Durable, strong, and highly customizable, manufacturers use leather to produce slings, sheaths, gun belts, and ammunition pouches. It’s also a common material used in producing gun holsters. Manufacturing leather involves tanning the skins and hides of various animals, such as cows, sheep, and horses, to prevent deterioration.
The belt holster design with which gun owners have become accustomed originated in the 19th century. As the emphasis was on retaining a cavalry sidearm and protecting it against the elements, the field holster, with its full leather flap, was the military standard.
This design remained standard well into the 20th century.
However, while a field holster is designed to protect the weapon, it doesn’t allow the gun owner to perform a quick and efficient draw stroke in response to a potentially deadly threat.
Gun holsters are manufactured using a variety of materials, each with its strengths and weaknesses. If you decide that a leather pistol holster is ideal for your needs, there are dozens of options available.
Here are a few of the most important criteria the modern leather holster must meet to be suitable for concealed or open carry:
Retention — Adjustable or Active
Many leather holsters employ an active-retention system. A common example is the thumb break. This consists of a leather strap that wraps around the rear of the handgun, typically over or between the hammer or slide cover plate and the beavertail or recoil shoulder, closing with a snap.
You’ll break the snap closure with your thumb before drawing the firearm. This allows for a minimum of friction between the holster leather and the firearm, providing a smooth draw.
It also complicates attempts at disarmament. If you intend to carry a firearm openly in an OWB leather holster, this can improve the security of your weapon. It also ensures retention during periods of intense physical activity, such as running.
However, it requires that you perform an additional action to draw. When the priority is to draw the firearm in response to a deadly threat, some gun owners consider fasteners or locking mechanisms that delay the draw to be a hindrance.
Other leather holsters use friction to retain the weapon. This is more suitable for an IWB leather holster that is fully concealed, as the risk of disarmament is considerably lower. Leather holsters that use passive retention sometimes provide a degree of adjustability using screws.
By loosening or tightening these screws, you increase or decrease the tension placed on the handgun. This allows you to find the perfect balance between speed and retention for your comfort and preferences.
A leather IWB holster, fitting closely to the body and partially concealed by your pants, provides a high degree of concealability. IWB is also ideal for a 1911 leather holster, as this allows you to take full advantage of the more narrow frame that a single-stack magazine affords.
The holster you choose should be comfortable. For example, carrying a weapon for an extended period requires not only functionality but a holster that you don’t need to adjust constantly or that chaffs your skin.
Fortunately, comfort is one of the advantages of leather compared to many other materials. Leather molds to your body over time, conforming to the contours of your physique. The result is that leather holsters become more comfortable the more you wear them.
Leather is also more compressible, for example than thermoplastic. It has more give in it. If you fall on your holster or are pressed against a hard surface, leather effectively dampens the impact.
Another consequence of the softer internal surfaces is that there’s less holster wear on the finish of your firearm. Molded thermoplastics, being harder, tend to have superior long-term durability to many leather holsters; however, they’re also more abrasive.
Glock 43X with holster wear
As the protective finish is worn away, this invites rust. This is also why it’s important to select a holster that fits your particular firearm properly. Excessive space can allow foreign debris to enter, scratching the finish.
Whether cowhide, horsehide, or another type, leather gun holsters are relatively quiet to handle. When you insert a handgun into a leather holster, there should be no click or other audible feedback that the weapon is fully seated.
While some gun owners may regard this as a disadvantage, it allows you to discreetly re-holster your firearm.
Thickness and Rigidity
The ideal leather holster should not be cut from thin, excessively pliable material. It should be durably constructed. You need thick leather to provide a rigid opening and a firm hold on the weapon. The leather should not easily deform.
In addition, it should resist collapse when empty. If the holster collapses when you draw, you’ll need to use your support hand to open it for re-holstering, potentially compromising your safety in the process. Your carry holster should facilitate one-handed re-holstering.
Holster mouths that deform can be a hazard for other reasons. Cloth-like chamois leather, for example, can potentially enter the trigger guard during the downward stroke of re-holstering, firing the weapon. These materials also tend to deteriorate more rapidly.
The welt is a reinforcing piece of leather in leather holsters that the manufacturer sews or glues between two parts to add strength. A high-quality leather holster should have a welt for additional long-term durability.
Regardless of the holster you choose, you must ensure it’s compatible with your gun belt of your choice. Your gun belt plays an important role in secure, discreet, and safe carry.
It complements your gun holster, evenly distributing the weapon’s weight and ensuring it remains in the same position at all times. A poorly constructed or thin belt will be more susceptible to deformation or sagging. Not every gun belt is the same, and you should pay close attention to what size belt loops or clips it will fit.
Practice Wearing Your Holster
You should practice the fundamentals of marksmanship, dry-fire your handgun, and fire live ammunition on a range at regular intervals to maintain proficiency with firearms. However, you should also practice your draw stroke using your concealed- or open-carry holster.
If you intend to carry your weapon on your strong side, always practice your draw stroke from that position. Practice sweeping away clothing if you wear a cover garment. If you drive, practice your draw stroke while seated with the seatbelt fastened. Test every scenario you can think of to ensure your holster is compatible with your specific needs.
Holsters Made in the U.S.A.
At We the People Holsters, we believe strongly in the Second Amendment and the right to defend yourself and those who depend on you. As a result, we manufacture IWB and OWB holsters for concealed and open carry that you can count on. All our holsters, such as our leather holster for 1911 pistols, are made in the U.S. at our Las Vegas facility and are molded by hand.
Each of our products demonstrates exceptional workmanship and a commitment to the highest standards of manufacturing. Explore our range of holsters to see which model suits your gun and carry style best.