Questions


Do you make your holsters in left hand?

Odd as it may seem, I am personally aware 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!

Which of your holsters is more concealable?

Depends much upon the application. Inside the waistband is definitely easier to conceal than outside, but no one IWB 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 dependant 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 to consider for us to offer a canned, one size fits all solution (via an FAQ) for everyone.

At what time during the order process do you charge my credit card?

Normally on the day the order is shipped.

There are only three reasons why we would charge a customers card in advance and those three reasons are as follows.

  • If we previously had problems collecting on a customers card, we may, if we decide to continue to do business with that customer, require payment at the time the new order is placed.
  • Due to problems encountered with collecting on certain overseas and Canadian accounts, all new foreign orders are charged in advance. The exception would be those non USA customers with whom we have had previous, positive dealings with.
  • Customers who request that their cards be charged in advance.
The only other exception would be for those that prefer to pay by check and not use a credit card to secure the order. In those cases the order must be prepaid before the order can be confirmed.

After taking into account all of the above, approximately 98% of our orders wont be collected on till the day the order is complete and ready to be shipped. Ideally, this is the way we prefer it. To be paid when the work is complete. That is when we feel we have earned our money.

I am concerned about holster wear on my guns finish. Is there anything that can be done to prevent this?

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, I'll get to the heart of the subject. The act of drawing your pistol from whatever container you choose to carry your weapon in, creates friction at the points of contact, and 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 matters not whether your holster is lined or un-lined, as a lined holster simply delays the inevitable. If you practice hard your guns finish will wear, or maybe it would be better to say, develop character. You will have to learn to deal with it.

This is not to say we are insensitive to our customers concerns about holster wear, its just that the reality of the matter sucks. Holsters 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. Blued finishes are at the bottom of the list in terms of durability and corrosion resistance, but IMHO nothing compares in terms of beauty. Parkerizing offers better corrosion resistance then bluing, but is only slightly better in the wear department. Baked on Teflon or Poly finishes offer better corrosion and wear resistance then 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. And then 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.

What is the difference between cowhide and horsehide?

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 thus 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, horsehides 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. Also for the same reason horsehide tends not to absorb the dye and finishing materials as evenly making it in my opinion, 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 and a true Grade (A) will generally, but not always, be devoid of any surface imperfections. Horsehide on the other hand, basically only comes from the tannery one way, un-graded and usually with plenty of the above imperfections. On the bright side, much of the scaring, stretch and range marks common on much of the horsehide we get today, is present in unique patterns much like figured wood. We actually set aside some of the more distinct pieces to be used in conjunction with exotic trim where exotic trim is an option on some of 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. I guess the bottom line is if you expect from us a clean holster, devoid as much as possible of any natural markings, order cowhide.

On the durability issue there has been much BS circulating on the mythical wear characteristics of horsehide. I 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, taking into advantage 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.

Why does it take so long to have a holster made?

One of the most frequently asked questions is "Why does it take so long to have a holster made?" The answer is that the demand for our product has always exceeded our ability to produce.

It doesn't take so long to actually make the holster, its the processing of the hundreds of orders that are ahead of yours that keeps us behind. It has been our past experience that no matter how many craftsmen we add to the staff, when our delivery times drop, the demand picks up and we are soon back in the same situation. Still, we are trying to address the problem and recently we have added an extra employee, now bringing us up to six.
Information concerning our current delivery schedule can be viewed by visiting this page.

We understand that many of you cannot wait the time it takes to get our product direct from us. For those who cannot wait, I may suggest that you contact one of our dealers listed at the bottom of the Ordering page of this site for possible in-stock delivery.

What's the difference between your holsters and those of brand X and what makes yours better?

I get this question occasionally and my first impression is that the asker would like more for me to tell him why he doesn't want to buy the other guys product, rather then have me extol the virtues of our own. As you are probably aware, there are many other fine makers out there that make a similar product that may address a solution a bit differently then we do. I don't think its prudent for either myself or my staff, to speak negatively of a competitors product in a effort to try and convince you that ours would be more suitable for you. 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. You will be disappointed however if what you need from us is a scathing review of our competition in order to help you make up your mind.

What can I do to maintain the appearance of my new leather?

Nothing much needs to be done other than an occasional waxing to help maintain appearance. That applies to items with the smooth-out finish only! Rough out finishes such as on our SS-2 and Summer Special 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- Period!

Angelus has a product we use called Lustre Cream and it is available in both cordovan and black. Fiebings, Carnauba wax is also a good protectorate for smooth leather, but will oxidize on the leather surface if not used or buffed occasionally.

One product we recommend wholeheartedly is Renaissance Wax. Renaissance can be purchased direct from the above link, or you can purchase it directly through us. 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! You can even use it on metal and wood. We generally stock the small, 65ml tin for resale, as we found that a little bit goes a long way.

