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.