Craft Leather Holsters, by Pat Cascio

There were a few instances, many years ago, when I didn’t carry a handgun in a holster. Several of those times were when I was doing some undercover work as a Private Investigator. One of those times, I carried a tiny Bauer .25 ACP pistol, strapped to my ankle – no holster. One such instance was when I worked a very strange case, where several misguided people planned on hijacking a cruise ship that was sailing from Miami, Florida. I worked closely with the FBI on this case, and to this day, more than 40 years ago, I still have a friendship with one of the undercover FBI agents who I brought on-board as an “arms dealer.” I also worked a suspected murder case in a steel plant, and it turned out to be an actual murder case, Again, for that case I carried a hidden handgun, with no holster.

However, for the most part, I’ve almost always carried a handgun in a holster. Most of the time it was an outside the waistband (OWB) belt holster. I’ve never been a fan of inside the waistband (IWB) holsters. Oh, and I do like some of the better made shoulder holsters. At present, I have a good mix of leather and synthetic holsters. And, I certainly have more holsters than I have guns. I have two huge drawers full of holsters, as well as two very big plastic bins of holsters, and I actually need more holster storage space.

Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of leather holsters, just something about that smell of leather, that draws me to them. However, I own more than a few polymer-framed handguns, and I can often be caught carrying one of those handguns in a polymer or ballistic nylon holster. I love a well-made leather holster, make no mistake about that. However, it is hard to find leather holsters, that are both affordable and really well-made. I’ve owned a few custom-made, handmade leather holsters over the years, as well as belts and magazine pouches. The usual wait time was about 3-4 months for that stuff and more often than not, they weren’t totally made by hand. When it came to molding the holster to fit a particular handgun, it was done, under pressure, by a press. I don’t have a problem with that, for the most part, but in the end, those holsters aren’t exactly made by hand.

Mediocrity Abounds

There are quite a few factory holster makers in the USA, and most produce a decent holster, at a fair price. Some makers are better than others. However, one maker sent me a holster that was supposed to be for a particular handgun I own, only to find out that, the holster was much too big, the gun would easily fall out. I called the maker, and they told me that their leather holsters stretched out over time and use. Excuse me? This was a brand-new holster – not an old and used one. I returned that holster and they sent me another one – same problem – it gun would fall out…I ended up retiring that holster, rather than sending it back. Most of my work over the years, involved concealed carry, and I don’t like a suicide strap on those holsters – many folks do – just make sure you train with the strap fastened. I just prefer an open-top holster for concealed carry. And, the holster needs to be molded properly to hold a particular model of gun, without it falling out of the holster.

In late 2019, Craft Holsters contacted and asked if they could have one of their holsters tested, and Jim Rawles forwarded this e-mail to me, for action. Up until then, I had never heard of Craft Holsters. So did a little checking on them, before ordering a sample for testing. Craft Holsters is headquartered  in Slovakia, and many of their holsters are made there. Some are also made in a factory in Italy. I have no problem with that, as some of the finest leather in the world comes from Italy. The holsters made in Slovakia are also made from some of this Italian leather. The Craft Holster company is a family-run business, and their goal was to make custom, hand made holsters. Their aim is to provide us all with custom made holsters, at a price point we can afford.

Arrival and Tests

Craft Brand Holster for Glock 26There is a contact office in the US for Craft Holsters, and you can contact them via their web site, or at customer service line: 1-855-844-5400. The holster I wanted for testing was an open top, pancake style for my Glock 26, my most-often carried concealed handgun. Unfortunately, at that time, this model was out-of-stock. No problem, said their customer service rep. He said: “We’ll have one made ASAP for you and shipped directly to you, from Slovakia.” Hold on one second, no one offers that kind of service, right? Well, my holster was actually made that very day, and it was shipped to me the next day, via DHL world wide shippers. A few days later, the holster was in my hands. What holster maker provides that kind of service?

