Now that you own a handgun, have you considered how you’re going to carry it? There are countless holsters on the market and the sheer variety of carry methods can be overwhelming, let alone when you consider just how many different styles of holsters there actually are and how many companies produce them.
How you carry tends to have quite a bit to do with personal preferences, however, there are some basic guidelines that can help you make an informed decision. In fact, most shooters find they need more than one kind of holster because different scenarios require different methods of carrying, so be prepared to purchase more than just one.
- 1 The Best Kydex Holsters
- 2 Kydex IWB Holsters
- 3 OWB Kydex Holsters
- 4 Kydex Pancake Holster
- 5 Kydex Flashlight Holster
- 6 1911 Kydex Holster
- 7 Concluding Thoughts
The Best Kydex Holsters
Kydex gun holsters have only officially been around for less than twenty years, although the product itself has been on the market since the 1960’s, when it was used to line airplanes. Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride that is super-heated and custom-molded to a particular gun’s frame. The snug fit of Kydex means holsters made with it grip your gun with extra firmness, and because it’s a technologically advanced type of plastic, it’s also incredibly durable.
And, thanks to the shape-specific molding of Kydex holsters, they only make contact with your gun in specific areas, which minimizes rubbing and wear to the gun itself. Kydex has become increasingly popular in recent years, and if you’re in the market for a high-quality holster, you might want to consider it.
Uncle Mike’s Tactical Kydex Open-Top Hip Holster
- Quality materials used for all Uncle Mike's products
- 100% designed and tested for the toughest situations and environments
- Whether you are a professional, recreational user, or even casual, Uncle Mike's will fit the mold for all types of people
- Drawing is easier because the body's lead edge is cut down
- Features an ultra-adjustable design, adjusting for rake and height to match your torso height and body shape
For: Glock 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 27, 33 & other subcompact 9mm/.44 cal
– Ruger P85, P89, P90, P91, P93, P94, P95, P97
– S&W M&P, S&W 5900 & Certain 4000 Series, S&W J Frame 38/357 up to 2 1/8″ barrel
– Up to 5″ bbl 1911 Types
– Most Baretta 92 & 96 Models
– SIG 220, 226, SIG Pro 2340, SIG 225, 245, 228, 229
– Springfield XD – Full Size, Compact
– Walther P99/SW99 Full Size & Compact
– HK USP Full Size, HK USP Compact (all calibers)
The Uncle Mike’s Tactical Kydex Open-Top Hip Holster is an excellent example of everything right with Kydex holsters. As noted above, holsters made of this material are custom-molded to fit your particular gun, so make sure you order the right holster for your weapon. (Check here for the right size).
This holster has both a paddle so it can be worn on your hip and belt loops so it can be secured to your belt if you so desire. The belt-loop slits are sized for belts up to 1 ¾” wide. One of the nicest features of this holster is its adjustability; the height can be adjusted according to your body type and personal preferences.
Drawing is simplified by the cut-away design at the front of the holster, and at the back of the frame the holster does fully cover the trigger guard. If you’re looking for Kydex concealment holsters you can wear at your hip and cover with a long, loose sweatshirt or jacket or want one for open-carry, this versatile option from Uncle Mikes is a fantastic choice.
Cons: When worn using the belt loop method the holster isn’t adjustable, but since the main method for wearing is meant to be as a paddle holster, and belt wear is rarely very adjustable, that’s a minor detail. Overall this is a long-lasting, comfortable paddle holster.
Kydex IWB Holsters
IWB, or Inside WaistBand, carry is one of the most common and most effective methods of concealed carry. IWB carry allows for rapid presentation and full concealment, both of which are not possible with other methods. And if you’re looking for an IWB Kydex holster, the Galco Triton Kydex holster is a good-quality choice.
Galco Triton IWB Kydex Holster
- Made using the finest materials
- Used by law enforcement, military, and citizens alike
- Tested for durability and quality
For: Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33
– S&W M&P Compact and Standard 9/40
– Sig-Sauer P229, P228, P226, P220
– Springfield XD 9/40 4-Inch, 3-Inch
– 1911 5-Inch, 4-Inch, 4 1/4 Inch, 3-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
– S&W J Frame 640 Cent 2 1/8-Inch .357
– Ruger LCP, Ruger SR9
Galco made this holster with security and a small footprint in mind. This is a light, thin holster with an open muzzle end and a raised sweat guard to protect your firearm from perspiration. In fact, it’s an excellent choice for concealed carry in the summer. It’s an Open-Top style as well, allowing for a quicker, less complicated draw.
