Skip to main content

How to Care for Leather Holsters

How to Care for Leather Holsters

Many shooters like the look and feel of leather holsters for concealed carry, and leather holsters also have several attractive advantages. They're oftentimes more comfortable than synthetic holsters, and they're also quieter when carrying concealed.

Despite their many advantages, leather holsters are more susceptible to wear and damage than other holsters. Even though today's modern leather holsters are durable and robust, there are some basic steps you can take to prolong the life of your holster and protect it from the elements.

Properly care for leather holsters by following these seven tips, and you'll be able to use your holster every day for several years.

Keep the Holster Clean

Sweat, dust, dirt or blood can all damage a holster after long-term exposure, so keep your rig dry and clean. Usually a wipedown with a soft rag will suffice, but sometimes you'll need to use a leather care product.

A bar of glycerin soap or a product specifically designed to clean holsters like Galco's Leather Lotion is your best bet for holsters with a smooth finish.

Avoid Exposure to the Elements

If you carry with a leather holster often it will eventually be exposed to the elements, but extremes of heat or cold can cause permanent damage to the leather. Don't leave the holster in a hot place, particularly in direct sunlight.

Leaving the gun on the dash of your car is a major mistake. Direct sunlight and heat will eventually break down the structure of the leather and will shorten the life of your holster.

Don't Soften the Leather

Leather holsters are typically molded to fit a particular gun, and that process requires the leather to remain firm so that it properly fits the gun. If you compromise the structure of the holster by adding large amounts of leather conditioners that aren't designed specifically for holsters, you may actually be softening the holster to a point that it no longer fits your gun.

It is critical to use only cleaning agents that are designed for leather holsters. Excessive amounts of saddle soaps and other soft leather conditioners may protect the leather, but over time they can soften the material and cause the holster to lose its form.

Keep Animals Away

It may sound strange, but one of the most common reasons holsters are destroyed is from being gnawed on by animals. A dog views your favorite holster as a sweat-stained chew toy, so keep your rig out of the reach of man's best friend.

Rodents are even worse — a mouse, rat or squirrel that finds your holster will chew on it for the salt, to create bedding and/or to dull their ever-growing incisor teeth. A leather holster that is kept within reach of animals is doomed.

Minimize Perspiration

We all sweat every day whether we recognize it or not, and perspiration's toxic mix of salts, oils and water will eventually break down the structure of leather fibers. It's impossible not to sweat, but it may be possible to avoid getting a lot of sweat on your leather holster.

If possible, keep a barrier of clothing between yourself and the holster to keep as much perspiration off the holster as possible. If you've been sweating and the surface of the holster is moist, wipe it down with a dry rag. If the moisture has soaked into the leather, properly dry the holster (see next tip).

Proper Drying

Moisture can damage holsters and may lead to mold and other problems, so it's critical to keep holsters dry. That being said, never use any artificial heat to dry your holsters. The use of blow dryers or laying the holster on warm air vents is a sure way to damage the leather.

Instead, place the holster in a dry place with a moderate temperature and allow the leather to dry on its own. Heat can change the shape of the leather and will likely do permanent damage to your holster.

Stretch the Leather to Fit

Leather holsters are oftentimes fitted to a particular gun, but initial fit is usually very tight and requires some stretching of the leather to allow for a smooth, resistance-free draw.

To accomplish this, place your pistol in a Ziploc bag and push it into the holster. This will allow the leather fibers to stretch and will provide just enough extra room in the holster to allow for a smooth draw and yet will maintain a solid grip on your gun.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you. At less than 14 ounces fully loaded, and barely longer than a dollar bill, the P17 is concealable for pretty much anyone. The threaded barrel, Picatinny-style accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous magazine release and three (3) 16rd magazines come standard. That's a lot of value added in such a small package.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged.SIG P365 Review Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

Small, compact semi-auto pistols are popular with concealed-carry firearm buyers, and these two models – the KelTec PF9 9mm and the Ruger LCP II .22LR – are no exceptions. They are effective for personal protection but only if you put in the time to practice.Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice Training

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Handguns Staff - August 14, 2020

Small, compact semi-auto pistols are popular with concealed-carry firearm buyers, and these...

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol.Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

See More Trending Articles

More Holsters

Now Blackhawk has gone old school and introduced a new line of leather holsters in its CQC holster line.Blackhawk Leather Holsters Holsters

Blackhawk Leather Holsters

James Tarr - July 17, 2017

Now Blackhawk has gone old school and introduced a new line of leather holsters in its CQC...

Richard Nance covers the features of the Freedom Carry holster from Crossbreed.Crossbreed Freedom Carry Holster Holsters

Crossbreed Freedom Carry Holster

Handguns TV - June 19, 2017

Richard Nance covers the features of the Freedom Carry holster from Crossbreed.

Vedder's LightTuck IWB holster gets it right.The Vedder Lighttuck IWB Holster Holsters

The Vedder Lighttuck IWB Holster

James Tarr - June 18, 2018

Vedder's LightTuck IWB holster gets it right.

A new user configurable holster from High Threat Concealment.Review: High Threat EVOlution Holsters

Review: High Threat EVOlution

James Tarr - June 19, 2017

A new user configurable holster from High Threat Concealment.

See More Holsters

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now