Big Holster Tips?


July 7, 2014, 04:44 PM
A friend asked me to tackle making a holster for a Taurus Raging Judge Magnum. I noted the thing has some SERIOUS heft.

Any pointers/tips for working with a BIG handgun?

Looking to make a strong side open toe lined model that straddles the line between a Hunter 1100 and a western high ride.

The gun just seems too big to let it flop over a belt like the 1100 series so I want the belt loop nice and tight and lower down on the holster body... maybe even at the cylinder.

I am planning a wet form with a good sized sandbag for a nice tight fit.

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July 7, 2014, 05:03 PM
Hi. I'd be thinking something other than a belt holster given the weight(upwards of 57+ ounces with the 8 3/8" barrel). Depends on the chambering, barrel length and what the guy will be doing with it, of course. The quality of the guy's belt will make a difference too.
Shouldn't need a sand bag to wet form. What weight leather you using?

July 7, 2014, 05:57 PM
Already suggested better methods of carry, he wants a belt holster, strong side. I suggested he's going to need a heavy belt.

It's a 6.5 inch .454/45 Colt 410 in blued steel.

If you don't use weight like a sand bag for your wet form how do you do it? Worked like a charm when I did it for a knife sheath.

July 7, 2014, 06:17 PM
a good pair of suspenders will help :D

el indio
July 8, 2014, 08:41 PM
Dr.Rob, I made a holster and belt for a customer. Strong side,6 inch barrel. If I can figure out how to post photos, I'll post them here. I also have the pattern that I made for the revolver. If you want a copy, PM me and I'll mail you a copy. To wet shape you can use a piece of antler to form the leather around the revolver. Any more questions, feel free to ask. Joe

July 8, 2014, 08:46 PM
Great looking rig! All that leather in the back makes for almost a weightlifting belt--perfect for this hogleg.

el indio
July 14, 2014, 03:36 PM
Dr.Rob, mailed the pattern to day. Good luck. Joe

July 16, 2014, 03:49 AM
I would suggest adding D rings on the belt and including a removable strap which would offer a "Sam Brown" option.

July 16, 2014, 04:47 AM
THAT is a great idea!

July 17, 2014, 09:36 PM
This is one I made for an 8 3/8" model 29. It is open toed and the belt loop is right at cylinder level. It carries pretty well, though the elbow does have to come way up to draw that long barrel over waist level.

July 21, 2014, 06:41 AM
So this is not going to have an ankle holster option?

Really going to need a stout belt or suspenders for that beast

Big Shrek
July 26, 2014, 11:00 AM
So this is not going to have an ankle holster option?

Only if you are built like Lou Ferrigno. ;)

July 26, 2014, 02:27 PM
I suggested he's going to need a heavy belt.

You might suggest a Sam Browne strap for his belt. They help "holster sag" a lot.

57 ounces is asking a lot for a 1-1/2" or 1-3/4" belt without additional support.

July 26, 2014, 03:13 PM
May I suggest something like this...

July 27, 2014, 09:04 PM

July 28, 2014, 07:15 PM
These folks make a 2-ply belt that is pretty heavy and pretty at the same time.

July 28, 2014, 08:32 PM
May I suggest something like this...
hey rick, beautiful work as always, cant make out whats behind the ruger though? under your arm there?
Hope all is well

Vern Humphrey
July 28, 2014, 09:55 PM
I'd try something along the lines of a pancake holster -- to pull the gun in close and keep it from flopping around.

July 29, 2014, 06:17 AM
hey rick, beautiful work as always, cant make out whats behind the ruger though? under your arm there?
Hope all is well

Gene, I can't take credit for that one, I was asked to do something similar for a S&W .500 and I found that picture on the web while I was researching.

el indio
July 30, 2014, 09:19 PM
Dr.Ron, how are you doing on the big holster project. I'm curious.

August 1, 2014, 04:35 PM
Working on my patterns. Haven't decided to line it or not. I'd like to, as I want to use copper rivets for part of the assembly.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2014, 05:29 PM
Try using stainless steel Chicago Screws (post screws.) They don't react to acids in leather like brass and copper do.

el indio
August 23, 2014, 11:15 AM
Dr.Rob, I haven't seen any comments from you about your big holster project. Joe

August 27, 2014, 06:55 AM
I haven't forgotten I just had to clear a bunch of other projects to get started.

My basic pattern took a few tries to get right. I want nice high riding slightly canted forward design that I can mate up with a heavy almost weight lifting belt (using one as a pattern).

Have good heavy weight veg tan for the outer and belt loop, a thinner grade for the lining should give me a heavy and durable wearing holster. The snakeskin is a bull snake I ran over in Mexican Hat, Utah in 2005. The rest of him went to a hatband. It will be an accent piece in an oval cut out in a decorative overstrap. Color will be a light brown Fiebing's dye with bronze beads.

