Blog

Holster Maker Integrity

The Issue

Ordinarily and as a rule, I do not comment extensively on the work of another holster maker.  But I will take a couple of minutes to comment on a recent event I attended.

Until recently, a number of complete and ready to use holster patterns were available on this site.  They were intended for free use by others who are or would like to be a holster maker.

Not long ago, a guy told me that he had purchased a holster for which I am currently designing a pattern.  He seemed happy with his purchase, but he wasn’t carrying it.  So I asked if he had a picture of it.  Instead, he sent me a link to the site where he bought it.

Holster Maker IntegrityThe Revelation

There was no picture of the specific holster we discussed.  Instead, sadly, there was a very poor rendition of one of my designs from 2016.  That design is displayed here.

Originally designed for the Glock 19, it has been adapted by some to quite a few models.  I no longer use this pattern.

I still have no problem with people making holsters with this design.  And I do not ask for any credit for the design.  But I did not intend to find others making bad copies of it and boldly claiming that the design was theirs.

That was bound to happen, I suppose.  My sole interest at this point is not being associated with those who would “appropriate” a design from someone else and claim credit for it.  When confronted, one guilty party denied any knowledge of us or our designs despite their site showing both ‘variations’ of this model.

The Point

To be clear, this is my design but I do not make holsters with it now.  Others are free to use it if they wish even now.  Download the full pattern if you like.

But for the shopper; if you see a holster made with this design, I did not make it and the person who did make it did not design it.  I gave broad permission to make and sell holsters with this design, so no laws are violated there.  But if someone will claim the design is theirs, then you have to wonder what their “guarantee” or “warranty” is really worth.

Conversely, if you see an older holster that I did make like this, feel free to contact me to trade it in for the upgraded version at no cost.

Buddy Bracelets aka Python Pals

python skin buddy braceletsPython skin left over from something … can’t remember.  Daughter recently found it in a drawer and decided that should be bracelets for her and her friend.

I didn’t even get a picture of the finished goods with snaps.. when it was done that little girl was GONE with the goods.  So, we just have this quick cell phone picture, but the girls were happy.  They will of course be back for something else before long.

The snake isn’t recommended on items getting hard use.  We’ll see how long the bracelets hold up to young girls.  The edge lacing will likely help a bit to reduce scuffing but python – though beautiful – is not particularly durable.  Think skinning a fish.. the scales get ‘rubbed’ the wrong way and come off.

Those requesting holsters with python accents can order them, after enduring the impending words of warning and disclaimer about longevity.  Python can be used – sparingly – with a little thought in the design process.  But our holsters are made to last far longer than the python will likely look good.

Matching Leather Sets

SA EMP Holster and Mag Matching SET

Holsters and mag pouches, or holsters and belts (or all three), or anything else you wish to have matching should be ordered at the same time where possible.  It’s far easier to get them to match when cut from the same piece of leather and dyed with the same batch of dye.

This two-piece set went out to a fella in Kansas who says it’s getting good use.

Magazines Mold Dummies

urethane magazines molds for leatherHolster makers, are you making magazine pouches?  Try these “dummy” magazines for wet molding leather magazine pouches. Made from dense urethane, they work great:

  • dimensions accurate within thousandths of an inch;
  • water resistant;
  • no metal to corrode or rust;
  • won’t stain wet leather.

These are molded as “loaded” so they have the full shape your loaded magazine will be.  They slide smoothly into unformed wet leather.

Unlike these, other brands are available molded as empty mags, but the working end of those can drag on or dig in to wet leather, making them difficult to use.

wet form leather dummy magazine molds

Not just for the leather worker, these “loaded” mags work great for kydex magazine carriers too.

Cost of these is less than an actual pistol magazine, and you won’t need to wrap these in plastic to avoid harm to the magazine or the leather.

For availability of your model contact Wayne at wbryan5408@gmail.com

Int'l Die clicker dies (800) 856-0834

Intl Die Clicker Dies

I’m just working with leather, though the people at Int’l Die in Clarkesville, GA also make dies for clothing and other industries.

These knowledgeable folks offer fast, friendly service at a cost that is very reasonable.  Good tools, in good time, at a good price.  If you need dies made, this is an obvious choice.

clicker die

Int’l Die

Clarkesville, GA 30523

Phone (800) 856-0834 

 or (706) 754-0921

intdieco@windstream.net

 

 

Coast Guard Charge Books

Coast Guard charge books should display the same professionalism and attention to the task at hand as do the men and women who carry them.

Coast Guard Charge Books

I am not currently making Coast Guard charge books.  Certainly you can find many just by Google-ing “leather coast guard charge book”. My personal opinion, I rather prefer the neat, clean, well constructed wooden ones to poorly done low grade leather.

