Actually for the modest weight firearm that you are carrying you could soften the belt in the area of the belt holes and that should not be a problem.
Opening up the holes a bit should not be any sort of problem either.
That having been said the leather will also become more flexible in that area on its own....eventually. But, it sounds like "eventually" is not helping your immediate problem.
See what Eric has to say first.
Sportsterguy - you just overlooked my posting that this is an OWB holster. I think Eric called it a pancake. I didn't call him and tell him what I wanted - I called and told him what my limitations were, and where my strongest areas are. He figured out what would work best, so pardon me for not knowing exactly what model the holster is. It has two slots in the leather, sort of like button holes that the belt threads through. It's made for appendix carry (or cross draw - but I don't think I will use it that way). We figured I would wear it from 12:30 to 2:30 - will just have to see what works. There is a fair amount of muzzle forward cant.
OKSHooter and Sportsterguy - you both are right on the money as far as what Eric suggested :congrats: :sport20:
He said if I add a little mink oil to the area where the holes are, it won't effect the stiffness of the belt as far as how it holds the firearm's weight. I am to work a tiny bit into the leather, then work the leather... for instance when I am watching TV. Move it back and forth... quite a bit -- he didn't think it would hurt it to move it to 90 degrees or even past that in this case. Then, work a tiny bit more in - but ONLY until I could get it on and off - not easily - but get it on and off - then STOP adding the mink oil. Continue working the leather for a couple weeks when I can... but only the area of the holes where I will be putting the buckle.
Then ---- after 2 weeks - if I still could not get it on and off, he could make the holes slightly oval shaped. But he didn't want to do that if he didn't need to - as he thought it better they stay like they are if possible.
He didn't think the western style buckle would work, because he didn't think I could easily find one that would fit a belt as thick as this. If I could find one - yep, good solution.
We discussed if this didn't work at all - that the two ring web belt was good option to try, as was a velcro belt. Probably can't make this into a velcro belt, because it has the holes in it - that would look to odd.
I asked if it had to be mink oil. I used to work in a very upscale saddlery store. Custom western halters, bridles with hundreds of dollars of silver on them, very expensive English saddles of the very finest quality etc. I learned a lot about leather. We didn't put mink oil on any of our leather. I asked if I could use one of my harness dressings made for very fine saddles. He said sure - didn't see why not. So, I used a touch of a dressing that has some lanolin and some bees wax and it smells like some bacon grease - I kid you not, but it's the nicest stuff. It's German - I don't have the label anymore, but it's made by Steuben.
I put a tiny amount on, started to work the leather... a tiny bit more... this "dressing" is like the finest creamy texture, it just glides into leather --- I am not even sure they make it anymore. I have had it for years. Anyway... the belt seemed maybe 1/3 softer than the rest of the belt after only about 2-3 minutes - so I stopped, and started wiping it down/buffing with an old terry cloth. Then, I buffed with a shoe brush.
I managed to get the belt on, the holster on the belt, and the belt buckled. I have unbuckled it, re-buckled it 3 times. It still was not easy - but it worked!
I unloaded my S&W 649, and put it in the holster, still dressed in my work clothes, messed a bit with where I thought I would want it. Ended up that if I centered the holster just a tad left of the center of my jeans pocket, it worked out well.
I checked myself out in the mirror --- I could not make it print. :danceban:
I went out to talk to my elderly Mom who lives with me -- asked her "do you see anything different on me?" Took off my cardigan so I only had my long sleeve T shirt on, turned, twisted, lifted my arms... (she knows and approves of my CCW)... she said no! I lifted my shirt and she went :icon_eek: She was SHOCKED that the gun didn't show at all! She said "now I know why they call it concealed!" Yep!
When my friend who is into guns is over this weekend, I will ask if he will take pictures - if you don't mind seeing pics of a middle aged plump woman packing a snubbie in the "how you carry" sticky. :rofl:
Thanks SO much to all who replied here!!! I hope I am on the way to being able get this belt on and off without a struggle. Maybe this info will help someone else who has a shoulder problem someday!
In my experience with leather belts they always start out stiff and increase in flexibility (where needed) over time. Now that you've got it "barely working", I'd suggest just using it for awhile and see what happens. You'll likely find that it "breaks in" and becomes comfortable to use before long.
Should you want to try a velcro and buckle belt, the Wilderness Instructor belt from Wilderness Tactical Products, LLC | Home of the Titanium Instructor Belt bends flexibly, and is very easy (low strength needed) to fasten.
I think that was the idea in only adding enough leather conditioner to make it so I could barely get it to work --- that it would continue to break in - so just add enough to get it to the point I could begin using it and then let the breaking in process take care of the rest of the issue.
I will continue to flex it by hand in that area over the next couple weeks.
One of the Wilderness belts, ironically, was the one that I **almost** ordered, then at the last minute, decided to get an HBE to match the holster. I am glad I got the HBE --- it really is a beautiful set.
I don't know much about leather holsters -- but from my background with really fine leather saddlery, I do know fine leather work, and Eric can be proud of the work he does.:congrats:
Sorry to get in late but this is the type of buckle I use...
Very easy to use. I just push the belt strait through the buckle with my right hand a little passed the hole then ease back and it goes right in. All the left hand has to do is tilt the buckle away from your body so the belt can go through.To take off I suck in my got a little hold buckle with left hand again it does not take much and the right hand push and it comes right off...
Hope this helps...
Now, that is very cool! Where in the world did you find a buckle like that?
The site is a little rough but he is a super guy. He makes one great belt too...
I bought a 1.5 belt 2 years ago and still wear it every day...
I have seen just the buckle on ebay and the likes..
Sounds like you've gotten everything figured out w/ the leather rig, but to answer your question about the Wilderness Frequent Flyer belt, ehich is the one w/ the two rings, it hold's the weight of a full size pistol just fine. I have both the FF belt as well as an instructor's belt from the Wilderness and I wear the FF pretty much daily. Extremely easy to use, very secure and holds a holster either IWB or OWB no prob. Definitely get the 5 stitch version
South - that is really a great suggestion for me. I may order that belt buckle to try. I'll try this a few more days, and if it is still difficult, I will try one of those buckles. Thanks!
John - thanks for the info on the Wilderness belt. Hoping I won't need to get one, but it is still a possibility. I might order one to wear in the summer with shorts.
Perhaps I will start a belt drawer....