There’s an indented clip to secure it to your belt or waistband, and if you find you prefer a somewhat tougher hold on your belt you can order belt loops from Galco and simply replace the clip. The whole point of Kydex inner waistband holsters is the way it holds on to your gun, and this holster delivers, hanging on with a seriously firm grip.
It’s designed to have a 10-degree cant, the angle most commonly used for FBI standard-issue. This is a great holster for when you just want to grab your gun and go without messing with straps or adjustments on your IWB holster.
Cons: You do need to use a larger belt to secure this holster properly, so consider getting a good, solid 1 ¾” belt for carrying purposes. That’s wise anyway because you don’t want to carry a firearm with a weak belt that isn’t really up to the importance of the job.
OWB Kydex Holsters
OWB, or Outside WaistBand, carry is preferred by many firearms owners because it allows for a more natural, immediate grip on their handgun right from the start of their draw stroke. Starting out with a natural grip tends to mean more rapid presentation since no adjusting is needed; when seconds count, you don’t want to be forced to fuss with how you’re holding your gun. If you’re looking for a Kydex OWB holster, we have a top-of-the-line suggestion.
Blade Tech 5.11 Tactical OWB Holster Revolution with Tek-Lok
The Blade Tech 5.11 Tactical OWB Holster Revolution with Tek-Lok gives you the best of two manufacturer worlds: Blade Tech and 5.11. Both companies are renowned for their quality, and each brings something special to the holster table.
This is one tough holster; it won’t soften, even in temperatures exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and it won’t crack, even when temperatures drop below freezing. It also provides superior hold, offering level 1 retention and including adjustable retention screws so you can tighten it according to your personal preferences.
A Tek-Lok clip allows the user to securely attach it to their waistband, and the clip is also adjustable to various widths. When you holster your weapon there is an audible “click” so you can be sure when it seats properly, and ease of drawing can be adjusted with the aforementioned retention screws.
Although it is possible to conceal OWB holsters like these with a sufficiently long jacket, they’re more commonly used for open carry. Try this Blade Tech 5.11 holster to get the custom-molded hold of Kydex, the secure positioning of Tek-Lok, and the comfort of OWB carry.
Cons: The Tek-Lok clip doesn’t lock into place quite as firmly with larger belts but does stay securely in place overall. If you find your belt is too large for the Tek-Lok clip, it’s worth trying a smaller belt in order to use this high-quality OWB holster.
Kydex Pancake Holster
60 years ago Roy Baker designed the pancake holster as a flat-style carry method for carrying your handgun extremely close to your body. Blake’s original design had three slots so the holster could be worn at different angles and was meant to be worn either on the strong side or at the opposite side for cross-draw.
Two-slow pancake holsters are now made and are best for use on the shooter’s strong side. Also, shooters with a wider silhouette are more likely to find pancake holsters comfortable than shooters with narrower silhouettes.
Uncle Mike’s Tactical Reflex Open-Top Holster
- Paddle attachment included
- Integrated Retention Technology
- Pancake style belt loop up to 1 3/4-Inch
- Injection molded impact-modified polymer construction
- Precision engineered
For: Taurus 24/7 G2
– S&W M&P SD Series, M&P Shield .40 caliber
– Commander 1911
– Ruger SR Series
– Beretta 92, 96
– Glock 17, 19, 21, 22, 23
– Sig P220, P226
– Springfield XD/XDM .45cal/9mm
The Uncle Mike’s Tactical Reflex Open-Top Holster is made of Kydex so it’s tightly molded to the shape of your gun. That custom molding allows for exceptional retention; your gun will be held tightly and securely.
This particular style of holster uses integrated retention technology to secure your gun, so you can move freely without worrying about your gun coming loose. It includes two methods for wearing: pancake-style belt loops, sized to fit belts up to 1 ¾” wide, and a paddle attachment. Both methods are secure and offer different benefits.
Drawing your firearm is as simple as mastering a slight twisting motion as you draw; that required twist is added security because it means anyone other than you is highly unlikely to be able to draw your firearm. For additional safety the trigger guard is entirely covered by the holster, and thanks to this holster’s design you can adjust its height and cant. This is a precision-engineered holster and great for open-carry in a variety of positions.
** Refer to the sizing chart to find the proper one for your handgun.
Cons: Mastering the drawing method, which requires a slight twisting motion, can take some time. That time is well worth it for the added security offered; a holster with superior retention is a good thing.
Kydex Flashlight Holster
The addition of a flashlight to your belt is a good idea whether you carry a firearm or not. With a firearm a flashlight is an excellent item to have, provided you master the dual-carry method so you can safely hold and aim both your gun and the flashlight.
