Leather holsters are a popular choice for gun owners due to their durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. However, new leather holsters can be stiff and uncomfortable, making it challenging to draw or holster a gun quickly and safely. That’s where breaking in a leather holster comes in. By breaking in a leather holster, you can soften the material and mold it to fit your gun and body, making it easier to use and more comfortable to wear.
In this post, we will explore the best ways to break in a leather holster, step-by-step. We’ll cover the tools and materials you’ll need, the different techniques to use, and the dos and don’ts of the process. By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to break in your leather holster effectively and safely. So, let’s get started and make your leather holster feel like an extension of your body.
Choosing the Right Leather Holster
When shopping for a leather holster, it’s important to select the right size and type of holster that is specifically designed to fit your gun. It should feel comfortable when worn, provide enough room for your gun, and stay in place while you draw or re-holster the weapon. Additionally, if you plan on wearing your holster with different clothing types (i.e., outside of the waistband, inside of the waistband), make sure the holster accommodates those configurations as well.
For example, an IWB – or inside-the-waistband – holster must be made from softer leather materials than an OWB – or outside-the-waistband – holster due to its close proximity to the body. This is why it’s important to consider where and how you plan on wearing your holster and choose the correct one for your needs.
Preparing the Holster.
Before you begin breaking in your leather holster, there are a few simple steps you must take to prepare the holster for this process.
First, check if the holster is made of vegetable-tanned or chrome-tanned leather before proceeding. Chrome-tanned holsters are treated with chemicals that can make them less receptive and more difficult to break in.
Additionally, be sure to read any instructions included with the holster and clean it thoroughly with a damp cloth before beginning.
The Break-In Process
When breaking in a new leather holster, you can use several different techniques to soften the material and shape it to fit your body and gun. Here’s an overview of some of the most common methods:
1. Wearing the Holster: The simplest and easiest way to break in a leather holster is to wear it regularly for short periods of time over several days or weeks. This will help loosen up the stiff fabric and allow it to conform more closely to your body shape. It’s important to note that this method should only be used with holsters made from vegetable-tanned materials as chrome-tanned holsters won’t respond as well to wear and tear.
2. Warming and Softening the Leather: Using a hair dryer or an industrial heat gun, you can warm up and soften the leather of your holster for a quicker break-in. Start by holding the dryer at least three inches away from the holster and gradually move closer until it feels warm to the touch. Then, start massaging in circular motions with your hands or fingers until it begins to take shape around your gun. This method should only be used on vegetable-tanned holsters as chrome-tanned ones may be damaged by too much heat.
3. Molding the Holster to Your Gun: For holsters with adjustable retention screws or tensioners, use a screwdriver to slightly loosen the screws and then insert your unloaded gun into the holster. Once it’s snugly in place, use your hands to massage and shape the leather material around it. This will help break it in faster while also allowing you to customize the fit of the holster to better suit your needs.
Dos and Don’ts
List some dos and don’ts when breaking into a leather holster:
• Wear gloves when handling sharp tools or tools with exposed metal parts so as not to cut yourself or damage the holster fabric.
• Make sure that you are only using vegetable-tanned leather holsters for molding and softening techniques as chrome-tanned holsters may be damaged.
• Exercise caution when using a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the leather, and hold it at least three inches away from the holster at all times.
• Read any instructions included with the holster before beginning
• Clean the holster thoroughly with a damp cloth prior to starting.
• Do not use too much force when molding the leather or attempting to adjust retention screws as this could damage the fabric.
• Do not attempt to break in a chrome-tanned holster with heat or molding techniques as this could damage it permanently.
• Do not leave your gun unattended while it is inside of its holster even if you are only breaking it in.
• Do not use any harsh chemicals or abrasive materials on the leather as this could cause discoloration or even weaken the material.
• Do not attempt to break in a holster with a loaded gun as this could be dangerous.
Overstretching the Leather: If you apply too much force when molding or adjusting your holster, it can cause the leather to stretch beyond its natural limits. To avoid this, start by loosening any retention screws slightly before placing your gun in the holster and using gentle pressure to massage it into shape. Additionally, if possible, try putting some padding inside of the holster while breaking it in as this will help minimize stretching.
Uneven Molding: If your holster is not evenly molded around the gun, then it may be difficult for you to draw and reholster smoothly. This can happen when using heat softening techniques or simply due to incorrect placement of your hands while massaging. To fix this issue, you can either place the holster in a form-fitting mold or use a soft object such as a rolled towel to press the fabric into an even shape.
Excessive Drying and Cracking: If your holster ends up too dry after breaking it in, then it could cause cracking over time. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you are using leather conditioner after each break-in session to keep the material moisturized and flexible. Additionally, if possible, store your holster away from direct sunlight or heat sources to minimize drying out of the fabric.
Do leather holsters need to be broken in?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, leather holsters need to be broken in so the retention of the holster increases as it molds itself to the shape of your firearm. No, you don’t have to spend hours working with a new holster to break it in. With normal wear and use, most holsters will take on the shape they need within a few days. After that point, you can start using them for active carry or practice drawing from them if desired.
However, if you’re looking for quicker results or if your holster isn’t conforming well after multiple uses, there are several methods you can use to speed up the process of breaking in your leather holster. Some people recommend placing a heavy object in the holster and leaving it there overnight but this can cause stress to the leather which could lead to premature wear and tear.
A better way is to use a “conditioning” method. This involves using something like a soft cloth, glove or even leather balm rubbed against the inner surface of your holster to soften up the leather. You can then draw your unloaded firearm from the holster multiple times while applying slight pressure until you get the desired fit and feel. With patience and care, you should be able to break-in any leather holster with ease!
Of course, if all else fails, you can always send it back for an exchange or refund! Generally speaking, holsters don’t require a lot of work to break in, but if you’re looking for the perfect fit, sometimes it pays off to put in a bit of extra effort.