How to Break a Holster In
So you picked up a beautiful new leather holster, perfectly molded to the shape of your pistol, and you can’t wait to get home to slide your pistol into it and mount it to your belt. The only problem is, your pistol isn’t going to slide in. In fact, it doesn’t seem like it will go in at all.
The single most asked question by users of new leather holsters is, “Why won’t my gun fit in this holster.”
When you purchase a new leather holster, or a holster that is lined with leather or suede, there are some things you should expect. If it is a quality holster, you should expect it to fit very tightly. Expect the holster to be so tight that the pistol cannot be fully inserted on the first try. Even if the pistol will go fully into the holster, a thumb strap will normally be too tight to snap. Removing the pistol from the holster will be even harder.
This is because most good holsters are made from stiff leather, not soft leather, and are molded and sewn to fit a pistol perfectly after break-in. With use, the leather will experience some natural stretching, and the inside of the holster will be smoothed and burnished from rubbing against the pistol. If a holster is built from soft leather that will easily stretch to the shape of the pistol, it will be too floppy to properly or safely hold the pistol. If the holster is built from stiff leather to perfectly fit the pistol when new, then the holster will be far too loose once it is broken in.
In order to obtain a perfect fit with sturdy leather, the holster must be built to be tight initially and then must be broken in for the correct fit.
Shooters use many techniques to break in leather holsters, many of them wrong. You should not use any kind of oil or solvent to soften the leather. The last thing you want in a holster is soft leather. Keep the oils and leather softeners away from your holsters and holster belts.
Water is sometimes used to make the leather stretch more easily, and the holster is allowed to dry with the pistol inserted, often in a plastic bag. While this method is less damaging to the holster than a softening oil, it still is not recommended.
The correct method is to insert and draw the pistol many times until the fit is correct. This can be combined with wearing the pistol in the holster, so that the natural movements of the body to stretch and mold the holster. Initially, this can be done with the pistol inserted inside a ziplock bag, so the plastic makes the pistol slightly thicker, stretching the holster more quickly, and also makes the pistol slide into the holster more easily.
The first few times, even when forced, the pistol may not fully insert into the holster. It is not necessary to force it, and if you do, it may be very difficult to remove. Instead, push the pistol into the holster as far as it will go easily, then push it a little more, but not too much. remove the pistol and do this again and again, until the pistol will insert fully. Each time it will enter the holster a little more. Even when the pistol is fully inserted, the thumb strap, if it has one, will be too tight to snap. You will need to pull and work it until it will snap.
Once the holster can be inserted fully and drawn from the holster, you will find that the holster is still pretty tight, too tight to consider ready for use. At this point, you are also not ready to use it, because you need to practice draws with that particular holster first.
So strap it on, and go to work. You don’t have to try to be fast, just sure, and using the correct techniques for the holster. Clear the pistol, install a safety rod, pop in a pistol course DVD, and go to work drawing, dry firing, and re-holstering. After a couple hundred draws, you will find that both you and your new holster are ready to go.
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