Want to get started on making a holster

Leather to kydex, factory or custom.
BorisThespider
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Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » June 19th, 2011, 11:43 pm

I've done a lot of reading on this forum and lots of other websites. I've found tutorials for working the leather, including cutting and shaping. I do have a few questions, though, if someone could help point me in the right direction. I'll start by pointing out what I want and a brief why, and then go into the questions.

I'm looking into making an Askins Avenger (or Vertical Scabbard) type. As I understand, it rides high and tight. This is going to be one of my very first holsters - not the just the first I make. I want concealability, retention, and the ability to draw pretty quick (which will likely come with practice). I also understand that it's a pretty basic design, which should only use about a square foot of leather to build.

What weight of leather should I look for? Is there any specific animal I should buy - like horse hide or something? Does this type of holster need a reinforcement at the mouth? How high can I make this style sit? And what is the best cant? Finally, is there a good free source for patterns?

Now, I intend to make one of these for my CZ-82 and one for my PA-63. May even go nuts and make one for my Hi-Point C9 (I know, laugh it up), but I expect all areas to suffer with that anvil of a gun. I also understand that my first few holsters will be shy of masterpiece quality, so I will likely re-do all of these at some point. With this style, riding high and tight, is there some trick to figuring out how high it can ride? Maybe find the center of gravity for each or something?

Thanks for any and all tips anyone can give me. I'm awfully excited to get into this area, as I haven't picked up a new hobby in the last few months (besides, maybe, collecting and repairing milsurps).

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by juniustaylor » June 20th, 2011, 12:09 am

The pictures of it look pretty heavy... almost like an 8 thickness. An 8 = 8/64ths or 1/8" thick. I'd probably use the strip of leather at the "mouth" to add in a bit of reinforcement, but also so you can reholster it a bit easier as it keeps the mouth open. You don't have to add it though. I like to find a good balance in the center of gravity. If you get the belt loop too far toward the muzzle, it makes the grip area feel top heavy and almost want to lean away from your body. If the setup is "tight" enough, it won't do that, however, it's easier to find a happy medium.

What I do is I go to Wal-Mart to the craft aisle and buy a big sheet of poster-board. You can easily formulate a pattern with it. Staple it up where your stitches would be, insert the gun, and get a good feel for how it's going to fit in. You can then try holding it up to your side to find a happy medium in the balance and height. I've been making holsters this way for quite a while. Once you make a pattern, label it with a marker, and stash it to the side. Again, use this paper holster to figure out the cant you like. I like something around 25 degrees or so. Regular cowhide will work just fine.

Some folks on here have different opinions in leather. I buy leather from Tandy Leather Factory because I'm cheap. My holsters are only used for myself or I give them to close friends who don't care what it's made of either. Some folks buy their leather from the premium sellers. It is good quality stuff. Basically, it comes down to what are you going to use the leather for? If you're cheap like me and want it to work and do the job, then the Tandy stuff will work fine. It looks good and serves the purpose. If you want something with more money into it that may look a tad bit better and feel nicer to the touch, then you may want to spend more money for the other brands.

As for the Hi-Point C9, I wouldn't be ashamed. I own one and I own the JHP40 or whatever it is. That is a good shooting gun. I can blast hedge balls at 55 yards with that .40 S&W that is a $180 gun. Hi-Points are good, functional guns. Some guys on YouTube (IraqVeteran) whatever the rest of his username is, they jammed bolts and all sorts of crap in the muzzle, used real hot reloads, etc and couldn't get it to blow up. The only way they blew it up was they clamped it in a C-clamp, jammed a bolt down the barrel, loaded the barrel full of powder, and put a primed case in the chamber. I don't think a whole lot of guns would go through that much torture.

Anyway, leather-working is relatively simple and rewarding. You get to see the "fruits" of your labor and wear it around and people ooohh and awe about it and you know you didn't pay $60 or more for the thing (in material). Just buying your equipment and materials will cost you a decent investment but you'll have it for several years and enjoy it. The holsters I've made, I only have a few dollars invested in each of them.

