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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, quick question for any holster makers out there:

I've played with this some, and sometimes it works great molding the leather to a gun by briefly immersing it in very hot water and kinda sculpting it on... but sometimes, depending on the leather I guess, the leather gets too dried out and cracks.

I suppose if I dye it first I could go ahead and oil it well, but then it won't soak up the water the same. I've heard of using wax for old cuirboille leather armor, but don't want to gunk up a gun with a waxy holster.

Ideas? A little oil in the wather, maybe?


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1,190 Posts
Hot water with one or two drops of liquid detergent mixed in as a wetting agent.

Most of the holster makers use a press with rubber pads to do the basic forming and then bone the leather to the outlines.

Some of the makers use the dye as the wetting agent

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found this while browsing.. hope it helps..

Posted By: Trailrider <[email protected]>
Date: Thursday, 28 January 1999, at 12:26 a.m.

Black Powder,
Note: Apart from wet fitting, you should always wet leather before making sharp bends.

Once you have completed your holster simply wet the leather thoroughly, but this can be accomplished simply by holding it under the faucet until the leather is wet on both sides. Smooth off any water droplets so it doesn't watermark. Be careful not to scratch or dent the surface with your finger nails or dirt and debris on your work table while the leather is wet. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO SOAK THE HOLSTER IN A BUCKET OF WATER, Elmer Keith's opinion notwithstanding.

Put your gun inside a plastic bag tightly wrapping the gun so the contours of the gun are prominent through the baggie. Place the gun in the holster, working it down to its final position inside. If you experience difficulty in getting the barrel or cylinder to expand the holster to shape use a 7/8" hardwood dowel, the end of which you have rounded so there are no sharp corners to catch on the inside, to preliminarily form the "pipe" or part where the barrel fits. If you cannot get into the corners, use smaller diameter dowels, but be careful not to over-stretch the leather before you insert the gun in the holster. Work the gun in and out of the holster making sure that the ejector button on single action revolvers have enough of a track so that the gun doesn't get locked into the holster. Don't overdo this at this time, however.

How much forming of the holster you do around the gun is up to you. For Old Western style holsters you really don't want all that much close form fitting as that wasn't the style. For modern holsters you may or may not want them form-fit. Many large commercial outfits such as Bianchi and Galco form holsters for autos and double action revolvers so that virtually every contour of the gun is visible on the outside of the holster. This may be advantageous for keeping the gun in a skeleton rig without using a retention strap. I don't like this style, as it impedes the draw, and I prefer to have a retention strap on "field" guns.

To close-form the leather to the gun you may need to use some type of rounded tool to press the leather against the gun. The wooden handles of skivers or edgers work if there are no rough spots. The bowel of a spoon will also work if you use care not to scratch the leather with the edges. I made a tool from the tine of a deer antler. The tip of the tine is slightly rounded and smoothed with sandpaper. I cut the tine about 8" long and rounded the cut end, smoothing it with sandpaper so I can also use it for "boneing" as form the leather is called.

Only leave the gun in the holster for about half-an-hour or an hour after forming it. Remove the gun and allow the holster to dry at room temperature until it feels barely damp to the touch. Put the gun back in the holster >without ) See the order page on the "Trailrider's Guide to Cowboy Action Shooting" book for a look at the cover of my leather catalog. Hope to have the holsters on the website soon.

Ride easy, Pard,
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