Article Discussing the Advantages of Kydex Holsters

27th Aug 2012

Whether you’re in the market for concealed carry, duty, range or competition holsters, the options seem endless. Leather has dominated the holster market for decades now and for good reasons. Many high quality leather holsters will last a lifetime and more. But there’s a whole new breed of holsters out there that are making leather holsters slowly fade into the background.

I’m sure you’re all aware of the massive flood of Kydex holsters hitting the market in recent years. Although some of these might be up for debate, the list of advantages for Kydex over Leather goes on and on.

Here’s my short list of advantages and why I agree with them.

  1. Kydex is thin, strong and light – Kydex holsters are produced with material ranging in thickness from 0.060” to 0.125”. My personal EDC (every day carry) holsters are made of 0.060” thick material. While this is on the thinner side of the spectrum, it will still retain its shape after stomping on it as hard as I can dozens of times, wearing it every day for months on end, leaving it to bake in the sun, or sit out in the snow in the winter and packing it in my range bag along with heavy ammo cans and other items. I’ve also personally had reports of the 0.060” Kydex holster serving alongside Elite Military Units in the Middle East for 5+ months deployment and coming home completely intact. The same thickness leather will be heavier, softer, provide very little to no natural retention and will wear with extended use. 
  2. Kydex is water proof, washable, and will never rot - Although leather can share these same qualities, it will need proper maintenance and treatment every so often in order to retain those qualities. If a leather holster is left untreated, it will slowly fade and lose shape, retain dirt and dust and wear the finish on the gun faster. Kydex on the other hand, will have those qualities forever, and require very little if any maintenance. The recommended maintenance for a Kydex holster is to wash it out with soap and water, let it dry or hand dry, wipe down the inside with your silicone cloth, and check the hardware on your belt loops to make sure nothing is coming loose. If your Kydex holster is left untreated, it will just be dirty and wear the finish on the gun faster.
  3. Adjustable retention – Many Kydex holsters are produced with adjustable retention. The retention on most Kydex holsters is generated by friction on a low spot on the gun and can be isolated to a small area to reduce the wear over time, example: the edges of the trigger guard. By isolating the retention to one area, it’s very easy to add a retention adjustment screw which adds or removes pressure from the retention area. I personally love having this feature because I like to have very little retention for my EDC to ensure a fast and smooth draw at all times. But this can become a problem if you plan on going for a jog or run, so I just tighten the retention screw down to ensure it stays in place. Most leather holsters use a snap or strap to ensure the gun stays in place, which will require more training and practice to master.
  4. Draw and re holstering – Kydex can be tweaked and shaped by hand to make drawing and re holstering faster, easier and more consistent. The Custom Kydex companies who go the extra mile will flare the front top edge (entry point) of the holster so the gun can be pulled out and indexed at an angle. This makes it easier to re-holster the gun while keeping your eye on the possible threat or target instead of searching for the holster. It will also make drawing while seated, or accidentally re-holstering your gun along with part of your shirt less of an issue. Many leather holsters unless properly maintained will lose stiffness and shape over time, meaning the entry point will close and pinch when the gun is not holstered, often requiring two hands to re-holster the gun.
  5. Sweat and dirt can kill your guns finish – If you’re one of the many that carries a concealed firearm every day and everywhere permitted, then you’re well aware of the fact that the gun and holster will be subject to lots of sweat, dust, dead skin and oil from your skin. As previously stated, a good quality leather holster will take this kind of abuse no problem, as long as it’s regularly treated and maintained. But the one thing that will be inevitable is more and more wear on your gun’s finish every time it is taken in and out of the holster and the wear will spread to most of the slide and frame over time. The more your gun has the more damage the sweat and moisture will cause. Kydex is a no brainer solution to all of the above mentioned issues. Sweat will not penetrate the Kydex, dirt is easily washed out with soap, water and a sponge and the wear area will never spread.
  6. Versatility – Many quality Kydex holster manufacturers offer multiple configurations for a single holster, eliminating the need to purchase multiple holsters for the same gun. For example; L.A.G. Tactical offers both iwb and owb loops as a standard with all their holsters, and offer the option for a M.O.L.L.E. backing to use on a vest or anything with compatible webbing, along with a “no belt” loop system which is very effective for EDC using smaller lighter guns and no belt. This is far more economical and versatile than having one holster for each unique situation.
  7. Comfort – Although many claim that leather is far more comfortable than Kydex, the claims for the opposite are starting to pile up fast. Kydex holsters, if produced with care and attention, can be very compact and much more comfortable that their leather counterpart. One of the reasons is that your carry details (position on waist, angle and waist size etc.) can be tuned into your holster making it truly custom to your carry needs. The bend of the Kydex holster can be set to match your waist, in the exact area where you prefer to carry. If you would like to hear firsthand from an unbiased customer that recently switched from a popular hybrid (leather and Kydex mixed) holster to a full Kydex holster, check out this YouTube review: .

Durability The following was taken directly from Wikipedia:

“Characteristics as a holster material

KYDEX sheet is an acrylic-polyvinyl chloride composite produced by KYDEX, LLC. Engineered for thermoforming fabrication, KYDEX sheet combines the advantageous properties of both the acrylic and the polyvinyl chloride components. From acrylic, it obtains superior rigidity and formability; from PVC, outstanding toughness, chemical resistance and good interior finish ratings.

The combination of strength properties of KYDEX sheet places it at the highest level among thermoforming materials….

Parts formed from KYDEX sheet will be much more rigid and will deform less when loaded. This is of particular importance in deep formed parts with thin wall sections. KYDEX sheet offers rigidity along with a high degree of toughness and resilience.

KYDEX sheet is a relatively hard thermoplastic with a hardness of 90 on the Rockwell R scale. This hardness, combined with its grained surface, increases its abrasive resistance.”


The list goes on and can also be disputed. But in the long run, there’s a reason why many industry professionals, EDC and competition shooters have gladly made the switch to Kydex and are not looking back.


Like leather holsters, or any product in any industry, not all Kydex holsters are made equal. It’s been said that the devil is in the details, and this could not be truer when it comes to custom Kydex holsters. It takes much longer to remove and isolate all retention to one area, collect and apply the custom parameters specified by the customer and remove all unnecessary material making the holster more compact and comfortable. Also make sure to look for the level of versatility offered to ensure your purchase will serve multiple purposes.

Please feel free to reply and comment on your personal experience with either leather or Kydex holsters. We would love to hear from you.


Evan Prive-Shereck




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