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What is a Kydex Holster?

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What is a Kydex Holster?

When it comes to concealed carry, choosing the right holster is just as important as selecting the right firearm.

Kydex holsters have become increasingly popular among gun owners and law enforcement agencies, but what exactly is a Kydex holster, and what makes them so special?

Kydex holsters are a popular choice in the world of concealed carry. Heat-molded around a specific model, these holsters are known for their precision and for being incredibly comfortable, durable, customizable, and easy to conceal.

Whether you’re a seasoned gun owner or are new to the world of concealed carry, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of what Kydex holsters are and why they may be the perfect choice for your next holster.

What is Kydex, Anyway?

Kydex is a brand of thermoplastic designed to be used in aircraft interiors by the Rohm and Haas Company in the 1960s. In 1972, FBI agent Bill Rogers realized that the durable, lightweight material would be perfect for making gun holsters and invented the very first Kydex holster. Today, they are one of the most popular holsters on the market.

Custom Kydex holsters are made from thin sheets of plastic that are heated and molded around a gun to make a perfect fit. Unlike nylon or leather holsters, which can be used interchangeably among several different models, Kydex holsters are made to fit your pistol like a glove.

Thanks to the holster’s custom design, you’ll hear your weapon “click” into place each time you holster it and won’t need to worry about it riding up or slipping out of place.

The result is a lightweight, sweat-proof, waterproof, and scratch-resistant holster that holds its shape and won’t break down when exposed to the elements. Kydex holsters are also considered to be very low maintenance. It doesn’t matter if your holster gets a little dirty, since you can just wipe it clean with a wet rag and call it a day.

But how strong is Kydex? One of the key benefits of Kydex is its ability to be molded into complex shapes using heat. When heated, the material becomes soft and pliable, making it easy to form into a desired shape. Once cooled, it hardens into a rigid, durable material that can withstand significant wear and tear.

Kydex is also known for its high impact resistance and low flammability, making it a popular choice for applications where safety and durability are critical. It is also resistant to many chemicals, making it suitable for use in harsh environments.

Overall, Kydex is a versatile and durable material that is ideal for a wide range of applications – and that is certainly true in the world of holsters.

What is Kydex? - Vedder Holsters Kydex Sheet Patterns

What’s the Difference Between Kydex Holsters and Other Holsters?

Holsters are primarily crafted from three materials: leather, nylon, and Kydex.

While nylon holsters are incredibly comfortable, they are not recommended for concealed carry as they’re significantly less secure than other options. They also tend to lose their shape when the firearm is removed, making reholstering more challenging and potentially hazardous.

Leather holsters are an excellent choice for CCW, providing comfort, durability, and ease of use. However, leather holsters tend to wear out faster than Kydex holsters and can become sticky when exposed to water, sweat, or humidity.

Kydex is widely considered the best holster material, offering unrivaled durability, concealment, and adjustability. Despite being a thermoplastic, Kydex holsters are incredibly comfortable and easy to conceal. Their hard shell actually gives them more of an advantage as the smooth plastic is thinner than leather or nylon, resulting in practically no printing.

And, unlike other holster options, they are molded to fit a specific gun model precisely. In fact, Kydex holsters have such an exact fit that you should be able to feel and hear an audible "click" when holstering your weapon to confirm that it is securely in place.

Kydex holsters are also more customizable than most others, allowing you to adjust the position of your holster to find that “sweet spot” of comfort and concealment.

If you want the best of both worlds, hybrid holsters with a Kydex shell and leather backing may be the ideal option. These holsters provide the comfort of leather without sacrificing the durability and precise design of Kydex.

What Are the Different Types of Kydex Holsters?

Because Kydex is such a versatile and sturdy holster material, there are many types and styles available. We’ll go over a few of the most common types of Kydex holsters on the market.

IWB Kydex holsters are the most widely used style, designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants for ultimate concealment. This kind is a popular choice for CCW thanks to how easy and comfortable they are to conceal. An IWB Kydex holster comes in several styles, including standard, tuckable, and those designed for appendix carry.

OWB Kydex holsters are another popular choice for concealed carry. They are designed to be worn outside the waistband of your pants, offering quick access to your firearm. OWB Kydex holsters come in various styles, including paddle, belt, and drop-leg, and are perfect for open carry, concealed carry, or range use.

