Are Those Cheap Facebook Kydex Holsters Any Good? Here’s What I Found

Budget Kydex Holster Concealment Express

Some of you might have noticed ads on Facebook and other social media networks advertising rather simple Kydex gear at some very reasonable prices. Amazon has a bevy of them as well.

Are any of them any good? Are they better than some other entry-level, but otherwise decent holsters that may command a little more in price? The level of quality probably varies, but as it turns out…some of them are pretty decent.

I ordered a Concealment Express holster to find out. It was just for me; I wanted to try a different kind of IWB rig, but decided to give this a go and share my impressions. I carry a Government frame 1911 and here’s what I got

Normally, I carry with a Alien Gear holster. It’s very comfortable, even with a big gun, but like other winged IWB holsters, it involves a bit of ceremony to take off and put on. I wanted to try something that could be put on and taken off a bit more quickly. I happened to see Concealment Express’s advertisement and took a chance.

The Concealment Express 5-inch 1911 holster is rather simple. Like most, it’s a molded piece of Kydex that’s folded over onto itself.

The wide clip is standard, and cant angle is adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees. A 1.75″ belt clip or belt loops can be had for an additional charge. Passive retention is adjustable by two screws forward of the trigger guard, and all hardware is black Chicago screws and rubber bushings.

You can choose any color you like so long as it’s black (or carbon fiber black for an extra $5).

The fit is great, and retention is strong right out of the box. Due to the folded design, the very bottom of the trigger guard itself is exposed, but otherwise the trigger is protected. The holster has a moderate sweat shield covering the manual safety of the pistol but terminating before the end of the slide.

The basic model I purchased is $34.95. However, I used a coupon code from Facebook to get 10 percent off, so the total was about $33 with standard USPS ground shipping. Not too shabby Granted, some gun models require ordering a custom holster instead of the basic model (MSRP $64.95 before options) but more colors and other options can be had too.

How good is it?

Quite serviceable, though not perfect. No holster is, of course; there’s always SOMETHING one wishes were better.

Fitment and retention were excellent. My gun inserts and seats with a satisfying “click.” It draws easily from the holster once you’ve broken the passive retention. No qualms there. The gun rides at a good height, with good purchase on the grip being easily acquired in any position.

The clip gets a good hold of the belt, which some lower-end holsters have issues with. It conceals fairly easily and doesn’t produce as pronounced a bulge as some others do. It carries fairly comfortably, but – just as with any hammer-fired gun – the shortened sweat guard means the hammer rubbed me a bit if positioned a bit too far in one direction or the other. The plastic isn’t uncomfortable, but you will have to find the right spot for the utmost comfort.

There were some drawbacks.

The holster moves back and forth a bit inside the waistband. Not dramatically, but enough to notice. I suspect something smaller like a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield or other compact would not have that problem, though. The effect wasn’t remotely enough to lack confidence in it in any way, but enough to want a little more support for extended carry.

The single clip puts all weight distribution in a single spot, so sag is more pronounced with a heavier gun. Having only one clip also affects the draw, since there is only one point of resistance. That means the holster starts to pull with the gun initially, unlike winged IWB holsters which tend to allow for a smoother draw. However, it wasn’t nearly enough for me to worry that I wouldn’t be able to get the gun into action when it mattered. The gun clears plastic just fine, just starts a little stiff is all.

TL, DR: It isn’t perfect, but it definitely works. Better than a good deal of the holsters on the shelf at your local gun shop and for less money to boot.

In short, it’s a very decent holster, and all things considered, a really good buy for the asking price.

I also confirmed a suspicion of mine. It isn’t a great secret that Kydex holsters are made by heating a sheet of plastic, wrapping it around a dummy gun, bolting on some hardware and doing a bit of polishing. Some makers charge seemingly excessive prices for them and after my experience with this holster, they still seem excessive. Perhaps some plastic holsters really are premium, but until I find out for sure…I shall remain dubious.

That said, a holster is only a tool and every tool has a best use. This is a good holster, even with a few peccadilloes. Since my Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB is a bit more comfortable and a bit better for all-day carrying. I’m going to keep this one for those days when I carry, but head back to the house and take the gun off shortly thereafter. An easier on/off procedure was what I was after in the first place, and I got just that and for a good price, too.

 

Tim lives in the Spokane area. He grew up around guns and the outdoors and spends as much time around both as he can. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

    not perfect. No holster is, of course; there’s always SOMETHING one wishes were better.

    I don’t know, in my mind the Safariland SLS is just about perfect.

    1. avatar Risky says:

      It’s too large for most concealment purposes. You might be able to effectively conceal it under a coat or jacket, but just maybe.

      1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

        I live in Michigan so concealment is not an issue I have to worry about. Now if I lived in SC or FL…

  2. avatar DrewR says:

    I purchased one of these for my SD9VE, and agree on all counts. It is a very good holster for the money, and excellent for occasional use or situations where you need to take your gun on and off for whatever reason. I live in a very low crime area and generally pocket carry an LCP II or Kahr PM9 depending on pocket size. When I go to the nearest actual city, though, I like to upscale my carry piece. This holster fits that role to a T.

