Handgun Holster Showdown: Leather VS Kydex VS Hybrid

The question about the right one to choose will always come up when trying to choose a handgun holster showdown. This question usually comes with tons of conflicting answers. This review is created to help you make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn more.

As a gun owner, you probably know very well that manufacturers use different materials in making gun holsters. And, each manufacturer would proclaim its product to feature the best material for holding your defensive tool onto your body. Now, it doesn’t matter if you are carrying openly or concealed --- you will have to choose between two main practical options --- Leather and Kydex. However, there’s an in-between option, which is the hybrid.

Leather VS Kydex

So, which way should you go – the conventional go-to leather holster showdown or the Kydex known as the newcomer?

Kydex Holster

Kydex Holsters

Let’s look at Kydex: This holster is starting to make waves in the firearms world because of its innovative nature. Although thin, this thermoplastic sheet is quite durable. Besides, molding it to virtually any shape is possible. As a result, it is a good material for making holsters.

So, manufacturers heat the sheet of this material to become flexible, so that intricate details of handguns, regardless of the type, can be replicated. As a result, a holster that is designed to perfectly suit one firearm is created.

The holster types made with Kydex are similar to leather holsters. In fact, virtually every leather holster type has a Kydex counterpart. Simulating solid shells, Kydex holsters firmly retain firearms. They require only minor maintenance and apply to a wide range of situations.

Kydex holsters have become so popular that the majority of military personnel and police officers now prefer holsters made of Kydex.

Leather Holster

Leather Holsters

Since the inception of holsters, leather has been a choice material for this gun shield. You can find virtually every type of holster in leather form. And, the most widely sought after include the OWB holsters, IWB holsters, and the shoulder rigs. Back in the day, the only material available for manufacturing holsters was leather.

Moreover, leather possesses great qualities such as comfort, durability, plus it has the capacity to break in with ease. The firearm gets protected with leather holsters that have inner suede linings.

Besides, leather holsters are a great fit and handy piece when a weapon with a hot barrel is involved. Indeed, leather is a tested material, and it offers increased aesthetic benefit in comparison with other materials

So, Which is the Best – Kydex or Leather Holster?

The truth is, each one (Kydex and leather) comes with its own properties that make it an ideal option depending on the situation or condition. At this point, it’s important to say that in the history and world of holsters, Kydex has evolved to take the market by storm, although it has only been around for barely two decades

Similarly, there’s a place for leather holsters --- they are customizable, more aesthetically pleasing, increasingly classy, and even more high priced, which only shows they are a novel choice.

Now, let’s use the following qualities to compare Leather Holsters and Kydex Holsters:

#1: Speed of Draw

When it comes to speed of draw leather holsters would lose to their Kydex counterparts. Kydex holsters feature plastic, making them quite smooth. On the other hand, leather holsters come with the somewhat rough interior, creating a drag, which in turn hampers draw speed. But, there’s only a minimal difference between the two holsters in terms of draw speed. Besides, a user can master draw speed (leather or Kydex) over time.

#2: Retention

For leather holsters, retention is mostly passive or relies on a Velcro thumb strap or simple button. As a result, this poses a challenge when rolling, running, or embarking on other strenuous movements with the holster on. On the contrary, Kydex features retention mechanisms such as the SERPA.

#3: Appearance

Obviously, leather holsters win when it comes to aesthetics. Holsters made with leather feature a more classy and splendid look. On the contrary, holsters made with Kydex come in simple appearance --- similar to a tactical plastic shell.

#4: Durability

The two --- leather and Kydex holsters are durable. Everyone knows that leather is long-lasting and sturdy, but it is also susceptible to damage when in contact with moisture or when subjected to pressure. Leather holsters would also lose firmness with time. On the other hand, since it’s a sturdy plastic, Kydex maintains its shape for a long time and has the capacity to resist pressure, dirt, heat, and moisture.

#5: Customizable

Compared to the leather options, holsters made with Kydex are more increasingly customizable. Adjustments can be made to the cant as well as the retention of holsters built from Kydex. Well, you can adjust the cant of some leather holsters, but not their retention.

Bear in mind that both the leather and Kydex holsters have their pros and cons.

Leather Holsters – Pros

  • Durable
  • Comfy
  • Protects your gun
  • Classy appearance


  • The need for substantial care
  • Expensive
  • Weak retention

Kydex Holsters – Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Little or no maintenance
  • Versatile
  • Reholstering and quick draw


  • The stiffness may scratch and dent your firearm
  • Noisy
  • Minimal comfort

Hybrid Holsters

Hybrid Holsters

In-between the leather holsters and Kydex holsters are the hybrid holsters --- which are constructed with two different materials, typically the Kydex and leather materials. However, in modern times, other forms of more robust materials can be combined to build hybrid holsters. They also come with their own pros and cons.

In conclusion, you should weigh the pros and cons of leather and Kydex holsters, including the hybrid options before making your choice.

Josh Montgomery  - Minute Man Review

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