Before you start learning how to make a Kydex sleeve, it is important that you know what to expect. You should conduct a thorough investigation of what exactly Kydex is, the advantages of choosing this material and how it compares to other options. Kydex cases have existed for longer than many people could imagine. They were invented for the first time in the early 70’s by a former FBI agent, Bill Rogers.
Since then, Kydex has been used to make several covers, as well as knife covers. Today, gun owners and enthusiasts can create their own custom designs to fit their firearm.
Kydex was initially produced in 1965, and was designed for use in aircraft interiors. It is a composite material made of polyvinyl chloride acrylic. The acrylic aspect gives this material its rigid nature, while the PVC makes it resistant and with a good finish.
When researching how to make Kydex covers, you will notice that there are different types of Kydex available. Its thickness varies between 0.028 and 0.500, and each thickness is adapted to a different purpose. Some of the main uses of Kydex include covers, knife covers, door linings, safety helmets, air exhaust systems and protection plates, to name a few. For sleeves, the recommended thickness varies from 0.060 to 0.125.
Of all the materials used to make covers, Kydex is fast becoming a public favorite. It is available in various colors so you can make some in different shades and even two-tone sleeves to suit various suits.
What are the advantages?
There are many benefits to choosing Kydex. Your research on how to make Kydex a sleeve will reveal many advantages of this versatile material. Some of the main advantages of making a Kydex sleeve include the following:
- The material is waterproof.
- They do not shrink or stretch, which means they keep their shape really well.
- Less amount of friction compared to other sheath materials.
- Kydex is thin, but this does not affect its durability and strength in any way.
- The light nature of this material makes it suitable for daily use.
- Kydex will not rot if it gets wet on occasion.
- Kydex does not require too much special attention.
- You can make your case with adjustable retention. This means that you can isolate and minimize the retention area, which will reduce wear.
- You can mold and make adjustments in Kydex so that you can draw and re-holster your weapon easier and faster. If you open the entry point, you can make your life much easier, and you can even do it sitting down. This will allow you to draw and holster your weapon with one hand instead of two.
- Kydex resists scratches, sweat and other external factors very well.
- Kydex is easy to clean and looks great.
- A case can have several configurations, which makes it highly versatile.
- Kydex is one of the cheapest covers available.
How Kydex compares to leather
Despite the large number of gun owners interested in buying or learning how Kydex sleeves are made, there are still some skeptics who try to argue that leather is the best choice. Before making quick judgments, firearm enthusiasts must weigh the pros and cons of leather compared to Kydex.
On the one hand, leather looks more elegant when worn with a formal attire like a suit, and some say they are more comfortable than Kydex. However, these opinions are changing! On the downside, the leather is usually thicker than the Kydex and, if you are looking for a made-to-measure leather case, you will have to wait at least a few months. Leather also tends to be more expensive compared to Kydex, and tends to be a bit harder on the finish of the firearm. The leather does not hold up as well against the elements.
Kydex is lighter, allows a faster drawing and maintains its shape even when the gun is removed. On the negative side, it may not look as elegant as leather, and some say that the texture makes these covers less comfortable. As mentioned above, opinions on this matter are changing.
Adequate care guidelines
Learning the right care instructions is as important as learning how to make your own Kydex sleeve. Whether you use your holster every day or only occasionally, it is likely to get dirty. Lint and debris from your clothes and all kinds of debris always seem to find their way into the holster, and there is not much you can do to prevent it. However, you can do everything in your power to keep your case clean. This is important since the dirt inside can really make a dent in the finish of your weapon.
The good news is that Kydex is really easy to clean. If it is not too dirty, you can simply wash and dry the cover. From time to time, you may feel the need for a deeper cleaning. Just use a little mild soap and rinse well with water.
Dry the cover with a microfiber or silicone towel. If you use any other material such as paper towels, you will leave small pieces behind, completely canceling out the cleaning point in the first place. While cleaning your case, take the time to inspect it for wear or excessive damage.
To reduce friction, you can apply your favorite gun oil to the inside of your case. Like oil in a car engine, the oil will help reduce friction and wear.
Unlike many other types of cases, the main advantage of using Kydex is that it does not need a lot of maintenance.
Make your own Kydex sleeve
You will be happy to know how easy it is to make this type of cover for you and in the comfort of your home. Most of the materials and tools needed to make your own sheath are everyday items. If you do not have all the tools listed below, you may have a friend who is willing to help you.
If you plan to make some covers, it would be worth investing in your own heat gun, sander and press.
Materials and equipment needed.
- Kydex (choose the thickness and colors according to your needs and preferences)
- Heat gun
- A press (you can buy one or make your own press, see below)
- Screws from Chicago
- Sander and sandpaper
- Punch out
- Box cutter / razor blade
- A pencil
Prepare the first sheet of Kydex.
Start by measuring the size of the Kydex you need. Lay the fabric on a flat work surface and place your gun on top. Use a pencil to trace the main shape of the gun. It does not need to be perfect, but it must leave additional space. You can always cut it later.
Cut the main square of the material with a razor blade or a sharp box cutter. Place in the oven and slowly heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If the edges bend or start to shrink, then you will know that you are heating it too fast.
