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Custom Molds | What to Know | EagleWorks Holsters

Information is king. The clearer you describe desired modifications , the better able we are to provide answers. Still need help? Give us a call.  Generally, requests fall into one of two categories, modifications to the patterns we already sell, or new pattern types. 

No Cost vs. Cost

No cost modifications to an existing, standardized mold patterns already in our line:

  • Addition of a logo,
  • How the location holes are drilled,
  • Removal of the belt clip mount.

 For both Universal Molds and Production Molds, modifications that require new pattern development include:

  • Site channel changes,
  • The height of the models on the backplate,
  • Modified retention plates,
  • The relationship of the two halves to each other, and
  • Style changes, like open muzzles versus closed muzzles, and rounded edges versus open edges. 

“…development of a new mold pattern.”

Mold development to support a holster style you currently make, a style that both you and your customers like, will require development of a new mold pattern.  We will create that new pattern as a Universal Mold or as a Production Mold with matching Trim Jigs.  The fastest and most accurate way to get answers about what can and can’t be done is to call us, and then send us one of your completed holsters that demonstrates those features .  We’ll send it back with a comprehensive estimate of what it will take to make those modifications happen in the mold style of your choice.     

There is no charge for reviews and estimates.  What have you got to lose?

What is the customization process?

To understand customizations, it’s important to understand processes.  The molds we offer have been previously designed, tested, and feature standardized.  The benefit of standardization is that the tested mold features have been incorporated across a wide platform of gun manufacturers and models with success.   

We do not stock molds.  When we receive an order, that order is scheduled for production. The previously standardized design and the machining file for that manufacture/model is sent to a milling station where it is milled from a solid block of HDPE.  A no charge modification, like removing a clip mount, means that the belt clip component is simply turned off for that single milling of that design.  

Many custom modifications requests sound simple, but are not.  To achieve the modification, the digital file containing the standardized model goes to a design station where the request is interpreted, modeled, and incorporated into the 3D model.  Next stop is the lead machinist’s station where the modified design will be assigned code that can be utilized by a mill. 

Depending on the modification requested, a prototype is milled, Kydex formed on that mold, and a holster finished to determine if the modification has unintended consequences or will influence other areas adversely. If problems exist, the design is reworked and molds are recut until a solution is reached. Contingent on the extent of the modifications, we may ship a prototype Kydex holster made from a custom mold to be reviewed by the customer.    

It’s vital to understand that the modification outlined above will then exist on a single mold for a single manufacturer/model.  All additional manufacturer/models will be taken through a similar process, which will require design time and machining setups.  The cost for subsequent manufacturer/models may be less when your modification can be standardized. If milling test molds and forming Kydex may isn’t necesscary, the cost will be less.

“… small change can affect the function of a mold adversely …”

To better explain how a seemingly small change can affect the function of a mold adversely, consider our most common Production Mold request. Folks ask us to flatten out the indented area between the trigger guard and the retention plate.  While developing the retention plate, it was critical to standardize so the same hardware could be used for every model.  The dimensions of trigger guards that butt up to the retention plates, however, vary wildly.  On one model of gun, the retention plate would work great.  On another model, it would cause binding at the trigger guard.  We solved the problem by isolating the retention plate from the trigger guard. The flattened area creates a neutral zone that allows us to standardized the retention plate and hardware package for all manufacturer/models.

What is a “Holster Pattern?”

There are as many opinions of what makes a perfect holster as there are holster makers; open muzzle versus closed muzzle, open edges versus closed edges, active versus passive retention, and too many variations in sight, trigger guard, and detent blocking to count.  Every holster maker develops a style and function package that represents their vision–sometimes several unique styles.  That feature package is a pattern, and that pattern can be reverse engineered as a mold to support that pattern. 

Our molds, particularly the Production Molds, were originally developed to support our own holstermaking.  Those molds product a specific holster pattern–the features and style we like in a holster.   Even with small modifications, the appearance and function of a holster made with our Production Molds and matching Trim Jigs is essentially unchanged.  The development costs for our current Production Molds are offset by using those molds to make the holsters we sell, which enables us to sell exact duplicates of the molds to holster makers at a fair price. 

