How To Break In A New Holster

Have you bought a new holster, but you’re not happy with how it fits? Did you check that you bought the right size holster for your gun, but it’s still way too tight? Are you surprised by how stiff your new holster is but you don’t how to fix it?

Gun Goals is back to answer your questions and teach you how to break in a new holster. There are different methods for doing so, and we’ll cover them all for you.

Breaking in a new holster comes down to making sure the holster mold fits the pistols tightly but not so tight it’s hard to draw. This is done by working the material so that it stretches out to the proper form. The three most common ways to do this are to work it with your hands, use wax paper, or the plastic bag method. It’s also worthwhile to make sure all the securing parts and retention mechanisms are also worked properly.

Read on for more details on how to break in a new holster and breakdowns of the three main methods.

how to break in a new holster


When holsters are made they are molded to the specific shape of the gun they’re built for. This means that they should be a perfect fit.

But as the holster sits and dries from the molding process, it shrinks to some degree. Leather holsters especially shrink dramatically. Some owners think they’ve bought the wrong holster because the fit is so tight.

It’s probably not the holster. It just needs to be broken in.

Holsters that are too tight can damage the finish on your gun and present dangers in emergency situations. If the gun fits too tightly, forcing it into the holster repeatedly wears on the gun.

Even if you manage to get the gun in, drawing the gun becomes very difficult. Something you definitely don’t want if you need a quick draw.

Pro-tip: If your new holster comes with a tension screw, loosen the retention a little to see if that helps. You’re still probably going to have to do some breaking in, but this makes it easier at the start.


Of the three methods for breaking in a new holster, the hand-working method takes the most work but is the easiest on your holster. All you need to do this is time and energy.

Doing this method is very easy. All you need to is sit down in front of the TV and watch your favorite evening shows.

As you sit and watch, work the leather by pulling firmly on the holster to open the space where your gun goes. Pull with your fingers and tug with your whole hands as well.

Over time, the holster opens up and stretches. Check on the space by fitting your gun inside until it goes in with slight effort. You don’t want it to go in too easy, or it may fall out.

This works because of the fibers in holsters. They gain elasticity as they heat from the friction of your hands. As you pull over time, the fibers are trained to go where you want them to.


The next two methods are similar. The wax paper method is used by most people looking for a quick and easy method using common household items.

First, wrap the barrel and body (not the handle) with 2-3 layers of wax paper. Then force the gun in and out of the holster three times. Leave gun and paper in the holster overnight.

The next morning, remove the gun and wax paper and check the fit of the gun. If it fits a little tight, that’s perfect. You want the gun to stay in place but be easily drawn.

The reason this works is that the initial friction caused by rubbing the wax paper on the holster heats up the fibers. Leaving the gun takes those flexible fibers and forms them better to the size of your gun. The extra thickness provided by the paper keeps the holster from shrinking too small.

Warning! Don’t wrap the gun with too many layers of wax paper. If you stretch the holster out too far, it doesn’t shrink back easily. You could ruin your gun if you’re not careful.


The plastic bag method is commonly recommended by the manufacturer of holsters. The method is similar to the wax paper method, but it uses a plastic sandwich bag.

Place your gun—except the grip— into the sandwich bag and insert into the gun. For this method, you don’t need to reinsert the gun, just put it in once. Leave it in overnight.

The next day, pull the gun out and remove the bag. Check the fit of the handgun in the holster. Remember, you’re looking for that sweet spot of just a little tight.

The reasons this is preferred by some to the wax paper method are as follows:

  • A plastic bag protects the finish better.
  • The thickness of the plastic bag isn’t going to stretch the holster out too far.
  • Just inserting the bag won’t wear on the holster.

Pro-tip: If the holster isn’t right after one night, leave it for the next night as well. You aren’t going to overstretch the holster with the plastic bag. It may just take some time.


Holsters can also come with some extra features that need to be broken in. The two big ones you should watch out for are retention straps and belt clips.

Retention straps help to hold the gun in place and prevent holster grabs if someone gets in close quarters. Sometimes fresh holsters come with straps that don’t fit over the butt of the gun. Before you go and write an angry review, try to break it in yourself.

Place your gun in the holster and firmly pull on the strap to lengthen it. Working it repeatedly increases the heat through friction and lengthens the fibers. Take care not to bend or fold the material because it could break.

If the holster has a belt clip, it can be painfully tight to attach to your belt. To loosen it up enough to use a little easier, insert thick cards between your belt and the clip. In time, it adjusts to being easier to handle.

Warning! Don’t put too many extending cards in. Like the rest of the holster, take it slow and adjust little by little until it’s exactly where you want it to be.


We hope enjoyed reading about how to break in a new holster. It’s an important step to take that many people forget about. Now that you know how, go out and by your new holster with confidence!

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