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Curious about some leather holster details and their application

How much boning / molding is truly necessary for retention in leather vs the exquisite, detailed molding done by man makers. It is beautiful but is it necessary? I imagine it adds considerably to the cost of a leather holster. I would also believe that level of detail would be suboptimal in terms of concealment; the holster appears to be a gun. A smoother exterior would appear less like a gun.

2) What separates "good" from "great" and "necessary" vs "cosmetic" in terms of design and construction? Some items that catch my eye:

Stitching is even and close to the gun. Does double vs single rows matter?

Mouth reinforcement. Is it necessary to ensure long-lived single-handed holstering?

Open vs closed bottom. Some older closed holsters I have examine a a fiar bit of debris in the bottom. These would also contain water. An open-bottom holster would allow extraneous materials to fall through, be easier to clean and allow additional air circulation?

Your wisdom is appreciated. This is a great forum and I appreciate the resource!
 

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Read Chic Gaylord's Handgunner's Guide and John Bianchi's Blue Steel and Gun Leather. Interlibrary loan will work.

There are 2 traditions in the holster business in this country. Maybe Western and Eastern?

I call one the saddle maker tradition using heavier skirting or belting leather and relatively little boning. Tio Sam Myres is a great example of this tradition with the Tom Threepersons design as good as it gets. Look at the Jordan Border Patrol rig as made by Don Hume for another high end example. These might well use a strap or as in the Lawrence made Keith endorsed a rawhide loop to retain a single action revolver. Notice Bill Jordan in No Second Place Winner (also well worth reading but dated in many respects) suggests maybe leaving the handgun loose in the holster in anticipation of using the gun and snapping the strap in anticipation of more movement and activity.

The alternative which I think of as Eastern, but Bruce Nelson wasn't Eastern nor were others especially out of California, I call the Italian shoe maker tradition. Chic Gaylord is more or less responsible for getting this off the ground followed by Paris Theodore and Seventrees then many more. Lou Alessi and K.L. Null are in this tradition. These use thin stiff leather - one incredibly skilled and demanding maker in South America with perhaps easier access to leather (most makers in this country buy Hermann Oak and only a few other leathers) will sand leather so a given piece is thicker and thinner in different places much like a chemical mill on aluminum for aerospace applications. These are the highly boned no safety strap holsters common today. One of the fine west coast makers offers an economy line with less boning and a line with full boning. Like breaking in a base ball glove lots of users in the saddle maker tradition did their own boning. These days that would often leave the holster too loose for serious use.

Pocket holsters are often made to breakup the outline so as to avoid printing. Kydex may disguise the outline more than boned leather. I like double row where the strain is greatest myself but I don't want the stitching squeezed together. I do believe mouth reinforcement is necessary for easy single handed holstering. I find this matters mostly for high round count exercises and classes where it's embarrassing to be the last person ready for the next iteration. For the civilian who does not plan to cuff anybody putting a gun down and stepping away may replace reholstering. There are any number of examples of mistakes made reholstering creating a bloody mess. Trigger shoes, or the wider than GI Gold Cup trigger pad have their own problems with a tightly boned holster. Open versus closed bottom, I'm inclined to want to protect the crown. Sitting down with a Yacqui slide - the ultimate open bottom - may push the pistol up and even out of the holster. I wouldn't want a holster to fill with water in the rain or retain water after a brief swim in a canal.
 

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Curious about some leather holster details and their application

How much boning / molding is truly necessary for retention in leather vs the exquisite, detailed molding done by man makers. It is beautiful but is it necessary? I imagine it adds considerably to the cost of a leather holster. I would also believe that level of detail would be suboptimal in terms of concealment; the holster appears to be a gun. A smoother exterior would appear less like a gun.
The retention is created by molding at the extraction port on a semi auto, and the trigger guard....that's all that is "truly necessary". More boning may look nice, but again, "necessary" key word here. Some makers like to make leather holsters look like plastic ones, and folks buy into that, so it comes down to a matter of preference......I guess.
2) What separates "good" from "great" and "necessary" vs "cosmetic" in terms of design and construction? Some items that catch my eye:

Stitching is even and close to the gun. Does double vs single rows matter?
Even stitching following close contour of the gun is just good craftsmanship.
Double row of stitching , while it may look good, again, not necessary with a properly glued and stitched holster. I'm asked to do it so often that it now comes as standard option from me.
Mouth reinforcement. Is it necessary to ensure long-lived single-handed holstering?
Much more necessary on a IWB holster than OWB.

