DIY: Bear Spray Holster

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I sat down at the sewing machine yesterday to crank out a bear spray holster. This simple sewing project will get you a better holster for about $10 worth of materials and an hour of sewing time.

A few years ago I sewed a holster for the 8 ounce Counter Assault bear spray that I carried hiking and fishing around Asheville. It used Slik Clips to attach to any of my packs and had a keeper strap that fit over the safety and trigger of the spray. This summer, Cristi and I are headed to the Rockies and big bear country, so I decided to make a second holster so we could each carry a bottle of spray. The new version has a couple improvements that make it more versatile to mount and faster on the draw.

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Materials assembled. Old holster in the background features a side release buckle on the retention strap. New design uses a cam lock.

Materials
The materials list for this project is simple and if you’ve sewn any outdoor gear you might have them laying around your house. The only tricky bit to source might be the Slik Clip fasteners. I ordered mine online.

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 5 inch long pieces of 2 inch webbing
1 13.5 inch long piece of 2 inch webbing
7 2 inch long pieces of 1 inch webbing
1 16 inch long piece of 1 inch webbing
1 1 inch cam lock buckle
2-4 Duraflex Slik Clip Siamese fasteners
Polyester thread

Assembly
Here are a few images to take you step-by-step through the sewing process:

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Step one: sew six of the seven 2″ long pieces of 1″ webbing to the 5 inch pieces of 2″ webbing. Thread the last piece of webbing through the cam lock buckle as shown.

Cut out the webbing pieces and melt the ends to prevent fraying.

Next, assemble the sides of the holster. These feature 3 pieces of 1″ webbing spaced 1 inch apart. This arrangement allows you to clip to packs that feature the military-style PALS webbing system. It also gives you plenty of options for attaching to pack straps and hip belts.

I sewed these in place with a simple back-tack by running the machine forward and backward over the end of the 1 inch webbing. Be sure to stitch as close to the edge of the webbing as possible.

The last piece of short 1 inch webbing is threaded through the cam lock buckle to attach it in the next step. Sew the cam buckle to one end of the long piece of 2″ webbing, orienting the buckle so the cam opens toward the end of the webbing as shown in the image below. Back-tack the webbing on either side of the buckle, sewing as close to the buckle as possible.

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Sew the cam lock buckle to one end of the long 2″ webbing as shown. Back-tack above and below the buckle. Sew as close to the buckle as possible.

Once the cam buckle is sewn in place, you’re ready to attach the long piece of 1″ webbing. This forms the retention strap for the holster. You’ll be sewing this to the opposite end of the 2″ webbing from the cam buckle. They both go on the same side of the webbing at opposite ends.

This webbing also forms a series of attachment points on the back side of the holster. 5″ of the 1″ webbing goes down the back of the holster, the rest is loose at the top to act as the retention strap.

Center one end of the 1″ webbing 5″inches from the end of the 2″ webbing. Back-tack the webbing in place with a series of back tacks 1 inch apart. You’ll be making 5 lines of stitching that create 4 1″ attachment points on the back of the holster.

Cut the end of the retention strap at an angle and melt the webbing to prevent fraying.

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The long piece of 1″ webbing is mounted to the 2″ webbing 5 inches down from the opposite end of the cam lock button. 5 lines of stitching create 4 attachment points.

Next, it’s time to attach the sides of the holster. Line up one of the sides with the long piece of 2″ webbing. The 1″ webbing attachment points go to the outside of the holster. The top of the side piece is matched to the top of the center piece and the two are sewn together, going back over the stitching that holds the 1″ pieces on the sides. Back-tack at the beginning and end of the stitching. Repeat this with the other side so that both sides are attached to the center piece.

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Line up the top of the first side with the top of the center piece and stitch together. Back-tack at the beginning and end of the stitching.

 

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Repeat with the other side.

The only thing remaining to be done at this point is to loop the center piece of 2″ webbing around and line it up with one of the sides. Sew this in place as you did the two sides. Repeat to complete the holster. Back-tack at the beginning and end of stitching. Trim loose threads. I like to use a lighter to melt the ends of the thread once it’s been trimmed short.

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Loop the center piece around an line it up with one of the sides. Sew side in place as before. Repeat on the other side to complete the holster.

The bear spray bottle fits into the holster with the retention strap passing over the top of the safety tab and trigger on the bottle. The cam buckle holds everything securely in place. To draw the bottle, pull the long end of the retention strap back toward the buckle to release the cam, put your finger through the loop on the bottle and pull the bottle free of the holster.

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Completed holster. Retention strap holds bottle in place and prevents safety tab from being accidentally released. To draw, pull the loose end of the retention strap upward to release the buckle, put your finger through the loop on the bottle and pull the bottle free of the holster.

 

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Slik Clips can attach to the side or back of the holster to attach it to a wide range of packs. If you’re attaching the holster to your shoulder straps you’ll likely use 2 clips.

Depending on how you plan to mount the holster you’ll need 2-4 Slik Clips. I mounted mine horizontally on my Hill People Recon Kit Bag. This bag rides on my chest so I’ll have my bear spray on hand even if I’ve taken my pack off. I started looking for a way to carry bear countermeasures on my body after listening to the MeatEater guys describe a griz attack where everybody had taken off their packs and nobody could put a hand on a means of self defense. Good episode of the podcast. Two parts: The Meat Tree Part 1 and The Meat Tree Part 2

Rigged on the Kit Bag, I need 2 clips on the back side of the holster. To mount it vertically on the same pack I would use 4 clips, two on each side of the holster.

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Two clips attach the holster to the PALS webbing on the front of my Hill People Recon Kit Bag. This is the position that is easiest for me to draw from.

If you’re mounting the holster on you pack strap you’ll likely use two clips. I mount the holster upside down for ease of use. It’s a natural motion to pull the bottle down and out of the holster across your chest, and the holster fits snugly enough that the bottle won’t fall free, even if you’ve released the retention strap.

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Here’s the holster mounted to the shoulder strap of my Granite Gear Crown2 60 pack. The inverted position is easy to draw from and the holster fits snugly enough that the bottle will not fall free even if the retention strap is released.

The whole project took me about an hour, including cutting the webbing and taking pictures along the way. The result is a bear spray holster that’s a lot more versatile and secure than the ones you find at the store. If you’re headed to bear country this summer and plan to carry spray this simple sewing project is worth a try.

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