Big boxes of unused holsters are something that a lot of gun owners have. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll want to try out different styles and types of holsters for your carry and range guns and because of that, you’ll wind up spending a lot of money just trying things out. Sometimes there are even new guns that come out that don’t have holster support at all and if you’re wanting to carry that shiny new piece, you’ll want something to safely carry it in. Blackhawk’s TecGrip FormLock holster is a DIY solution that you can shape and mold to fit any handgun similar to how a Kydex Holster would fit. Blackhawk Holsters sent me out a sample of one of their Size 1 TecGrip FormLok holsters to try out and today we’ll walk you through the process of forming this holster.
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TFB Review: Blackhawk TecGrip FormLok DIY Holster
The Blackhawk TecGrip FormLok holster is a multi-fit moldable nylon holster that at first looks very similar to an Uncle Mike’s nylon holster but has a few key differences. First and foremost, the moldable nature of the holster means a custom fit that facilitates better retention. The TecGrip FormLok holster makes use of a thermoform plastic core, which when heated to the correct temperature, allows you to mold, bend, and fold the material until it cools into a solidified but still slightly flexible shape.
The holster is then surrounded by an outer grip layer that clings to your body and clothing fabric which makes it perfect for carrying inside of a pocket or inside of your waistband without the need for a belt clip. Underneath this grippy layer is a layer of high-density closed-cell foam material that provides padding for additional comfort. The last layer beyond the Memory-Lok thermoplastic is a friction-resistant polyester that allows for a smooth draw that won’t damage the finish of your pistol or attached components.
On the Blackhawk website, the description of the TecGrip FormLok holster says that there should be enough room for a small light or laser device, but in my experience with it so far, I don’t think you could fit anything much bigger than a crimson trace trigger guard laser in the holster size I received. So those are the features of the FromLok holster, how exactly do you form your own holster at home?
The Forming Process
Each TecGrip FormLok holster comes in a box with basically everything you’ll need to custom fit your holster. I’ll repeat this here just as it does inside the detailed instruction manual – make sure you clear your firearm and remove the magazine and any live ammunition from your workspace. You’ll need the firearm as part of the forming process.
The kit comes with a Blackhawk apron, a “prep bag” (basically a sous vide bag), the holster, a sight channel forming tool, some tongs, and a thermometer. The only remaining items you’ll need are a pot to boil water in, and some heavy weights to keep the bag and holster submerged while the water is heating up. I used a large 10-quart stock pot for my holster but I probably could have gotten away with something much smaller, you don’t need to stir or mess with the holster at any point during the heating process so you could probably even get away with using a small saucepan.
Step 1: Prepping The Holster
The holster needs to be heated to a temperature of about 160 degrees for about 8 minutes to become pliable enough to form around your handgun. Use the included thermometer to heat water to a temperature of between 155-175°F before the holster is added. To prep the holster, all you need to do is place it inside of the included dunk bag and then perhaps add a few weights to help keep it submerged while in the water. I opted to use some socket heads which I placed both inside the holster and inside the bag.
Step 2: Heating The Holster
After the bag and holster have been prepped and the water is heated to the correct temperature, you then place the bag into the heated water for about 8 minutes. During this time you can double-check your selected firearm to ensure it is cleared and ready for the forming process. After this, you can test the pliability of the holster to see if it is ready for forming or if the interior still feels stiff. If it does, add the holster, bag, and weights back into the heated water for an additional two minutes until it is soft and pliable.
Step 3: Forming The Holster
After you’ve heated the holster for the correct amount of time, the first thing you’ll want to do is remove it from the bag and then immediately shove your gun into the warm holster. You’ll want to push the gun as far as it will go into the holster and once this is done, you’ll want to use your sight channel tool to clear a path for your sights while the gun is still inside the holster. You do this simply by shoving it in from the back until it has bottomed out at the front of the holster near the front sight.
After the sight channel is in place, you’ll then want to use your hands to form the holster around the pistol taking special attention not to concave the area of the holster that would fall inside of the trigger guard. If you screw up, it’s not that big of a deal, the Memory-Lok thermoplastic is theoretically re-moldable as many times as you need it to be and not only this helps you change the amount of retention you’d like but you could also use this holster for multiple pistols.
Once the holster is formed how you want it, you can set it aside and let it sit for about 10-minutes to cool. After this is done, you can test its retention and fitment. Once again, if it doesn’t fit exactly the way you want it, you can always reform it! This particular holster/gun combo took me two tries to get exactly how I wanted it but even then the relative size of the holster to the gun still caused some issues.
The TecGrip FromLok holster isn’t like a lot of other holsters on the market. The forming process was quite simple and if I had to do it again it wouldn’t take too much effort. That being said, I opted to try out this holster with my Taurus GX4 and I found that the pistol’s larger trigger guard (with a somewhat pointe end) tended to get caught up on the holster. This isn’t too big of an issue but more of an annoyance as it prevents smooth, one-handed reholstering.
The TecGrip material works very well both inside of a pocket as well as inside the waistband although you’ll want to make sure you have properly fitted pants or shorts for this method as the tacky material can slip over time with vigorous movement. I think this makes the TecGrip FormLok holster a great option for pocket carry or just tossing inside of your waistband for a trip down to the bodega for a six-pack.
For a price of just over $50, the Blackhawk TecGrip FormLok holster gives you access to proper, passive retention fitment for nearly any vanilla pistol. The FormLok holster is cut in such a way that you can still use a red dot optic if you desire but it doesn’t seem like there is enough room on some of the smaller models for a laser or even a compact weapon light.
I think this holster is best suited for someone who either can’t find a proper fitting Kydex or leather holster for their gun or someone who is on a budget and wants something that can adapt and grow with them as they gain access to different firearms and don’t want to go through the process of finding and selecting a dedicated holster again. However, as always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this holster! What do you guys think of the Blackhawk TecGrip FormLok holster? Let us know in the comments!