Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Holster Material for You
This entry was posted on October 16, 2018.
Choosing the right holster material is just as important as choosing the proper gun. With a new holster, you'll be able to carry your gun comfortably and safely. Whether you need a gun for personal protection or commercial shooting, having a holster will provide additional protection for yourself and your gun.
With many gun holster materials to choose from, you may be wondering what the best type is for you. If you aren’t sure what the best holster material is, here’s a guide that outlines what a gun holster is, materials you can choose from and factors to consider when deciding.
What Is a Gun Holster?
A gun holster is a device that enables people to carry their gun and restrict its movement. When someone has a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit, they may carry a gun, but it must remain hidden. All states in the U.S. allow carrying a concealed weapon in some form. Individuals with a concealed carry permit may choose to use a holster to conceal their weapon.
A high-quality holster should take a few design features into account. It should:
- Ensure the firearm fits securely into the holster
- Protect the gun
- Not constrict the ability to draw the handgun
- Be easy for the individual to access
Types of Gun Holster Materials
A variety of different materials are used to make handgun holsters. Each material has its own benefits and disadvantages. The following are a few of the most common types of handgun holster materials that manufacturers use.
One of the oldest materials used for gun holsters is leather. It's made from the skin of an animal using a tanning process. Leather holsters are made from materials such as cowhide, horsehide, kangaroo, bison and much more. To accommodate the needs of the people of the U.S. frontier, artisans started making new leather holster designs in the mid-1800s. Designs like belt holsters and shoulder holsters were invented during this time. Although leather versions may remind people of cowboys on the western frontier, they're still a popular and attractive material option today.
Leather holsters can be molded to fit your specific gun or loose fitting to accommodate different gun sizes. Holsters made of leather tend to last a lot longer than those made of synthetic materials. When you draw your gun from a holster made of leather, there's very little noise compared to other materials. The ability to draw your gun quietly could provide a life-saving advantage. The aesthetic appeal of leather holsters makes them a popular option.
On the other hand, leather holsters are sensitive to humidity and moisture and may require additional care to prevent cracking and drying. Without proper care, leather can stretch over time. Your holster will become more broken in the longer you wear it, but some individuals dislike that it takes longer to “break in” a leather holster. Lastly, leather is known for being one of the more expensive materials used to make holsters.
Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride material that has become popular for use in manufacturing gun holsters. Kydex was invented in 1965 by Rohm and Hass and was originally used for aircraft applications. Because of its durability and the potential to easily mold the material, Kydex is a common choice for gun holsters. These versions can be made from a variety of different plastic grades and can be a lite, medium or extreme duty.
Kydex is known for being lightweight, waterproof, low friction and scratch resistant. Compared to leather holsters, Kydex holsters require less maintenance and are easier to wash or wipe off if they become dirty. Also, there's no break in period like with leather holsters. The durability of Kydex holsters is incredible even after years of constant wear. Unlike nylon or leather kinds, Kydex holsters will not collapse when you draw your gun, making it less likely for you to snag your trigger on your holster.
However, Kydex does have a few disadvantages that some individuals have mentioned. One is that plastic Kydex holsters are less aesthetically pleasing than a leather holster. Also, the hard plastic exterior may be harder to conceal and offers less comfort to the wearer. Because plastic is not as flexible as other materials, you'll need to choose a Kydex holster that's specific to your gun model.
Nylon holsters are made of a stiff, synthetic fabric. Although commonly found in everyday products like clothing and cookware, nylon has become a common material to make holsters. It's considered a smooth thermoplastic that's elastic, strong and durable.
Nylon holsters are known for being water resistant, flexible and more affordable than other holster materials. As one of the most affordable holster material options, this type of holster is commonly recommended for first-time gun owners.
However, the lower cost of nylon holsters has its disadvantages. Individuals have noticed that nylon holsters tend to collapse once you withdraw your firearm, making it necessary to use two hands to re-holster your gun. Also, nylon will begin to fray or snag at a much faster rate than other materials. Depending on how you carry your holster, you may need to replace a nylon one more frequently.
A hybrid holster combines two different materials. It may have a back pad made from one material and a shell made of another. Typically, leather and Kydex are combined to form a hybrid holster. It may have a leather backing that rests against the body and a Kydex shell to hold the gun. By combing materials, manufacturers can create a strong and comfortable holster.
A hybrid holster will contain two clips for the waistband that help ensure the piece is stable. This type is less likely to move around on your belt. Hybrid holsters often use leather for their backing, which provides additional comfort and will break in to fit the user. Hybrid holsters are usually very customizable, so you can get a product that's comfortable and reliable for your everyday use.
On the other hand, because leather is used for the backing, a hybrid holster is more susceptible to wear over time compared to full Kydex holsters. This wearing can cause the leather backing to drape over the gun and make it hard to draw.
Injection molding is a manufacturing process where plastics or rubbers are heated and injected into a mold. Materials that may be used include nylon, polymers and carbon fiber blends. Injection molding allows holsters to be produced in larger volumes.
Because these holsters can be produced in large volumes and at a faster rate, they often cost less for the manufacturer, which results in them being less expensive for the consumer. Because molds are created based on your specific gun model, an injection molded holster creates a shell that fits your gun accurately.