Hybrid Kydex holsters are another great option, especially if comfort is your main concern. They offer the durability and security of a Kydex shell and the comfort of a leather backing. These holsters are available in both IWB and OWB styles.

For pocket-sized firearms, pocket Kydex holsters are another popular choice. These holsters are designed to fit in your pocket, offering excellent retention and protection for your pistol without having to wear a gun belt.

Different Types of Kydex Holsters - Vedder Holsters Products

Are Kydex Holsters Good for Concealed Carry?

Kydex holsters are not only good for concealed carry, they’re arguably the best.

One of the main advantages of Kydex holsters for concealed carry is their lightweight and low-profile design. They are typically thinner than leather or hybrid holsters, making them easier to conceal, even under tighter-fitting clothing.

Another benefit of Kydex holsters for concealed carry is their retention. Kydex holsters are known for their secure fit and ability to hold your weapon in place. This is especially important when carrying concealed, as any unintended movement of the firearm can cause the holster to shift, leading to wear on your gun or worse – an accidental discharge.

In addition, the best Kydex holsters are highly customizable, creating a precise fit for the specific firearm being carried, even if you have aftermarket accessories. This can further improve the retention and comfort of the holster, making it easier to carry concealed for extended periods of time.

Not only that, but most Kydex holsters are incredibly adjustable, so you can set the ride height and cant of your holster based on your personal preference. This not only makes carrying more comfortable but also helps keep your pistol concealed no matter what your body type or clothing choice.

If you’re looking for a quality, comfortable, custom Kydex holster, you can check out our entire selection here.

Are Kydex Holsters Good for Home Defense?

Though Kydex holsters are often discussed in a concealed carry context, they are also an excellent choice for securing your home defense weapon.

One of the main advantages of Kydex holsters for home defense is their durability. Kydex holsters are known for their tough, protective exterior, which will not only protect your gun but can help ensure that your firearm remains secure and accessible when needed.

Not only that, but Kydex holsters retain their shape even after you’ve drawn your weapon. So if you need to check out a bump in the night, you can easily reholster your pistol without any trouble, even in low-light conditions.

Another advantage of Kydex holsters for home defense is their retention. Kydex holsters are designed to hold your firearm securely in place, which is critical in a high-stress situation.

In addition, Kydex holsters are highly customizable, which means they can accommodate most sights, lights, lasers, and other optics, something that many people choose to add to their home defense gun.

The only potential drawback to using a Kydex holster for your home defense pistol is the noise level. Kydex holsters may produce a noticeable clicking sound when your firearm is drawn or holstered, which could be a concern in a home defense situation where stealth is preferred. But overall, the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to using a Kydex holster for home defense.

Good For Home Defense - Why use a Kydex Holster from Vedder Holsters

Are Kydex Holsters Comfortable?

One of the main advantages of Kydex holsters is their durability and impact resistance. However, the same properties that make Kydex holsters durable can also make them uncomfortable for extended periods of wear.

Kydex is a hard, rigid material that does not conform to the body as well as leather or other softer materials. This can lead to pressure points and discomfort, particularly if the holster is not properly contoured to the body.

Despite their hard exterior, Kydex holsters are actually more comfortable than a leather holster if you’re wearing it outside or for long periods, as the plastic is more forgiving when you sweat. Leather and other permeable materials absorb sweat and other moisture while Kydex doesn’t. It’s also more comfortable against bare skin, as it does not tend to stick the way leather does.

While there’s really no way that any holster can make strapping a firearm to your body “comfy” per se, a high-quality Kydex holster should have certain features designed to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

When looking for a comfortable Kydex holster, invest in one built with a sweat shield to help reduce contact between your gun and skin. Additionally, adjustable features such as ride height and cant can also help you find the most comfortable position.

Finally, ensuring your holster is securely fastened to a proper gun belt with strong belt clips or loops will help keep it in place throughout the day. For an even more comfortable experience, consider investing in a holster with two points of contact to aid in weight distribution.

If you find that you like the security and adjustability of a Kydex holster, but just can’t find a way to wear it comfortably, you may want to consider a hybrid holster instead. These holsters are designed with a durable Kydex shell and a flexible leather backing, so you can get the best of both.

