If you are in the market for a new gun holster, you have a great range of choices. Different styles of holsters are found in leather, nylon, and other synthetics, as well as Kydex. If you are interested in the latest “big thing”, we provide you with some background on Kydex and the top five choices available.
Are Kydex holsters any good? The simple answer is yes. Kydex holsters have gained considerable popularity in recent times, and are fast becoming the holster of choice for military and law enforcement personnel.
As a material, Kydex is a thermoplastic that is composed of acrylic and PVC additives. The material gets its rigidity and mouldability from its acrylic component and it gains toughness and chemical resistance from the PVC.
Kydex was originally developed for use in aircraft interiors but has application in many areas. From safety helmets to truck fenders, and gun holsters, the material is extremely practical and versatile.
Compared to hardened leather, Kydex has a few advantages for gun holsters. The material is more durable and will retain its shape for longer. It requires little to no maintenance and less friction allows for quicker drawing and re-holstering. For everyday use, a leather holster may have an edge in terms of comfort (for IWB) and in some cases, aesthetics.
Kydex is made in thin sheets that can be heated in order to take the form of any shape. This is ideal for manufacturing holsters that are perfectly fitted to specific models of guns. The thinness of the material makes it lightweight and great for IWB carry as it will not print on your clothing as the thicker holsters do.
The name “Kydex” is a trademark but has become synonymous with all of the plastic materials that are very similar in composition and retain the advantages of the material.
|Fierce Defender||Good Price||Provides for the broadest range of gun models|
|Concealment Express||Tuckable||Highly customizable|
|Relentless Tactical Stealth||Good Price||No frills option|
|Black Jacket||Good Price||Thin and light|
|Fobus GL2E2 Evolution||Specific to Glock pistols||Battle-tested OWB holster|
Gun owners will typically spend a great deal of time selecting the right carry weapon but will often settle for a holster that is not ideal for their chosen gun or their carry needs. A carry pistol that suits your personal requirements is paramount, but a good holster is an essential complement.
Depending on the gun, a pistol can weigh anything from 1.75 to 2.5-pounds. Just like backpacks and boots, what seems fairly light, will start to weigh a ton after a few hours. If your holster is not a firm and snug fit for your gun and it does not sit well inside or outside of your belt, you will be served with constant reminders that you have a brick on your hip.
The cant refers to the angle at which the gun rides in the holster. The most common adjustable cant on holsters is from zero to 15 degrees but some go up to 20 degrees. When a gun sits flush, straight up and down in a holster- that is a vertical or neutral cant.
If the gun tilts or leans slightly outward, that is a forward cant. Leaning inwards is called a negative cant. The neutral and forward cants are generally ideal for inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) carry. The negative cant is preferred for those that like to cross draw.
Being able to adjust the cant on a holster allows you to fine-tune how your gun sits on the hip after wearing it for a few days. I do not know of many shooters who do not want to make at least a small adjustment after some carrying experience with a holster.
An IWB holster needs to hold your gun securely while also making it easy to grasp when drawing. Because it sits inside your pants, rough or sharp edges need to be avoided. Good IWB holsters tend to be “minimalist” in their use of material to ensure that your gun is as inconspicuous as possible and does not print if you are wearing a T-shirt.
This is gun-dependent, so if you insist on carrying a Desert Eagle, then IWB carry will be a challenge. With IWB holsters, only the grip and the rear of the slide protrude above the beltline which is great for secret carry but can expose the gun and holster to sweat and moisture.
OWB holsters are the traditional carry option and most will be designed with open carry in mind. However, some OWB holsters are tailored towards concealed carry but are better suited to full-size auto pistols and revolvers.
If you want an OWB holster for concealed carry, then it is advisable to get yourself a thick and sturdy belt that is about 1.5 inches wide. A second factor to consider is the riding height of the OWB holster. Low and mid-riding holsters will be harder to conceal with light clothing because the barrel will run below your waistline. The high riding option would be best for summer and winter clothing.
The Fierce Defender Kydex holster is made for a broad range of specific pistols. All of the Glocks are covered and the more popular CZ, Sigs, S&W, as well as Walther and FN pistols are catered for.
The holster itself is made with 0.08 inch Kydex which is standard for most plastic holsters. The retention is adjustable so you can have a very snug or looser fit for your gun, depending on your favorite balance between draw speed and comfort.
The cant is adjustable between zero and 15 degrees and the trigger is fully covered by the Kydex. The backside of the holster is extended to provide a cover between the wearer’s skin for sweat and moisture protection.
The holster is pretty versatile and is comfortable for all types of carry, reflex, hip, and back. One stand-out feature in the Fierce Defenders favor is its price. This is a very affordable holster and is of great quality for what you pay.