“… we can develop and test a new holster pattern.”

If you have developed a unique esthetic you are known for, and you have developed a marketplace for those holsters, you may be shopping for molds to support that holster pattern and help you expediate production.   If that’s the case, we can develop and test a new holster pattern to reflect that vision. Depending on what you want in your new mold pattern, research and development costs can range from inconsequential to very expensive.  We have a 3D file library of manufacturers and models that can be used to assist in building new patterns, but all new holster patterns have to be designed and tested. 

Production Molds with Matching Trim Jigs are more expensive to pattern develop than Universal Molds.  The symbiotic relationship between the Kydex Forming Mold and the Trim Jig Mold requires precise engineering to achieve clean cuts with the router bit on a table.  Kydex can only be routed cleanly if it intersects the blade horizontally; any surface that is slightly vertical to the router bit will leave a rough edge.  The fastest and most efficient way to get a holster to market, however, is definitely a Kydex Forming Production Mold and a Matching Trim Jig. 

Universal Molds require less engineering.  Since the trim line profiles are not predetermined, a holster maker can trim out the holster to accommodate their individual vision and esthetic.  This lack of predetermined profile lines also supports less expensive pattern development.  It may also be less expensive to apply that new pattern to subsequent purchases of other manufacturers and models.    

It’s important to know that attempting to modify an existing, standardized and tested mold design pattern, or trying to incorporate changes into a mold pattern that was designed to function differently, often results in dissatisfaction or outright failure of the mold to perform. 

Whether you want feature rich and unique Production Molds with Matching Trim Jigs that reflect a pattern style you and your customer’s love, or you want a simplier Universal Mold pattern developed, give us a call to discuss what’s possible with both types.  We’ll start collecting the information we need to provide you with a comprehensive quotation. 

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EagleWorks Holsters | the History

If you’re in the holster making business, you understand the relationship between the holster you make and the production mold used to form that holster.  In the digital world, it’s called  WYSIWYG—what you see is that you get.  If the Kydex is heated to the right temperature and you have a good vacuum system, the resulting thermoplastic holster will be the same shape as the mold.

In the beginning, most of us ordered replicas of real guns and modified them to make those molds.  When we realized that the epoxy plastic material used to make the replicas shrank slightly, we learned to build out the surfaces with tape, sometimes a single layer, sometimes several layers.  We attached pieces of wood or plastic, whatever was around our shops, to create channels for the things that were proud of the surface.  We came up with clever ideas for making retention plates.  We filled the trigger guards and created shapes in that area that would provide detents.  We are craftsmen, makers who work with our hands and find solutions. 

“We’re an opinionated bunch, us entrepreneurs.” 

We do not, however, all agree on how a holster should look and function.  Neither do our customers. Each craftsman who builds holsters has a vision of how that holster will perform and how it will look.  Like all craftsmen, we are constantly tinkering with the formula we use to make a holster, looking for ways to solve problems we’ve encountered, trying to accommodate a customer’s needs, or just to bring our own ideas to fruition. 

We’re an opinionated bunch, us entrepreneurs.  We like to debate the merits of everything, and it’s why we, as an industry, offer so many unique products.  In the end, it’s also why there’s room for so many in the holster making business.  No one holster type will serve all people who need a holster.  Competition is a good thing for all of us. 

Like everyone else, we had a vision, not better or worse, just a vision that was as unique to us as your vision is to you.  The wall we’d hit and couldn’t get by was the molds we were using.  We came up with the idea of making our own molds, and then threw ourselves headlong down that long, winding, expensive, and frustrating trail.    

“We protected those early molds like gold bullion.” 

We solved it.  After many attempts, much cursing, and breathtakingly expensive forays into research and development, we developed a complex system for making our own molds, and it set our creative minds free.  We started nitpicking holster details, trying to find solutions for things that would have been impossible to address by modifying the replicas we started with.  We were able to manage dozens of details and standardize those solutions so they could be used across many platforms.  We liked the holster styles we created using the new molds, and so did our holster customers.  We protected those early molds like gold bullion. 

