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Do We Have Any Kydex Holster Makers?

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  • Sasquatch

    TGT Addict
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    2   0   0
    Apr 20, 2020
    I don't know yet! I was going to try just heating it first and messing around with trying to make a magazine holster.

    That's how I made my first few holsters - just be ready to be disappointed with the results compared to commercially available stuff. I made mag carriers and "taco" style holsters (where the kydex wraps around the slide and sides, like a taco shell) and while you *can* get reasonable definition, and a "click in" type of retention, its a lot harder to do with your hands vs foam, and its really easy to overheat the kydex and burn it that way.

    I also burned up my wife's hair dryer until I learned to get a heat gun, and then later to use an oven or an electric griddle to heat the kydex.

    I'm in the process of moving on from even the electric griddle (which has worked remarkably well - better than the oven because you have more control and observation of the heating of the kydex) and I'm moving to a t-shirt press to heat my kydex. That's how a lot of holster makers are now heating the kydex. Temperature control is better, and it keeps the piece flat as its sandwhiched between the cast iron plates. Kind of like sous vede for a steak, its also easier to gain and maintain temperature vs overheating.

    If you want to do adjustable retention on a holster - cut out a piece of wood (mdf, ply, or balsa) 3/8 or 1/4 inch thick and secure it to the gun with painters tape. Works on magazines too. Then get some appropriately sized faucet washers from the hardware store to have a firm, compressable material. I use the blue painters tape mostly, but the green stuff leaves less residue. Same for blocking out channels for the gun's controls - just cut a thin piece of wood that'll just cover the controls so they don't drag and tape it down well.

    I use wooden dowels or square hobby sticks (Hobby Lobby or Michaels has them) for sight channels.


    TGT Supporter
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    1   0   0
    Feb 21, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I made a bunch of kydex holsters around a decade ago, just for myself and a few friends. I ended up buying some of the tools from KnifeKits. I ended up going with their manual forming press and rivet press.

    For heating kydex, I ended up using an old toaster oven I was going to replace. That worked fine but, you definitely have to be careful on heat and time. You can tell when the kydex starts getting shiny spots that you're heating it too long or too hot. Also used a heat gun for when I needed to tweak small sections.

    The mold
    One of the things I found is, IMO, people place far too much emphasis on achieving a perfectly form fit mold. People get kind of crazy with their press and molds and want to see every nook and cranny perfectly molded. I'll call this a "high resolution" mold.

    Take a step back and think about what's actually needed, though. you need the mold of the basic silhouette so the gun fits the holster perfectly without play. I'll refer to this as a "low resolution" mold.

    Beyond that, you probably want one or more indentations, usually around the trigger guard, to add retention. You also want to ensure the kydex is molded tight enough to the trigger guard that you have complete coverage and there are no holes that can inadvertently allow trigger access.

    A good example of a low resolution mold are some of Dale Fricke's holsters. If I ever make another holster again, next time around I'm going the low-res route and not wasting so much time and effort. ;) To do so, you could probably make a gun mold out of wood, which I was able to successfully do before. I don't know that wood would hold up well over time but, if you're just making a handful of the same holster, probably not a big deal. You could maybe also use a blue gun and maybe sand down or apply some sort of filler to smooth out some of the nooks and crannies.


    Picture courtesy Dale Fricke (not mine)

    This is the tough part I'd spend maybe the most time perfecting. When you insert or draw the gun, take note of how much the holster flexes. A high quality holster will have the kydex flex apart only a few degrees to release the gun. Contrast this with a cheap holster like a Fobus, and the holster halves might flex apart 1/2" or something ridiculous.

    An example of what I'm talking about is the shape of the actual indentation. If you just press in the heated kydex with say a pencil head or something that creates a fairly square edge, you're going to get more flex. Also, the force curve for defeating the retention will be pretty abrupt and rough. Here's an example of one from Fobus with a substantial retention notch. I've tried one of these exact holsters and the draw is atrocious!


    Picture courtesy Fobus (not mine)

    Instead, use a shape that has a much rounder profile so that the edges of the indentation or more round or angled. The force curve will be more gradual. The feel with be a much smoother draw without a big hitch, and the halves of the holster probably won't flex apart quite as much. Here's an example from JMCK, showing a shallow and rounded profile retention notch:


    Picture courtesy JMCK (not mine)
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