A Leather Pistol Holster – All Things To All Shooters?
If you own a handgun, there are several things you need to know about leather pistol holsters.
The type of holster you choose is dependent on what you will do with your gun and that determines how it will need to be carried.
Many shooters limit their handgun use to hunting and never give another thought to other types of shooting.
Other shooters actively participate in handgun hunting yet they also enjoy various types of target and competition shooting to stay sharp.
Still others religiously carry their pistols and revolvers with them as personal protection for themselves and their loved ones.
As you can rightly imagine, once we start looking closer at this issue, it becomes a foregone conclusion that a “one-holster-fits-all” piece of gun leather is without a doubt, still waiting to be made.
I can hear the snide remarks from shooters already about a potential “FrankenHolster” that could appear some day to be the perfect leather pistol holster for every pistolero's needs. . .don't look for this mythical holster to appear very soon.
Leather Pistol Holsters Come In Many Varieties And Configurations
Most mainstream leather pistol holsters generally come in either durable cowhide or horsehide, with the horsehide generally costing somewhat more.
Horsehide is said to resist moisture better than cowhide, but it really seems to depend on the personal preference of each individual handgun owner.
Concealed handgun holsters are generally made of a combination of leather and certain synthetic materials – these holsters are the best of both the leather and synthetic material worlds.
This approach is pursued in order for the holster to be worn against the body while attempting to display the smallest amount of “printing” possible (firearm visibility during concealment).
The fact that a person may be carrying a concealed defensive weapon is one of the last things that they want to broadcast or make obvious to those around them.
This is particularly true in the case of law enforcement personnel who may be in undercover situations that demand total discretion.
Also, it is generally thought that leather holsters are substantially quieter when worn and that they are not nearly as prone to “catching” on various clothing and items surrounding the shooter as man-made holsters.
This may help to reduce the chance of an odd or uncommon noise tipping off those around you to your concealed firearm(s) in tense or dangerous situations as well as during the aforementioned undercover operations by law enforcement officers.
Hand Gun Holsters Should Be Chosen For Their Major Intended Use
Hand gun holsters for range or target shooters are often made of leather and are worn on the belt and not flush, against the body.
This type of holster is designed to hold the gun both safely and securely without worrying about the discovery of concealment or the possibility of having to perform a fast draw removal of the firearm from the holster.
Holsters designed for range and target use are oriented more toward shooter convenience than critical-duty use and as such may protrude more from the body outline than other types of holsters.
These leather pistol holsters can be extremely well made and even stylish, without emptying your wallet or pocketbook.
Always look for a sturdy holster that is made for durability and your particular style of pistol as well as its weight, caliber and the type of gun sights used.
Since a quick draw is not important for target and range holsters, a single strap (or even a thumb break) is often used for safe, convenient firearm retention.
The use of a thumb break is widely considered desirable and acceptable by handgun users participating in firing range and target activities.
Thumb Breaks For Hunting Holsters, Target Holster Use And Certain Law Enforcement Activities
It isn't hard to find folks that have several different arguments against thumb breaks in the general shooting world:
- “A thumb break just gets in my way. . .”
- “My thumb is too large and isn't able to fit into that small space. . .”
- “My thumb is too small and I can't break the snap every time. . .”
- “I need fast access to my firearm and I can't afford the time to operate a thumb break. . .”
- “The snap makes a noise and it might spook my trophy deer or (fill in any other animal type here). . .”
- “The thumb break snap is hard to re-snap after reholstering the firearm. . .”
- “The thumb break just gets in the way when I reholster my gun. . .”
- “A thumb break makes me look like I'm an unsafe Noobee and I need extra safety features because I'm careless. . .”
I've just about heard all the excuses for not wanting or using a thumb break. . .but I continue to be surprised when someone comes up with a new and original reason for not having a thumb break on a leather holster (or any other type for that matter).
There are critical uses of firearms and holsters that make NOT having a thumb break a good idea. . .but only in limited situations.
