First this is my opinion. Second if you’re a kydex fan this obviously doesn’t apply.
Over the years I’ve used leather holsters almost exclusively except for a small stent with kydex. This is what I found out from trial and error and my experience. Not saying it’s the only way but it works well for me. I’ll also mention a couple methods that I think are not the way to go and I’ll make note of that. If you use one of these methods successfully ignore me.
First method: I’ve seen some retail holster makers selling conditioning fluid that they say to swab inside the holster. They claim it will soften the leather slightly allowing it to stretch quickly. I cannot tell you how much I disagree with this method. The last thing you want to do is to make a leather holster soft. You want the letter to remain firm so it holds its shape once broken in allowing for easy reholstering.
Second method: place your pistol or revolver and a plastic bag and seat it fully in the holster and allow it to set usually overnight. This method will work just be careful that you check your holster at least every 24 hours. I’ve had inconsistent results with this method.
Third method: place your firearm fully in the holster and wear it allowing your body heat to warm and help stretch the leather. This method also works but can take sometimes up to a week to break in especially if the holster is very tight to begin with. This is probably the safest way but as I say it can take time. I have done this a couple of times so I know it works well.
Fourth method and the one I use: borrow a sheet of your wife’s kitchen wax paper. Wrap your firearm in the wax paper waxy side out. Place your firearm firmly in the holster. Usually within 24 to 48 hours the fit will be good and the wax actually smooth s the inside of the holster.
As I said this is just my opinion and what I do and what I have been successful with
If you purchase a Kydex retention holster there should be a “break in period” to ensure your firearm will be released as/when desired, and re-secured accordingly. I cycle mine 100 or so times to avoid any surprises later on. If the retention mechanism feels rough or sluggish, and you can’t fix it, return the holster!
Larry thank you for your input on kydex. While I started this thread to be particular to leather holsters I appreciate all the input from those experienced kydex users. The more the merrier!
For those that choose to wet their holsters to speed up the break in process I would just say be careful and do what works for you. Holsters are wet molded because it makes the leather very pliable. Should remember though quality custom holster makers will seal their holsters inside and out after staining. This just isn’t to protect the finish. It is to help keep permeables such as body sweat and others from impregnating the leather and making it sometimes soft and also keep it from stinking. If you choose to use water I would humbly suggest resealing The holster afterwards.
I use a form of the wax paper method, though mine varies a bit. Just when new, for the first couple of days to break it in.
Though I like leather, for looks/style and comfort, I noticed if I kept my firearm in it over night or while at home, the leather caused rust to start to form on the metal parts. I caught most of it before it took hold and cleaned it off.
However, it’s those internal tiny parts which I did not get to, which concern me. So, word to the wise, leather holsters can be great but only when carrying/wearing. Once home, remove the arm. I think it’s because leather itself has some moisture inside of it and attracts moisture.
I just shove it in the holster good and tight and let it sit that way for a couple of days. If there is a retention strap I’ll torture the leather until it fits before setting it aside.
This has always worked well for me. YMMV of course.
I’m exclusive leather. I don’t even own a kydex holster. I guess I’m old school, when I get a new leather holster I Saddle Soap the hell out of it, let it dry, place the firearm in it and wear it. Takes 2-3 months and the break in is complete.
I do something very similar, I use saddle soap and then put firearm in a baggie, holster it, and wrap it with a belt. Then place the whole thing under a mattress and sleep on it. I wind up with a supple, custom fit leather holster.
My daily EDC is also I keep it the nightstand when I go to bed. I keep it in one of those small digital safes since grandkids started being around a lot. I guess that’s why I’ve never noticed any rust at all. I’m assuming everyone who has a holster made from leather make sure that it was vegetable oil tanned and not some other chemicals that can cause corrosion and that the holsters are sealed well inside and out.
I’m with you Mike. I will say I tried kydex and have a couple of them. I even have a kydex hybrid holster for appendix carry from stealth gear and a couple others from Veder. I’m sure their quality holsters but I just can’t get used to the material. I’m exclusively leather now and have been for a long time.
Heck, don’t be. Looking at Britain’s royal family, the last 2 Princesses got a pretty good deal, I mean I even have the “wave” down pat. Millions of $$ every year. Plus I’m betting I could get alot of firearms and ammo subsidiies or even sponsors by companies. That would be sweet
I now wear o w b leather with a reinforced throat. I can reholster one handed no problem. Also I do have a leather iwb I seldom wear anymore for various reasons but not the holster. It has a metal reinforced throat and would never collapse.
I started carrying in plastic about 6 years ago and was uncomfortable with it then about 3 weeks ago it broke on me it was a Alien gear so it was a reputable manufacturer I almost dropped the gun onto concrete so I will never use plastic again I’m back to leather forever