How to Choose the Best Holster Material

Choosing the right gun holster is about more than pitting IWB versus OWB or shoulder versus drop-leg. It’s also about the type of material the holster is made from, and which type of holster material is best for your needs.

The most common holster materials are Kydex, leather and nylon. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and some are right for some jobs and completely wrong for others. This guide gives you the info you need to decide which holster material might be best for you.

Polymer Blend and Kydex® Holster Materials

Kydex is a brand of polymer, or plastic, that manufacturers can mold to extremely precise specs. Durable Kydex and other polymer blend holsters are pretty much maintenance-free and only require a wipe-down when you get them dirty.

PROS OF KYDEX

CONS OF KYDEX

Holsters made from Kydex and other polymers don’t lose their shape, even after years of use – check out the ThumbDrive® holster for the Glock 17 or 22 models for a top-of-the-line example.

Drawing your gun from a plastic or Kydex holster can be noisier than drawing from leather or nylon.

There’s no “break-in” period for polymer holsters like there is with leather – although you can mold Kydex to the specific shape of your gun by adding a little heat.

Kydex can wear against the finish on your gun, particularly around edges and corners.

Kydex is extremely lightweight and less expensive than leather.

 Leather Holster Material

Leather holsters were good enough for Tombstone and the rest of the west, and they’re still good enough for many people. Because leather is so tough and resilient, it’s been the standard for generations.

PROS OF LEATHER

CONS OF LEATHER

Leather holsters are flexible and comfortable, and they form to your body over time.

Drawing your gun can take a fraction of a second longer than it would with a Kydex holster simply because of the material’s friction.

Drawing your gun from leather is quiet.

Leather degrades and provides less support over time.

You can sweat through a leather holster.

 

Nylon Holster Material

Nylon holsters can be incredibly durable. In many cases, these types of holsters are equipped with a shape-retaining stiffener and hook-and-loop fasteners so you can customize the way you carry. You’ll usually find nylon used in OWB and shoulder holsters.

PROS OF NYLON

CONS OF NYLON

Usually the cheapest option.

May not last as long as other options. High-denier nylon, like the 1050D nylon in the TacTec Holster 2.0, lasts longer than thinner nylon holster fabric does.

Nylon holsters are considered more ‘universal’ because they’re usually not molded for a particular firearm.

Less structure often means less security and structural integrity.

Drawing from a nylon holster pouch can be whisper-quiet.

OWB and IWB configuration options can sometimes be tricky.

 

How to Choose the Right Holster

When you’re shopping for a holster, look for a combination of durability, security, and ease-of-use based on the way you intend to carry. You’ll need a different holster if you’re carrying concealed during a workout, than you’ll need if you’re patrolling, defending your home or running errands in the city – and now that you know what to look for, you can choose the best holster material for your needs. Check out all the quality holsters from 5.11 to get yours today.

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