What is the best holster lining material?


Harve Curry
October 10, 2005, 10:55 AM
What is the best holster lining for not wearing the finish or steel of the gun?
Man made or synthetic materials?

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Zak Smith
October 10, 2005, 11:24 AM
Both leather and Kydex will wear the finish. Pretty much any material will affect the finish, if nothing else because of dirt/dust which will be abrasive even if the material itself isn't.

If this is a big deal, use a stainless gun or get a hard-chrome finish applied. Otherwise just resign yourself to holster wear.

October 10, 2005, 12:31 PM
I've heard deer skin is pretty easy on gun finishes.

October 10, 2005, 03:29 PM
The best liner for holsters is another, thinner piece of the same cowhide or horsehide that the rest is made from, smooth side out.

The WORST liners are the suede or soft leathers like deer skin, pig skin, or "orthopedic elk" (which isn't made from elk skin).

The softer, or sueded finishes collect dirt and grit, and literally turn into abrasive bags for the gun.

ALL holsters cause wear on the gun finish. What causes the wear is contact and friction between the gun and the holster.
The softer the liner, the more contact it makes, and the larger the area worn.

In reality, the best holsters for reduced finish wear are GOOD Kydex holsters.
These cause FASTER wear of the finish in contact areas than leather, but the wear is confined to a smaller area, and is self-limiting to those areas.
The finish will quickly be worn in contact areas, but it won't spread to other areas.

Since the plastic is much stiffer than leather, and STAYS that way, it doesn't form to the gun like leather does, so it doesn't make more and more contact as does leather when it softens with use.

A good leather holster is just about as hard as plastic, and the gun "clicks" into place. As the holster is used, it gets softer, and the leather form fits to the gun, wearing the finish.

Bottom line: All holsters will wear the finish on a gun, starting with the very first time it's inserted into the holster.

The best leather holster is either unlined at all with a smooth finished inside, or it's lined with the same leather as the outside, with the smooth, grain side, facing the gun.

Kydex causes faster wear in contact areas, but then pretty well stops, and doesn't wear anywhere else.

The best thing you can do for finish wear is to clean the inside of the holster with a cloth and toothbrush.
Don't put ANYTHING on a leather holster, inside OR out, except a coat of neutral shoe polish on the outside.

Using any oils or dressings on a holster cause it to soften, and accelerates finish wear.

Last, recognize when the holster is worn out, and retire it.
HOW a holster looks is not an indication of whether it's past it's service life.

A holster is worn out when it no longer retains the gun tightly enough to prevent the gun from moving and shifting in the holster.

Contact and friction wear gun finishes, and a used-up holster that allows the gun to move around in the holster is virtually sandpapering the gun's finish.

A worn-out holster can LOOK brand new. It's FIT that determines service life.

Harve Curry
October 10, 2005, 09:43 PM
Thanks alot for the detailed answers. I had thought that a type of nylon was easier, even then the smooth side of leather.
Thanks for the info.

October 11, 2005, 12:50 AM
Nylon can be very abrasive.
The problem with nylon holsters is, too many are the "one size fits all" type, and don't fit anything perfectly.

Since the holster is a loose fit, they allow the gun to shift and move around.

Friction+contact=finish wear.

October 11, 2005, 01:14 AM
All good advice, howeve I once carried a blued S&W 25-2 in a nylon holster for long periods and I kept the guns lightly oiled on the finish and it never seemed to get much blue wear. Any theory as why this was so?

I always though the suede linings and "elk" were suppose to be good, I'm glad I learned otherwise and the reason why makes sense.

October 11, 2005, 05:28 AM
What dafariswheel said is exactly what my custom leather holster guy told me, word for word. He's been at it for over 40 years and every one in the area goes to him.

Old Fuff
October 11, 2005, 08:53 AM
The Old Fuff, who admits having limited experience with plastic holsters and prefers leather, has made his own for years. When making an OWB for a heavy/large handgun I sometimes use two pieces of leather of equal thickness with the face side out. Putting it otherwise, two pieces of 4oz. thickness would equal a single piece of about 9oz thickness. I find that the resulting holster is easer to get a uniform stitching job on and is more rigid.

I don't line lighter rigs that are molded to fit in the manner Chick Gaylord pioneered, and who showed me his technique. If the gun's finish is of paramount concern I make the holster with the rough side out, and usually do this with IWB holsters anyway, as the rougher texture helps keep the holster positioned.

It should be noted that if the holster tightly fits the gun, the tight fitting places in the holster will quickly become burnished, and be smooth anyway. This applies to both lined and unlined holsters.

There is no “best way” to make a holster. What’s best is determined by the intended purpose. I also believe that if a handgun/holster combination has anything to do with self-defense, finish wear on the gun should be of the least concern. I would be much more concerned about possible consequences to the user.

October 11, 2005, 03:57 PM
"All good advice, however I once carried a blued S&W 25-2 in a nylon holster for long periods and I kept the guns lightly oiled on the finish and it never seemed to get much blue wear. Any theory as why this was so? "

It all depends on the type and denier (thickness) of the nylon.
Some nylons are VERY abrasive, (wide, belt type nylon), some like the very smooth nylon is less so.

Most makers realized how damaging some types are, and have gone to the smoother types as liners for their holsters.

When I was still working as a watchmaker, it was not unusual to see watches the owner used nylon watch bands on.
Often, the stainless steel case back had the lettering worn away, and the pattern of the nylon literally impressed into the steel from pressure and friction.

Bottom line on holsters and gun finishes is, if you don't want the finish worn, don't ever put it in a holster of any type.
You can help things along by using stainless steel or hard chromed guns.

Drive your new car around a parking lot for a while, and the paint will accumulate scratches and dings.
Perfect cars sit in showrooms, perfect guns sit in locked display cases.

Cars and guns that are used get marked up.

Harve Curry
October 11, 2005, 06:19 PM
Thanks again for the replies.
The reason for my question is I have on order from Colt a SAA 1/2 coverage engraved with a Elmer Kieth style front sight (the one with the gold lines).

I promised myself this will be a user sixgun, carried all the time like I do now.

I guess I'm getting to particular about it :uhoh:

Old Fuff
October 11, 2005, 06:22 PM
Well Elmer carried his ... :D

You might also follow his advice on leather ... ;)

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