Inside the Shop – Natural Holsters

So this is the first post of this sort, and I thought guys are always curious about things in the shop and how things work. I’ve had allot of guys want to come in the shop and see how things are built and it’s sort of like watching the show “how it’s made” but allot slower and by hand rather than some amazing mechanical wonder.

So Natural holsters, the arch nemesis of virtually every holster maker that I know. Likely the same in saddle makers, and all other leather crafts. Very likely the same also when dealing with natural wood finishes as well. The reason is that every single defect, mark or anything else will show in the finished holster. Did the cow get a bug bite when it was still a calf? Did she get too close to the barbed wire fence? Did someone with a slightly unclean hand touch the leather at the tannery or in your shop? All of that will or can show up in the finished holster.

Minor scar causing discoloration, this wasn’t visible until it was oiled at the last few steps.

Often times small things like not washing your hands between working on a non-natural holsters or wiping down your boning tools will transfer a little bit of dye which will show on a natural holster. I’ve had the presser foot on my sewing machine transfer dye because I happened to stitch a black holster before a natural.

So in essence making a good or as perfect as you can get natural holster you pretty much have to turn your work space into a clean room. Wipe your tools and equipment down to make sure there isn’t any dye on anything. Hope and cross your fingers no grease or oil from your sewing machine finds its way into the process, or god forbid gets on your hands while working on it, since next step will be a nice clean black fingerprint that you can’t remove.


Crazy as it may seem, sometimes a complicated order like this will actually be easier to build, than a simple natural holster.

So the whole process there are countless times to make a minor mistake, and ruin the holster to the point that you’re going to have to rebuild it. Then dye that one you screwed up black or some other darker color. There are also things with the hide that just aren’t visible until you start working with it. Sometimes parts of the hide are firmer, or more dense. They will absorb water and oil at a different rate. That’s going to leave an uneven finish on the leather. Ever wonder why some cheap holsters often import rigs get that brown/orange color and doesn’t look natural or like a dye. Well that is actually more like a paint, it goes on smooth and hides a lot of things with the grain of the leather that you can’t hide with dye. When dealing with wood I’d say it’s paint vs. stain. Stain you will see the grain and any issues with it, paint will cover it up. And I should say that’s not a complaint or even an issue, just something to be aware of.

I also would like to say that doesn’t mean holster makers as a whole are using worse leather on black or dark brown holsters compared to natural. Pretty much all the issues with natural rigs are aesthetic not functional issues, they are minor things that won’t affect the function of the rig. If the cow has a tiny scar the width of a hair and the rig is black you’ll never see it and it won’t affect the function of the rig at all. But on a natural rig often that will show as a line of darker or lighter leather where oil won’t penetrate as well and looks off.

So just an oddity of holster making that I wanted to mention and write about since I don’t often see it talked about outside of the industry itself. Inside the industry it’s often talked about in my experience all the way up to the top level professionals, we all hate natural holsters.

A good clean example of a natural holster, which also happened to replace the one in the image above.

But now I’m going to throw out the last bit. We all hate them but there is a fine line between love and hate. We hate making them, we may complain and swear through the whole process. But at the end, if we managed to avoid all the pitfalls the finished product is often the best representation of our work. It’s a piece that doesn’t have anything to hide behind. It’s a model from television without their makeup and hair done. It’s either good or bad based on how well it’s built and how well the holster maker went through the whole process. That isn’t to say it’s better than a black rig it’s not, and honestly I prefer the look of black or brown to natural. But it does show every single little mistake you made and that is when you can really tell the difference between makers. Take a close look at a Matt DelFatti’s natural holsters and you’ll see how close to perfect some holster makers can get.

Luke Adams

Updates and Anniversary sale!

Updates! We’ve been constantly updating our existing holsters and I’ve been working to develop a few new holsters too. Some of these have been in testing for more than 2 years now. Others are newer, but nearly ready to bring out.

The Appalachian holster, which is my take on the classic Avenger style holster, but built out for cross draw OWB carry. Pricing starts at $95, just like my other rigs. Exotics and upgrade options are also available.

My switchback magazine carrier has been in testing for a long time with a single offset clip, allowing you to carry a single mag IWB. I think this design really shines with the smaller single stack carry guns.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be releasing a few more holsters.

