How to Make a Kydex Holster

Ever want to learn how to make your own custom kydex holster? Here’s how…

For you Kydex newbies, Kydex is basically an acrylic/PVC thermoplastic sheet that is frequently used as an alternative to leather in the production of firearm holsters and sheaths for knives.

The benefits of Kydex are that it is lightweight, thin, durable, and provides excellent retention for whatever application you use it for — be it sheaths, mag pouches, flashlights, or holsters.

Although Kydex holsters and mag pouches have been around for some time now, only in the recent decade do we see the competitive-shooting and military communities embracing them — and if you haven’t yet, I’d recommend you do too.

Given its many benefits, I figured I’d pass onto you how you can make your own custom Kydex gear.

Since making a Kydex holster is one of the more complicated of Kydex crafts, if you haven’t yet I’d highly recommend you first trying to make a Kydex mag pouch to better understand how to work with Kydex (you can see instructions by visiting the following link: how to make your own Kydex mag pouch. Once you’re comfortable with that, making a holster will not be much more difficult.

In this article, I’ll be taking you step by step through the process of making your own Kydex holster (an outside-the-waistband model)

Materials you’ll need


The list below contains all the basics you need to make some great Kydex holsters. Items with the * can be found at KnifeKits.com

  • *Kydex (I like to use .08 thickness)
  • Box cutters
  • Some type of measuring device
  • *Sheath foam (I purchased two 12×11.5×1 sheets)
  • *Rivets/Eyelits (I purchased a bunch of #8-8 1/4 inch size)
  • *Rivet flaring die and guide (I purchased the #8 die)
  • Some wood boards to sandwich the foam
  • Wood clamps
  • Marking tool (pencil)
  • Your pistol
  • A heat gun or good hair drier
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the heat
  • A drill with a 1/4″ bit
  • Optional: It helps to have a craft-board for easy measurements

How to make a Kydex holster

Step 1:
  1. Place the pistol on the sheet of Kydex that will be closest to the waistband.
  2. Leave around a 2-inch gap of kydex above the slide, a 1-inch gap in front of the muzzle, and no gap along the side of the handle.

Step 2: Score the Kydex with some box cutters and split it by hand along the score line
Step 3:
  1. Now, with the reduced dimensions, draw an outline of the pistol making sure to keep the 2-inch gap of kydex along the slide and the 1-inch gap in front of the muzzle.
  2. If you want the non-reflective dull side to be on the outside, be sure to draw the outline on the shiny side.
  3. Also, if you are wearing the pistol on your right-hand side, be sure to point the pistol grip to the right as shown in the picture:

Step 4:
  1. Next, draw out an area that is to be removed from the Kydex to allow access to the grip when you draw the pistol.
  2. Score and remove that area.

Step 5:
  1. Place the pistol on the sheet of Kydex that will be furthest away from the waistband and cut the dimensions similar to Step 1. In this outer half of the holster, you will not need to keep a grip guard (see second picture below):

Step 6:Prepare to form the Kydex by turning on your oven to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 7:
  1. Place both Kydex halves on a cookie sheet and place in the oven with the door partially open.
  2. I like to also lay the sheath foam between the oven door and the stove top to warm up the foam. Warming up the foam will help to create a more defined Kydex mold. If you keep the foam at room temperature, it will draw out the heat from the Kydex causing it to cool too fast which will prevent a nicely defined mold.

Step 8:
  1. With gloves on, every few minutes pick up the Kydex to determine if it’s soft and begins to bend.
  2. Once it begins to soften and bend, heat up the pistol with a hot hairdryer or heat gun (this also helps to create a defined mold).
Step 9:
  1. Once the Kydex is very flexible and floppy and the pistol is warm, remove one of the pieces of foam from the oven door and place it on one of the wood boards.
  2. Remove one half of the Kydex from the oven and place it on the foam (with the pencil outline facing up) and…
  3. Place the pistol on the hot Kydex (being sure to match up the pistol with the pencil outline you had made before)
  4. Finally, place the other warm piece of foam on the magazine and Kydex, followed by the other wood board.

Step 10:
  1. Clamp down the two halves of the boards over the foam like a sandwich. Be sure to securely clamp it down — the more pressure the more defined your final product will be.
  2. Let it sit in the foam press for around 15 min

Step 11: Repeat the process with the other piece of Kydex. Here’s what one of the halves will look like when taken out of the press:
Step 12:Draw a sketch of your holster design on both of the halves as follows and cut out the sections not part of the sketch.
Step 13: After cutting out the designs, place both halves together (with the pistol in the middle) ensuring that both sides are flush. Don’t worry if there are any overlapping sections, since these can be fixed later.
Step 14: Now that both halves are cut out, draw holes where you want the rivets to be.
Step 15: Now begin drilling out the holes that you drew in the previous step. Be sure to keep the magazine in-between the two halves to ensure proper alignment.
Step 16: Using the rivet die, begin installing the rivets (eyelits) where the holes are.
Step 17: After installing all of the rivets, you’ll probably notice that there are slight alignment issues between the two halves. To fix this, use a belt sander, file, or heavy sand paper and start sanding the edges so they even out and become aligned.
Step 18: The previous step will leave a rough finish on the edges. Now it’s time to clean them up using a fine grit sand paper.
Step 19: Viola! You now have an effective and beutiful Kydex holster! What I also did (as you can see in the pics below) is took a heat gun to the edges of the holster to bend them slightly in. This helps to mold it to the body better. In addition, don’t forget the belt loops. These are simply made by cutting strips of Kydex, heating them up and bending them into the shape you desire.

Resources

Still need more Kydex?! Here are some great resources for Kydex materials and how-tos:

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