Questions

Odd as it may seem, there are rumors of at least one maker who does not.

Despair not. All holsters and accessory carriers in the Milt Sparks Holsters lineup are offered in either right, or left-hand configuration. We do not discriminate!

The answer depends upon the application. Inside the waistband is easier to conceal than outside, but no one IWB (inside the waistband) holster is a hands down solution for everyone. That is why we offer so many choices for that mode of carry. Some people cannot carry IWB comfortably and for those OWB (outside the waistband) is the only choice. Which one conceals best is more dependent on what you are going to wear over the top of it. Short cover garments and OWB carry require either a short-muzzled gun, or high ride holster and sometimes even both. It is always best that you call the shop to discuss your holster needs as there are too many variables for us to offer a canned, one size fits all solution (via an FAQ) for everyone.

Our holsters are designed for use by professionals and others who carry a handgun routinely for sport, personal defense or as mandated by their profession. We would hope that anyone considering carrying a sidearm for sport or personal defense would seek out and attain proper training and then practice regularly. Having said that, let’s get to the heart of the matter. The act of drawing your pistol from whatever container you choose to carry your weapon in creates friction at the points of contact. Eventually those points will begin to show signs of wear. For that reason, it would be unreasonable to expect that your personal sidearm will remain in pristine condition forever. It does not matter whether your holster is lined or un-lined, as a lined holster simply delays the inevitable. If you carry and use your gun, the finish on your gun will wear. We prefer to call it “character”. A pristine gun in a pristine holster is not a tool that is being used.

This is not to say we are insensitive to our customers concerns about holster wear; it is just the way it is. Holsters, no matter whether they are made of plastic, leather, horsehide/cowhide, lined or un-lined, soft leather/ hard leather do not protect gun finishes as much as we would like. Nobody in the industry (at least the ones that are honest about it) can claim they have the solution in their product.

Certain gun finishes are more prone to wear then others and this may be food for thought for those that are concerned about it. Although nothing compares to a blued finish in terms of beauty, they are at the bottom of the list in terms of durability and corrosion resistance. Parkerizing offers better corrosion resistance than bluing but is only slightly better in the wear department. Baked on Teflon or Poly finishes offer better corrosion and wear resistance than bluing or Parkerizing but can scratch easily. Hard Chrome and Nickel based finishes such as NP3 offer excellent wear and corrosion resistance but are only available in silver or gray finishes. Finally, there is always stainless steel. Stainless steel is not totally corrosion resistant, but the appearance can be maintained by polishing or bead blasting when needed.

One of the more notable properties of horsehide is its natural ability to repel moisture. This is due to the dense cell structure of the hide limiting its porosity. This natural ability to repel moisture makes it very useful for certain applications, particularly for use inside the waistband.

Unlike with cowhide, horsehide’s non-porous nature reduces its ability to fully absorb the casing solution during the forming process; making it much more difficult to get good crisp detail of the weapon when molding around the gun. For the same reason horsehide tends not to absorb the dye and finishing materials as evenly, making it somewhat inferior in that respect to good cowhide.

Horsehide is also somewhat rustic in appearance in comparison to cowhide. Cowhide is graded at the tannery in direct relation to the percentage of scar, range marks and other surface imperfections on the hide. Grade A being the best, is what we order from the tannery. A true Grade A will generally, but not always, be devoid of any surface imperfections. On the other hand, horsehide only comes from the tannery one way, un-graded and usually with plenty of the above imperfections. On the bright side, scarring, stretch and range marks common on much of the horsehide we get is present in unique patterns much like figured wood. We set aside some of the more distinct pieces to be used in conjunction with exotic trim where exotic trim is an option our holsters. Since horsehide is unpredictable in its grading, you must accept the fact that any horsehide product you order from us may exhibit some of the above characteristics and is not considered by us to be a defective product. Any horsehide we use in our products is guaranteed to be structurally sound, regardless of any natural markings that may be present on the surface. The bottom line is that if you expect clean holster that is devoid as much as possible of any natural markings, order cowhide.

On the durability issue there are many myths circulating on the wear characteristics of horsehide. We will not argue that a well-made horsehide holster will give you many years and possibly a lifetime of good service but with proper care a good cowhide holster will last just as long.