Still, I’ll leave this one picture, which I consider a base line, standing order, worst case scenario, minimum acceptable.

Accepting less than this would be the civilian equivalent of, for example, an almost regulation hair cut, or shoes that used to shine, a crooked crease, dull brass, …

Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines, Ltd

Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines Ltd.

I’m certainly no expert on sewing machines, and this is not an “ad” or link exchange.  I frequently get asked about sewing machines and/or sewing thread for leather crafting.

On the bottom of the page you’ll find a link to Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines, Ltd.   All the people I’ve spoken with (and there are quite a few) who have done business with Bob ‘n’ friends have been satisfied with their purchase.

Compare Items Not the Hype About Items

By now, many have heard me say to compare items.  There are those of course who will be interested in something simply because it’s ‘trendy’ to do.  But this is not for those.

Common marketing practices try to take your attention away from the product itself.  Discussions on pricing, ‘trending’ terms, or more recently videos uploaded by the manufacturer (we used to call them “commercials”).  This only makes it more necessary to compare the items yourself.  But how do you compare?

To get to what is “better”, strip away the hype surrounding the item(s).   Remove anything which is not the item.  Strip off ‘colorful’ descriptions; strip off the ‘story’.

Is it ‘rustic’, or just ugly?  By ‘zombie’, do they mean poorly colored?  When a listing (let’s call it what it is – an ad) tells me about a “beautiful, great, hand crafted … whatever”, I think if you need someone to tell you it’s “great”, maybe it isn’t.  Calling it ‘great’ doesn’t improve it one bit.

Here’s a quick test which may help you determine what is fact and what is ‘hype’.

  • If you didn’t have the “story”, would it still interest you?
  • If there was no video, is it still something you would want, or is this video persuading you?
  • Compare items without the video – are they still comparable items? Are you buying the item, or are you buying the video?  I’ll have more about this in a separate article.

Internet shopping won’t let you feel a product, but you can initially compare items visually.  Because images can be ‘photoshop’ed and descriptions can be deceiving, it’s best to compare multiple options in search results.


Truth is, most of the hype you see is trying to sell you something.  Here are just some of the ways that pricing hype is inserted into your searches.

The ridiculous phrase “you get what you pay for…” is routinely used to justify the price of an item.  With it, a seller hopes to imply that because his (hers) is more expensive, then it “must be” better.  Did they think we would just take their word for it?

The retailer may claim he “has to” charge more because he has overhead – lease, electricity, insurance, employee costs, and more.  All of this is likely true, but has nothing to do with the item.  I expect to get what I asked for.  Why would I pay his electric bill when I can get the same goods and still pay my electric bill?!  If I paid $10, I don’t want a $2 item and a pretty story.  This is why stores are giving way to online shopping.

  • Often referred to as “price perception” is the idea that if you charge more people will think it’s “worth more”.  But have you ever seen someone in line at a store asking to pay more so their purchase is “more valuable”?  Ever find an item ‘on sale’ and refuse to take the discounted price?
  • Calling it something else. Years ago, you went to the hardware store when you needed a washer for a bolt.  They were a nickel each.  Now, they’re called “spacers”, and they’re a quarter.  But exactly the same thing, despite the story.
  • Say an item is made for $20, sold at wholesale to a retailer at $40, and sold by the retailer at $90 on the shelf. What is the actual “value” of that item?  Is it “worth more” after the markup?  Or maybe it is the same item in a different package.

Honestly, you don’t need me for this.  If you can read this article you’re already educated enough to see through this cheap hustle.  You may have heard another phrase: ‘if you can’t tell the difference, then why pay the difference?’

There is another side of this same coin as well.  Some items are priced in the same range as other items by the same name, simply because of the same name.  I’ve recently seen holsters priced at $65 apparently because others in his area were priced at that.  But the quality was clearly not as good as others.  Here’s the fact:  calling it the same and pricing it the same does not make it the same.  And talking more does not make it worth more.

Having said all that, I have a few items I offer for a price as well.  But this article is free (and so are the others) and I don’t mind my work being compared.  In fact, I prefer that people compare items.

Hand Made Versus Well Made, Hype or Quality

People talk at length about the term hand made, but I prefer well made.

I have seen hand made items which were excellent quality and looked great cosmetically.  And I’ve also seen hand made items which were just junk.  So, calling something hand made does not automatically make an item worth having.  Hand made means NOTHING if the product made isn’t better than it would be some other way.

If you want to sell me something ‘handmade’, give me a reason to buy yours instead of something else.  I don’t mean tell me it’s better. I mean I can see it’s better.