Preparing your press and gun.
You will need a press to mold and mold the hot material. You can make your own press using two wooden boards and securing the foam of the sleeve / sheath (thermoformed molding) to the boards. Use at least four strong clamps to press the two together and keep everything in place until it takes shape. If you can not find the right type of foam, you can use an exercise mat. Simply cut it to size and secure three layers to each wooden board.
To get the best results, keep the magazine inside the gun. For safety, make sure the charger is empty and there is no bullet in the camera.
Use duct tape to attach a wooden dowel to the top of the gun. This helps keep the gun on the safe look. Avoid getting damaged when drawing and holstering your weapon.
Hold the gun with adhesive tape to fill the spaces that could eventually trap and rub against the Kydex. The only part that you do not have to worry about recording is the trigger, since you need a perfect fit to keep your gun in place. You just do not want too much friction on the rest of your weapon.
Pressing the kydex
Once the Kydex has warmed enough and is adequately flexible, you can remove it from the oven. It is important to protect your hands as it may be hot, and you will want to work as quickly as possible.
Place the material in the bottom layer of your press and place the gun in place on the material. Fold over and over again so that it wraps around the gun. Place the top of the press over the gun and Kydex before holding it firmly in place. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
When you are ready, open the press and take a look at the result. If you are not completely satisfied with what you see, you can always reheat the Kydex and start over. Once you achieve a result that you are satisfied with, you can remove your Kydex weapon for now.
- Use a pencil to draw where you plan to cut out the excess Kydex.
- Make marks where you will place your rivets to keep the material in place.
- Use a Dremmel with an accessory of sand or stone to cut the edges.
- Use a belt sander (if you have one) to round the edges and create a less bulky result. Just leave the excess when necessary. The more compact, the better. If you do not have a belt sander, you can use another similar method.
- Trim and manually sand the edges by hand. This gives that smooth appearance. Instead of sanding by hand, you can also use your Dremmel to make this process faster and easier.
- Drill holes where you plan to insert the rivets.
- Use a razor blade to clean the holes before inserting the rivets.
Testing your case
- Remove the tape from your gun.
- Clean your cover and remove the debris before the test. Debris has a way of damaging your weapon, so make sure you do not cause unnecessary wear.
- Slide your weapon in and out of the case to test the retention and make sure you are completely happy.
- If necessary, use your heat gun to heat certain areas where there is too much retention and loosening. You can simply use your finger to reshape the Kydex and press it from the inside. Remember to keep your heat gun moving and heat the Kydex slowly. At the same time, do not heat the whole case.
- Test your holster once you have made the necessary adjustments.
Making your own belt clip
Use a thicker material when making a belt clip to make it as strong as possible. You may want to make some additional clips if you want to have some spare parts at hand. Align a strip of Kydex to make sure it fits and that it is not too wide or too narrow. Mark where you want to make the holes in the belt clip: they should align with the rivets in the case.
Drill the holes in the strip using your heat gun to heat the strip. When you notice that the Kydex becomes soft, place it in the sleeve and use your fingers to mold it into place. It needs to take the same shape and fit perfectly against the sleeve.
Make a mark where you want the clip to bend. Make sure that the holes in the belt clip are aligned with the rivet holes in the case before leaving your mark. Use the heat gun to heat this area so you can bend it. Allow the clip to cool.
Mark the clip according to the belt size you normally use. Heat the strip and fold it again (double back) before allowing it to cool and trim the excess. Attach the belt clip to the sheath using Chicago screws.
Other important notes
Remember that this is just an easy way to make your own Kydex sleeve. There are other methods that allow the use of two different colors for that two tone effect.
For greater comfort and to facilitate the drawing and the cover, you must make sure that the inside of the cover (the part against your body) is slightly higher than the outer side. In this way, you can draw and holster your weapon easily and with the use of only one hand.
If you’re not a fan of Kydex belt clips, you can buy metal clips and put them in place.
When making your first sheath, you should take your time and reserve at least half a day to do it right.
Durability of the Kydex sleeve
One of the main concerns when exploring how to make your own Kydex sleeve is how well it will stay. Weapons owners like to weigh all the pros and cons of their decisions. Choosing the right sheath material is essential in terms of comfort, practicality and safety; Safety is the most important concern, of course. You want a cover you can trust and can not afford to fail when you need it most.
Kydex has proven to be very resistant over the years, and the only real “complaint” is that the belt loop can break if it flexes repeatedly. Weapon owners must have additional loops on hand or opt for a fixed tunnel.
Of course, like anything in life, it will also depend on how well you treat it. These cases are not indestructible, but they are as close as you can get!
Power of customized design.
After discovering how to make a Kydex sleeve yourself, all you have to do is gather all the necessary materials and set aside some time to do the work. The best part of making your own case is that you can make the perfect fit for your weapon, and you will not have to wait weeks or even months to get that custom design.
Making your own case will also help you save money and could make a separate sleeve for each of your firearms. As soon as you notice that the wear begins to charge its price, you can immediately make a new case without having to shop around or wait.
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