Some of our holsters combine the use of both horsehide and cowhide. We do this to take advantage of the desirable attributes of each material. So which material is better? That is a personal preference issue. Where horsehide is available as an option, the choice is yours.

As a policy, we will only speak to the quality of our gear and won’t comment on other makers’ items. We use the highest quality raw materials available in our products. Wherever possible, we use USA sourced raw materials and hardware. Our leather comes from the best tanneries available. We use UV protected, marine grade thread for stitching. Our designs are thoroughly tested and refined before being offered for sale. We strive to offer the best customer service in the industry and will make every reasonable effort for you to have a great experience in dealing with us. Before you make any decision to purchase, we invite you to compare the quality of our product with what is available elsewhere. When you are ready, give us a call and we will be more than happy to discuss the merits of any of our designs with you so that you can make an informed decision.

Nothing much needs to be done other than an occasional waxing to help maintain appearance. This only applies to items with the smooth-out finish only! Rough out finishes such as on our Summer Special and Summer Special 2 holsters, should be left as is except for maybe an occasional wipe down with a damp cloth. Waxing and polishing the rough-out finish only serves to negate the gripping qualities of the rough-out surface of the holster.

You can disregard most of the advice put out on the various internet forums suggesting applications for holsters that are better suited for a pair of boots or on a saddle. On holsters and belts of our manufacture do not use silicone, oil, or any leather conditioning product that advertises itself as an aid to help soften leather. Using any product on your holster not recommended by us will void any warranty we will offer.

One product we recommend wholeheartedly is called Renaissance Wax. You can purchase it from us through our webstore by going to the “Extras” section. It is the only product we have found that will not permanently discolor our tan colored finish and it works great on black and cordovan finishes as well! It has many other uses besides leather.

Tightness in a new holster is not uncommon and is much preferable to the alternative. If the draw is a little stiff at first, it is recommended that you work with it to see if it doesn’t loosen up with a bit of use. About 25 to 50 presentations should be a good indicator of whether the holster will break in sufficiently on its own or if maybe a little blocking out of the leather is needed. There are many variables as to why a holster would be excessively tight ranging from the texture of your gun’s finish to changes in climate or humidity from where the holster is made. Regardless of the reason, a too-tight holster can easily be remedied by the end user with a method we have been recommending to customers for over 30 years.

To block out (stretch) your new holster, first UNLOAD your pistol or revolver and place the gun into the 4 mil plastic bag that your new holster was packaged in. Then carefully insert the bagged gun all the way into the holster. DO NOT wet or spray the holster with any solution to aid in the stretching process. The blocking out process as described above will in no way harm the crisp detailed molding of your new holster nor will it ruin its retention qualities. It simply stretches the leather a few thousandths of an inch larger than the gun. The amount of stretching time needed for satisfactory results range from a just a few minutes to overnight. If you have any concerns or need clarification, please call us and we are happy to talk you through the process.

An improper fitting holster on the belt will not allow the holster to perform its intended functions properly. Comfort, concealment and ease of weapon presentation is as much a result of a proper holster to belt interaction; as is the firmness of the belt that will be the foundation of your carry package. Please see our belt page for more information on this.

You probably have already read all the many reasons for not carrying SOB posted on the various gun forums all over the web. We will not say that we buy into all the arguments posted against SOB carry other than to say that it is just not a method of carry we feel comfortable producing for. Our policy is: If we don’t or won’t use it ourselves, then we just won’t produce it for the general public.

We have instructions and pictures on our website that show how to properly measure for a your brand new belt. Please visit this page to learn how to measure.

We do not offer a “trade in” program for used items. As a manufacture, we only sell new products. However, there are many different resources for selling you used items. We would be happy to offer suggestions over the phone. We ask that when listing your used items up for sale, that you do not use copywritten material from our website.

Please make your returns within 30 days of original purchase. For a full explanation of our return policy, please refer to our Guarantees page.

We typically ship two days a week. Shipping days can be busy as we have many things going on at once. Due to the volume of shipping, time doesn’t allow us to phone each customer individually to advise them that their package is shipping. The same person handling the shipping chores is also handling incoming phone queries, phone orders and settling customer accounts. The rest of us are busy out in the shop putting the final touches on outgoing orders.