I took a very close look at this holster, in very bright sunlight, as soon as I opened the box. I placed it next to a Glock factory plastic holster, to compare the size. The holster is hand made and hand molded, without a doubt, not molded under a press. The thread used is from Germany, and of course, the leather — as I’ve already noted — is from Italy. This isn’t some flimsy thin leather, it is top-grain leather, full grain cut leather, and as mentioned, hand molded. When you compare a hand-molded holster from one that was molded under pressure from a machine, you can see the difference. The belt loops are spread far enough apart, so the weight of the gun is distributed and you don’t even feel the gun/holster on your waist. By the way, this leather is hand cut, not cut by a machine.

And, to be sure, who or what companies actually have people hand cut and sew leather holsters these days, with a traditional, non-computerized sewing machine? Not many, that’s for sure. It is time consuming and extremely difficult to accomplish correctly. My holster is called the “Panther” model, and it is designed to be carried on the strong side, at the 4:00 position. Due to the placement of my belt loops, I carried it at the 3:30 position, and it worked just fine. These holsters come with a 5-year warranty. Price on this one was only $59 – and that’s a bargain for such handmade quality and materials.

Craft Brand Holster for Glock 26There is double stitching around the outline of the pistol itself, so it will hold its shape for a good long time. The rest of the stitching is around the belt loops. I compared this holster to several other leather holsters that I have–and make no mistake, I don’t have any “junk” leather holsters, they are all of the best quality – other than a few I’ve already mentioned above. However, when you compared those holsters side-by-side, to the Craft Holster I tested, you will see the difference. Oh, nothing wrong at all with the factory-made holsters, but the Craft Holster is just “that” much better…And several of my leather holsters were made in Italy, too. Attention to detail, and being made by hand, make a big difference.

As I’m writing this, we are in the early stages of this Coronavirus pandemic, so the wife and I haven’t been getting out and going to town much at all. As preppers, we are set for several years worth with our supplies, and we can stay locked in our house for years and years if need be. However, we’ve been going out and doing some shooting – where we shoot is up on a small mountain, and most people don’t know there is a shooting spot there. In five years or longer, we’ve only encountered someone shooting there twice. So for the most part, it is our private shooting spot. So, before leaving the house, and loading up the truck, I’d strap-on this Craft Holster and put my little Glock 26 in it. And, within a few minutes, I had forgotten I had the holster/gun on my right hip – really! I had to feel on my side, to make sure I had remembered to put a gun on my hip.

Vehicular Carry

The holster was comfortable while seated in my pickup truck, too – it didn’t poke me in the rib cage, and when we stopped at our shooting spot, I practiced drawing while seated from the holster – no problems at all. And, before you all fire off e-mails, the gun was unloaded in the holster – made sure to unload it before I started to practice my draws.

I’m more than a little impressed with this sample from Craft Holsters, and I’ll probably be doing some ordering from them, as funds permit. I’m thinking that, maybe, just maybe, a shoulder holster for my 1911s with off-set mag pouches on the off-side. I’m overweight in my old age. However, I’ve been losing weight over the past year, I’ve lost close to 50-pounds. And, my pants don’t stay up very well, even with a belt. So, a shoulder holster for a full-sized Government Model 1911 might be the ticket if I want to carry a full-sized heavy handgun.

Craft Leather says they make holsters for about 1,300 different handguns, so I’m betting they’ll have one for you.


  1. Thank you Pat Cascio for providing this review and intriduction to Craft Holsters. One of the challenges of owning older model pistols is finding good quality holsters. When you find a manufacturer that makes a high quality holster that fits the bill, it’s a wise idea to immediately order a second holster. This company makes holsters that fit a matching pair of pistols with longer barrels and let me tell you I’ve had a really tough time finding molded holsters that work for these guns. At this price point it’s hard to pass up and my order goes in next paycheck. I’m also hoping to find a sturdy leather holster under $100 for my full size 1911 and maybe this company will be the one to do it. I really like leather far more than plastic holsters as over time leahther conforms to my preferred carry position and gets progressively more comfortable.

