DIY Methods for Softening an Old Leather Holster

For many years, those who carry firearms have favored leather holsters. A leather firearm is the best choice if you have an antique or vintage gun.

The problem is that leather has a tendency to stiffen over time. When that occurs, it will be difficult for you to insert your gun into the bag.

So what may be done at the time to soften an old leather holster? There are a few methods for releasing brittle leather.

Soft a old leather holster

Your choice of procedure will depend on the kind and usage of your holster. The use of leather conditioner is a common fix.

If you can’t find any conditioner, I do have a couple of additional techniques up my sleeve.

How to Soften Old Leather Holster?

You mainly have two routes here. One is to obviously use leather conditioner. The other is to soak the holster in oils. No matter what path you choose, you have to prep the leather. Here is how you do it:

Cleaning a leather holster using soap and soft cloth

Clean the holster:

Before attempting to soften the leather, clean the holster thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated over time. For that, you can use a leather cleaner or saddle soap and a soft cloth to gently clean the surface of the holster.

Now that your holster is all clean and dry you are ready to move to the second step.

leather conditioner kit

Apply leather conditioner:

Leather conditioner is specifically designed to penetrate the pores of the leather and moisturize it, which can help restore its suppleness and flexibility.

Gently apply the leather conditioner to the surface of the leather. Here you can use a commercial leather conditioner or opt for a DIY one.

For that, you need to mix equal parts of linseed oil and vinegar.

Apply the conditioner generously to the leather and work it in with a soft cloth. To further soften the leather, you can use a hairdryer or heat gun to gently heat the surface of the holster.

Hold the dryer or heat gun a few inches away from the leather and move it in a circular motion to distribute the heat evenly.

Be careful not to overheat the leather, as this can cause it to crack or warp.

After heating the leather, massage it gently with your hands to work the conditioner into the pores of the leather.

You can also use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to massage the leather, working in small circular motions.

Once you have conditioned and massaged the leather, let the holster sit for a few hours or overnight to allow the leather to absorb the conditioner and soften up.

olive oil and coconut oil

Natural Oils

If you don’t have a commercial leather conditioner then you can use a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil to condition the leather.

Simply apply a small amount to a soft cloth and rub it into the surface of the leather in circular motions, working it into the pores of the leather.

Why Does Leather Holster Harden?

There are a couple of grounds for this. If you know the reason now, you can be careful in the future.


When leather is exposed to moisture, it can cause the fibers in the leather to swell and then contract as the moisture evaporates, which can lead to a loss of flexibility and stiffness.

Exposure to heat and sunlight can also cause the natural oils in the leather to evaporate.


Lack of proper care and maintenance can also contribute to the hardening of leather holsters.

Over time, the natural oils and moisture that keep leather supple can evaporate or be removed, leaving the leather prone to drying out and hardening.

Old Age

Age is also a factor in the hardening of leather holsters. As leather ages, it naturally becomes less flexible and more prone to cracking and stiffening.

Maintenance Tips

Here are a few maintenance tips you can follow to keep your holster in top shape.

  1. Clean the holster regularly: Use a soft-bristled brush or a clean, damp cloth to wipe away any dirt or debris from the holster. If the leather is particularly dirty, you can use a mild soap or leather cleaner, but be sure to rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely before using the holster again.
  2. Protect the leather: Liquids can easily damage leather. So it’s important to protect it with a waterproofing spray. Be sure to choose a spray that is safe for holster leather and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Store the holster properly: When you’re not using your holster, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it in a plastic bag or any airtight container, as this can trap moisture and cause the leather to deteriorate.
  4. Avoid harsh chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents on your holster, as these can damage the leather. Stick to mild soap and water or a leather cleaner specifically designed for holster leather.


Should I use warm water on the leather?

No, you should not soak leather in warm water. Leather is a natural component that can be marred by exposure to water. When leather gets wet, it can become stiff, misshapen, or discolored, and can even start to crack or deteriorate over time.

Can I use Vaseline on a leather holster?

While Vaseline can be used to protect and moisturize some types of leather, it is generally not recommended for use on leather holsters. Vaseline is a petroleum-based product that can attract dirt and dust, and can also clog the pores of the leather, which can cause it to deteriorate over time.

How often should you clean your holster?

It mainly depends on the limit of your use. However, I would suggest that you clean it every week or every other week.

Oliver Savoy
Oliver Savoy