Sunday, October 21, 2012

Custom Kydex Part 2

RIA 9mm 1911 holster and magazine carriers
Cranked out some more kydex work this weekend and the ATS War Belt was ready for action. I went out to burn up some Russian steel case with the DelTon AR 15 to get a feel for how this rig is going to work and what it will take to make improvements or adjustments in the future. I really like it. The ATS War Belt seems to require a pretty dialed in fit, depending on what I am wearing, and I am still figuring out where it is supposed to ride. But it is a belt and I found that I can put it basically over top of my pants belt and use it essentially the same way. With the correct tension it does what it should do, and fortunately the ATS inner belt is very easy to adjust on the fly. It was warm, overcast, and really muggy today so I didn't get to try it with any significant amount of clothing on, but it's late October and only a matter of time.

I got to gen 2 on the MOLLE attachment loops (I'll talk about it in the captions below) and I think I have come up with a complete solution that would allow the kydex kit to be fully modular for standard belts or MOLLE systems if I were to use eyelets. I settled on all the distances for the mounting holes and the holsters or carriers could have eyelets set at the correct spacing to accommodate 1.5 and 1.75 inch belts plus MOLLE with just a change of loops. In the images below you'll see where I need to make a few little tweaks but it all works really well. I can't recommend kydex enough to anyone who is looking for a new project that can easily result in some very useful kit.

The ATS War Belt is well made in the USA and works great. It is really nice to have everything already on the the belt when I go out to shoot. Throw it on, done. The main benefit I was looking for when I decided to go this direction was in cold weather. Once you get multiple layers on then some piece of clothing or another ends up over your kit, hung up in it, gets in the way of drawing mags or guns, and is just generally a pain in the ass. With the War Belt I can just adjust the size and strap it on over top with everything where it should be. So without further ado let's get into what I've learned and accomplished so far.
front view of ATS War Belt with custom kydex
After a short range session today. There is some standoff since .125 Kydex is rigid. I think that's a good thing. Tons of offset/standoff from the body like a IPSC rig not so much, but getting in the dirt in this wasn't uncomfortable. With a chest rig it can't hurt either and bulky clothing uses up the extra space pretty easily. For me, and my needs, I think it strikes the right balance.

DIY Kydex carriers
It's a wall of Kydex and you can see the offset really well in this image. I would love for all of it to take up less space, but considering what the War Belt is designed for and the fact that the 2nd AR mag is just behind my left hip, the space issue really isn't an issue. There is enough room on the back for 2 more mags if I wanted to go crazy but more likely an all purpose pouch of some kind will ride there instead. I think many users would have a first aid kit and maybe a dump pouch in that space.

I didn't get a shot of it from the rear but you can see that the two suspender loops would represent the center of my back, so in the end I don't really have an issue with the little bit of extra space used by Kydex carriers in this style. The second gen carrier is in the back at the far right. You can access all the screws with it attached. I will be getting Chicago screws with slots on both ends which will allow for extra torquing and also aren't as annoyingly shiny as the style seen here. They are black but as you can see, pretty shiny. The rivets actually have a brushed stainless finish that isn't very reflective at all and I actually kind of like it. Eyelets still make the most sense for modularity, which is something I'd like to have a shot at.

The problem I found is that I didn't mold those two tracks up high enough. You will be able to see in the image below that they don't fit as flush as I would like them to, but that's a very simple fix.

By putting the rubber O rings on the female side it will grab as I tighten the screws allowing me to get them nice and snug even though I don't have great access from the back side. If you look on the left side of the image you'll see the space created by the tracks molded into the back of the carrier. If I mold them an inch higher it will be perfect and these loops are very easy to thread into the webbing. I also took a little slop out of the loops and you can see how 3 rows of webbing fit nice and snug now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Evolution of odellstudios.com

I let this blog slip for a year after taking a new direction with my odellstudios.com domain almost to the month. Well, as things tend to go, more change is necessary again. Frustrations with my hosting and that joke known as Wordpress have encouraged me to seek out new solutions for my web presence and somehow I ended up back here. It didn't take much searching with my googlefu to find that I am not alone in these frustrations and like anything else as broad as the mighty errorweb, options abound. I am in the process of getting my paid domain (odellstudios.com) to redirect visitors to this page but at this point I haven't got that completely ironed out. Still, it shouldn't be long and in the mean time I am breathing some new life into this blogger. I have determined that all my hobbies are me and therefore they all belong together. I am busy working at a variety of different projects at any given time, from digital art, turning wrenches, and recently, working with Kydex. I have found that the car communities I frequent are full of firearm enthusiasts and the firearm communities are full of automotive enthusiasts, so there doesn't seem to be much point in trying to separate them.

