Intro: Quick Draw Leather Molle Holster
I'm a airsofter and love my revolvers, the problems I've run in to lately is the lack of good holsters for them.
Now don't get me wrong I enjoy my wild west gun rig as much as the next person, but some times I want to go for a modern look when out on the field so I needed to make my own holster for my 6" TM Colt Python that could attach to a molle chest rig or drop leg panel.
(MOLLE (military) (MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment), a version of load bearing gear used by the U.S. Military - a Molle drop leg platform is a blank panel that you can attach any molle item to and features a double leg strap for stability).
The things I wanted to cover with the holster where:
- molle attachments, so I can add it to any kit.
- low profile, have the holster as small as possible.
- make it as quick as possible, one thing I love about my western rig is the quick draw.
So I sat down and drew up a holster that would allow me to remove the gun as quick as possible (a 6" barrel can take time to remove from a holster) so I had the gun held only at the very end, as the holster is mostly open down on-side it makes it easy to remove the gun and I added molle straps to the back of it.
Step 1: Tools:
Here's a list of the tools you'll need:
- your gun
- Veg-tan tooling leather (vegetable tanned leather)
- leather off cuts for the straps
- thin backing leather
- general art equipment for the design and pattern making
- 2 press studs and a setter
- sharp craft knife
- v-groover tool
- edge beveller tool
- leather stitching tools
- metal ruler
- leather glue
- edge slicker
- leather dye
- edge dying sticks
- gum tragacanth
- leather finish
- old rag
- thick plastic sheet
Some of the tools listed you can get away with-out using but they will make the project quicker and easier, I'll point out these in the guide as we go.
Step 2: Designing the Pattern:
The first thing you'll need is your art equipment,
Draw around your gun going from the trigger guard downwards
Add about 6/7mm to the outline to make room for the stitching
Note: When going along the top edge of the gun where the sights are follow a straight line from the highest parts
Draw on where the molle straps will sit, it's best to line it up against your chest rig but the straps are normally about 25mm wide with a 25mm gap in-between.
Now you know where the straps sit on the holster you can make the patterns for the straps
With that you should have a pattern you can draw around on to the leather
Step 3: Cutting the Leather
Now you have your pattern, you can draw around it on to the leather,
You'll need to make sure you lay out the pattern so the grain side (smooth side) of the veg-tan leather will be facing you when you wear it, the same for the thin backing leather (so the flesh side (fluffy side) will face the gun and help grip it in place)
You will need to the cut the thick plastic sheet smaller then rest so it wont get in the way of the stitching
Step 4: Moulding the Top Part of the Holster
Now on the fun part -
You need to take some veg-tan leather with plenty of extra room to fix around the shape of the gun.
Then you'll need to rap up your gun to keep it safe and then soak the leather under the tap
Once the leather is wet leave it to one side for about 5/10 minutes to let it fully soak in.
Now everything is in place, it time to start.
Lay the leather over the top of the gun and using your hands just push the leather down and it will start to mould around the gun, keep at it, working the leather around the gun and in to the different shapes of the gun, the longer you take on this part the better the fit will be.
At the end of it make sure the leather goes around the gun then out flat so you have a nice area around the edge to stitch the pieces together later
Leave the leather to dry for 24hrs some where cool and dry, don't put it some where hot to dry the leather won't like it and can be misshapen once dry.
Step 5: Shaping the Mould
Once the moulded leather has dried its time to shape it.
Take your knife and starting about 25mm from the bottom cut in to the shape and remove part of the leather covering the barrel, then clean up the shape - by removing any excess - around the top so the leather covers the revolver cylinder and lip goes in to the trigger guard.
Step 6: Dying the Leather
Now everything has been cut out and shaped we can dye the leather
You don't have to dye the leather if you want to keep its natural colour but you will need to put a leather finish on it to protect the leather from ware and tear.
The simplest way of dying the leather is to just use a sponge and wipe it on but this can get a bit messy without gloves and the dyes don't wash out that quick, it might cost more but getting a hold of some dye applicators (a fancy sponge on a stick) speeds things up and is a lot neater.
Once you have left the dye to dry over night you can then add the leather finish over the top which protect the leather from the elements.
Step 7: The Base of the Holster
Now the dying has been done we need to stitch the first molle strap to the base of the holster because it needs stitching in the middle.
After this has been done you have to add in the press studs.
If you want you can use the V-groove tool to add a recess for the stitching to sit in so it is flush.
Now you can glue the 3 base parts together, sandwiching the plastic sheet in-between the thick and thin leathers.
The best way is to spread the glue all over then leave it for 5mins till it starts to dry then press the parts together
With the base put together run glue around the edge of the moulded leather and fix it to the base.
Step 8: Stitching
Now with everything glued together and dry it times to stitch it all.
First use your stitching awl (a ice pick looking tool) to make your stitching holes ago around the whole edge.
As seen in picture 2 the holes have been punched and in picture 3 I have followed the holes a guide to use the v-groove tool to make the stitching flush.
Once everything has been punched they are ready to be stitched together, take your waxed tread and a leather needle start under one of the long straps leaving about 150mm of thread at the end, go in and out of the holes you have made, go all the way around till you get to where to started, now loop around and head back the way you came going in and out again so that there are no gaps in the stitching
Note: also don't for get to line up the other straps as you go stitching them in.
Step 9: Finshing
Now everything is stitched you can use the craft knife to cut off any excess off the moulded leather so everything is nice an neat, if you want you can use the bevel tool to trim off the edges then re-edge with dye.
Now take the old rag and rub in the gum tragacanth in to the edges, this will smooth the edges and make then harder when it dries, while it is still wet use the slicker tool to smooth the edges out even more (the bevelled edges will make the edge nice and round)
Step 10: The End
If everything went as it should you should now have a custom made leather molle holster for your beloved revolver that looks little like this.