And, of course, having a flashlight is always a good idea because you never know when you’re going to need the additional light. Having a Kydex holster for your flashlight is a good idea because it’s lightweight, secure, and gives you easy, immediate access.
Surefire Rugged Polymer Speed Holster
- Rugged polymer construction
- Allows rapid draw and re-holster
- Adjustable for varying belt sizes up to 2.25" wide
- Retains shape
- Flashlights with bezel diameters larger than 1.25" will only fit tailcap-down V70
The Surefire Rugged Polymer Speed Holster is made of Kydex, meaning the plastic is heated up and molded to the exact shape of specific flashlights.
This holster allows from fast draw and presentation of your flashlight and also allows for quick and easy re-holstering. The clip is adjustable for belts of varying widths up to 2.25”.
Thanks to the holster’s versatility your flashlight can be accessed either bezel-up or bezel-down. The rugged polymer construction protects your light from impact, so your flashlight will not only be held securely in position but will also be kept safe.
This Surefire holster is used by many law enforcement officers on their duty belts and withstands their drawing and re-holstering it repeatedly throughout their shifts. If you need a holster that holds your flashlight tightly in place and protects it from the damage it could take from bumps and impacts, give Surefire a try; you’ll be glad you did.
For: SureFire 6P, 6PD LED, 6PD, 6P LED, 9P, G2, G2 LED, G2Z, G2Z LED, G3, G3 LED, Z2 and Z2 LED flashlights
Cons: This holster does hold the flashlight securely and may rub the finish in the same spot each time the light is drawn and re-holstered leading to wear over time. This is true of any Kydex holster and is well worth the trade-off for the secure hold the custom-molding offers.
1911 Kydex Holster
The 1911 has been around a long time (since 1911, of course) and today there are countless manufacturers making their own versions of the popular handgun. One of the nicest things about the 1911 is the simplicity of its design, and if you own a 1911, you need a holster specific to its shape. By using a Kydex holster for your classic handgun you’re getting a style precisely molded to its frame for superior hold and greater comfort, too.
1. Galco Triton Kydex IWB Holster for 1911
- 1911 4-Inch, 4 1/4-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield, Smith
For: 1911 4-Inch, 4 1/4-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield, Smith
The Galco Triton Kydex IWB Holster is specifically made to fit 1911’s with a 4-inch or 4 ¼ inch barrel from Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield, and Smith and Wesson. Galco is known for top-tier quality, and this holster is a fine example of their well-deserved reputation.
This holster is made of rugged, durable Kydex, which is carefully molded to the exact shape of the 1911 handgun. That precise molding makes it capable of gripping your gun with exceptional security and allows for greater retention than many holsters can manage. The steel belt clip fits belts up to 1 ¾” wide and has two screws at the top that can be loosened or tightened as necessary.
The Galco Triton allows for full concealment through IWB carry and has a raised sweat guard to protect both your handgun from sweat and your skin from the steel clip. If you have a 1911, this Kydex holster is custom-made just for you.
Cons: Some users may feel their gun is somewhat top-heavy because although the holster goes high enough to cover the trigger guard, it doesn’t extend far beyond it. It may take some getting used to but this holster is a good carry method and worth taking the time to master.
2. Kydex Trigger Guard MIC Holster
The MIC holster is a trigger guard for your handgun. It’s made of Kydex, so it’s molded to specific trigger guards, so make sure you select the right number from the available list of Glock models.
Glocks don’t have thumb or slide safeties, and this Kydex trigger guard holster securely covers your trigger to minimize the chance of it being accidentally set off.
The guard has an attached cord so you can tie it to your belt or another object, such as a full-sized holster, and according to reviews stays firmly attached even with pulling and jiggling.
Removing this guard from your trigger makes an audible clicking sound and does require some practice to master. If you’re concerned about an ND – Negligent Discharge – due to the lack of a thumb or slide safety on your Glock, give the MIC Holster a try for added peace of mind.
Cons: This is simple an additional guard for your trigger and not a complete holster. Since it simply covers your trigger it’s best to use a full-size holster as well to properly secure your gun if you’re carrying it on your body.
There are quite a few Kydex holsters on the market, and endless pros to using a holster made of the durable material. For instance, Kydex is a lightweight material that doesn’t require much upkeep; leather requires oil and careful maintenance, but Kydex only needs to be occasionally cleaned with soap and water. Also, there simply aren’t any other holsters offering the secure hold of a Kydex holster, thanks to its carefully-executed custom molding. For a holster that offers superior retention and clear comfort, go with Kydex.