Dos & Don’ts: Leather Holster Treatments


Marksmen have used leather for holsters since the beginning of firearms. However, nobody expects you to know that history or how to properly care for a leather holster. That’s why we’re here.

Simply follow the guidelines (collected from various holster manufactures) outlined below to ensure your leather holster receives only the best TLC. And by properly cleaning and storing your gun holster, you will prolong the life of it and save money in the long run.

Note: Many have varying opinions on these treatments, so if you disagree with something or have found a better way, let us know in the comments section. These are just the “official” rules from those who produce holsters.

DO: Treat your holster regularly. If left untreated, dry rot can begin to occur. Unfortunately if you treat it improperly, your holster will begin to break down long before it can dry rot.

DON’T: Dry your leather holster using artificial heat from a hair dryer, oven, radiator, direct sunlight — you get the picture. This makes leather crack.

DO: Use hard-bar glycerin soap. Lather soap with water, rub onto the leather surface with a soft cloth, and wipe off.

DON’T: … get too soft on us now! And if you use oils like Neat Foot or Mink oil, you will. These oils saturate and soften the leather holster too much, negatively affecting its shape.

DO: Let your leather dry naturally. Your patience will pay off.

DON’T: Forget your holster on your car dashboard in the summer. Or anything, for that matter. Especially foodstuffs.

DO: Give your holster a cool, dry home when it’s not at your side.

DON’T: Submerge your holster in any liquid, including water. So, no deep-sea holster diving, people!

DO: Use a neutral color of Kiwi polish after a holster wash. Buff it off with a brush or soft cloth.

DON’T: Leave your holster in a high-humidity space. That will cause mildew and quite possibly a funny smell. Conversely, a low-humidity space that’s too low will cause it to dry out.

DO: Continue reading this to get the low-down on some sweet types of leather.

Love Leathers?
Here are six common and not-so-common leather types.

  1. Full-grain: This represents the upper layer of the hide that formerly contained hair but since has been sanded or buffed, as it is the highest quality of leather. This is also a common leather used to make gun holsters.
  2. Vachetta leather: Best known as the leather of Louis Vuitton luggage and handbags, this type goes untreated and is very likely to undergo staining and/or water damage. Sunlight makes the color of this leather become darker, which makes it easy to spot a fake designer bag over time.
  3. Corrected-grain: Also known as snuffed grain, this term applies to any leather that has its outer surface of grain removed by an emery wheel and has an artificial grain added to the surface. Most of it is used for pigmented leather since it covers up any imperfections.
  4. Top-grain: Far from being “top” in quality (actually it’s the second best), this leather is sanded and refinished for more stain-resistant, plastic feel.
  5. Split: The name comes from just that — splitting the grain layer of hide into two or more layers. Used to create suede, split leather has an artificial layer applied to the surface and embossed with a leather grain.
  6. Bonded leather: This man-made material is constructed mostly of leather fibers and scraps that are bonded together with latex binders most often seen as Bible covers, diaries, art books and even belts and sofas.

(Image via Flickr)

One Comment on “Dos & Don’ts: Leather Holster Treatments

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