On the other hand, depending on the type of polymer used, injection molded gun holsters may not be as strong as holsters manufactured from Kydex. Also, some injection molds have been known to damage the finish of a gun.
Factors that Influence Your Holster Material Choice
When deciding which pistol holster material is best, you should take a variety of factors into consideration. If you want to ensure you've selected the best material for your gun, make sure you account for the following details.
Gun holsters are not “one size fits all.” Having a holster that limits movement of your gun will help you make sure you're safely carrying your weapon. If the holster is too lose for your gun, it could be a safety hazard.
The type of gun you carry may help determine the material you should select. Some holsters, like those made out of plastic, may require you to purchase based on your specific gun model or get a custom-made product. Kydex is an easy material to work with and mold, which allows for manufacturing of custom holsters for your gun. Other materials like nylon are more flexible to fit multiple handgun models.
Finding a holster that provides complete concealment for your gun is important. Take into consideration the size of your gun and the holster design to find a holster that will give full concealment. If you want a custom holster that will fit your specific gun model, choosing a Kydex or hybrid material will allow you to have a holster molded to match the size of your gun.
Depending on your body type, certain gun holster materials may feel more comfortable for you to wear every day. Finding a holster that's designed specifically for men or women will help make sure yours will fit your body type. Some holster materials may be easier to conceal or may cling more tightly to your body. When choosing a material, consider which materials will be more durable and resistant to sweat.
Durability and Maintenance
If you're planning to wear your gun holster every day, you want to find one that's more durable and less susceptible to everyday wear and tear. With materials like Kydex, finding a durable holster should not be a problem.
In addition to durability, certain materials will require more maintenance for an extended lifespan. For example, leather needs proper treatment to ensure the holster does not stretch or crack. If you're looking for a holster that requires little maintenance, choosing a Kydex or injection molded holster may be a better option.
The type of carrying method you use will help determine the best gun holster type and material you should choose. The following are the different ways you can carry your gun and what to look for in a holster material based on your preferred carrying method:
- Inside waistband holsters: If you carry your holster inside your waistband, you want to ensure the material you choose will not irritate your skin and will be sweatproof. Materials like Kydex are sweat-resistant and easy to clean, making them a great choice for an inside waistband holster.
- Outside waistband holsters: Outside waistband holsters may be covered by your clothing, which makes it essential that the material you choose will not get caught on your clothing.
- Ankle holsters: When you select an ankle holster material, you should consider the strength of your ankles. If you have weaker ankles, you may need to consider a lightweight material like Kydex. In addition, choosing a material that collapses easily may make it even harder for you to access your gun located around your ankle.
- Shoulder holsters: If you want a shoulder holster, you should ensure the material you choose is durable and has a strong, comfortable shoulder strap. Because a shoulder holster is more visible for others to see, you may want to choose a more appealing material, like leather.
- Pocket holsters: If you have a smaller pistol and are wearing looser pants, you can consider using a pocket holster. They should be made out of durable materials that are safe and comfortable.
Because you'll be wearing your holster often, you want to purchase one that's aesthetically appealing. Depending on the style you desire, you may need to consider alternative materials. If you want a specific color or design for your holster, it could impact the material you choose. As opposed to leather, Kydex and Hybrid holsters often come in more designs or colors. On the other hand, if you're hoping for a more sophisticated look with your holster, choosing leather will be a better option.
Ease of Drawing
For concealed carriers, being able to access and draw a gun quickly and efficiently is important. Selecting a material that's less susceptible to folding and collapsing will make it easier to draw your pistol with only one hand. Also, finding a material that doesn't catch on your clothing will help prevent the holster from getting caught.
A holster that's hard to draw from or that collapses and is hard to re-holster can be dangerous. If the material collapses, it may be easier for the trigger to get caught in it. The material should be sturdy and protect your handgun from being triggered when it comes into contact with anything.
When choosing a holster, you should make certain that the one you select supports your gun and keeps it close to your body. You do not want the holster to be too tight or too lose.
A well-designed holster will help prevent an attacker or others from having easy access to your concealed gun. Support relates to the material you choose, because certain materials — like leather or Kydex — are sturdier and offer more support. If you select a holster material that's more susceptible to wear over time, you'll need to monitor it more often to check the support it offers.
The price you're planning on covering will impact the type of material you should choose. While Nylon holsters may be less expensive, deciding to invest in a leather or Kydex one will have many advantages and mean your investment can last longer. Paying more for materials that are customizable will ensure you find a holster that fits your gun comfortably.
Get High-Quality Holsters from High Noon Holsters
High Noon Holsters provides high-quality holsters made from some of the best materials on the market, including leather and Kydex. Our products are made in the USA and customized to fit your firearm. Using the best leather, Kydex and polymer available, we ensure that you receive the highest quality holster available.
With unique designs and quick turnaround, we can provide you with a reliable gun holster that fits your needs and allows you to comfortably conceal your handgun. Our products come in a variety of attractive colors and designs for you to choose from. Shop now to find a gun holster that fits your unique personality.