Easy Tips – How To Stretch a Leather Holster

Good day to all my fellow shooters out there. Whether you are new to the art of carrying a weapon or a veteran of the affair, knowing how to maintain your holsters is just as important as keeping your weapon clean and ready. Let’s talk leather holsters today. 

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While many carriers opt for a thick hard plastic material to keep their weapon secured and trigger guard safe, others have chosen a softer look to their holster: leather. Don’t take soft for unreliable. These holsters have been around as long as guns themselves, but what truly makes a good quality leather holster? 

The Forming of the Holster 

In the crudest form, leather holsters were simply a belted loop in which the rifle’s barrel fit to stay on the horse, but as time and evolution moved forward, the revolver was born, thus a better holster. When creating a formed holster to hold the handguns closer to the body, men had to figure out how to soften a leather holster and mold it to fit their weapon. 

Eventually, they figured out that the “form” took place much like their saddles by the constant molding to the object inside the leather. In today’s world, we fine-tuned the method, but the basic idea still applies. When creating a mold for a leather holster, the two leather pieces are connected (typically sewn) and wetted down to allow for molding. Once malleable, they insert the weapon into the holster and allow the material to dry, forming the weapon’s outline. This provides a firm and proper fit for the weapon of choice. Some might see this as a downfall because it means weapons are not as interchangeable to the holster, and multiple holsters are needed for various weapons. 

It is not just the inside of the holster that may need softening. The exterior could also use a slight touch-up in time; however, you want to extremely limit how much you try to soften a holster at all once it is molded to fit your weapon. Softening the holster will significantly diminish its purpose, which is, keep your weapon secured.

You can use warm water or glycerin soap to clean dirt, grime, and dust off the outside of the holster, but this does not help soften the exterior, only keep it clean. If you genuinely want to soften the holster, soak it in warm water until moldable again, and reform if that is your goal. Just know, you will need to refit your weapon again and start the break-in process from scratch. 

Breaking in your New Leather Holster

Congratulations! Your new holster has arrived. You clear your weapon for safety, unwrap the holster, and….the weapon doesn’t quite fit as you had hoped. Don’t shove it back in the box and send it back. Unlike plastic holsters, leather needs time to “warm-up” to being used. As a new owner, you need to know how to stretch leather holster to allow the proper fitting of your weapon. The manufacturer uses a resin mold of your weapon to get the best fit possible, but you must still allow a break-in period at home. 

While there are multiple ways to break in your holster, the number one way is NOT to use any oils of any kind! Oiling will only cause you more problems than solutions. Adding oil to any part of your holster is going to soften the leather, cutting its lifespan in half at a minimum, leading to oil on your weapon, which can travel to your hands, leading to a faulty draw. 

You want your weapon to fit snug inside but still allow room to draw quickly. Follow these easy steps to ensure you properly know how to stretch leather holster for a lifetime of use. 

This method, known as the “blocking technique,” is widely used and super easy. First, and most importantly, clear your weapon. Then you can choose your covering: stick your gun in a plastic baggie, a thin dress sock, or saran wrap. This will add just enough space to stretch your holster and give your weapon some more wiggle room. Carefully holster your gun, make sure it fits down and lock it into the holster as intended. This may prove a bit difficult as it is still super tight. Set the weapon aside and let it sit for 5 minutes or as long as a few days. How much it needs to stretch is up to you. You will likely be doing this step multiple times, so be patient. 

When the unwrapped weapon can smoothly be drawn and holstered to your comfort, you have successfully learned how to stretch your holster. 

A Few Other Tips To Help The Rest Of The Holster

Take the strap that snaps over your weapon and bend it back and forth a few times. This will help break in the snapping strap to move better when wanting a quick draw. 

Use wax paper (wax side to the holster) to wrap your gun in when stretching. The wax will help smooth out the interior without losing the integrity of the molding. 

Your body heat and the humidity outside will soften the leather as time goes on as well. If it gets too wet from body sweat, don’t wash it! Set it out in the sun to dry naturally, thus avoiding the shrinkage of the leather. Finally, wear your holster around the house for a few days to get comfortable with the feel of it. 

I love the way a properly broke in leather holster feels on the body. Unlike a hard plastic-type, it moves with you, keeps its form, and holds my weapon securely. I hope you love yours too. 

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Author: Andy Bredenkamp

Andy is the founder of Master The Target, where he gets to live out his passion about responsible firearms use. His mission is to guide gun enthusiasts in picking the best gear and ensuring their safety with each use.