Some folks use the real thing, some use aluminum cast guns and some use plastic, which is a LOT less expensive. If you use plastic BEWARE of the ASP Red Guns. They are not the actual size, they're bigger than the real thing. There is a company which makes exact size replicas, with perfect detail - Ring Mfg. in Florida. They are about $35 per gun and have over 150 different pistols vs. $45 per gun and only 20 or so models for ASP. Ring's number is 321-951-3060.
We use mostly aluminum castings for molding our holsters. These are a sand cast, and the aluminum shrinks as it solidifies, so we have our castings made oversize to allow for the shrinkage. In most cases, we use real guns for the final fit after drying the holster in low temperature electric ovens.
jcork, You asked where the makers obtain the
gun shapes. Most of the holster makers are buying their aluminum castings from Duncan Custom Guns, in Michigan. I don't know if they have a web site or not, and I don't have they telephone number here at home. If you need it, send me an e-mail, and I'll get back to you with the number Monday.
I use the real firearm for my holsters as often as possible, but have some of Duncan Customs aluminum castings on hand for more popular models. More recently, I've been using Rings Manufacturing plastic castings.
The detail on these is unbelievable! The serial numbers and manufacturer's marks even