Some pistols do not fit into general commercial holsters, and you may need to make your own. You can craft a custom-shaped hard-shell pistol holster using a material called Wonderflex, an easy-to-use thermoplastic sheet that will allow you to mold a holster designed to fit just about any pistol.
Place your pistol upside down on the center of a sheet of paper. The top of the paper should touch the front of the rear sight post (see Figure A). Trace the outline with a pencil (see Figure B; note: marker was used in photos for better contrast).
Lay the pistol on one side of the paper with the sight posts lined up with the previously traced line. Trace the profile of the pistol. When done, flip the pistol to other side and trace the profile.
Measure the height of the pistol slide and mark it on the paper template, measuring out from the center lines. Repeat for each side of the pistol (see Figures D and E).
Draw a line from the mark made in Step 3 to the back of the trigger loop on the traced profile. Some holsters have a slight curve in the line. Should you choose to make a curved line, match it as closely as possible on the opposite side of the traced profile.
Extend the center lines, for a closed-bottom holster, 2 to 3 inches below the bottom of the trace and add tabs 3/4 inch to 1 inch on the sides of the extension. For an open-bottom holster, proceed to Step 6.
Measure 1/2 inch to 1 inch beyond the profile trace and mark with a pencil every few inches. This is to create the line where you will cut out the pattern. The extra distance is to allow material that will fold over, closing the holster around the bottom of the pistol.
Cut out the pattern. You should now have the basic template for your custom holster.
Wrap the paper pattern around your pistol. This gives you a general idea of how it will look.
Trace your pattern onto the Wonderflex. Use tape to secure the pattern.
Cut out the pattern from the Wonderflex with household scissors.
Run the heat gun over the cut-out pattern. Wear gloves to avoid possible burns from hot Wonderflex. Wonderflex generally becomes pliable at 150 to 170 degrees F. Once pliable, you have a two- to three-minute timeframe before you have to reheat.
Wrap the Wonderflex, once it is pliable, around your pistol. When Wonderflex is heated, a built-in adhesive is activated. To avoid the possible transfer of any residue to the pistol, place a thin layer of plastic wrap between the pistol and the Wonderflex. (Note: Figure M does not have plastic wrap because the pistol here is an inexpensive prop and easy to clean should any residue become attached.)
Press Wonderflex into the details of the pistol. Reheat as needed. Leave a small amount of space on the top of the pistol so that the front sight post does not get hung up on the plastic. Press in Wonderflex at the center of the trigger loop. This is what will stop the pistol from sliding out of the holster. Once you are happy with the shape, wait 10 to 15 minutes to allow the plastic to cool.
Remove the pistol after the Wonderflex has cooled. You now have a custom-fitting hard-shell holster. To make a belt loop for the holster, take two strips of Wonderflex, heat them and fuse them together, making a thicker single strip. Place the belt that will hold the holster onto the hard shell and then, heating both the shell and the strip, fuse the strip to the shell. You should now have a loop custom-shaped to your favorite belt (see Figure O).
- Be careful when using a heat gun. It can produce high temperatures and if used improperly can start a fire or burn you severely. Always wait until the heat gun has cooled before touching the metal tip.
- Wonderflex holds heat and, if handled incorrectly, can cause burns. Always use proper safety equipment when handling hot Wonderflex.
- Wonderflex requires no external adhesive. At high temperature, it fuses to itself. If you make a mistake, don't worry; fill in a hole or gap with a small scrap that will fuse the hole closed.
- If you over-cut, simply heat the Wonderflex around the cut and press the two sides together.
- The good thing about Wonderflex is that if you make a mistake, you can reheat it and reshape it as many times as you need.
- Another option to attach the holster is to use a belt clip, similar to those used in cell-phone holsters. There are numerous ways you can attach it to the holster (glue, rivet, or fuse with a layer of Wonderflex as seen in Step 14).
- Once you have your holster completed, all you have to do is decide how you want to finish it. You can just paint it to the color of your choosing, glue fabric to the outside and use a trim around the edges, or you can even glue leather or vinyl to the holster to give it a custom-molded leather look.
- All images copywrite Matthew Johnson