How to Break in a Leather Gun Holster


New handgun holsters are usually stiff and tight. They should be, because the leather will mold itself to you and your use like a baseball glove or shoe. You may be tempted to speed up the break-in with a heavy dose of neatsfoot oil. But that will leave the leather soft, making for a difficult draw. A quick survey of holster manufacturers, and a trip to a gun range, revealed some more effective methods.

Things You'll Need

  • Glycerin-based saddle soap or bar soap
  • Sandwich bags
  • Empty your handgun and the clip of semiautomatics of any bullets.

  • Push the handgun deeply into the holster, until you can push it no more.

  • Wear the holster and handgun around the house, as much as possible. This will speed up the holster conforming to the gun and to your body. Wear a belt holster with the belt you usually wear.

  • Draw and holster the pistol whenever you find a few moments. Only through repetitive use will drawing and holstering become easier. Work any catches or snaps as well, to break them in also.

  • Twist the holster on occasion, perhaps once or twice a day for the first week, flexing the leather one way and the other. This will loosen the collagen fibers (the tough inner structure of leather).

  • Store the handgun in the holster at night. The leather, softened by a day of your body heat and sweat, will continue to break in overnight.

Wet Method

  • Wash the holster inside and out with a glycerin-based soap, if breaking it in is taking too long. Use only glycerin soap and water--this is based on the recommendation of every significant holster manufacturer, including Bianchi and Galco. Water temporarily softens the fibers, but will not permanently soften them as does oil.

  • Avoid soaking the holster, if you wash it. Only dampen the surfaces.

  • Wrap the handgun in a sandwich bag, and push it into the dampened holster for an hour.

  • Remove the handgun, and allow the holster to air dry, completely, before reuse.

Tips & Warnings

  • A good-quality holster is made of top-grain cowhide, with a good finish; it will be very stiff, and fairly impervious to moisture. It may take some weeks before the holster feels natural. A hard plastic holster (for example, of Kydex) will not break in at all.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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