by Gary Howes
Guns and Gunsmiths Editor
Some time ago I asked American Gunsmithing Institute members on Facebook what advice they would give to aspiring gunsmiths. One of the comments I got back (thanks Charles) was to find a “niche” so that you can stand out from other gunsmiths in your area.
So here is an idea for you to add a different service to your shop. Have any of your customers ever come in with an unusual or “classic” firearm and told you that they would like a holster for it but can’t find one? Or would you like to be able to offer leather holster repair services? Maybe you are retired, like to gunsmith in your spare time and would also like to extend that hobby to gun leather?
Recently a friend of mine showed me his old “cowboy” holster. It was basically falling apart and he asked me if I could repair it. Well, it was so far gone I ended up building him a complete new holster. Here it is below:
Leatherwork is a very satisfying, easy to learn and an inexpensive craft that you can do right on your gunsmithing bench with just a few basic tools. It is fun to do, and if you make a holster that doesn’t work well, you can modify it or make a new one until you achieve the result YOU want, rather than put up with the product that another company tells you is what you need.
Here are a few holsters I have made for myself over the last couple of years. Some have belt loops, some have clips, and some have thumb breaks. You can make them as fancy or plain as you like, and even personalize them with your name, initials or other design.
You can also make your own accessories. Here is a spare ammo holster, an iPhone holster, and a simple flashlight holster. And of course, knife sheaths are essential to have and easy to make.
Like gunsmithing or any other craft or hobby, you can buy just a few basic tools to start and build up your collection as you get better or as the need arrives. The best source for tools and materials is Tandy Leather. They have been around since 1919 and carry everything you need. If you don’t have a store in your area, they have a website with all their products, and quick delivery for online orders.
There are TONS of tools, stamps and other bits and pieces that you can accumulate for leatherwork, but here are what I consider to be the most basic to get you started:
So, if you want to offer something unique to your customers, or simply do what I do and make holsters for yourself and friends, consider gun leatherwork. Believe me, it’s very addictive, and even better, you don’t need an FFL or other license.