I am not set on the 'bucket' style throat yet, there's some refining to do there and before I cut any leather I am still torn between a retention strap (not like anyone will RUN with this) and a sturdy hammer thong.

I still think riveting the belt loop (before doing the lining) with heavy copper rivets is the way to really SET the loop. The rivets will be totally covered and never touch the bluing. I a going to look at Chicago screws as well.

Amazon boxes and gorilla tape make great patterns. ;)

September 3, 2014, 04:48 AM
Basic shaping, wet forming (with 50 pounds of sand) and rough stitched fully lined holster.

I broke 5 needles sewing that damn thing together.

Still need to create the decorative and functional cross strap.

You guys that do this for a living have my envy. This is HARD work and my craftsmanship is not up to snuff.

September 3, 2014, 04:51 AM
Happy with my lining, though I could have used MUCH thinner leather.

The decorative strap will tighten up the belt loop to the holster.

Rough slicking the edges, lots of finishing to do.

Vern Humphrey
September 3, 2014, 10:54 AM
Have you tried piloting the needle holes with a small drill? I mark my stitches with a toothed wheel, then drill out each tooth mark so the needle is a tight but not impossible fit in the hole.

September 3, 2014, 12:45 PM
I was thinking of using a drill by the time I got 1/2 way done.

I have used a lacing chisel on thinner projects and didn't like how much material is cut.

Vern Humphrey
September 3, 2014, 02:27 PM
I sometimes use an awl I made from a small screwdriver, but drilling goes faster, and no leather is actually cut.

el indio
September 3, 2014, 04:28 PM
Hey Doc, I make holes in leather with a tool that I got with an Exacto set. I chucked it in my drill press so I can use the leverage from the press to put in my holes and make it easier to sew. I also use thinner leather, like 3-4 and 5-6, and glue them flesh side to flesh side. When you are done you have good leather inside and out. I,ll take photos if you want to see what I do. Any questions, feel free to ask. Joe

September 4, 2014, 01:27 PM
I don't like the idea of drilling holes because it removes material. When the holes are punched with a diamond awl, you're not removing any material and the holes will close up around the stitching, making it look much, much cleaner.

September 4, 2014, 02:56 PM
Seems I am using the wrong kind of awl for poking my holes, and not lubing it with beeswax.

No WONDER my hands hurt.

Vern Humphrey
September 4, 2014, 05:49 PM
I don't like the idea of drilling holes because it removes material. When the holes are punched with a diamond awl, you're not removing any material and the holes will close up around the stitching, making it look much, much cleaner.
Well, yes and no. Removing material does no harm -- if you use a groover for stitching, you also remove material, but no one says you shouldn't do it.

Conversely, a diamond awl leaves cuts, which under stress can enlarge.

September 4, 2014, 08:27 PM
Removing material means the holes never close up. People do it because it's quicker and easier, not because it's better.

The diamond awl used in combination with a stitching groover makes the stitch look much cleaner AND protects the threads.

...which under stress can enlarge.
Not if it's properly saddle-stitched.

September 4, 2014, 08:28 PM
Seems I am using the wrong kind of awl for poking my holes, and not lubing it with beeswax.
What size is your blade? I can tell you from experience, it's a lot more work until you get the right size awl blade. I went through two or three before I found what works. Stitching should be easy until you get to the backstitch.

Vern Humphrey
September 4, 2014, 08:36 PM
...which under stress can enlarge.
Not if it's properly saddle-stitched.
I can show you a top-grade saddle which shed the top of the saddle horn when that happened.

September 5, 2014, 01:11 AM
I am confident in my stitching. My burnishing is ok.

Do you all typically stamp and wet form before you assemble?

I've read several different notions.

I had to give up on the snakeskin inset.. my skill just isn't up to it with the tools I have on hand. I tried several times to get a nice oval or egg shape, and was just boogering it up. I am going to hand stamp/texture the strap tomorrow before dying and securing it.

September 5, 2014, 01:26 AM
Oh the awl I have been using is a scratch awl not a diamond.. to it has a taper that gets larger if you push it too far. I was really having to hammer it to get through FOUR layers of leather at the seam. I switched to a stitching awl with a chisel point for doing the holes in my strap, it worked great!

It's a learning experience, and I am having fun in spite of my cramping hands and back.

Vern Humphrey
September 5, 2014, 10:34 AM
Well, you've certainly done a great job.

As for cramping -- get used to it, if you intend to keep making holsters. It's our occupational hazard.

September 5, 2014, 12:16 PM
A good, sharp diamond awl makes all the difference in the world. Keep it sharp and it will glide through the leather.

Sometimes my fingers get sore from stitching but the only cramping I get is when I'm doing a lot of stamping.

Do you all typically stamp and wet form before you assemble?

Here's the order in which I build a holster. Obviously, there's more than one way to skin a cat and some folks do it differently.

