I wanted an easy way to carry around and quickly access shot shells whilst shooting and hunting, so I made my own leather shot shell carrier.
Making a leather shot shell carrier involved making a ‘mold’ to form pieces of leather into ‘parts’ that will hold nice bends and shapes. It’s not absolutely necessary, but the finished product is a much more consistent, and refined product.
What I did was straight forward enough, and can be observed in the photos below. The basics were to start with a box of shot shells, and use it as the inner dimensions for the carrier.
I kept my design basic. It’s only 4 pieces cut from a large piece of veg tan leather. The side pieces were cut a little oversized, to accommodate for any irregular stretching or shrinking in the mold. Its easy to trim a piece, and nearly impossible to stretch a piece.
1 front-bottom-back piece, made from one long piece of leather.
2 sides, molded with 3 lips to sew to the front-bottom-back piece.
1 face piece that will allow the carrier to hang on a belt.
The front-bottom-back piece forms a ‘J’ shape. I cut the piece to the appropriate length, calculated by adding the height of the box 2x, the depth of the box 1x, and adding enough ‘extra’ for rivets and a belt. I mark where the bends will be as a guide. The leather pieces are lightly misted and until only slightly dampened with mineral free water. They are placed in the mold under pressure from clamps, and a cheap room heater is used to heat and dry the leather in the form. Once dried, the pieces will retain their bends and edges. Over saturating or soaking the leather will cause the leather to contract and shrink, A LOT. and should be avoided.
The sides are formed using the exact same method. The mold I made allows me to make 2 mirrored sides at a time.
After forming the front-bottom-back and sides, they are connected with contact cement, and clamped until dry. Once dry, I mark and drill the holes that will get stitched with a 1/64 drill bit and a dremel. I then stitch the parts securely together. An awl could be used instead of drilling, but the drilled holes make it much easier to stitch.
Lastly, the tall back piece gets a second layer riveted to its unfinished face. This will allow a belt to pass through it securely. I used copper rivets that needed to be peened. I didn’t actually have the rivet setting tool needed to set the rivets, so I made one by drilling out an indentation in 1/2″ steel barstock. Once the rivet is trimmed, I set the rivet. When it starts to mushroom over, I peen it smooth with a hammer.
This isn’t a bad looking shot shell carrier, but it could be dressed up, conditioned, and finished a little nicer. It could be stained, waxed, etc. I personally prefer durability and reliability over looks. Its built to get used, and this carrier will see a lot of use, scuffs, and scrapes, during upcoming bird seasons, so I won’t be doing much else to this one to make it any prettier.