You just bought a brand new leather holster for your gun… how do you break it in ?
One of the best things about a leather gun holster is that leather is a flexible material and the holster will fit your gun better over time with use, like your favorite pair of jeans.
First, it is important to understand that leather is an organic material and its properties are affected by factors like its origin, the tanning process, thickness, temperature and humidity of the environment it was produced and stored in, etc. Therefore, some leather holsters may fit like a glove fresh out of the box and some may require breaking in.
Here are a few simple tips to break in a leather holster. Go one step at a time and move to the next step only if the previous step was not sufficient to provide a better fit.
Note: Make sure the gun is UNLOADED before doing any of these.
1. Leave Your Gun Inside The Holster
Breaking in a leather holster can be as simple as leaving your gun inside the holster for a day or two. You can simply leave it on the dresser or better yet, you can just wear it. In many cases, this allows the leather to stretch a little and be a much better fit the next day.
2. Using Thin Plastic Layers
Still too snug? Wrap your gun with a layer of thin plastic. A grocery bag, or a few layers of plastic food wrapping film will do the job. The goal is to slightly increase the thickness of the frame. Then insert the gun into the holster all the way in and just leave it inside for a day or two. Repeat if necessary with additional layers of thin plastic for extra thickness - make sure to wrap the the barrel, the slide, and the trigger guard evenly so that no part of the gun is significantly thicker than the rest.
3. The Water Method
Still too snug? OK, it’s time to get wet. Hold your holster under lukewarm running tap water for 4 or 5 seconds to get the inside walls of the holster wet, then rub inside of the holster with your fingers to make sure the leather absorbs the water. DO NOT SOAK the holster in water. We want the inside to get a little wet, that’s all. Wrap your gun in a few layers of plastic food wrapping film so that no part of the gun frame will be in direct contact with the inside of the holster. This is to prevent rusting. Then insert the gun into the holster all the way in, and let it dry in room temperature for about a day. When dry, remove the film around the gun and try the fit, it should be a perfect fit.
4. Leave It Dry
Oops, did you use too much wrapping around the gun and it now fits loose in the holster? No worries, there’s a solution. Get the inside of the holster wet again as in Step 3, and just leave it to dry in a hot environment – but no gun in the holster this time. How hot? Like leaving it in a car parked in the sun for a few hours. No sun? Well, you can use the oven at a low temperature (140 to160 degrees, holster on center rack) for 20 – 30 minutes. Let it cool off for an hour before trying your gun in the holster, this is when shrinking happens. It is highly recommended to make sure your wife or girlfriend is not around when you throw your holster in the oven.
The final step is to keep wearing the holster with your gun in it. Like your jeans, your leather holster will be a perfect fit for your gun.
If your holster has a thumbbreak that is a little short (about 1/8”) to snap on, try to stretch it by wiggling and pulling the strap with your hand and try to get it snapped on around the slide of your gun. Once it is snapped on, leave it snapped on for a day, it will loosen up. You can also try this with the wet method described in step 3.