Generally, in my view, here is why thumb breaks SHOULD be used on most holsters:
- Most shooters are not involved in critical law enforcement tasks, therefore a thumb break is an excellent safety device.
- If a thumb break gets in your way for 99% of shooting situations, it's not being used properly.
- All sizes of thumbs are easily capable of efficiently using a thumb break with continued and thoughtful practice.
- With a small amount of lube on the snap, unwanted noise from a thumb break is almost nonexistent in hunting situations.
- In the case of a scuffle (or scuffle for the gun itself) a thumb break is more secure than either a leather or synthetic snap-fit holster.
- If you can't afford the fraction of a second involved in operating a thumb break when drawing your gun, you need to reevaluate your choice of surroundings as a civilian shooter or. . .your law enforcement assignment may actually be one of the few situations where a thumb break MIGHT actually not be advisable. I would evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.
- Anyone carrying a holstered firearm who is concerned with looking like a Noobee because of using a thumb break might actually be a Noobee or they should reevaluate their reason(s) for carrying said firearm in the first place. Guns are tools. . .they should never be worn as a status symbol. When wearing or using any revolver or pistol. . .leave your ego at home.
- If simple reholstering of a firearm in one of the commonly available leather pistol holsters is difficult with a thumb break, reconsider your personal aptitude for firearms use.
- A thumb break simply provides a large, extra safety margin against a revolver or pistol unintentionally leaving the holster for a multitude of reasons and subsequently becoming a significant liability for both the person wearing the firearm in a holster and everyone around him or her who may be injured or killed.
Is an uncontrolled, loose and potentially loaded firearm worth risking your own life and the lives of others because it was not secured with a thumb break?
Personally, I don't think so. . .food for thought my friends. Let's all do our best to carry and shoot firearms safely.
The Ladies Should Look For Leather Pistol Holsters Designed For Their Physique
Keep in mind that women will want to consider leather pistol holsters that are specifically made for a woman's body size and physique.
These holsters are made to hang a bit lower than most holsters so the grip of the pistol is not sitting too high on a lady's hip. This will promote a more convenient and comfortable draw.
Also look for holsters that angle the butt of the firearm's grip a short way away from the body thus making it easier to grip easily while still preventing it from digging into the ribs.
Women carrying both revolvers and pistols should anticipate how a given leather pistol holster will react during active and/or exaggerated body twisting and turning movements such as those that might be experienced during defending themselves during a physical attack.
The simple act of entering a car and being seated should also be considered, along with the potential ease (or lack thereof) of latching the lock on the seat belt after becoming settling into the seated position.
Because holsters suitable for use by the ladies hang a bit low, women with rounded hips may want to consider short-barreled or snub-nosed pistols so that the barrel is not long enough to dig directly into the hip area.
Concealed Carry Is A Distinctly Different Holster Design Issue
Handgun holsters designed specifically for concealment come in many different varieties, depending on how, where and how long they will be carried.
These holsters are generally made of a combination of leather and synthetic materials in order to be worn against the body while displaying very little “printing” that would make it obvious that the person is carrying a concealed weapon.
This is one of the most popular styles of handgun holsters because it is best for a fast draw if and when necessary and the pistol can be re-holstered quickly and efficiently.
Other types of concealed hand gun holsters are designed for under the arm carry and additionally, for small-of-the-back carry.
There are also many fanny and waist packs specifically designed to carry pistols. If you use this style of handgun carry, ensure that your fanny or waist pack is purposely designed for firearm carry.
There are definite features that purpose-designed fanny and waist firearm carry packs will possess that standard fanny and waist packs will not.
You should know and be aware of the differences between the two design types of fanny and waist packs.
One of the worst situations you can be in is to find and grip the handle of a firearm quickly when it is unsecured (meaning it has changed its expected position) in a regular waist or fanny pack if you need the firearm in your hand quickly.
