What is a Kydex Holster and How Are They Made?

Kydex holsters have been the new hot item on the market for several years now. There is a reason for it; they are durable, rigid, and secure your firearm well. In addition, they can be made in your garage with a limited amount of tools. Kydex is a polymer plastic-like material that can be molded to fit any shape when heated. The Rohm and Haas Company invented it for the airline industry.

It has since been adapted for auto helmets, auto body parts, telescopes, and trays. And obviously as a holster and sheath for the firearm community. Continue reading to find more information;

  • About Kydex
  • How kydex holsters are made?
  • Facts and myths about Kydex
  • How Kydex compares to leather holsters?

About Kydex

Kydex is composed of thin sheets, when heated up, becomes malleable. After it is cooled, it will retain its molded shape. With this knowledge, some handy gun owners have taken it upon themselves to make their own holsters; more on that later. Be careful if you plan on making your own holster. Purchasing the correct Kydex is crucial to ensuring that the piece will be strong and last.

Just like leather, there are different grades of Kydex. At the moment, there are about 40 different types of thermoplastic layers; each has unique properties. This is why it is essential to do your research before you make a purchase.  You may see two identical holsters, but a big price difference. But there is another difference. One is made with budget plastic that is recycled, while the other is made with a higher grade premium sheet.

Since Kydex is a plastic-like material, the end product is rigid. This has a benefit and a downfall. The benefit is that your weapon is going to fit flawlessly and be secured very well. The downfall is that the holster may bring discomfort. The hard angles being pushed against your body may not be enjoyable for some.

Kydex is an extremely durable Acrylic-PVC alloy extruded in a range of colors, textures, and patterns (Source).

How Are They Made?

Simply put, manufacturers heat a sheet of Kydex to the necessary temperature. They then use a custom press for the specific holster to shape the Kydex. Once cooled, they trim and polish the holster to create a high quality finished product. The custom molding feature that is possible with Kydex is why it gained popularity so quickly. Unlike leather, where your weapon may not have a 100% fit, Kydex creates the perfect fit. 

The fit is so perfect that you can turn the holster upside down and shake. Your handgun will remain secure in place. Of course, only do this with an unloaded weapon. Since the holster is custom, your weapon will slide in with ease while reholstering. It also guarantees that the holster will retain its shape throughout rigorous use. Kydex will only lose shape when heated again, so it is recommended to keep hot barrel weapons out of the holster until they are cooled.

Since Kydex holsters can be reproduced at home, there are some poor products available. These at-home businesses do not have the money, equipment, or quality standards to produce a high-quality holster. You now may want to go try to create a Kydex holster at home. It is a better idea to save your money and time. The chance that you produce a holster that is going to fall apart rather quickly is high. Then you will be making another one shortly after. Soon you will have spent more money making your own instead of purchasing one from a trusted manufacturer.

Kydex holsters have been the new hot item on the market for several years now (Source).

Fact and Myths About Kydex

One main concern of gun owners is that the plastic will scuff and scratch the handgun. This is true. However, that can be seen with leather holsters as well. With enough draws and reholsters, any gun is going to get marked up. To prevent this from occurring with a few draws, you should find a manufacturer that addresses this issue. Some companies focus their efforts on reducing the friction between the gun and holster. Something that is not usually seen in home build Kydex holsters.

A second concern is that high heat will warp the holster. This is a fact. High heat is how the mold is created, so any exposure to such heat will allow the plastic to mold into a new shape, which will render your holster useless. A myth about Kydex is that it will increase the chances of a negligent discharge. Some say this is because the gun is to secure… It does not make much sense. The idea is that the weapon is more difficult to draw, leading to an accidental discharge.

Comparing with Leather

Leather has been around long before guns were even a thought. Creating a leather holster was sure to happen when guns became more common. They are a perfect mix of comfortability and durability. A leather holster, when taken care of properly, can protect your weapon for years. A leather holster will need some maintenance to last for years. This can be seen as a slight drawback for some. It will need a break and moisturization, or else it will deform and sag with each use.

Another benefit that leather has over Kydex is multifunctionality for similar-sized guns. A leather holster can fit a few different types of weapons as long as they are close to the same size. A Kydex holster will only fit a specific gun and no others. So if you rotate your daily gun and do not want to buy a Kydex holster for each, the leather may be a great choice. It comes down to a personal preference. A lot of the older generation prefers leather, wood, and steel, while the younger generation is accepting of polymers. 

If you prefer a sturdy build and easy reholstering go with Kydex. If comfort and aesthetic are higher on the list, go for leather. But wait, there are now hybrid holsters on the market. They feature the comfort of leather while including the security of Kydex. They do this by creating the backing out of leather and keeping a Kydex holster for the gun.


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Kevin was born and raised in Texas and loves all things tactical. His hobbies include shooting, hunting, rock climbing, and hiking with his dog Jax.

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