As mentioned in another FAQ, we do not charge credit cards until the day we actually ship the order. We have also been quite accurate in our backlog projections and in many cases we have actually shipped earlier than projected. If you monitor your credit card activity online, a hit on your account from Milt Sparks is a sure indicator that your order is being processed for shipping.

Depending on which maker you choose to make your gun belt, the thickness can vary from one maker to the next by as much as several ounces of leather weight. Some maker’s belts can run slightly wider than their advertised width which complicates the issue even more. Because of those variables, we cannot guarantee that our holster loops will fit all makers’ belts even though they might be advertised as being the same in width.

As of right now, there are no real standards in the industry in interchangeability of leather gear among the various makers. When you order a belt and holster set from the same maker, you can pretty much be assured the items will be a close match in how they fit and work together as a unit. When you mix and match gear from various makers, you may need to make some adjustments.

So, what can you do to insure a proper match of mixed brand gear?

Think ahead before you order. For instance, if you are considering purchasing a gun belt from another manufacturer for use with one of our holsters and are trying to determine fitness, ask the belt manufacture what weight leather they use and then do the math. Each ounce of leather weight equates to 1/64th of an inch in actual thickness. Our gun belts are made and have always been made of two layers of 6½ to 7 oz leather cut from the backbone of the hide. This equates to approximately 13/64” to 7/32” in overall thickness. Keep in mind that this is the belt thickness we fit our holsters to, and our holsters are intended to fit snug on the belt. Any manufacturers’ belt over 7/32″ thick will be somewhat tighter in the loops of one of our holsters than on a belt of our own manufacture. Any measurement over 1/4″ in overall thickness of leather and you may not be able to close the snaps over the belt!

Our interchangeable IWB loops are available in sizes 1¼” to 1¾” in ¼” increments and can be changed out for wider or narrower sizes as needed. Our Axiom cannot be worn on a 1½” belt much thicker than our own. On some maker’s belts, you would have to actually step down to 1¼” width to fit through the Axiom loops.

Our holsters are specifically made to fit belts of our own manufacture where we can guarantee the fit and function as it was intended to be. Consistency in our product and how our products relate to each other over the test of time, no matter when the items were purchased is what we strive for. We have a 50-year track record of satisfaction in that regard. We would suggest that if you need a wider loop to accommodate the thicker belt of another manufacturer, that you move up to our next size belt loop.

We use one-way or directional snaps on most of our belt attachments to keep the loop from being inadvertently opened.

If you look inside the socket portion of the snap you will see a small tab of metal that traps the copper split ring inside. This tab is the locking mechanism of the one-way snap. When the snap is closed, the tab in the socket will not allow the post of the snap to lever itself through the split ring at the point of the tab. The one-way snap can only be disengaged by outside pressure on the side of the snap opposite the side where the above-mentioned tab is located.

To work the snap, the side of the socket with the tab, must be engaged onto the post, first by angling the socket at that point to engage it. To complete the closure, you roll the socket over the post until it clicks shut. The tab on the socket will always be located on the side of the snap where the belt will encounter it. All our IWB holster loops are snapped towards the top of the holster, so you will roll the snap from the bottom up. On a holster like the Axiom where you pull the straps down to snap them, you will roll the one-way snap from the top down. Any confusion on this can be resolved by looking in the socket to see where the tab is located. That side of the snap always gets engaged onto the post first.

A quick tug on the inside of the loop will verify if the snap is engaged properly. If it pops open, it’s a good indicator that the snaps are not properly engaged. If this happens to you, please read the above description again to verify the snaps are being engaged properly. If the snaps are still failing to stay shut, please call the shop for guidance.

A light application of a wax or oil on the top rim of the post will make the snap much easier to open and close when new.

Until the leather loops get broke in, you may find it easier to pre-snap the loops and string your belt through the closed loops as opposed to using the snaps. Our holster loops are meant to fit snug on belts of our manufacture. Until the leather of the loops loosens up a bit, you might find it hard to angle the socket properly to engage the post. After a short time, the loops will break-in and be easy to actuate.

As always, please feel free to give us a call with any questions.