The sight channel on the holster is pretty high to accommodate different sight options that you may have on your gun. This is a good feature. Another thing that I like is that the holster ends flush with the gun barrel. With other holsters, the barrel or the holster itself is longer.
The company also offers a lifetime warranty against defects and has good after sales service. There are two minor issues with the holster which may or may not be a big deal for other buyers.
Firstly, the FD logo on the holster is stuck on and comes off easily. The logo is bound to rub off after just a few days or a week of carry. Brand logos are not very important as no one is meant to see the holster anyway. It’s a small thing that does not impact the overall quality of the holster.
The second thing is that the belt clip is made from plastic. It is very durable and tough plastic but some gun carriers still prefer a thin piece of metal for the clip.
The concealment express tuckable holster is available for most of the more popular semi- auto pistols and revolvers. The term “tuckable” means that it is designed for the wearer to tuck their shirt in when carrying with the holster.
The concealment express is also made with the standard 0.08 inch Kydex and has a full-length sweat and rear sight guard. A big feature of this holster is the overall adjustability for the user.
This holster is not only retention adjustable but the ride height can also be played with between standard, shallow, and deep conceal. The cant is adjustable from minus 30 degrees to positive 30 degrees, which means you have many more carry options with a negative and forward cant.
The length of the holster is a bit longer to accommodate threaded barrels and an optics- specific cut is also available. There is a decent range of customization options as well, ranging from different belt clips and a claw kit for reducing print.
The product also has a lifetime warranty and comes in two colors, black and carbon fiber. This is not the cheapest holster under review but it is still at the lower end of the range. This holster would be great for gun carriers that have accessories and modifications on their weapons such as optics, suppressors, or target sights.
The ability to carry a concealed weapon with a tucked-in shirt is also a novel idea and will appeal to carriers that often have dress requirements. The holster provides for a smooth and quick draw but it has one potential drawback. The holster does not entirely cover the trigger guard and on some models of gun, this means that the magazine release could be accidentally pushed when drawing under pressure.
The relentless tactical stealth holster is made for most popular semi-autos but not for revolvers, with the exception of the S&W J frame. Most of the holsters are available in black and carbon fiber.
The retention is adjustable and the cant can be adjusted from zero to 15 degrees forward. The holster has a nice, flat profile against the waist and has comfortable draw and re-holstering.
The holster is a “no-frills” option and is certainly a quality choice for its price range. The company has good after-sales service and a lifetime warranty on all of its holsters.
The relentless tactical holster does not fully cover the trigger guard on all of the gun models that it is made for, which could be an issue, depending on your preference.
The Black Jacket holster caters to most semi-auto pistols and is available in black and carbon fiber. The holster is slightly thinner than most with 0.06 inch Kydex being used. The thin profile of the holster makes it a great choice for concealed carry when wearing light summer clothing.
It has the standard features, being adjustable retention and cant together with a sweat guard. The area covering the trigger guard is slightly undercut to assist with faster drawing. There is no extra material beyond the barrel and the overall design has very rounded and smooth edges for comfortable carry.
A nice design feature is that the Black Jacket covers the magazine release for most of the pistols that it is made for. It also comes in as the cheapest holster under review which gives it great points for quality versus price.
The Black Jacket would be a good option for someone looking for the thinnest and lightest holster for everyday carry. There is only one issue with the holster which is the tightness of the opening. This is great for retention but could be an issue for re-holstering.
Fobus is an Israeli company, originally producing holsters for the Israeli army and security forces. This is the only OWB holster under review but it is intended for concealed carry as well.
The Fobus Evolution is designed for all Glock models with the exception of the Gen 5 for the models 22 and 23. The holster is designed specifically for rapid draw and holstering, and has been combat tested over many years.
The holster has a rubberized paddle backing for additional comfort and a highly secure belt fit. It has a decent snap when the gun is holstered to let you know that your weapon is properly secured.
The Fobus does have an adjustable retention and the cant can be changed to some extent with an Allen key at the back of the paddle. This could be a potential issue for an OWB holster if you intend to use it for concealed carry. Depending on your waist height, the gun grip can stick out a bit causing problems if you are wearing light clothing.
The Fobus holster is an extremely well-made product and was designed with military specifications in mind. It will last you a lifetime and is also very reasonably priced. It would be my top pick for a plastic OWB holster to be used mainly on the range and occasional carry.
Kydex is a great holster material because it is highly durable and resistant to water and chemical damage. It can be molded perfectly to fit a specific model of gun to ensure a very snug fit and zero wriggle.
Kydex tends to be cheaper than good-quality leather options and requires no maintenance. The holster that you choose will need to accommodate your choice of gun. The level of adjustment for fit and comfort is a big determining factor, as is the holster’s ability to accommodate modifications such as higher sights and optics.
All of the holsters under review fall within the 30 to 45 dollar price range, making them all value for money purchases.