One of the most oft questions we are asked is “what product should I use to care for my valuable WW2 holsters and how should I store them?” While I am not a leather conservation expert we have, over the years, tried a lot of different treatments and some work and some don’t.
THE LESS YOU DO THE BETTER
When you buy a holster from Pre98, chances are it is in pretty good shape which is saying something for an organic material such as leather. After all, how many 75 year old pairs of shoes do you see laying around? Your holster is an artifact that has survived; either through benign neglect or tender loving care for at least 75 years. To keep it around even longer, the best thing to do is to store your holster in a climate controlled environment, not to hot or humid. Typically a gun safe is a suitable storage area as you are keeping the same care for your firearms.
There is one product we use to clean and care for our holsters. It’s a good grade leather balm, and we’ve found it to work nicely. Please note we are not representatives or advertising for this product, we simply want to share with you what we’ve found to work. The product is Venetian Shoe Cream or Leather Balm.
It comes is about 4 colors but we use the neutral shade as it does not darken or otherwise discolor the leather. These preparations both clean and moisturize the leather and prevent it from dry rotting. I would say that an annual treatment should suffice. You only need a small amount and gently buff it off as per the instructions on the bottle. If your holster is in top shape this is really all that is needed to maintain that “right out of a time capsule” look.
As far as storage goes we do not recommend storing pistols in the holster, both for the good of the pistol and the holster. It’s best practice to keep them separate. If you do prefer to keep them together it’s recommend to wrap the pistol in saran wrap to keep the metal out of contact with the leather. Through our experience and from speaking with fellow collectors, a popular practice is to store holsters in zip lock bags for better preservation. We think this is a good means and it also helps the holster from getting scuffed up.