1. Create the pattern. I either draw up a pattern from scratch, or create it from another. Either way, I draw it up on manila folders by laying the gun lengthways along the fold, sights down. I carefully roll it over to one side and do a tracing. When I cut out the pattern, I fold it first and cut the bottom and both mainseam edges at the same time.

2. I lay out the pattern onto the leather and cut a slightly oversized piece from the hide. Reason being, even with a large cutting board (24x36), it's easier to cut out the pattern from a smaller piece.

3. Trace the pattern and cut it out. I use a red ink pen for this because if ink gets anywhere on the finished piece, it will be covered up by the color. I do my pattern cutting with a trim knife, utilizing a rotary cutter for any straight edges.

4. Bevel the edges that need beveling. I do not bevel the edges where the mainseam will be glued and sewn together. I prefer a bissonnette style edger.

5. Case the leather, wetting it on both sides and letting it dry for a few minutes, until the surface starts to dry. Our tap water has a high chlorine content so I use bottled water.

6. Cut all my stitching grooves, both sides. I cut my grooves approximately 3/16" from the edges. This will result in the stitch line being about 1/8" from the finished edge.

7. I proceed with any line work and stamping. I frame out my border stamping with the stitch groover. Depending on the pattern and level of embellishment, I may cut several grooves on the holster. Using a freehand groover with stainless ruler as a straight edge for the inside border along the fold.

8. Add the maker's mark, stamp the make, model and year.

9. Mark the main seam with the overstitch wheel.

10. Cut my grooves and punch all the holes for the belt loop. Including the holes where it is stitched to the pouch.

11. Cut stitching grooves on the inside of the pouch where the belt loop will be sewn on. Some of this can be done with a straight edge but most is free-handed. This protects the threads from abrasion during holstering.

12. If it is to have a retention strap, I cut the hole in the belt loop with a bag punch and stitch it into place at this time.

13. Most my holsters have at least a partial welt. At this time I cut it out and glue it in place onto the front side.

14. Punch holes for mainseam on the front side only, including welt.

15. After the glue dries I dye and completely finish the inside. I put one coat of dye on the outside so that it colors evenly under and around the belt loop. I also slick the appropriate edges at this time.

16. Stitch the belt loop into place.

17. Glue the mainseam being extremely careful not to get glue where it doesn't belong.

18. Punch holes for the mainseam from the front side to the back. Being careful to align the backside holes with the stitching groove. This is where a good sharp awl really pays for itself. Sharp = slow and careful penetration.

19. Stitch the mainseam. I back stitch both ends three or four stitches, starting at the throat and ending at the toe. Cutting the thread off on the back side only.

20. I use a bench sander to sand my mainseam edges smooth and even. Which also removes any glue that ran out.

21. Bevel the edges of the mainseam one last time.

22. Apply dye until desired color is achieved. Usually one or two more coats. When the holster is good and wet the last time, I wet form it with the firearm (or dummy) it was fitted for in a 1gal ziplock bag. Allowing it to dry overnight.

23. Apply one or two coats of extra virgin olive oil, allowing it to completely soak in.

24. Apply gun tragacanth. Slick the edges again, paying particular attention to getting the mainseam as close to perfect as possible. I do not use edge paint. As the gum trag is drying but still slightly damp, I start buffing with a denim remnant. Leather will polish to a nice luster when it's slightly damp. I may also do this while it's wet forming.

25. I use either Bag Cote or Tandy's Professional finish and buff a final time.

26. I take pics and ship it to whatever lucky SOB ordered it. :p

September 6, 2014, 01:18 AM
Done for tonight. 'Fakeskin' made with a pear stamp.

That light brown in 2 coats plus a rubbed in EVOO gives it a deep red-brown tone.

Overall I am pretty pleased.

September 6, 2014, 10:19 AM
The "fakeskin" looks good and I love the color.

September 14, 2014, 05:43 PM
Delivered Thursday and on a hunting trip Friday. I'll know how it held up soon.

el indio
September 15, 2014, 10:14 AM
Hey Doc, You did a fine job making your holster. The more that you make the easier to figure out. Just have fun. Joe

el indio
October 30, 2014, 09:02 AM
Dr.Rob, how did your holster work on the hunting trip?

October 31, 2014, 04:49 AM
The owner loved it, his father in law might be wanting one just like it. ;)

He did mention he forgot what a beast it was to carry, but her really liked how it rode.

el indio
October 31, 2014, 09:57 AM
Glad to hear it. Always good to make the customer happy. I'm going to a gun show for the weekend, and I have a customer who is a Paladin nut. I'll post photos later. Joe

November 12, 2014, 07:02 PM
did you put a little wheel on the bottom of the holster? ;)

el indio
November 13, 2014, 04:37 PM
Hey Doc, here are the paladin articles

November 13, 2014, 11:56 PM
did you put a little wheel on the bottom of the holster?

Now THAT made me laugh.

November 13, 2014, 11:57 PM
Wow indio you weren't kidding. That's a lot of chess pieces.

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