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Old April 27, 2010, 06:48 AM   #1
Kreyzhorse
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Join Date: April 12, 2006
Location: NKY
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Vietnam Era Sidearm Holster

I was given a holster that was carried in Vietnam by the man who carried it. The holster has sat in a closet for roughly the last 40 years or so, but is in pretty good shape.

This won't be a working holster for me but will be something that I'd like to take care of and keep. I've heard a lot of the stories that went along with this holster and I'm honored to have possession of it now.

At this point, I'm curious as to what some good leather products might be to use on it? I know most leather products on working holsters are a bad idea, but I want to make sure that I preserve this one as best as possible.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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Last edited by Kreyzhorse; April 28, 2010 at 07:02 AM.
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Old April 27, 2010, 02:46 PM   #2
Old Grump
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Here's what a holster maker has to say. I wished I had known this a long time ago because apparently for 40 years I have been doing it wrong with saddle soap and mink oil.
Quote:

Leather Holster


So with all of the many different types of holsters available these days, you decided to take the plunge and invest in a nice leather holster for your gun. With such an investment you will want to be sure that you take proper care of your holster to ensure that it will last for many years to come. So what steps do you need to take to ensure the longevity of your gun holster? There are a few things that you can do that won’t take a lot of time but will present a huge payoff in the long run.

Storage of Your Holster

You will want to store your leather holster in a dry and cool place. You will want to avoid a place with direct sunlight or dry heat. These will cause the leather in your holster to dry out and crack. In addition, your storage place should also not be a place with a high level of humidity. This will cause your mildew, and that is definitely not something you want to have happen to your investment!

If you should choose to leave your gun in your holster, you will want to be sure to check it everyday. You will need to look for things such as moisture, corrosion or condensation. Heavy perspiration or changes in the atmosphere could bring about such conditions and you will need to monitor these closely to protect you gun and the holster and keep them in the best possible shape and condition.

Looking for a shoulder gun holster and other resources?

Cleaning Your Holster

Occasionally you will need to clean your holster in order to preserve the beauty and extend the life of your holster. A simple cleaning will go far to enhance the serviceability of the leather and protect your firearm. You will need to invest in a hard bar of glycerin soap to clean your leather. You will use just a small amount of water with the soap and will work it up into a rich lather. Then you should rub it into the leather holster really well and then you will want to wipe it off with a cloth that is soft in order to avoid scratching or marring your leather. After you have wiped off the soap, you will want to apply a thin coat of Kiwi polish in a neutral color. You will want to buff it with a brush or soft cloth. You should then let your holster dry.

There are a few things that you will want to be careful to not do when caring for your gun holster. You should take great care to not saturate your holster or submerge it in water or a liquid of any other kind. This can cause problems and shorten the life of your holster. If it does become wet, do not try to dry your holster in the oven or put it on or near a radiator or use the heat from a blow dryer to dry it. These can make your leather crack and dry out. The life of your holster will be shortened considerably. Finally, do not use any oils to treat your leather. These will saturate your holster and cause the leather to soften. Your holster will not retain its shape and you will not be happy with it. With a little care and common sense, the life of your leather holster will be extended and will provide you with much enjoyment for many years to come.

http://www.lonestarholsters.com/page/1308865
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Old April 28, 2010, 01:22 AM   #3
cloudcroft
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I use anhydrous lanolin on all my leather products (belts, holsters and rifle slings). It not only waterproofs them but keeps the leather fibers "lubricated" and supple. It tends to DARKEN leather a few shades, however, but in my case I like the darker brownish color, as it makes dry and light/pale beige (meaning usually NEW) leather look very rich. There are some tricks to applying it but otherwise, it is the ONLY thing I do to treat leather. I stopped using Neatsfoot oil and even saddlesoap years ago.

In the OP's case, since his RVN holster probably has some historical/collector's value, I would consult with a museum conservator for professional advice...it may be best to do NOTHING to it! As for newly-bought leather or not-so-historical stuff, I use the lanolin.

-- John D.
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Old April 28, 2010, 07:05 AM   #4
Kreyzhorse
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Quote:
it may be best to do NOTHING to it!
I've thought that as well, but figured I check in with the brain trust here.
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Old April 28, 2010, 10:11 AM   #5
cloudcroft
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Be careful about following any 'brain trust' advice (including mine) received in online forums. If possible, run it by someone more knowlegable/who does it for a living (and is good at it). I have never found any real 'expert' on any subject (Ph.D.s included) even if they may call themselves one (that's the FIRST indicator they are not). For example, if the government really DID have economics, financial, political and foreign-policy 'experts' as they are called, we wouldn't be in these assorted messes America is in nowadays, would we.

So if you can call a local museum, ask them what they do to conserve any leather items in their collections. They would be the ones to get 'final approval' from before (if) you do anything.

I mentioned not doing anything because (1) it is not something historically original to that particular item, (2) the color might/might not change (also not original if it DID change and collectors like an items 'patina' showing its age and want that UNtouched) and (3) if properly applied (penetrating the leather completely), anhydrous lanolin (not a manmade synthetic or petroleum distallate product but completely natural -- which is good, IMO) would be almost impossible to remove later on...which for me is just fine because my leather items are not collectors pieces but used, and I want them protected from moisture and from drying out/cracking over time.

If left alone, eventually leather will dry out and crack, but if it's never used or ever meant to be used, that would okay as it's only a collector's item. Still, I would ask a museum conservator what they do. At the larger museums, they have staff trained in the care of different materials such as wood, fabric, leather and such. At smaller museum they should have at least one conservator. It's sort of like going to a library and asking for (free) help there; go to/call a museum and see if you can get any (free) advice there. Or recommend a professional 'stand-alone' conservator.

Professional conservators can help (for a fee of of course) the general public and often work with museums. Maybe an e-mail to one of them would get you free yet valuable professional advice. See this link for some info:

http://www.heritagepreservation.org/programs/CONSER.HTM

Good luck,

-- John D.

P.S. This is kind of weird: I am a RVN vet myself and we're talking about 'museum pieces' from that time period...I'm probably older than I thought.

Last edited by cloudcroft; April 28, 2010 at 10:23 AM.
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