My Overland holster is a strong side version of the same Avenger style of holster. It includes a reinforced mouth to insure one handed re-holstering. The rig pictured has an optional Speed Cut to allow the gun to leave the holster at a lower angle and clear leather quicker and is a custom option.

My Vertical Shoulder Holster, which allows comfortable carry for larger firearms without the need of a thumb break or other snap retention device.

These last two are not available on the site quite yet, though if your interested in either just email me and I can give you more information about when they will be ready.

Our Anniversery sale

Remember 4 years ago, when gas averaged $2.55 a gallon? Well, like everything these days, the price of gas has gone up, along with the price of dang near everything else. Our holster leather has gone up, along with most of our materials. And, of course, the cost of us just getting by has gone up as well. So, as a result, have our prices.

We’ve been wanting to do something special for our 4th anniversary this year, and I have been running through options and ways to make some sort of sale. To celebrate, I’ve come up with this. When I started Adams Holsters, I sold a basic holster for $65 with free shipping. What we’re going to do is, as of January 1st,  we’re going to go through all of our
holster orders between today and the first of the year and pick at random out of a hat, 4 orders to get our original pricing.

So, what this means is, if you place an order between now and the first of the year for a Texas holster for $95 + shipping, and your name is drawn, I’ll knock that down to $65 shipped. If you’ve got a fancy exotic holster on order, we’ll take and knock $30 off your order, and ship it for free. So no matter what you order between now and the new year, you get the chance to roll back the pricing to 4 years ago. If you’ve got a Sharkbite or just a mag carrier, I’ll go ahead and do the same, knocking $30 off the order and ship it for free.

So while I may not be able to do a thing about the rising cost of fuel or anything else, I can give you guys and gals a deal, as a thank you, to celebrate our anniversary. Sarah, Eli, and I really do appreciate all the support and business that everyone has given us the last 4 years. We promise to keep on working to build the best dang holsters we can figure out how to build!

Thanks again!

Luke Adams

Well guys and gals Sarah and I were talking today and came up with something that I think is going to make life easier for us in the shop, hopefully it will also drop our lead time some. We’re going to offer standard holsters, which basically means black only, right or left handed, 1.5in. belt, etc just simple rigs. No color options, exotics or anything else to worry about $95 same as we have been.

Then custom starts at $105 which includes everything that we’re currently offering. Now one reason for this is that we can look at a sheet while building and if it’s a standard rig know exactly what we’re building without having to worry about colors and options. This should help us keep those orders in a batch in the system, limit our screw ups etc. There is a reason that Henry Ford said you can have any color you want as long as it’s black. That limiting of options made it easier and less complicated to make a car. Same idea here, other than we’re still offering all the options but just via a different page of sorts on the site. I should also say if this limits my mistakes that means I’m spending less on leather and there will be less cost passed on to you guys buying the rigs as well, so I’m seeing this as a positive overall.

It should allow us to streamline our basic/standard rigs a little more in our process and give guys the options for something more fancy or complicated. I’m thinking that in the future we may even end up with two different lead times of sorts, but we’ll see right now that won’t make much sense unless I hired someone to help with basic holsters or something along those lines and I’m not willing to train someone right now;)

So either way you’ll see the changes roll out on the site tonight, as always existing orders won’t change, just new ones from today on.

Take care!


IN Stock Sale!

Want to skip the lead? Check out my IN STOCK SALE! I’m clearing out some holsters that have been cluttering up the shop. There are a couple with very small issues noted (imperfect dye), but most of them are just perfect. So if you like my work, but don’t like to wait, take a look at what I’ve got on hand and get them while they last! Click here to see what’s available!

Basically guys I’ve got some that I either built wrong, etc because I didn’t read the order or mixed up what I was building. So I ended up with a rig that was brown and should of have been black things like that. Sometimes it was a pattern cut for the wrong gun, so I built out an extra holster for that gun rather than leave the pattern on my bench waiting for an order. So whatever the circumstances these rigs are ready to go, all have some discount, a couple have a little more because of a few little cosmetic dye issues. Those have an extra $10ish off them. If you don’t see it listed I don’t have it;) But this is a chance to pick up a brand new fancy rig without the wait!

Take care!


Lead time update!