Good luck!
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lklawson
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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by lklawson » June 20th, 2011, 8:30 am

My Great Grandfather was a shoe-maker/repair. Worked during the depression and on. I also have several friends and an Uncle doing custom leather. I've done a few small personal projects.

"juniustaylor" is right, if the project is for you, then only you care about horsehide, or cow, etc.

He's also right that the tools are where the investment is. For just your basic awl, knife(s), and needle(s) it should fairly cheap. Heck, they outfit Boyscouts with starter kits. Where it gets expensive is in the various punches and patterns, etc. I have one friend (does custom Cue cases) who found half of his as antiques, literally, and custom made the rest. Oh, and while I'm sure you already know this, I should say it just so it gets written down somewhere: You can't use a standard sewing machine on leather.

As for the Hi Point, again "juniustaylor" is right on the money. It's an inexpensive but reliable and accurate firearm. Lacks some of the bells and whistles of more expensive handguns but has a fantastic waranty and (after proper break-in) reliably performs the essential function of a firearm: goes "bang" when you pull the trigger.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
The Cheapskate's Guide to Gun Cleaning and Maintenance - "You shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive gun cleaning an maintenance products. Find out how to save money with inexpensive alternatives that work just as well."

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » June 20th, 2011, 3:05 pm

Thanks for the replies, guys. I suppose I'll try to get started with a cheapy tool kit. In fact, I was thinking of drilling holes with a dremel, and just using some of the better knives I have on-hand currently to get started. Unless I'm mistaken, that takes the tool investment down to a couple needles and some clamps. I'm glad to hear the type of hide matters little; that cow works fine. A buddy of mine has a big piece laying around and we'll probably try out a couple from that. As far as drying/heating, I have seen one guy who heat-dried his Askins Avenger without a reinforcement (iirc, 7-8 oz leather), and was able to set a 12-pound shop anvil on it without deformation. Not sure if he used some other method for shape-retention, but I believe that's all he said he did.

lklawson, I forgot you were on here. I believe I've seen you around a number of boards I commonly browse, including the Hi-Point forum. Yes, I love my Hi-Point. It was my first gun buy (and beat up too), and I shoot it often. I just picked up a cheapo Crossman holster for range use for it. I expect some snickering anytime I mention it online, though, so I thought I'd preemptively shrug it off. Just last range trip, a few friends and I (none of us very impressive shots) were shooting from about 15-20 yards out - all handguns - and my C9 was the only one to put a bullet through the bullseye, and remained tight for the rest of the shots. I also use the ghost ring sight, the inside of which I painted a bright orange, and man does it make sight acquisition quick and painless! Anyhow, I could talk about it all day, but it's still a fairly ugly anvil of a gun (FWIW, it weighs about the same as a H&K VP70, but more top-heavy). I kinda like ugly though, so it works out. I'm always amused, though, by the guys who thinks Glocks are gorgeous but Hi-points are ugly...

Back to the topic - thanks again for the tips! I'm not sure how well I'll like this, but I think it'll be a blast. If I enjoy it enough, I'll probably get into it a little more, and get a more proper toolset.

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by lklawson » June 20th, 2011, 5:45 pm

BorisThespider wrote:lklawson, I forgot you were on here. I believe I've seen you around a number of boards I commonly browse, including the Hi-Point forum. Yes, I love my Hi-Point. It was my first gun buy (and beat up too), and I shoot it often. I just picked up a cheapo Crossman holster for range use for it. I expect some snickering anytime I mention it online, though, so I thought I'd preemptively shrug it off. Just last range trip, a few friends and I (none of us very impressive shots) were shooting from about 15-20 yards out - all handguns - and my C9 was the only one to put a bullet through the bullseye, and remained tight for the rest of the shots. I also use the ghost ring sight, the inside of which I painted a bright orange, and man does it make sight acquisition quick and painless! Anyhow, I could talk about it all day, but it's still a fairly ugly anvil of a gun (FWIW, it weighs about the same as a H&K VP70, but more top-heavy). I kinda like ugly though, so it works out. I'm always amused, though, by the guys who thinks Glocks are gorgeous but Hi-points are ugly...
Yeah, I'm here and there a few places. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
The Cheapskate's Guide to Gun Cleaning and Maintenance - "You shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive gun cleaning an maintenance products. Find out how to save money with inexpensive alternatives that work just as well."

