Leather Gun Holsters VS. Kydex or Nylon

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thegunstoreChoosing the right holster for your handgun can be confusing and intimidating. Every holster made has a sales pitch these days trying to convince the buyer it is the "right" holster for the job and  it is superior to the rest in one way or another. This guide is to help you determine which MATERIAL is right for you and the advantages or disadvantages of each.

Top grain Leather:  Top grain leather holsters Have been made since the days of Napoleon. Leathercraft is an art and holsters of this type typically cost more money than any other method used to make them. The words "top grain" refer to the portion of animal hide utilized to manufacture the holster. The vast majority of cheap imported leather products utilize Split grain leather as opposed to top grain leather. Split grain leather is an inexpensive leather  byproduct cut from the "belly" section of the hide or another area where the leather is thin and does not Provide the strength, durability or longetivity of Top Grain products. The strongest area of a hide tends to come from the shoulder area or hip area of the animal. Just like your elbows and knees these areas are tuff and thicker - split grain would be from an Inner thigh or belly area - sensitive and thin. Heavy duty holsters are RARE, ASK the holster manufacturer what Ounce leather they are using. Most holster manufactures are using 5-6 OZ leather,  very few use 9-10 OZ leather, the very best and heaviest for practical use in holster maufacture. Heavy Duty,  Top grain leather products typically last the user a lifetime and do not require replacement. In the rare instance they are in need of repair, a competent leather maker or shoe or boot repair man can facilitate the repair quickly and inexpensively. There are many examples of 100 year old or older leather  holsters for sale on Ebay today. Leather of any grade worn properly takes years to wear the finish on any quality handgun.

Ballistic Nylon Holsters:  Nylon Holsters became popular in the 1970's and remain popular today. Nylon is inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Nylon products, regardless of quality, have a limited lifespan and will require replacement based on the number of Hours the product is used and the type of environment it is used in. There are several different grades of nylon material and more importantly with this type of holster than any other, several different types of thread used to sew the nylon material. Cheap imported nylon holsters and even alot of cheaper domestic units use cotton based thread. Cotton thread is inexpensive and rots quickly when exposed to the weather. This type of thread is not appropriate for holster manufacture but is probably the most common used in nylon holster applications. There are grades of nylon that are more durable than others - the manufactures going to the additional expense of using the superior nylon products usually spend the money for the better nylon or BEST , polyester based threads. A good leather holster manufacture will utilize 6 cord nylon thread at a minimum - rarely will a nylon holster manufacture go to this expense .The very best holster manufactures go to the addtional expense of using BONDED POLYESTER thread - mold proof, UV resistant thread common in the marine business or for sailmakers.  The nylon products by Dupont or 3M are examples of quality products (cordura for example) - this is where the term ballistic nylon comes from. This type of material is in use in military products around the world but still does not compare to its quality leather counterparts. Nylon takes many years to affect the finish on any handgun.

Kydex :  Kydex is a space aged plastic material made popular in recent years due to its extreme low cost to produce and its durability. Kydex holsters are long lasting and durable. The injection molding process used to make these types of holsters is the most inexpensive there is. Kydex material is not affected by the environment like its leather or nylon counterparts and is very lightweight. The disadvantages of Kydex are few but significant. Kydex is NOT suitable for conceal carry application or all day wear when the user is going to be standing and sitting , driving or moving around quite a bit. Kydex is hard - it does not "give" therefore it can be very uncomfortable.Kydex does not follow the natural contours of your body like a leather or other softer product will and therefore "shows" or silhouetes the gun more often.  Kydex is available in one color - Black, and is anything but attractive. The material looks like what it is - cheap. Kydex can and will affect the finish of your handgun over a very short period of time. 

Synthetic suede or Faux suede:  A product made popular in the late 70's, synthetic suede holsters are inexpensive, Extremely comfortable to wear and very very light weight. They are disposable (maybe a 6 month lifespan) and are priced accordingly. there is a place in the market for this type of product and it remains popular in a society that craves low cost disposable goods. Synthetic suede or felt type holsters collapase and do not facilitate re holstering of the gun with the holster being worn at the same time. This product will not wear the finish on any handgun. For the sake of comfort alone these are the King of comfort, for durability they are last on the list and tactically speaking, barely adaquate.

Suede leather holsters also come in many grades. Suede leather is inexpensive, relatively durable and depending on the grade of leather, and most importantly, the quality of manufacture, can last for many years. Look for "extras" with suede holsters - for example, does the manufacture use a metal clip or a plastic clip?Manufactures using metal clips are probably using heavier nylon thread. Is the product cowhide or pigskin or goat leather? There is no substitute for cowhide - period.  Suede holsters are a safe and inexpensive alternative to leather products when long life and good looks are not an issue. Suede, like kydex and nylon looks like what it is - cheap.  It is also important to insure that suede products are natural in color - suede products that are dyed are NOT SUITABLE for carry due to potential damage to your clothing. Suede does not hold dye well - especially in hot or humid climates where perspiration is an issue. Suede holsters also collapse when the weapon is drawn and must be removed to re-holster the gun.

I hope this guide helps you make an informed holster choice for a very important item. People buying holster products may depend on that product  to save their life one day. Fashion and expense have little to do with a subject this serious and comfort means everything as the pistol on your side is so much more important to you than the uncomfortable holster, left in the dresser drawer at home, will ever be. Good luck and take your time to find the "right one" for you.



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