My holster is too tight! What's the best way to break it in?

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 in order. There are many variables as to why a holster would be excessively tight ranging from the texture of your guns finish, to slight 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! I repeat, 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 serves simply to stretch the leather a few thousands 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. Any clarifications or concerns on the above, or if you would rather we talk you through the process, then please call us

How important is it that the holster be fitted to the width belt I will be using?

It's about as important as selecting the right size shoes for your feet. A sloppy, loose fitting holster on the belt will not allow the holster to perform its intended function and that is to help stabilize of the butt of the gun in regards to both accessibility and concealment. Comfort, concealment and ease of weapon presentation, is as much a result of a proper holster loop to belt width relationship, as is the firmness of the belt that will be the foundation of your carry package. Check out our belt page for more info on this.

How come you don't make small-of-the-back or SOB holsters?

You probably have already read all the many reasons for not carrying SOB posted on the various gun forums all over the web. I 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!

I am fully aware that there are some folks who are convinced they cannot conceal a weapon any other way. For those individuals we are more then happy to recommend other makers who share a different point of view then we do on the subject. Contact us if you need a recommendation.

If you don't make a particular style of holster, will you recommend someone who does?

We have a very short list of other quality makers that we offer referrals to on request. Our referrals are based on the makers reputation in regards to the quality of their work and their reputation within the industry. If we do not offer the style of holster you're looking for, you can call the shop and we will do our best to hook you up to someone who can provide for you.

I bought this holster from you guys a year or two ago. Its like new and hardly been used. Can I trade it in?

Absolutely NOT!!! Hardly a frequently asked question, but asked often enough that I believe it's worth a mention here. I think most people can understand and appreciate that it is best to resolve such matters as returns during a reasonable time frame

and with us it is within 30 days of original purchase. For a full explanation of our return policy, please refer to our Guarantees page.

Do you notify by email or other means before shipping an order?

On any given shipping day we can have as many as a hundred or more packages going out. The database software we are currently using does not allow us to email tracking information to the recipient and 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 all incoming phone queries, phone orders as well as settling up customer accounts. The rest of us are busy out in the shop putting the final touches on outgoing orders in preparation for shipping. Simply put, shipping days are always hectic and we do not have the personnel or resources available to allow for individual shipping notification. At some point this may change, but for now we ask that you bear with us. If a customer demands notification upon shipping as a precondition to the placing of an order, then our policy would be to decline the order as we would not be able to guarantee the request.

As mentioned in another FAQ, we do not charge credit cards till 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. At that point, you are more than welcome to call for tracking information if anticipation won't allow you to bear out the 5 or so business days it normally takes for delivery.

Can I make additions to, or change my order after the order is placed?

We will allow a one time addition to a customers order, as long as the addition is made within 30 calendar days from the date the order is originally placed. A one time addition doesn't define how many items can be added, just the number of times we will allow you to do it. Any request for an order addition beyond 30 days, will have to be written up as a new, separate order. No exceptions!

You may of course change items on your order at any time up till the time the order is pulled for production. Meaning that you cannot add to the order after 30 days, but you can change guns, belt length, etc. as your needs change.

Please note: The first two order changes are on us. After the second and for each order change thereafter, there will be a non-refundable, administrative surcharge that is equal to 10% or $10 (whichever amount is greater) of the line items changed. The administrative surcharge will be due and payable at the time that each order change is made. No exceptions! We really hate to do this, but we feel that two order changes without penalty is more than fair.

Order changes can only be made on a tit for tat basis. Same style holster for holster, belt for belt, mag case for mag case, etc. In other words no deleting a belt to add another holster will be allowed. Like items for like items only! You may cancel an item, or the entire order at any time.

We used to allow additions to an order all the way up till the time the order was shipped. Unfortunately, allowing customers to continue doing this is changing the dynamics of how we are getting things done in the shop. Adding items to an existing order is more time consuming than just starting fresh with a new order. Items added to an order after the fact (often times more than once and even up to the point where an order has to be pulled off the shipping bench to accommodate a customer request for an additional item) , effects our quoted backlog by creating additional obstacles that we could have no way accounted for when we first calculated the delivery times for that month. As an example; if order additions total a 10% increase over what was originally placed for that month, we have to somehow account for that on the production end and still be able to meet our projected delivery quotes. It has become increasingly difficult to calculate the unknown and still hold true to our delivery commitments. Especially to the majority of customers who do not routinely add to their orders.

Some of your competitors have posted on internet forums, that certain methods of concealed carry can get me killed! Is this true?

Firstly, do you believe everything that you read on the internet?

Most people would probably recognize that commentary for what it is and ignore it. Those who haven't quite caught on, might first consider the source and then read carefully as to what alternative is being promoted in its place. If you still haven't figured it out, then here's a clue. There's a high probability that you are being marketed to.