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » June 22nd, 2011, 3:54 am

Just found this "primer" on holster-making:

http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.ph ... opic=11869

Any opinions on the advice therein?

EDIT - Oh, just another thought on the Askins Avenger style. Does it hold tight enough? Would it make more sense to put the tunnel on the outside, and the belt loop at the front (or barrel) side rather than the rear (or butt) side? As I understand it, the norm is the belt loop at the back, which helps to create a rotation of the gun, pulling the butt in closer to the body. If you make it the way I mentioned, though, it would rather pull the barrel out, creating the same rotation, but in a slightly different manner. The one I'm looking at as a general guide is this one by ray1970:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3476&p=36057

It would then sit inside the belt, but on the outside of the pants. Is that common at all, or is it usually "all the way" in or out? The only reason I would consider doing it this way is to use the belt for additional help with retention. Or is that not a concern? I don't know - is there a better, simple design for concealed carry which also provides pretty good comfort?

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by dfunk » June 23rd, 2011, 10:53 pm

I recommend you make a simple pancake first. Not only is this a more forgiving pattern, but it will get your feet wet with working with the material and finding a decent stitch line. The avenger is a nice comfortable holster, but the pancake conceals better in my opinion.

Actually, the advice I was just about to give you is the same advice I gave ray viewtopic.php?p=36065#p36065

FWIW, I make my avenger style holsters the traditional way with the tunnel loop on the front side.

Image

Image

Good luck!

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » June 25th, 2011, 2:41 am

Thanks so much for the tips! I went ahead, using what I had available. I made a pancake holster and it was great. I bought a Harbor Freight special leatherworking toolset. That was dumb. I'll be investing in some better equipment before my next go.

But, it does work, it is comfortable, and it conceals pretty well. I'll post some pictures when I get the chance. I'll probably do a little more finishing work to it before then anyhow.

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by lklawson » June 27th, 2011, 9:58 am

Looking forward to the pics.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
The Cheapskate's Guide to Gun Cleaning and Maintenance - "You shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive gun cleaning an maintenance products. Find out how to save money with inexpensive alternatives that work just as well."

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » June 27th, 2011, 9:22 pm

The pictures I promised:

Frontside
Image

Backside:
Image

My girlish figure:
Image

My tired hawaiian shirt concealing it:
Image

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but I learned a lot and the next one should be better.

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by lklawson » June 28th, 2011, 11:01 am

Looks fine.

Peace favor your sword,
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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by juniustaylor » June 28th, 2011, 7:00 pm

Looks good, you'll only get better now. The hard part is getting the toe in the water and you've just done that.
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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » July 1st, 2011, 6:06 pm

Just started carrying the holster inside the belt. It really adds a lot to the retention. I know I made some mistakes with the first one, including measuring it out too large. I want a higher carry, so I may do an Askins Avenger next time, unless there's another style I can make, or a modification to this style that will make it ride higher. Any suggestions?

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by dfunk » July 2nd, 2011, 9:25 pm

I think it looks great! My suggestions would be to make your belt slots only big enough for your belt to pass through. This will help eliminate slop on the belt. From your photo, it looks like it rides pretty high to begin with. Any higher and you're going to have to buy thicker leather and tweak the design to prevent the gun from wanting to roll away from you.
Keep it up!

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Re: Want to get started on making a holster

Post by BorisThespider » March 28th, 2012, 2:58 am

Yearly update. Just got some thick leather for round 2. It's 9 oz stuff. Crazy thick. Should be really rough to work with. I think the end result will really be worth it, though.

Still deciding on a design for this one. Considering the Askins Avenger again, but I've worn that pancake this whole time. I've tried a few holsters here and there but nothing beat that pancake for concealability and comfort. This time around, if I do go pancake, I'll ensure the barrel is covered. So, it'll probably be one of those two designs. May keep looking and see if there are any other designs that I'm missing.

...and try to figure out how I'm going to form this stuff.

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