Open vs closed bottom. Some older closed holsters I have examine a a fiar bit of debris in the bottom. These would also contain water. An open-bottom holster would allow extraneous materials to fall through, be easier to clean and allow additional air circulation?
I favor open bottoms for reasons you have covered.
Your wisdom is appreciated. This is a great forum and I appreciate the resource!
In my case, don't know if wisdom fits, but just my opinions and observations after making a fair amount of holsters and belts.
 

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Every holster ive owned that was more detail boned simply fit better and kept that fit over time. One of my favorites is Ken Null, as the leather he uses really shows the boning well, its thin, tough and wears well. This one is iver 20 years old.
 

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I think Rayban got all the good parts. I think the extreme boning may be partially the result of the move to kydex and the forming process used for it.

The most important part to a long lived secure fitting holster is the pattern. Just take a stroll through google images. You will find some holsters that are Meticulously boned but the stitch line is 80 yds from the mold. Below is a pic I found in 2 seconds and if it belongs to someone here .. I apologize but



Leather is not kydex. Leather unless it is hardwaxed or boiled is going to give some. The number one enemy to a guns finish is not a tight fitting holster ... its a loose one that enables the gun to move a tiny amount all day inside the holster. I personally would not buy the holster pictured above and if you gave it to me I would have to stich in a new sewline front and back. The leather will wallow out because the stitch line is at least a full inch from the gun. One day while rocking in a chair your gun will land up on the floor. Boning does not make up for an ill fitted pattern.

Now here is one that is not as detailed but look at the stitch lines. Right up on that gun. If all the other aspects ( good leather properly treated) are there then I would prefer this to a super detailed boning job.



Boning and burnishing to some degree have Two purposes. One is ... in lew of other types of treatments .. its attractive. Second .. the more leather and gun contact you can have the more friction is created so it helps with retention but again ... only if the stitch lines are where they are supposed to be.



I know its a long answer but its kind of a pet peeve. So many people that want to make a few extra bucks knocking out leather so they bone it because that is what they see but they are putting out unsafe holsters and it makes us all look bad.

Many of my basketweave holsters are not boned at all on the front and are just boned on the back and people are using them safely for years.

Double row stitching .. looks nice sometimes but not at all necessary. You already glued it and stitched it. I really like the look of double stitch lines but it moves the belt slot in which can make an otherwise comfortable holster a pain in the side so you either have to make the ears a little longer or know your getting the slots in kind of tight. I do it when the mood strikes aesthetically and adjust the pattern but its not necessary.

Mouth reinforcement .. No hard fast rule but I usually only do it on IWB as a rule and on OWB if the holster rides low on the gun or I want to add some pizzazz with a different material

I discourage people from closed bottom. It just means its a place for all sorts of junk to collect and ruin the finish of your gun
 

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Open or closed toe depends on the type holster and it's purpose.

A closed toe can accumulate debris in the bottom.
When it's a service type holster the closed toe makes the holster longer and can cause it to dig into a car seat and ride up.

However, an open toe can allow debris to enter the muzzle if you sit on a muddy creek bank for instance.

For most CCW holsters an open toe is probably best, but for a field, hunting, or fishing holster a closed toe may be better.

Double row stitching is sort of a "belt and suspenders" insurance that stitching won't break, fray, or cut through the leather.
You often saw this on duty holsters that were past their service life but still being used.
One stitching problem often seen in past days was when a cop would rest his hand on his gun while standing around.
Over time the stitching would stretch then break through the leather or the stitching itself would let go.
Double line stitching adds extra strength that may or may not be an advantage.
In any case, it can't hurt and doesn't have a real down side other then possible extra cost.