What to Look For in a Quality Kydex Holster

When shopping for a Kydex holster, it’s important to note that not all Kydex holsters are created equal. Choosing the right holster is critical when it comes to comfort, concealability, and safety, so here are some key features to look for when selecting a quality concealed carry holster:

Design: When it comes to Kydex holsters, one of the most critical design aspects is a precise fit to your weapon. The holster should be molded to fit your specific gun model so that your pistol "clicks" into place and stays there until you draw.

But a proper fit is not the only crucial design element. The small details in a holster's design also play a significant role in how well it functions. One design aspect that is often overlooked but is incredibly important is the amount of "daylight" a holster's trigger guard reveals.

A quality holster should completely enclose your firearm's trigger, leaving no part of it exposed. If your holster has an inadequate trigger guard, you run the risk of your finger or a foreign object making its way inside the holster and to the trigger, which could cause a negligent discharge.

Adjustability: Adjustability is another key component of a high-quality Kydex holster. While not all holsters are adjustable in the same ways, some of the most common features you’ll find are adjustable cant, ride height, and retention.

Adjustable ride height allows you to choose whether you want your gun to sit high, low, or somewhere in between on your pant line. Cant allows you to adjust the angle of your pistol to tilt the grip either forward or backward until it’s in the right spot for you. Finally, adjustable retention gives you the power to determine how tightly your holster holds your gun, which affects how easy or difficult it is to draw.

Customization: The beauty of a Kydex holster is that it can be customized to your exact needs and preferences. It’s important to find a holster that accommodates factors like thumb safeties, lights, lasers, optics, and left- and right-hand orientation.

You should also look for a custom Kydex holster that offers other features you may want such as a sweat shield, combat cut, additional clips, claw attachments, and even your choice of color to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want.

Comfort: Any time you’re wearing something for extended periods, comfort is key. That being said, comfort looks different for everyone, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you.

If you really want something comfy, a Kydex/leather hybrid holster is a great option. If you prefer all Kydex but still want the even weight distribution a leather backing can provide, look for a holster with two clips creating two points of contact.

Concealment: When you’re concealed carrying, it goes without saying that you don’t want your gun to show through your clothes. That’s why it’s essential to choose a Kydex holster with smooth edges and sleek, metal clips, like the Vedder Holsters Rock Solid Spring Steel Belt Clips, to prevent printing.

If you’re still having trouble, you can try adding accessories like pancake clips and holster claws to draw your weapon even closer to your body.

Does Kydex Wear Gun Finish? - Handgun sliding in kydex holster

Does Kydex Wear Gun Finish?

One of the main questions people have when considering a Kydex holster is whether its hard shell will cause wear on their firearm’s finish.

The bad news is that any holster, regardless of material, can cause some wear to your gun’s finish.The good news is that as long as you select a Kydex holster that properly fits your weapon and keep it clean, you can mitigate these issues.

A holster that doesn’t properly hold your pistol in place allows it to jostle around, which can definitely cause wear on your firearm. A secure holster, like those we handcraft at Vedder Holsters, won’t allow your gun to bounce around in its shell.

Even if you have a properly-fitting holster, though, if dirt, lint, and other debris make its way into your holster it may get trapped between your weapon and the hard plastic, acting as an abrasive.

Simply wiping your holster out occasionally with a soft cloth, and keeping your firearm clean, will help prevent wear and tear on your gun.

Summary

Heat-molded custom Kydex holsters are a popular choice among gun owners, thanks to their durability and customizable features. They are an excellent choice for both concealed carry and home defense and are known for being incredibly light, adjustable, and comfortable to wear.

If you’re looking for a new IWB, OWB, or pocket carry holster, visit our Holsters by Gun Model page for Kydex holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice.

Interested in items beyond holsters? Check out our Resources Page for links to recommended products like lights, lasers, first aid, maintenance, and more, and browse our selection of belts, apparel, and accessories at our website, vedderholsters.com.

To stay up-to-date on all the latest Vedder Holsters content and offerings, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And be sure to visit our sister company, GeoGrit, for all of your American-made minimalist wallet needs.

Mikayla Blair

After launching her career as an award-winning journalist in the American Southwest, Mikayla Blair joined the Vedder Holsters team as a content writer in 2021. She writes about all things guns, holsters, and concealed carry, and is especially passionate about women's self-defense.

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