    I always enjoy your PI stories. I worked for an investigeations firm when I took a year off from college, and worked a number of cases involving retail theft rings and real estate fraud. It was fun until I was tasked with insurance fraud cases. Some of the people I had to surveil were career criminals where insurance scams were a sideline they did on lunch breaks.

    Anyway, the pay was good, but we were in NJ and not allowed to carry. Even back then the anti-2A laws were really strict. Some of the people I had to deal with were criminals intent on protecting their way of life and my inability to carry really made me hyper vigilant, but was also a root cause for not wanting to comtinue in that job.

  2. Craft Holsters is an excellent company to deal with. They are the only company that makes a holster form my Taurus 692 3″ (.38/.357 and 9mm) revolver. It takes a bit to get it in, since it was hand made but the fit and quality are worth the wait.

  3. I’m not sure what you mean by hand stitching. You can see the walking foot marks from the machine in the picture. Hand stitched uses two needles and is done using a stitching horse and leaves no advancing marks on the back side like the picture shows. Hand stitched will look as nice front and back. It still looks like a very nice holster. Stitching looks machine done; but you do run the machine by hand. Maybe that’s what they mean? It’s not put in a machine and a button gets pressed and the stitching is done?

  4. Funny. One of Crafts ads popped up recently and I looked at their wares.
    Most of the ones I looked at were $59.00. (Specifically, a crossdraw rig for a 1911 commander). I currently use a Yaqui slide by galco.
    To be honest, I thought the craft was too inexpensive to be any good.

    Now I’m going to revisit that thought.

    Thanks Pat!

      1. I don’t mind waiting for a holster that is hard to source. A business that deals with 1300+ models simply cannot keep on in stock for every pistol type, and in each color, left hand vs. right hand draw, etc. Some of the higher quality stuff I’ve ordered took a month or two to arrive. This isn’t McDonalds.

  5. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good holster for inside the car? Particularly that will fit between the seat and the center console. Thanks!

  6. I’ll have to look into this company. The biggest issue I find is that the holster makers only tend to make “standard” holsters for “standard” handguns. This makes it challenging to find a holster for pistols that are not that common, or that have been modified. 1300 models though, means they definitely cover a lot of possibilities.

    Needless to say, I live in Canada, so I don’t have to worry about concealed carry. I don’t have to worry about open carry either, but at the range, and for competition a holster is a necessity. A Holster for my Sig 226 is easy to find. Lots of manufacturers, and lots of choices. But, try and find a decent holster, leather or otherwise, for my 9 mm 1911 commander with a rail, and it’s a completely different story. It becomes next to impossible when talking about antiques that Jim is selling, or other less popular handguns.

    Most of my holsters over the last few years are handmade leather – by me. As a prepper it’s a valuable skill to have, and it’s nice to get exactly what you want. It’s really not that difficult to wind up with a “professional” job. Tandy is your friend.

  7. I’ve bought several leather holsters from Relentless Tactical. They sell some models on Amazon but the rest are available on their web site,, along with leather belts. I’ve used a two-slot OWB holster for over six months and it has not given any problems and keeps the handgun close to my body. From order to arrive is under two weeks and the prices are pretty good for the quality.

  8. I have looked at many holsters over the years, but none have served me better than Milt Sparks leather holsters and magazine carriers. I have taken several classes where instructors have tried to steer me toward Kydex, but never once did I think about trading in my Milt Sparks holster for a Kydex holster. I have also seen and tried several leather holsters, but none seem to rival the quality and craftsmanship of Milt Sparks. I do not want to diminish the quality and craftsmanship of other leather holster manufactures, but for me it is Milt Sparks.

  9. I know it isn’t the subject of the review, but another holster company worth looking into is MTR Leather in North Carolina. I have crossed paths with the owner at gun shows, and I have been using his holsters for EDC for around 6 years now. I have been completely satisfied with his price and quality.

  10. Leather has its appeal but any material that has the possibility to encroach into the trigger guard is just not a chance I’m willing to take. Modern kydex holster designs have too many advantages over leather.

Comments are closed.