But like half-mad scientists, not content with the win, we decided to make matching trim jigs.  Hand trimming Kydex and then having to sand it endlessly was time-consuming and unprofitable.  It wasn’t so bad when my business partner did all the sanding, but when I was recruited to help, I quickly saw the genius in the idea to develop trim jigs that matched the Kydex Forming Production Molds.   Lots of acquired skill sets later and many more dollars donated to the R & D gremlins, we had our matching Trim Jigs. 

“Why not sell those molds?”

Then folks asked, “Why are you selling holsters?  Why not sell those molds?”  Simple question, and we instantly got our protective hackles up as anyone protecting a secret ingredient would.  But we starting thinking.  What would that look like?  Were we willing to share what we felt was our edge?

If you’re reading this, you know we did start selling our molds, and much to our surprise, they were, and are, very popular.  With popularity, however, comes struggle.  No mold, whether ours or someone else’s, can be all things to all holster makers. 

” …Production Molds were specifically created to reflect our unique vision…”

It is important to understand that our Production Molds were specifically created to reflect our unique vision of functionality.  Having an idea, and then trying to bring that idea to life, can be a cruelly frustrating process.  During the R & D phase of prototyping, it’s not uncommon for a seemingly simple change to cause downstream failures that don’t rear their ugly heads until the milling is done, the mold inspected, a holster formed, and a tiny flaw identified that makes the mold unusable.  The cost of R&D is staggering. Did we say that already?  It bears repeating.  The time commitment is beyond anything you might imagine going in.  Ignorance of how hard it will be allows you to start down that road, and once started, it’s tough to turn back.    

We endured, and the reward was having the capacity to design and mill our own molds.  Despite the long, expensive road to get here, that ability has been freeing.  When we decided to sell the molds, the designs had long ago gone through R & D, been field tested, and the holster patterns standardized.  The resulting holsters formed on those molds were being used by satisfied customers for carry and for competition.

As mentioned, the design of the holsters made from our molds was our personal vision of a holster that reflected the features we thought important.  We empathized when potential mold customers asked us to make ‘little changes’ to molds to reflect their own unique style or function.  Too often, variations that seemed small and inconsequential were,  in fact, expensive and time consuming to design and test.   What we’ve discovered, the hard way (is there any other way?), is that some requests can be accommodated inexpensively, others cannot.  Too often, we’ve tried to fulfill seemingly small customization requests for free to the peril of our sanity and bottom line.  

“… we want the mold you purchase to be a dream-come-true money-making tool for you.”

If you are considering honoring our efforts with a mold purchase, we want the mold you purchase to be a dream-come-true money-making tool for you. Please take the time to read the information provided on this site, the pages referenced here and in the header and footers of every page on the website, and email or call us with your questions.  Take time to understand completely the difference between the Universal Molds and the Production Molds with their matching Trim Jigs.  Understand the options.  Know what you are buying ahead of time, and what can and cannot be changed.  If you have any questions about whether a mold can serve your particular holster needs, please call us before ordering. 

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Understanding Molds & Trim Jigs | EagleWorks Holsters

EagleWorks Production Molds and Trim Jigs, and our Universal Molds, are individually milled from solid blocks of HDPE.  They are not poured resin, or castings formed in a mold tool.  They do not have to be affixed to a board to work; the backboard is part of the mold.  We do not stock molds; when your order is received, the molds are milled specifically to fill that order.  All EagleWorks Holsters molds are designed by starting with real guns, creating digital copies, and then modifying those 3D images with modeling software to produce specific holster styles.

When we started looking for holster molds to support our own holstermaking business many years ago, there weren’t many choices, so we developed  molds to support the specific style pattern and features we liked in a holster.  Other holster makers liked what they saw, so we offered our pattern-specific Production Molds and Matching Trim Jigs, described below.    

We also received requests for a more generic pattern style of holster mold, so we stripped all the features off the Production Molds, and marketed those minimally blocked split board molds under the name ‘Universal Molds.’  Many types of fold-over holsters styles can be made using a Universal Mold.

