Recently, I decided to dive into the Kydex holster production to make holsters for a couple friends and me. When I found I was expected to wait more and spend more than I wanted on a custom Kydex holster, I was motivated to try making them myself.
My first holster experiments ended up being a kind of complicated and took up a good chunk of my time, even though the materials were pretty cheap. Most of this had to do with my early process. I started off using “blue guns.” Blue guns are polymer pistol models that are pretty accurate copies of real firearms (which is why they’re often used in firearms training, including my police academy training). I spent a lot of time mocking up blue guns to use in the kydex molding process. That included attaching a small dowel in order to make a sight channel (to make sure the holster has a groove down to the front sight for draw clearance), taping up the trigger guard, blocking off the ejection port, and other prep.
I did some research and came across a YouTube video featuring the owner of Multi Holsters, Tony. In this particular video, Tony introduced his mold guns. The mold guns work for holster making in the same way that blue guns do, but without all the extra steps to get them “holster ready.”
A standard blue gun will run between $45 to $55, depending on where you get it. You can shave a couple bucks off that if you can find one used. After that, though, you have to factor in the cost of the additional materials you’ll need to mock it up for the holster—dowels for the sight channel, tape or other materials to block off sharp corners and filling in the trigger guard, etc.
At $59.95, mold guns from Multi Holsters cost a bit more than your average blue gun. But, you don’t need any additional materials. Mold guns arrive holster prepped.
There are a couple of quality issues to consider when using blue guns for making holsters. The dimensions aren’t always 100% accurate, and the material is often prone to breaking. With standard training, after a month, half my class at the police academy had broken about 30 blue guns. Another factor when using blue guns for holsters is that the blue color transfers on to the Kydex during the molding process, which adds more time (to buff off the transfer) to an already lengthy process.
With regard to quality, the mold gun separates itself from blue guns. I’ve not experienced any of the quality issues I had with using blue guns. The material is durable and the dimensions are spot on. In fact, the backstraps for my Gen 4 Glock 17 fit the Glock 17 mold gun I purchased. Also, when I use the mold guns, I no longer have color transfer adding time to my holster making process.
This is where I noticed the biggest difference between using blue guns and mold guns.
Using a blue gun to make holsters for my M1911 A1, it takes me about an hour between mocking up the blue gun, molding the Kydex, cleaning off the transfer, and finishing the holster up.
My first time using the mold gun for a Glock 17 holster, it took me about 30 minutes total. I made a second right after and the whole process only took me 20 minutes. Even with my learning curve, I was able to cut production time by two thirds, once I started using the mold gun.
The mold guns may cost a bit more than your average blue gun, but you only have to pay for it once. Unlike my experience with blue guns, the mold guns don’t wear quickly and don’t break easily. I started using my mold guns to practice my draw, and I still haven’t seen additional wear. The reason I most prefer using mold guns, though, is how much time they save me. In addition to the mold guns themselves, Multi Holsters also has an option to add tac light molds (add $20 to the cost of your mold gun, or $40 sold separately). I’ve used blue guns, and they get the job done, but using mold guns streamlines and speeds up the holster production process, and is more cost effective in the long run. For new holster makers, like myself, who are just getting started, mold guns make holster making easy.
Featured image includes photos courtesy of berettausa.com and multiholsters.com