Choosing a Holster Material: Leather or Not?

Choosing a Holster Material: Leather or Not?


Many of the concealed carriers today are just average citizens wanting personal protection for themselves and those they love. A large portion of those may be making their first firearm purchase and are otherwise not interested in sports shooting or hunting. In the current climate, there is an avalanche of new handgun designs and a similar amount of holster offerings. Holster articles abound, and the majority are geared to current carriers and enthusiasts.

Selecting a Holster Can Be Overwhelming

What handgun and holster one ends up with, can be a highly subjective matter once some experience is gained. Unfortunately, it is very easy to be overwhelmed with so much information. I hope to touch on just a few brief points, that will encourage thought during the process. The following is my brief attempt at relating some insight based on personal experience regarding holster selection.

Growing up in the rural Midwest during the 50s and 60s, target shooting and hunting were normal parts of everyday life. Handgun varieties were less plentiful, and as a result, holsters were mostly OWB and leather. Nearly all had some type of restraint to keep the handgun in place, usually a strap and snap. These rigs were practical, protected the hardware, and not likely to contribute to an accident. There were several well-known companies at the time if you could afford what they offered. Bianchi, S.D. Myers and Don Hume were some that were very impressive to us commoners. When I was finally able to order my first Bianchi holster, it was a big deal.

There Are So Many Holster Options Available Now

Many years have passed, and like everyone else who engages in the shooting sports, I have a box full of holsters. In the here and now, I have been faced with a new set of choices, IWB or OWB, steel clips or “plastic,” and leather or kydex. The majority of my experience has been with leather holsters carried on the belt. I like the look and feel of leather, and for many years, leather holsters were the most readily available. I have even made some of my own. That said, I have had to consider some additional options when it comes to inside the waistband carry.

Three Criteria When Selecting a Holster

I have three criteria when selecting a holster. Being a safety nerd and a bit OCD, I first look for a perfect fit and adequate retention. It goes without saying that the trigger guard should be fully enclosed. The gun should be completely secure, during any activity. Second, it has to be comfortable. A person should be able to wear it 8 or more hours at a time without undue strain. And third, how well does it actually conceal. Granted, angle and position on the body play a large part. However, there are some out there, that are unnecessarily cluttered with various attachments, etc. To me, less is better.

Talon Holster
Talon Holster

There are leather holsters that qualify, however, one shortfall is they will wear over time and lose the initial level of performance. At some point, the leather ages and can begin to fail. When this happens, safety can become an issue. Look at YouTube, and you will find many examples of accidents caused by holsters. Usually, these are inside the waistband situations and involve something that should have been replaced long ago.

JE Tactical Holster
JE Tactical Holster

Leather vs. Kydex Holsters

I have been experimenting for a while with both leather and kydex IWB offerings from several manufacturers. Safety is always my first concern, and my personal choice for the day in and day out operations is now Kydex. I am particularly fond of the Kydex holster in the photo above made by veteran-owned JE Tactical. Re-holstering is most often the scenario for an accident and Kydex eliminates some of the risks. First of all, a good Kydex holster will meet my three criteria. It will not rot or go soft and wad up where it shouldn’t. Second, many have a very audible “click” when the handgun is seated properly. To me, this is very reassuring. In other words, I can tell what is happening when I re-holster and cannot see the gun or the holster.

Conclusion

Acquiring personal protection equipment is going to be based on individual preferences. Safety for yourself and others should be the guiding factor in these selections. One must use what is comfortable and become proficient through proper training and repetition. Being a responsible gun owner requires not only careful thought when purchasing a firearm but the accessories that go with it as well. We must always endeavor to approach these activities as professionals, whether a beginner or seasoned veteran.



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