In a modern minimalist CCW holster the closely molded fit aids in retention of the gun without a safety strap. The closer molded fit increases the contact between the leather and gun to aid retention but in a properly designed and made holster, doesn't reduce the speed of draw.

Again, all this comes down to the purpose of the holster.
 

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Null was making detail boned holsters long before kydex was around, as was Thad Rybka. I dont think detail boning is a byproduct of the kydex method, but of a holster maker putting the most he can into getting that holster to fit exactly as it should, with as much contact as possible with the minimal amount of obtrusive material or superfluous design features. Im not a holster maker, but thats my take.
 

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I was reminded of this thread when I read this:
One more thing. If you ever plan on taking your holster to a class or any environment where you will be holstering a gun you have recently shot, a holster that protects the entire muzzle of the gun is a good idea. Nothing quite feels like a hot muzzle on the soft tissue of your upper thigh or groin.
"Again this all comes down to the purpose of the holster" High round count exercises and classes are just a little different from every day carry.

Some folks will match an IWB and an OWB to work with about the same manual of arms.
 

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A handmade holster totally built by one artist from Milt Sparks costs just a little bit more than the assembly line crap sold by Galco. And I'm only talking a few bucks.
 

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RayBan covered the OP's questions very well.

During my 4 decades in the holster business one of the most frequently asked questions was, "What is the best holster for my XYZ Model 123?". This can open up a vast range of discussion, including:

1. Intended use (range, field, competition, discreet concealed carry, etc).
2. Physical size, weight, etc.
3. Any physical limitations (shoulder, elbow, wrist, grip strength, and others).
4. Usual attire (business, casual, etc).
5. Male or female (there are some general physiological differences).

Then there are those I dubbed as graduates of Holster Genius School. Typically someone who has read two gun magazines and a couple of internet blogs, now has an idea in mind for the "perfect holster" and is looking for someone to turn his dream (or fantasy) into reality. Attempting to help these folks results in:

A. Design, patterning, prototype to test pattern, adjusting pattern, second prototype, very likely further adjustments to pattern and another prototype, then the final product will start to emerge. Unfortunately, most folks are not willing to pay for 5 to 10 times as much time, labor, materials, and shop supplies as they would for a standard production holster made to an existing pattern, so the holster maker who takes on such work may find himself working for minimum wage (or less).
B. Should the final product not perform as the customer envisioned that it should (the most frequent result) the customer never remembers that it was his idea to begin with, but he will always remember the holster maker's failure to render his dream as reality.

So nice to be retired now! I can let the next generation deal with such pleasantries.
 

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^^^^

Great thread. Superb posts.
 

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A handmade holster totally built by one artist from Milt Sparks costs just a little bit more than the assembly line crap sold by Galco. And I'm only talking a few bucks.
Right you are! The cost is not much more but the quality certainly is much better. Spend a few bucks more and be happy, or spend a little less and get a poor product.
 

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Every holster ive owned that was more detail boned simply fit better and kept that fit over time. One of my favorites is Ken Null, as the leather he uses really shows the boning well, its thin, tough and wears well. This one is iver 20 years old.
Oh I am not saying boning is bad or even unnecessary since I still bone the back of my holsters .. but look at that Null and where his stitch line is and how high the leather comes up on the gun. That stitch line is gorgeous, right up on that gun and the pattern is extremely well thought out. Its the total sum of parts and not just the boning so when you fellas are looking over some of those ebay offerings pay attention to that stitch line and pattern and dont get caught up in just a pretty face. Boning will NOT make up for bad design or execution.

By the way .. is that null a flat back? Nice rig

Here you can see a fair amount of boning and a proper location for the stitching. Look at both when you shop.



I hate body shields but ... if ya ask for one I build it with one but you wont find one on any of my personal holsters.
 
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