Here's the skinny.

It is not the best interest of the CCW community, for someone in our industry to critique a method of carry that they have no interest or experience in producing themselves!

Yes, we as makers all have our personal bias's and some of those bias's can be very strong. But the savvy maker will recognize the diversity of opinion among his peers and defer to them in cases where he has no expertise. That is unless that maker has such a sanctimonious view of himself that he feels he has no peers!

Anyway, in answer to the initial question, the answer is no! A method of carry, by itself will not get you killed. Training or lack thereof, mindset, awareness, tactics (not to mention not having a gun on your person, because some internet expert said you will surely get killed if you carry that way) and a host of other elements may contribute to your untimely demise, the least of which would be on what part of your anatomy you choose to carry your gun.

Do you make holsters for S&W Performance Center firearms?

Because of the unusual barrel profile of many of the Performance center guns. And because they are so expensive to buy just for the use of making holsters with. We are no longer offering any holster models for those Performance Center guns that deviate in shape from the standard S&W line. That is unless there are cast dummy guns made available to the holstermaker, for which the Performance Center hasn't been to forthcoming in providing.

The only other option is for the customer to send their personal Performance Center gun in for fitting. This is an option, but can get quite expensive since the customer is required to pick up the next day air shipping charges both to and fro. About $50 to $75 each way depending on how much the gun is insured for. Something to think about before shelling out the big bucks out for a Performance Center gun, or any gun that deviates from the norm in shape, or dimension.

I have a brand X gun belt I bought and my Milt Sparks holster of the same belt size won't attach to it. How come?

Due to the fact that depending on which maker you choose to make your gun belt, that the thickness can vary from one maker to the next by as much as several ounces of leather weight. And also due to the fact that some makers belts can run a smidgeon wider than their advertised width thus complicating 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 is no real standard in the industry in regards to 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're considering purchasing a gun belt from another manufacturer for use with one of our holsters and are trying 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. Anything over 1/4" in overall thickness and you may not be able to close the snaps over the belt!

Our interchangeable IWB loops are available in sizes 1" 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 makers belts, you would have to actually step down to 1¼" width to fit through the Axiom loops.

I should add that there are many fine makers out there whose gear will interchange just fine with our own. Unfortunately though, there's a few out there that seem to cause issues. To that point, I felt it necessary for this FAQ.

What are one-way snaps and how do they work?

One-way or directional snaps are used on most of our belt attachments as a means to keep pressure exerted from the inside edge of the belt from inadvertently undoing the snap.

If you look inside the female snap you will see a small tab of metal that appears to trap the coil spring inside. That tab is the locking mechanism of the one-way snap. When the snap is snapped shut, the tab in the female cap will not allow the male snap to lever itself through the coil spring at the point of the tab, thus releasing the snap. The one-way snap can only be disengaged by outside pressure on the side of the snap opposite from the side where the above mentioned tab is located.

To work the snap, the side of the snap with the tab located inside the female cap, must be engaged onto the male snap first by angling the female snap at that point to engage it. Then to complete the closure, you roll the female snap over the male snap till it clicks shut. Basically, the tab on the female snap will always be located on the side of the snap where the belt will come into contact with it. All our IWB holster loops are snapped towards the top of the holster, so you will generally 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 female cap to see where the tab is located. That side of the snap always gets engaged onto the male snap first.

If you don't engage and close the snaps properly, the snaps may appear to be closed, but will pop open unexpectedly. If that happens, you can be sure that you are not closing them properly. If this happens to you, you might want to read the above description again just to make sure you fully understand the function of the one-way snap. If all else fails, you can always call the shop for guidance.

Tips for breaking in new snaps is as follows. A light smear of a lubricating wax on the rim of the male snap will make the snap much easier to open and close. Renaissance wax works good as does Johnson Paste wax, or probably any car wax for that matter. A light smear of machine oil on the male snap will work to lubricate the snap as well.

Until the leather loops get broke in, you might find it easier to pre-snap the loops and physically string your belt through the closed loops as opposed to fighting with the snaps. Our holster loops are meant to fit snug on belts of our manufacture and until the leather of the loops loosens up a bit, you might find it hard to angle the female snap properly to engage the male snap. No worries, time will take care of that.

Of course any questions pertaining to any of the above can easily be rectified by a call to the shop.

Can you size your holsters to fit other makers, thicker belts?

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 40 year track record of satisfaction in that regard. For that reason we do not offer special made, off-size holster loop sizing as an option and 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. As stated in FAQ question #21, our holsters will work just fine on most makers belts that are sized similar to our own. There are many fine makers including those like Del Fatti, Alessi and Null among others, whose gear will interchange with belts of our manufacture and ours with theirs. Unfortunately there are some out there that do not mix so well. More on this, can be found in the answer to question above