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.

Holster Stitch Lines –Basis of the Fit

Maybe holster stitch lines should have been covered in a little more detail in the file “about holsters” – available for free download –   since the stitch lines are the ‘base’ of any holster, and their placement can make the difference between a holster which is really a nice fit,  one which is “okay”, and one which is a pain.

more about holsters


Summarizing, belt holsters should be designed with:

  • room to grip the firearm securely;
  • secure attachment points which carry the rig without allowing it to “rock” and shift, and which are high enough on the rig to prevent ‘tipping’;
  • no obstruction of the mag / cylinder release (it may or may not be visible).



Obviously if the stitch lines are too close together the gun isn’t going to fit in the holster.

But stitch lines too far apart will cause the holster to become loose, retaining the weapon less (if at all).  You’ll see ‘holsters’ with stitch lines away from the firearm by ¼” – or even more.  I haven’t included a picture here because those holsters are not mine (somebody send me a pic of one of these and I’ll put it in here).  They generally come “boned” in against the weapon, with a story about the wearer needing to “break in” the holster.

I want holsters with a stitch line that conforms to the gun it was made for.  Otherwise, we could just do like some – put a stitch line anywhere, and bone inside of that (to be clear, I will not be doing that).

When the stitch lines are placed at a distance from the firearm, “boning” inside those lines is pointless.  Articles, posts, and / or videos showing people “boning” a holster between the gun and the stitch lines are deceptive (whether or not it’s intentional).

In this area between the stitch line and the firearm, the layers of leather either (1) are not glued together, or (2) are glued together.

  1. If they are not glued, they will open up quickly as the holster is used, overcoming any form in the leather due to this ineffective (temporary) “boning”.
  2. If the layers are glued, they will more gradually separate (‘break in’) leaving exposed glued areas inside the holster pocket.

Your holster will ‘break in’ up to the stitch lines.  By limiting the distance between the gun and the stitching, you are able to limit how loose the holster will become.

Traditional ‘pancake’ holsters – what I call ‘50/50’ pancakes – may be the most obvious example of this.  By design, they are tighter on the belt than they are when held in the hand.  The ‘retention’ of the holster is not better when worn (it’s the same holster) – they’re simply relying on the flexion of the holster to bind on the gun for retention. This inherent flaw in ‘50/50’ pancake holsters will be covered in more detail in another article.

stitch lines placementFor the moment, the point is that the ‘optimum’ distance for placement of the stitch lines on a leather holster is at the contour of the gun.

Ideally, the inside of the leather holster will be the same size as the outside of the gun (the expression ‘fits like a glove’).

The only way this holster can become loose is to actually stretch the leather which won’t happen if it is used for its intended purpose.

Leather Working: Trimming the ‘Bull’ from the Cowhide

I was a member of another site’s leather working forum – perhaps I still am.  I’ve requested my profile and content be removed but have not verified that it actually was done.

I have no “beef” with any particular person, or any desire to place blame.  No intention to “diagnose” who is responsible (or not).  It’s past the time to trim the fat.

My intention when I post something is the sharing of actual leather working information which is useful to someone.

  • I don’t want my content used to attract the newcomer – intentionally or otherwise – so someone can sell him/her something they don’t need for what they want to do.
  • I don’t want to engage in long conversations with people who appear to have no real concern for the topic and who may simply be lonely.
  • I don’t want to argue with someone who appears to be concerned that my free comments will reduce the number of people they can convince to pay for the same content.
leather working articles
Leather Working Articles

This is accomplished in simple leather working articles, usually using photos and/or sketches.  For the time being, I will be posting those articles on this site.  Without interjections from merchants.  Or ads.  Or plea to ‘like’, ‘pin’, twit, twist, or twinkle.

Some video content will be available also, but know that my position is that a video is not a “how to” if it doesn’t show you how to.  At the end of the video, a person should have the knowledge to do what they were looking for.

Information posted will be either mine, or used by permission.  If someone has already covered a topic well, I am happy to link to that instead of reinventing the wheel (I will need your expressed permission).  Where original art from others is used, credit will be clearly given.

I would love to see a collection of useful leather working videos, and would gladly display it here.  By ‘useful’, I mean there are enough ‘self promotion’ videos out there already, and requiring payment to view it does not make it “worth more”.

If I’ve covered something that was of use to you – great.  If you have a specific question – I’ll try to answer, or refer you to someone who can.

Where time permits, these posts will be available as a pdf download as well as the text form.

Leather videos

Leather Videos Substance Before Duration

I have begun adding leather videos on a you-tube channel.   Short clips provide information and answer questions regarding working with leather.  The intent is to convey information, though the format is conversational.

Historically I have avoided videos.  Most I have seen contain little useful information, and are largely filled with “promotional” junk.  We’ve all seen “instructional” video which contain no instructions.  A video which doesn’t show you how to do something is not a “how-to” video.  And, though I’ve seen my share of music videos, that is not this.

Content is not scripted.  I will try to explain a task as briefly as possible while still making the point.   This balance is not the same for everyone.  In the least it won’t be five minutes in to the video before I start talking about the topic.  And you won’t be listening to music which has nothing to do with the subject.  You will not be asked to like, follow, twit or tweet or tango.  No subscription is required.

Some short videos are currently available.  These show airbrushing leather and sewing leather holsters.  Use the comment section to recommend topics or questions.  Hopefully, I can cover something you can use.