Could I build holsters that would perform the same? These are all questions that I felt needed to be answered.

Jenni’s coworker, Len decided that he wanted a small-of-the-back holster for his Cobra in .38-Spl. He wanted it to include one two-shot reload. I was up to the challenge, since I had only ever really thought about revolver holsters before. This is what I came up with:

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And my wife modeling it:

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I have to admit that it was an accident that I cut out my pattern backwards on the leather. There’s more to that story that I’ll get to in a minute…

My friend, Will told me that he ‘pined for’ a left-hand holster for his airweight J-frame that had no cant, so he could access it with either hand from deep cover if the proverbial S**T hit the fan. I asked him what color it should be. He said that it should probably be a color. I asked him if I should make him a pink holster. He said that he would proudly wear a pink holster. I didn’t think that I could do a pink holster, as it’s far easier to dye to a darker color rather than a lighter one (but I will have to recant on that later), so I went with red. I had to call Will to tell him that I was looking at a holster that was somewhere between a fire engine and a tomato.

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This sucker pulls the gun in TIGHT! Here’s a shot of my lovely wife modeling for me once again in natural light:

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He cracked up the first time he saw it! That holster is gorgeous, and the pictures don’t do it justice. I would really like to do some more in such a shocking color. At this point, I had come to the realization that I don’t do black holsters. I like colors. I alluded to turning the leather inside-out earlier in this post. I thought that maybe I should have a layer of leather facing towards the firearm, and another layer of leather facing the outside to pretty up the combination. My prototype was for one of my .586’s. Here’s what I came up with prior to dying and finishing the beast:

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Note the lack of visible stitches. This holster is double-stitched like all of my previous holsters, but the stitching is hidden under a top layer of leather. This has proven to be a nearly bullet-proof (please pardon the phrase) holster that takes abuse and keeps on performing and looking good. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of either my left-hand holster or my ‘concealed stitch’ holster until after some serious torture-testing. On the up-side, the hidden-stitch prototype has held up extremely well! Here are those two holsters in question:

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Note that the left-handed one is visibly beat up quite a bit more than the gun-blue, red-lined prototype (I told you I don’t do black) on my right-hand side. I’m shocked at how nice both of these look after the punishment that I’ve put them through over the last six months! I’ve crawled under cars on the concrete, I’ve been in the dirt, I’ve worn them empty as much as I’ve carried guns in them, and they still hold their shape, retain the revolvers, remain comfortable, and still honestly look pretty darned good.

Next, I traded some reloads for a holster to my friend Darin. He’s a lefty, and decided he wanted a cross-draw for his N-Frame in .45 ACP. So, I went to work putting together a hidden-stitch holster for his Model 22. I finished this one in a dark chocolate brown. It turned out very nicely.

N frame cross draw 2

I say with much pride that Darin is quite fond of that holster. He’s wound up wearing it more in front than on his side. Think Angel Eyes in The Good, the Bad, and the ugly. I can hardly blame him. An N-frame is so large that it is a little awkward to wear.

My brother bought his first gun in October. He got himself a 5-inch Para 1911 in .45 ACP. He was talking about wanting a holster, and I was coming up with ideas. He said that he wanted one that logically wore where I wear mine for my 586’s. He wanted it canted a little more dramatically to pull up the muzzle on that 5-inch barrel. My brother wears jeans nearly constantly, and most of his jeans stay a brilliant blue, by some strange and unnatural miracle. I thought that a leather, pancake holster that was dyed and textured to mimick denim was in order. For concealed carry, if the holster flashed, it would be camouflaged against his jeans. So, I went to work building him a holster (with hidden stitching as has become my calling card), with the stamped texture and vague coloration of a pair of jeans. I’m not ashamed of what I was able to turn out.

[So sorry. Pictures pending.]

Then, I met my most recent challenge. The original, purple, cross-draw holster that I made for my lovely wife outlived its usefulness. For whatever reason, the leather had become quite soft. This is the only one of my holsters that has done this. The ears on the sides became floppy, and the body became very soft as well, and the holster’s retention went to pot. I couldn’t quite figure it out. She had been complaining that the cross-draw format was not nearly as useful as she had originally imagined it would be. Women’s jackets are quite a bit shorter than men’s as well. Have you ever noticed that a ladies’ jacket hems just below the top of the back pockets whereas a men’s jacket will often extend below the bottom of the back pocket? This adds to the fact that a woman cannot carry the same holster that a man can. Jenni was constantly flashing the bottom of her purple holster when she bent over. She said that she would like something strong-side, high-rise, in the hidden-stitched format that my more recent holsters have been. I came up with something that looks like it should live on the bottom of the ocean, and performs its job quite well. Nearly the entire holster sits over the bottom-line of the belt, and it is not tempted to flop over from the gravitational pull of the stainless steel revolver. Remember how I said that I couldn’t do pink? How about this pink and purple, marbled beauty with a shimmery pearl coat on top of it?

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It almost seems to change color when the light source changes a little.

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Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of this one. So far, Jen has been wearing it for a couple of days, and she loves it! I have to tell you that it kind of makes me wish for the next project.

8 thoughts on “Update on Holster Making

  1. what kind of adhesive are you using to glue the leather to the outside of the noseam holster?

    I may try it for my personal use, but will not be going into production with it.

    Just scored a revolver (Taurus 85UL 38SPL) and got a big shipment of leatherworking stuff, so will be making holsters out the wazoo soon!

  2. Super cool. You mention dying and texturing the leather to look like denim… since the covering layer of leather seems to be more decorative than functional (correct me if I’m wrong there) wouldn’t it be possible (if difficult) to cover a leather holster with materials other than leather? Like, say, a nice heavy denim? I know that might be sacrilegious, but it seems like a clever idea to me. Of course, I know nothing about making holsters, so it might not even be feasible.

  3. Thank you very much, Greg. The outer layer of leather can be, but is not necessarily, quite structural. The original that I made in that style is just about the toughest, stiffest, broken-in holster I’ve ever seen. Honestly, even as well as that one turned out, I would probably skip the trouble and butcher a worn-out pair of jeans rather than spend the time to recreate the look in leather. If the under-layer is a little heavier, the top layer can be thinner and still reap the same benefits. I will be utilizing some of that technique with the new one for Jen’s 627. I may have to cut some leather tonight…

    –Michael

  4. okay! i am glad that i read along further. i like your wife’s comments and this seems to be good for me as well. HELP! 😀

    • R.L. – I’ve been trying very hard to email you, but it looks like my emails are not going through for some reason. I’m still getting emails from you, though. If you read this, would you please be so kind as to check your junk folder and make sure I’m not getting filtered out by your email or something? Thanks!

      –Michael

  5. Awesome!! It must take you 4 or 5 hours alone just to stitch the leather together with an awl. I should know, since I do a bit of work with leather myself making archery armguards and handstitching with an awl is time-consuming.

    Beautiful work on those holsters. I was looking into a belt holster for my .22 cal. Browning Buck Mark 7.25 Contour URX for carrying into the field during hunting season to pick off squirrels. The gun itself is over 11″ overall and it’s not conducive to simply sticking it down the front of one’s pants. Maybe when I find employment again, I’ll commission you to build one for me.

  6. OrangeNeck,

    I’m glad you took the time to wander all the way in to this blog entry! They are pretty labor-intensive. If I get enough volume, I’ll eventually spring for a machine to sew them. Thank you for the compliment on the work, and I hope I get the opportunity to make a holster for you sometime!

    –Michael

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