The only way to know which goods are worth buying is to compare the items.  Then you can know you’re getting better quality.  The value of ‘hand made’ is either:

  • It’s something I can’t get elsewhere, or
  • It’s a BETTER version of what is available elsewhere.

“Better” could be better materials or better workmanship.  Beyond these is just hype.  A story from a few years ago may put this ‘hype’ in plain words.

On a long drive, I stopped in a convenience store to fuel and stand up for a bit.  While in line at the counter, I took a bite out of the donut I was getting.  When I was next in line, I joked with the girl at the counter; “How much for these damaged donuts?”  She looked at the bite taken out and said ‘Damaged ones are free. But that one’s not damaged, that’s custom – and it costs extra”.  We both laughed, I paid and left.

But what if I put that donut back in the display case?  You come for a donut; see one with a bite out of it.  Would you want that one?  How will that girl sell you that one?

  • The girl might tell you a funny story about that guy who came in a while ago.
  • Maybe play your favorite song and tell you that donut is “unique” among the others in the case?
  • What if she reminds you the donut maker has worked hard since 4:00 a.m?

These are clearly ridiculous ideas; you wouldn’t actually think about buying that (you may never buy from that store again).  You looked at a case full of donuts, saw the one with a ‘unique’ defect, and ruled it out.  You disregarded the stories and compared the items.

Compare the material.

Firm leather with consistent texture and thickness are required.  It should be free of any significant defects or discoloration on both sides.  This is true whether hand made or not.

  • One guy orders leather from the tannery and has it delivered.  There’s a shipping charge.
  • Another person drives to the tannery and picks it up. He adds the cost of the trip plus an hourly wage for his time into his “cost”.
  • Another person buys it through a retailer. There is a mark-up by the retailer, and a shipping charge.

These methods can change the amount of time and/or money spent on the leather, but it’s the SAME leather.  Compare the material – not the story wrapped around it.

  • Flaws in the leather do not “add charm” to a project.  There’s a reason defects are called defects and the reason tanneries sell those skins for less money.
  • The methods of delivery or time spent on that do not affect leather quality.

Compare the workmanship.

In this is the value of ‘hand made’.  I have seen many comments that an item “can’t be hand made” because there weren’t any flaws or errors.  The work was done professionally, and if there were errors they were corrected.  The hand made item should be better than the mass produced.  If it’s not better, then it’s not smart to choose it.

As with materials, flaws and mistakes in workmanship do not improve the item.  Do you pay more for a house which is painted badly?  How about stained clothing or car dents?

Factories usually have “quality control” departments where occasionally a product is checked by a person to see that size, shape, color, etc. are “within specs” for that item.  But the hand made article can and should be checked every time.  It’s right in front of you – it is “at hand”.

Consistent color, consistently spaced and consistently tight stitching, and neatly finished edges are mandatory.  Tooling, if any, should be done well.  These are a starting point, not the end.

If an error can’t be corrected in the project, the project should be scrapped and replaced.  End result, if the “bad” are removed, then what is left is the good quality work.

Holster Design Pattern Upgrade Progress

The holster design of those “50/50 pancakes’- those with the front and back basically mirror image and a seam down the center – is being replaced.  These can bind, especially on the leading edge.  They’re tighter on the belt than in the hand, and the closer the slots are to the weapon the more pronounced the problem.

Pancake Holster Design IssueLooking from the front, you can see the seam is clearly down the center.  This has a molded sight channel.

When the front ‘wing’ is pulled IN toward the body, the holster flexes and the site channel collapses, causing the bind it was intended to solve.

 

Pancake Sight Channel Collapse

 

The more you bend, the more you bind.

The slimmer the wearer, the sharper flex, and the worse the binding effect.

And the more “break in” the back gets, the worse the problem becomes.

 


People are used to seeing them, so some will buy them.  And holster makers know they are easy to make, so some ‘push’ them a bit.  They bend the slotted “wings” toward the wearer calling it “molded”, they “mold in a sight channel”, or say that you need to “break them in”.   Some move the belt slots further out from the firearm and some move the stitch lines also (making it loose).  This may allow the use of that holster for a limited time.  But you surrender some retention and must rely on the belt tension.

These things attempt to make do with the simple holster design of ‘50/50 pancakes’.  Many would like to ignore this since ‘50/50 pancakes’ are so easy to make.  But making holsters without this pancake problem is just as easy –similar look, with better function.

Using a longer piece for the outside allows the leather to wrap around the gun without binding, and using a shorter inside piece there’s less leather to bunch in the channel.  The tension on the firearm is then the same on or off the belt (or very close) and there’s no need to rely on ‘retention’ from the belt.