Lead time update for everyone I’m dropping down to 10-12+ weeks as of this morning and that should be pretty accurate. We’ve been getting through orders pretty well a little slow here and there but mostly where I’d like to be;) So in looking at the current run of orders we took at 18 week leads are actually coming in at 12 currently, there were a few here and there that actually were 18 week leads for one reason or another.

So good news and things are going well here, Spring has finally sprung in the UP hopefully no more snow this year though I had some last week so I’m not holding out too much hope yet. June snow is uncommon but not unheard of here so we’ll see;) Eli and Sarah are doing great, he’s actually spending a bit more time in the backpack in the shop with us as we’re working and that’s getting easier as he’s getting bigger. He’s not quite walking yet, he’ll stand and walk with you and step between things so any day now he should be taking his first steps.
Overall though things are going great here with us, busy but that’s always a good thing;)

Take care!


Updates for a new year

Well guys and gals it’s been a busy and productive 2012 and thanks so much for your support with all the orders and kind words;) We’ve been as always trying to get things out the door quicker without compromising our quality, that way your not waiting as long for your gear. It’s something that I’m always thinking about, but lately I’ve found I’m spending allot more time on belts as they come through my orders than holsters, not because I’m making more of them either. Belts take me a long time to cut, stitch and build along with finishing. So because of the extra time involved in working with belts and switching back and forth I’m going to discontinue them for at least the time being. It will not effect orders that are in the list already, just new orders going forward. Basically I’m going to see if stopping building belts for a while will help us make more holsters and get them out the door quicker, if so then chances are we’ll stick just with holsters going forward. That’s always been our primary focus anyways, so we’ll just play it by ear going forward on what we will do.

Other news, Eli is growing like a week and will be crawling/walking soon, not sure which first but he’s going to keep Sarah and I on our toes even more shortly. Both him and Sarah are healthy and happy as am I. So things are busy but going well. We are upping our lead time again to 18+ weeks, in January  we had a five times the number of orders of any month pretty much all last year. So that’s a heck of a way to start the new year but it also is driving this belt change as well as the lead time increase;)

Take care and as always I hope things are going well for you all and your families!


Lead time update

We are happy to announce we’re dropping our lead time back down to 14-16+ weeks instead of the 18+ we’ve been working with. We’ve been playing catch up all summer since our first son was born and we’re making progress;) Winter is bearing down on us quickly up here in the UP of Michigan so we have been busy cutting firewood to heat the shop for the winter months as well. But we’re settling in for another long winter of building out the holsters you all seem to love;)

I’ve got some new designs and holsters in the works several that have been going for quite a while now that should be seeing the light of day fairly soon as well so expect some updates with new designs and holsters for 2013!

Take care and thanks as always for all the support!


Family reunion

Well everyone Eli and Sarah and doing great and we’re all adjusting to the lack of sleep that having a new baby brings;) We’ve been trying to catch back up to where our lead was planned at this point, we are a couple weeks behind our estimate at this point. You know when they say it rains it pours;) We’re heading out of town for our family reunion this week, we’ll be back as soon as we can but I expect we’ll be out of the shop from 6/28-7/5 or so. I had really hoped that Eli would be an early baby so we’d have more time getting things buttoned up between his birth and the reunion but it didn’t shake out that way. So we’re going to get as much done as we can before and once we get back I’m going to be living in the shop for a while till we get caught back up;) Thanks everyone for the great support with Eli, it’s appreciated and all your patience it’s just been awesome to have all the support so a big thank you from the Adams’ family;)


We just had our first son Eli, it’s been one heck of a time the last week or two getting things done. Everything went well, everyone is happy/healthy so nothing to complain about there;)

I’m currently getting caught back up with all the emails and I expect to be back on top of things within the next day or two. I should be back building holsters within the next day or so as well, so feel free to shoot me a note if you’ve got any questions at all! 

New holster maker on the way!

Update, we’re heading to the hospital to be induced, so we’ll be having our baby here in the next day or so depending on how things go. That means I won’t be in the shop for at the very least a couple days. We live around 60 miles from the hospital so I don’t expect I’ll be back around until Sarah and the baby come home as well. I probably will have access to email from time to time depending also on how things go but expect email/phone calls to be responded to a bit slower than usual for sure.

Either way I just wanted to pass on the update so everyone knows there will be a bit of a delay in their orders and not to worry. As always keep me posted if you have any questions at all!