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Do-It-Yourself Holsters

“It is so easy, anyone can do it.”

A while back, I wanted a holster for one of my handguns that was outfitted with a Red Dot sight, so I went to the internet and looked around. After some searching, all I found was generic holsters and a few places that would make one just like I wanted, but would require I get a loan to afford one. So, instead I bought some leather and a few leather holster tools, but I soon found that this way was too labor intensive.

The first one I made was out of a nylon gun case to sort of get the feel of how to do it. It took me almost an entire day, and it didn't work like I thought it was going to.

So, I headed back to the internet for more instructions. While searching for holster-making videos, I came across KYDEX holster-making, and it looked neat. I bought a few sheets of Kydex and some Chicago screws and eyelets (rivets).

So, what is Kydex? Prior to this venture, I had no idea what it was. Here's the short, non-technical version: It's a sheet of plastic that can be heated and then molded into just about any shape you want.

I have found it in sheets as large as 4 feet by 8 feet and as thick as 1 inch. But, for holster making – depending on the size of your handgun – you will want sheets ranging from 6x6 inches to 12x12 inches in a thickness of 0.06 or 0.80 inches. I tried some that was 0.125 inches thick and found it was too thick to get a good imprint of the gun.

Other things you will need: The gun you want to make the holster for, a drill, a 1/4-inch and 3/16-inch drill bit, sandpaper (medium and extra fine grit), Chicago screws, eyelets or rivets and either a rivet tool or a hammer and rivet setter, a saw (band saw, coping saw or jigsaw), an oven (like the one you use to cook), two pieces of 2x8 wood about 2 feet long (this and the foam will be your press), two pieces of heavy foam about 1-1/2 inches thick and about 12x12 inches wide (I had some boat cushions that worked fine), a door hinge, a clamp or some heavy weights, a cookie sheet as large as the sheet of Kydex, a pencil, some small pieces of scrap wood, two Kydex belt loops, a roll of tape (blue painter’s tape works best) and a pair of gloves.

A heat gun, band saw, table top belt sander and drill press will make the project easier, but are not necessary.

Here's the short version of how easy it is to make the holster:

Take the wood and screw the door hinge to the ends, so it looks like a fireplace bellows. Lay your gun on one sheet of Kydex and sort of figure out how you want it to lay out on the sheet. Then draw an outline of it.

If you heat the Kydex and press it to fit the gun, it will fill in areas like the space between the scope and gun frame. If you do both halves, you will not be able to get the gun in or out of the holster. So, using the scrap wood and tape, fill in these areas before forming the Kydex.

Now that you have your gun taped off with the blue painter’s tape – filling in any big gaps – you are ready to make your holster.

Take a sheet of Kydex and place it on the cookie sheet. Put it in your oven and set to bake at 350 degrees. DO NOT PRE-HEAT THE OVEN. You want the Kydex to heat up slowly, or the edges will curl up.

Take your wood that you have screwed the hinge onto and place one piece of foam on it. When the Kydex reaches 350 degrees, put on your gloves, open the oven, take out the cookie sheet and lay the heated Kydex on one piece of foam that is on the bottom piece of the bellows.

Lay the gun down on the Kydex on the outline you have drawn, then put the other piece of foam on the gun and press down.

Now you want to either put a heavy weight on the bellows or clamp the two ends very tightly.

Wait 15 minutes before removing the gun. You will have a perfectly-formed imprint of half of the gun. Follow the same steps with the other sheet. I place the gun back in the imprint of the first sheet so I can line up the edges with both sheets.

You will now have a perfect imprint of both halves of the gun. Mark where you want to place your rivets and belt loops. You will have to trim the edges of the Kydex using your saw.

Once you have the holster marked for the eyelets and belt loop, clamp the two halves of Kydex together and drill your holes.

Remove the tape from the gun and see how it fits. Once both halves are riveted, the gun should slide into the holster with a little resistance and be tight enough that the gun will not fall out when holster it is turned upside-down.

Like most first-time projects, my first one was not so good. But, you can reheat the Kydex to 350 degrees and it will become soft enough to re-mold it.

After I made a few out of black Kydex, I wanted to make one with a picture or design.

I found www.tacticalinfusions.com. Not only do they have a pile of different patterns infused into the sheets, but they can take almost any picture and infuse it onto a sheet of Kydex.

Once you get the hang of it, you can form Kydex to fit anything. I have seen cell phone holders, dip can holders, knife sheaths and more. You are limited only by your imagination.

Before I tried my first holster, I watched a few YouTube videos that really helped. Here are some that were most helpful to me:

• youtube.com/watch?v=2qahqqGjt_o

• youtube.com/watch?v=F7TE4N5PLVg

• youtube.com/channel/UCqqnW47FUAV8y 4PXQDj_Q (This one is a must-watch. This guy has several videos, and he is very good!)

As of this writing, I have made about six holsters and actually sold a few.

Give it a try!

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”