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I have a question concerning a problem that I have had in the past with leather holsters.

Gary or Eric, hopefully you guys can help me with this since you both are gods in this dept.

When I first started carrying 20 years ago, I at first used cowhide holsters from reputable manufacturers. I found that after 4-6 months of constant use, they would literally start to turn to mush on me- get so soft and loose that they would barely hold the gun. I had this problem even with premium makes such as Mitch Rosen, Thad Rykba, Milt Sparks. I switched to horsehide holsters from Jerry Ahern and Kramer and these lasted about 1 year before starting to deteriorate.

Then I switched to full sharkskin with leather lining, and so far, the sharkskin seems to hold up forever. I wore a Rosen ARG for several years until I wore through the lining. Currently I am using IWBs from Bullman, Allesi, Garrity, and IronOak.

Does anyone know why I have this problem? A couple of things that I must add is the fact that I tend to sweat a lot more than most people. Also I am a health and fitness fanatic, and I keep my body ph alkaline. I have always suspected that these two issues were the biggest contribution to my problem. Might this be true?

Eric, I noticed that some of your holsters have shark trim. Would you make a CIM 3 with full shark outside?

Gary, I don't see a shark option on your site. Would you consider making a MAX-CON V in sharkskin? I tried on one that one of my students had and liked it a lot. Very comfy.

One more thing, some of you may suggest Kydex, but other than a FIST ultra-thin Kydex/leather hybrid, I personally find them to be uncomfortable.
 

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Howdy!

The problem that you described is probably due to several factors. First off, factory holsters like you used years ago were commonly oil finished. The oil tended to soften the leather and turned the holsters into floppy bags pretty quickly.
Also, in the past couple of decades, cattle production has changed - they used to be "range grazed" and slaughterd at about 2 years of age. Enduring a couple of bitterly cold winters tended to toughen the hide and holsters made from them were pretty firm and dense. Now, most cattle are raised in feedlots, pumped full of steroids and slaughtered at 18 months - sometimes even younger. The animals never reach full maturity, and the hides don't mold up as well. For this reason, I have been throwing away more and more leather in an effort to make holsters that stay firm. That's a big part of the finished price of my holsters - our materials cost per holster is several times the industry average.

Ref Shark : I am just now getting into shark. I'll be happy to make you a Max-Con V in sharkskin. Please give me a call. While we're on the subject, shark by itself is really limp stuff. I'm guessing that you are finding shark holsters to be firmer because they are laminated (the sharkskin is bonded to a horse or cowhide underlayer) - that process tends to waterproof the base piece of cowhide and make it much more moisture resistant. You might just be one of those folks who's body chemistry is such that you sweat buckets - moisture is very tough on a holster. For that reason, we seal ours by dipping them in a liquid acrylic sealer. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!
 

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Gary - a question for you or any of your esteemed colleagues.

As even the best holster over time - loses a bit of its ''grip'' - slight loosening if you will - is there any way the user can reverse that trend at all - a ''firming up'' shall we say?
 

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Hey guys.....Gary excellent answers :D The hyde softening over time is just gonna happen. As far as what I know, and thats just enough to be dangerous, there isnt anything you can do to prevent it totally.
Taking care of the holster properly and not applying any oils/silicones etc will keep it working as long as possible given the leathers physical properties and how the holster makers production methods effect it also.
Shark isnt a rigid material by nature. It has no physical properties alone that would add to the rigidity of the holster. Like Gary said..anytime you laminate any material it is stronger than anyone similar material alone.....look at plywood vs pine sheeting.
Typically the shark is 2-4 oz's thick to keep the laminated section to a workable thickness....not going to thick to mold and function. This means the leather "liner" as it were, cant be that thick either or it can actually inhibit the molding/function of the holster when done. I use 4-5 oz hide when doing this. This gives a pretty good combination of a workable thickness/rigidity without loosing the holsters feel and function.
Hope this helps...........Gary is the Master.....I know a little, but he's forgotten more than I know. So take it for what its worth.
Shoot well...........God Bless.
 

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P95Carry said:
Gary - a question for you or any of your esteemed colleagues.

As even the best holster over time - loses a bit of its ''grip'' - slight loosening if you will - is there any way the user can reverse that trend at all - a ''firming up'' shall we say?

Hi Chris,

Yeah, there are a few things that you can try , but the holsters will stretch out again - and it's really hard on the leather. For a variety of reasons, I would advise against trying such a thing.
The key in making a holster that does not stretch excessively lies in the selection of the leather, cutting the holster from the right portion of the hide (and the right direction - leather stretches directionally) and in the finish process. That kind of stuff really needs to be incorporated into the holster as it is being made, rather than trying to correct the problem later.
'Sorry, I guess that I wasn't much help.
 

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Thx Gary - no great surprise ! :smile:
 

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Gary,, do you doing any thing with Hippo or Elelaphant? Their skins seem to be rather thick at the start before shaving them down.


I also sweat like a whore in church,, and have found that to make a quality holster last, you have got to give it drying time,, I normaly buy them in pairs, and switch off,, Best holster I had was a Tom "T" that had been made out of horse hide and salt brined cured,, not sure what that does for the leather,, but it lasted about 15 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the explanations. This has shed some insite on this matter.

I did not realize that the sharkskin is in itself a fairly limp material. Laminating to another material to stiffen it up makes sense.

To me the sharkskin itself seems to be much more impervious to body sweat and cleaning/lubricating solutions, and stronger and more wear resistant than most leathers. Is this true?

I also switch holsters to allow them to dry out, which I started doing when switching to shark, so I am sure that contributed to the longevity.
 
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