Another method of carrying concealed weapons which is rapidly gaining in popularity is the women's concealed carry purse.
These purses are made with a purpose-designed compartment or internal holster for carrying a pistol or revolver that is secure but easily and quickly accessible.
There are now a significant number of styles available with this capability allowing women to easily find a stylish carry-purse match for their clothing choices.
Hunting Pistols Need Comfortable Holsters For Long Hikes
Leather hand gun holsters regularly used for hunting need to combine the sturdiness of a target shooting holster with the quick draw of a concealed weapon holster.
The process of hunting can be very demanding on a holster since it often carries firearms that have significant weight.
The weight of the firearm must be kept confined to the holster to both protect the gun and the person carrying it.
The process of the holster safely carrying and protecting the pistol or revolver may potentially consist of long periods of being worn by a hunter who may, at various times, be:
- mountain climbing,
- riding in many different vehicle types,
- riding in various and diverse types of watercraft,
- riding on horseback,
- being transported via various other animals such as camels, elephants, etc., and,
- periodically even traveling in helicopters and other aircraft for certain types of hunts.
Because many hunting pistols have significantly longer barrels than concealed or “carry” pistols, the leather holster should be carried higher on the waist or if possible, in a shoulder carry rig to prevent the long barrel from interfering with body movement.
A low holster front portion is important for fast and unencumbered barrel clearance, although ideally, for safety reasons it's better to avoid fast draw motions whenever possible.
Additionally, a well-designed, quality leather pistol holster for hunting is designed to be worn on either a belt around the waist or on a harness across the chest.
When spending a day hunting with a pistol or revolver. . .safety, comfort and security of the firearm are of the utmost importance in your final holster selection.
Look For Quality Construction In Any Holster You Buy
Finding the right holster that works for your style of guns and your hunting or target shooting activities depends a lot on your personal preferences and the size of your wallet.
Good holsters can be reasonably priced, but great leather pistol holsters are going to generally cost somewhat more than man-made (pressure-formed ballistic nylon) and/or composition holsters (Kydex).
Make sure you are aware of some of the nuances of leather holster care.
Some leather holster manufacturers recommend care procedures for their products that may, at first, seem counter-intuitive to widely accepted leather care processes for items like leather car seats, leather-covered home furniture and leather clothing.
Most leather holsters are pressure-formed to precise tolerances using exact gun blank replicas to ensure that the holster will carry and retain the firearm properly.
You may find that after you purchase one of the high-quality leather pistol holsters on the market that the manufacturer warns against using leather dressings that soak into the leather, thus relaxing the holster's ability to properly retain the firearm.
Once a holster is given a good soaking or heavy application of a polymer or oil-based leather dressing, the leather is no longer able to retain the firearm and it can essentially become a leather bag instead of a holster since it can lose it's shape completely.
If that happens to a holster you own, it is unlikely you will be able to have the holster remolded or repaired in order to make it serviceable again.
The best path to take at that point is to begin your search immediately for one of the new leather pistol holsters on the market to replace your old one.
At that point, simply make your selection and purchase the new holster. . .then move on and resolve to carefully read and follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your new leather holster from that moment on.
A well-cared-for leather pistol holster can and will easily last a lifetime and may even be passed on as a family heirloom if it's properly cared for during it's lifetime.
Unfortunately, cheap and low-cost leather pistol holsters will generally only be useful for a short time.
Low quality holsters have often been known to make an absolute mess of your clothing and gun due to faulty staining and initial leather preparation prior to holster manufacture.
This can become particularly evident the very first time you use your brand new leather holster in the rain.
This is one of those times when you usually get exactly what you have paid for with respect to quality, utility and durability.
Quality stitching and workmanship are plainly evident in high quality holsters and unfortunately, sadly lacking in cheaper holsters.
If your aim is to have long-lasting and high quality leather pistol holsters, you should expect to spend a little extra to give your prize firearms a holster you will be happy with for a lifetime.