Kydex Gun Holsters

If the last 10 years or so, some significant changes have occurred in the gun holster industry. One of those changes includes the growing popularity of kydex as a material for gun holsters. Today nearly every style of gun holster (IWB, OWB, Tactical, etc.) is available in a kydex version. In light of that growing popularity, a very common question is “What’s kydex and how is it different or better than leather?"

Kydex is an extremely durable acrylic/PVC thermoplastic manufactured and marketed by the Kleerdex Company in Bloomberg, P.A.

As with any material, Kydex holsters have pros and cons compared to traditional leather holsters. Here are a few pros:

Durability – Overall kydex is probably a more durable material than leather, and is much more impact/damage resistant. Accidentally spill gas or some other solvent on your favorite leather holster, or catch that holster on a sharp object, and you'll see where kydex could be beneficial. In addition, leather will stretch out over time, while kydex will retain its original form.

Water/moisture Resistant - One potential downside of leather is that it isn't truly waterproof. Over time, leather holsters can and will absorb moisture. That moisture can soak into the holster and affect the weapon finish, as well as produce a foul odor. Kydex is virtually waterproof, making it an excellent choice for holster use in humid or tropical climates. As an added bonus, kydex holsters are also very easy to clean with a wet cloth.

Speed - This is an arguable benefit, but worth mentioning. In my humble opinion, a properly fitted kydex holster draws faster than a comparable leather model. This is one of the reasons that kydex holster have become so popular in competitive hand gunning arenas like IDPA and IPSEC. We have a large number of customers who switch from leather to kydex for IDPA hand gunning, and we routinely receive feedback confirming the added speed of kydex.

Kydex holsters also have a downside compared to leather. Here are a few:

Weapon finish wear - Here's one that's a hot topic, and probably the most commonly asked question we receive regarding kydex holsters. Before we get into addressing this issue, it's important to understand some concepts. Finish wear on a weapon comes from friction that occurs when the weapon is un-holstered and re-holstered. Over time, that repeated friction causes wear on the weapon. Friction wear occurs on weapons no matter what the holster is made of. Actually you could cause finish wear on a weapon using your finger, if you rubbed in the same place over time. Likewise, any poorly fitting holster, no matter what the material, can cause wear on the weapon finish.

Now do kydex holsters cause wear?

Yes, they will. However, the level and degree of wear will depend on several factors such as the quality of the holster, fit of the holster, and amount of use. Let me explain a bit more: leather holster rely on tightness of fit for retention. Kydex holsters typically provide retention through specific points within the holster that "grab" onto the weapon itself. These specific retention points are usually located around the trigger guard, and front of the muzzle (front slide area for semi-automatics). Over time, repeated holstering and unholstering will most likely cause some finish wear at these points. In a quality kydex holster, the amount of wear is usually dependant on the frequency of draws and re-holstering.

Flexibility - As leather is somewhat supple is has a limited amount of flexibility. A leather holster, depending on how it's worn, can almost mold itself around the wearer's hip. Since kydex is a somewhat rigid thermoplastic, it lacks the flexibility that leather offers.

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