When choosing a mold for yourself, it’s vital to understand what can and cannot be done with that mold.  Please take the time to read the following, and if you still have questions, please give us a call. 

Production Molds​

Production Molds are butterflied molds on a backboard that produce a feature-specific foldover type holster, except in the case of the OWB, Conceal Carry style which is a two piece holster.  

Each Production Mold and matching Trim Jig is designed only to work for a specific gun model, generation, and/or iteration.  Small changes a manufacturer has made from one year to the next can create fit, draw, and reholster issues.  Just because a model shares the same name, does not mean it is, in fact, the same.  Please check the manufacturer’s specifications before ordering.  If you still have questions, give us a call.  

There are six carry style patterns of Production Molds and Trim Jigs.  Each style pattern represents a specific holster type:

  • IWB Type 1 Holster Molds & Trim Jigs | Inside the Waistband;
  • IWB Type 2 Holster Molds & Trim Jigs | for Revolvers;
  • OWB Type 1 Holster Molds & Trim Jigs | Competition Style Holsters;
  • OWB Type 2 Holster Molds & Trim Jigs | Two-Piece Gun Holsters;
  • Appendix Carry Holster Molds & Trim Jigs |Inside the Waistband;
  • Magazine Carrier Holster Molds & Trim Jigs | IDPA Compliant

The Production Molds, created to support our own holster business, were developed to reflect our personal vision of what we liked in a holster.  The holster created with a Production Mold will be almost exactly like the holsters shown on the website, dependent on your method of trimming, heating, and forming the thermoplastic.  If your methods of heating and forming Kydex varies too much from ours, the results may not be acceptable.  We recommend heating the Kydex to 000 degrees Fahrenheit, and using not less than a 2-stage, 8 CFM vacuum pump capable of developing a reliable 25 (Hg) of vacuum.

If you have your own specific style pattern and feature package you’d like to include in your holsters, a standardized Production Mold is not for you.  They cannot be modified in the field.  If that is your case, take a look at the Universal Molds which will support various foldover holster styles, or give us a call about having a custom pattern developed specific to your needs.  

Holsters made from Production Molds require specific hardware to work properly.  The holster you produce with this mold will not work without the correct hardware.  A downloadable PDF Hardware List is available in the header and footer on every page of the website. 

We strongly recommend not making modifications to Production Molds or their matching Trim Jigs.  Doing so will interfere with the function of the resulting holsters and could cause accidental discharge or other consequential problems. 

Universal Molds​

Universal Molds are butterflied, milled HDPE representations of manufacturer/models on a backboard.  The standardized Universal Molds we sell are blocked for competition height sights, have a choice of detents at the trigger guard, and have minimal blocking to create channels for ease of draw and reholstering.  These molds create a fold-over type holster and can be used for most holster types or styles that can be created by a fold-over process.  

Our Recommendations​

If the concept of Production Molds and Trim Jigs appeals to you, order a single set for your most popular gun model. Try the combination out, and judge for yourself. If you like the process and the product it produces, you’re on your way. 

If you have something different in mind, take a look at our Universal Molds. We’ve stripped most of the standarized features on these molds, and just left the basics. Universal Molds can be used to make many types of fold over holsters.

If you’ve already developed an esthetic you’re known for, those holsters are in demand with your customers, and your current methods don’t allow you to produce holsters fast enough to keep up with orders, consider streamlining your processes. Take a look at the videos available on this website to see what’s possible. We can create a custom patterned Production Mold and Trim Jig or a custom Universal Mold pattern. You will bear the cost of the research and development of the product which will include, but not be limited to, time and materials. This cost can be small or large; you won’t know until you make the request and get a quotation. There is no charge for quotes. If you are interested, please read the post on Mold Modifications for more details, and then contact us directly to discuss design strategy and pricing.

4. And finally, if you are currently using a mold maker who supports your holster making processes and holster style, stay with them and celebrate your good luck in finding them. There’s room for all of us.