These days, you can’t throw a stick without hitting six Kydex holster makers. And that’s anywhere…go to a gun show or a gun trade show and that same stick will hit fifteen. In a world of seemingly cloned look-alike holsters, the two makers I’m talking about here have really distinguished themselves. I’m a huge fan of both of their products.
No surprise to anyone who notices my contrarian bent, but I like to put revolvers in Kydex holsters. Do revolvers carried in Kydex exhibit finish wear quicker than when worn in leather holsters? YES. I don’t really worry about finish wear tremendously. Most guns these days have coatings that retard rusting, and since I use the same gun(s), they get enough preventative maintenance to keep the rust monster at bay. Besides, I use my guns enough, that they get finish wear even being carried in a leather holster! (ANYTHING rubbing on metal will cause finish wear. It just happens and is a function of how much you use/wear your gun and holster) Down here in the South, the weather can get downright sweaty and uncomfortable, and leather holsters do retain moisture. That moisture can get to the finish of the pistol. Kydex isn’t immune to moisture; Kydex holsters will still aggregate sweat and they will also condensate, but they can be quickly wiped dry. Leather has to air dry, which, also speeds holster wear.
What else do I like about Kydex? It requires almost no maintenance. Blow the dust bunnies out of it every few weeks. Wipe it off if it gets dirty or wet. The mouth of a kydex holster doesn’t collapse when you try and reholster your pistol. You can cinch the heck out of your belt, and you won’t smash a Kydex holster down to the point you cannot reholster. Some of my favorite leather IWB’s (Leather Arsenal DDCS and Milt Sparks SS2) WILL lose the capability of the steel reinforcement to keep the mouth of the rig open, under belt pressure, just with time and use. If you train outside, and you’re in the sweaty South, this leather, “wear in,” doesn’t take long. Eventually, the gun cannot be simply returned to the mouth of the empty holster; it has to be twisted or, “sawn,” into place. If you’ve ever had to reholster under stress, you know the last thing you need to be worrying about is getting your pistol safely stowed in an expedient manner. With Kydex, reholstering is easy.
What doesn’t Kydex do well? My old buddy Paul Gomez was a fan of leather IWB holsters, particularly non-boned versions, because he liked to have the maximum amount of leather possible contacting both the pistol itself, AND the body of the wearer. In pressure testing (READ: when two consenting adults put on inert/sims guns in holsters, and sometimes a FIST helmet, and try to beat the stuffing out of each other and shoot each other with the other guy’s gun) Gomez demonstrated the effectiveness of leather over Kydex in defeating gun grabs (disarm) attempts. Kydex DOES draw easier and quicker though. The retention capabilities can largely be remedied through preparation and training, as well as having effective fighting skills to foil the disarm attempt in the first place.
So why holster a revolver in a piece of plastic? The combination of convenience, draw speed, accessibility, and corrosion resistance make Kydex a good choice for an in-extremis personal defense revolver. Tony Mayer at JM Custom Kydex makes some of the most innovative gear around, and unlike many makers, he will bend Kydex around a WHEELGUN for all the Old Heads like me, that still put mileage on their revolvers. Tony offers a revolver variant for nearly all his holsters. Drop him an email if you have an odd barrel length or frame, but he can accommodate all new and old Smith products, as well as the current catalog of Ruger revolvers.
What about the clip? Clip on holsters have a checkered past. Twenty years ago, a clip-on holster was guaranteed to do one thing well…and that was sell at the local gunshop. They didn’t stay, “clipped,” to anything, and were almost certainly going to be attached to the business end of the gun when drawn under stress. I first became aware of the type of holster clip pictured above, when I received my ERRAND from Spencer Keepers. I wear a thick (nearly 1/4″) leather gun belt, when I wear chinos, jeans, or shorts, and that clip holds that belt like the two were welded together. However, it’s easily removed if necessary. The ERRAND even has small serrations on the mouth of the clip, that allow it to work with althletic shorts, scrubs, or for women that wear leggings or yoga pants, all sans belt. So let go of any security fears…the holster isn’t moving. Craig Douglas has tested the holsters with his students in his rigorous ECQC curriculum, and the rigs have stood up to the abuse, clips intact.
One last thing…noise. Many opponents of Kydex talk about the noise. Noise of reholstering, noise of drawing, and such. For regular civilian everyday people like me, this isn’t a concern. Our pistol is a reactive instrument…so if we are drawing, we are reacting to a real threat. The Kydex, “snuck-thunk,” noise isn’t going to matter much since it will probably be immediately followed by one or more gunshots. Nobody will notice the noise. And conversely, nobody will notice the noise when you reholster, either. If anything, the audible and palpable, “click,” of the pistol seating into its home position in the holster, should be reassurance to the user that the weapon is now secure, and safely stowed. So allay your fears and concerns, and embrace the fantastic plastic, to house your round guns!
JM Custom Kydex: http://www.jmcustomkydex.com/
Keepers Custom Kydex, THE ERRAND: http://keepersconcealment.com/shop/
Milt Sparks Holsters: http://www.miltsparks.com/
The Leather Arsenal (Elmer McEvoy):
27549 Middleton Road
Middleton, ID 83644
Phone: (208) 585-6212