Most shooters are aware of the maintenance required for firearms. They wipe the gun down, occasionally disassemble the piece, and clean and lube the gun. And many know ammunition that has been chambered several times or exposed to solvents may need to be changed. But very few attend to the load-bearing gear. Holsters and belts also need maintenance — even the most modern thermoplastic resins. Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining and caring for your firearm holster.

Clean a Leather Holster

I use a variety of holsters but generally prefer quality custom-grade leather. And custom-grade leather demands a break-in period. The holster may creak or squeak. Before a holster is properly broken in, the owner needs to practice a few dozen presentations. This will result in an excellent fit, good retention and a sharp draw.

It’s important to remember leather doesn’t last forever. It can get loose in certain areas and bind and limit your draw. This would be dangerous in a life-or-death scenario, so be sure to inspect the holster. The leather holster must maintain a tight grip on the handgun (retention) and offer a good draw angle. If wear and tear become apparent, both retention and the draw may be compromised. Kydex holsters generally are either broken or not, and the end of their life is more obvious.

Some leather holsters are hard waxed and less likely to deteriorate as they become exposed to oil and solvents or body oils and perspiration. When caring for your firearm, oil the locking block, barrel hood and cocking block. Leave the rest alone in order to prevent transferring oil to your leather holster.

On the other hand, a leather holster can dry and crack. Applying some type of treatment isn’t a bad idea from time to time. The majority of leather holster care is keeping dirt and grit from grinding into the finish. Be sure to wipe the holster down regularly.

Check the Fittings

Gun holsters will also need to have the nuts and bolts, so to say, checked occasionally. Fittings can work loose from time to time and must be adjusted. Tighten the tension screw to the appropriate setting, if the holster has one. Inside-the-waistband holsters have belt snaps attached that will also need to be checked for tightness. And shoulder holsters feature Chicago screws to keep the holster tight. Shoulder holsters also flex a lot during a day’s wear. Be certain the fittings are tight and the rig is secure.

The Galco Triton with a screw driver and Allen wrenches.

A good wipe down and tightening of retention screws is needed regularly. Holsters flex when worn. (Galco Triton pictured. Photo by Bob Campbell.)

Kydex should be checked monthly at the minimum. But the set screws holding the holster together or providing retention adjustment should be checked weekly. Kydex is generally fairly smooth and doesn’t scratch and abrade the handgun finish. More often, what occurs is grit or foreign material gets trapped inside the holster. This can lead to scratching a pistol’s finish. The easiest way to prevent grit accumulation in Kydex holsters is to wash them out with hot water in a sink. A toothbrush may be used to root out the inner area of the holster and the tighter areas such as the sight track.

Again, do not neglect to tighten the screws. Kydex holsters often have a high number of screws, particularly modern holsters with a “foot” or “wing” attachment for preventing rollout when the holster is worn in the appendix position. The trick is to keep the screws tight but not so much that further adjustment is impossible.

Final Holster Clean and Care Notes

For those hybrid holsters that combine leather and Kydex, use the appropriate cleaning style for the material. Wipe down the leather and remove grit from the Kydex. It may help to have a regular maintenance schedule for your gear. For example, clean the handgun one week and the holster the next. And be sure to check your gear before wearing daily. Many problems with holsters can be avoided by choosing quality gear and paying attention to normal wear and loosening fittings.



More About Holsters:

Holsters 101: What to Know and How to Choose
Holster Review: The DeSantis Gator Sting
Holster Comparison: Kydex vs. Leather