Let me just say that after the nightmare that is Wordpress, I am glad to be back home. This is now O'Dell Studios and O'Dell Studios is now a project in and of itself that encompasses all of my hobbies for my visitors to enjoy. And with the money I am being refunded on my hosting, maybe I can buy something cool to post about! The snake logo is something I created to attach to my firearm art and it makes sense that it should be attached to the Kydex work should that become a money making proposition as well. So now that everything is merging, these logos get to ride side-by-side here on the blog. Stay tuned as I plan to be up half the night getting more Kydex work done and maybe I'll have something to show for it before the weekend is over!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Custom Kydex Projects

Rock Island 1911, Taurus 24/7 and Magazine Carriers
UPDATE: Tons of progress on my Kydex projects. Turns out this Kydex stuff is as easy to get hooked on as everyone says. The beauty of it for DIY types like myself is that you basically can't waste *much* of it. What I am saying is that as long as you don't just hack it up or over heat it, then you can just heat it back up and have another shot at it - which I did multiple times. Something that may plague all DIY types, or just perfectionist control freaks like myself, is that every time you build something you learn something new so even though you get lots of re-dos with Kydex, I don't think (unless you are super cool) that you'll have a perfect product the first time you do it. I am pretty sure that what I've built so far is all workable enough that I can live with it, but the desire to make the next one better looms. Money savings probably comes into play with DIYers and I know it does for me. So far I've only spent about the cost of a single holster for everything you'll see in the images below. So yeah, there is massive savings in this process. However, I choose to skip on the eyelets. I have set lots of various rivets and snaps with hand tools and had relatively good success, but everyone does the eyelets (and they make a lot of sense) and these rapid rivets that I've used are fast and easy, and I already had everything I needed. I felt that perhaps I wouldn't have terrific success with the eyelets hand setting them, I wanted something different, and the cost of getting better equipment for setting eliminates any cost savings. Like any kind of hobby that is fun and rewarding, the cost savings will eventually vanish. However, I have to say that they are very high with this particular project. Given the commercial cost of everything I have, and given that I've had very little waste, I would say that at the very least I have ended up with more stuff than I ever would have bought at one time. I have much less that $100 in the whole project so far and I still have material (and plans) for another holster that will be dedicated to the war belt. If you consider that a single holster comes in somewhere between $50 and $80 and I've build 2, plus 6 magazine carriers and 4 AR magazine carriers, then yeah, I've saved money. Not everything I've made is pictured and I'll probably make something for a flash light, Leatherman, and who knows what else. For another 25 bucks worth of material I can crank out a couple more holsters and mag carriers. A single sheet of 12x12 .125 heavy weight material makes a TON of belt loops too. Anyway, let's get to the show and tell.


custom kydex in coyote tan
My Rock Island 9mm 1911 with magazine carrier. With single stack magazines (or any) I like the idea of the flare to help with getting that magazine back into the carrier. I enjoy some IDPA action each month and this makes reloads with retention very smooth.

You can see the curvature I put in the holsters. This is done in the press, not after and this makes a very form fitting design that as far as I know, no one else is doing.

Playing with magazine seating depths. I think I got it right the first time with the more shallow depth because the retention was already perfect and is just slightly higher with the deeper design to the point that getting the magazine BACK into the carrier is a little more difficult. By molding to the traditional style mags I can use Troy and P Mags in the same carrier.

The MOLLE attachment system. Note that the carriers are flat on the back which draws the magazine closer to the body. I think I am going to tighten up the spacing which will take out the slight amount of up and down play that you can see here. The white stuff is the pencil I layout with. It cleans off easily.

This is my third attempt at holster making. I think it is almost perfect as far as function and mold detail. Because of the way I curve my holsters the open port is functional.

This is actually a very difficult gun to mold to. It has certain features that aren't especially obvious and it took a couple tries to get it right. The trigger guard is huge and can create too much retention.

A look at the flat back mag carrier. I mold in a track for the Chicago screw which creates a little standoff from the body. Deeper belt loops can push it out even further and for games or tactical use, this makes indexing that magazine very easy. I can then mount the loops in a traditional way and make them shallow which sucks the carrier to the body much better than other designs for maximum concealment in OWB carry. You can barely see the cap of a double cap rivet on the holster which prevents undue wear on your belt.