  3. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    Safarliand 7TS ALS is pretty awesome. I got the concealment version with the belt attachment. It doesn’t conceal well, but keen carry is legal and nobody ever notices anyways. So, yeah it has retention and draws amazingly fast. I also have a few bravo concealment holsters. They’re better at concealment, but don’t have retention. Either ones can be adjusted for cant, which is good for long car rides to have. I prefer the safariland…

  4. avatar Coffee Addict says:

    I’ve purchased 2 AIWB holsters from another mfg, one tuckable and one not. Both I got in CF kydex. The CF pattern makes it feel… silky.. for want of a better word. It allows the sweat to evaporate against the skin and it doesn’t become sticky or wet.

  5. avatar Roadking says:

    I have never been able to get used to Kydex. Always been a leather guy. There is just something about a fine crafted leather holster. What ever works for you is what’s important. Nothing I hate to see more than a nice pistol in a cheap ass holster. I always emphasize when giving advice to a new gun owner is if your going to carry then invest in the best belt, and holster you can afford. That would also apply to the gun.

  6. avatar Mark N. says:

    One of these days I will try a Kydex holster, just not yet. To the author: the main differences between various Kydex holsters is the thickness of the Kydex, the quality of the edge finishes, and the quality of the belt clip. It seems most manufacturers can get the form right.

  7. avatar Roadking says:

    I just wanted to clarify that by cheap ass holster I mean poorly made. There are some very good holster that don’t break the bank. I have found Hume leather to be very nice leather for the price.

  8. avatar M10 says:

    Just found Concealment Express myself and ordered a few holsters over the past several weeks. An important note to point out is that CE stocks left hand models in every style they make. That’s huge for us Southpaws. Most every style is also available in a large variety of colors and carbon fiber combinations. Very happy with my purchases from CE.

    1. avatar A O says:

      I’ve had a CE holster for almost a year now for a Glock23. It’s a lot nicer than the CompTac holster I have. Bought a second CE holster for a Glock26 I picked up. Works perfectly. Very pleased with their product.

  9. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

    No gun of mine will ever be so disrespected as to get shoved into some melted plastic that someone has passed off as a holster.

    Leather! A quality weapon deserves a leather holster! And FYI I’m a lefty too and had no trouble getting left handed holsters for my Steyr’s.

    1. avatar Evey259 says:

      Get with this century, grandpa.

      1. avatar Toni says:

        i ain’t no grandpa or grandma (only 44 this year…. good calibre BTW 🙂 ) and i must say i prefer leather too. self taught saddler, self taught blacksmith and self taught carpenter. hopefully soon also to be self taught machinist

  10. avatar Ragnar says:

    Tim, good review. The perfect holster today, may be less than perfect tomorrow. It all depends on weather, clothing, activity, etc… Sometimes, we need an extra holster or two for just one gun.

    Hopefully, these cheaper social-media advertised holsters will mean fewer negligent discharges by people that currently “Mexican carry”.

  11. avatar HoundDogDave says:

    Tim, thanks for the article. Not everyone can afford a high-quality handmade leather holster. Just like some of us can afford to dive a BMW or Lexus luxury SUV, some of us are lucky to find a $5000 used Ford Focus that will get us back and forth to work. The guy in the BMW may ride in style and more comfort than the guy in the Focus but he isn’t going to get across town any faster than the guy in the old Ford. Buying a couple of Alien Gear holsters for my 2 pistols is outside my budget so finding a budget-friendly yet serviceable holster option is what I need. I am fully aware that there is a lot of impractical, uncomfortable and possibly dangerous option to have to sort through in the budget holster market. Getting an honest user review in this price range is very helpful to us folk on a limited budget.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      lol yep and hence why i taught myself saddlery as a kid. could not even afford to get saddles repaired so i learnt to tan hides and then repaired our saddlery gear on the farm. i want a holster i will make it 🙂

    2. avatar Toni says:

      BTW i have an old NISSAN 82 MQ Patrol that i paid $2500 for. i ill be giving it a heart transplant this weekend and have heaps of other work to be done on it as well. will be doing all of it myself. so yep know about not being able to afford the latest and “greatest” (i find often the old stuff looked after is greater than the new shit) but where i cant afford something i work out how to make it myself. sometimes even when i can afford something i still prefer to make it myself because i can do it better quality for the money

  12. avatar Neil Hightower iii says:

    Carrys a 1911….. I’m immediately skeptical of any review he does.

    1. avatar J.T. says:

      I 100 percent agree

  13. avatar Mmmtacos says:

    I’ll generally run one of these initially and just replace the single large clip with two snap button loops. Then I’ll go get something better like a Bravo Concealment or Stealthgear USA if I’m feeling real fancy.

  14. avatar Binder says:

    I think everyone is missing the point here. The huge advantage with this style is that you can remove the firearm from your belt WITHOUT upholstering. Also allows you holster you gun before you put it in your waist, helping to prevent “accidental” discharges

  15. avatar raptor jesus says:

    You overpaid.

    Check out eBay sometime.

  16. avatar Justin Case says:

    I had the same thoughts about the prices on kydex holsters & went looking around too. I ended up taking a chance for $40 on an Outlaw brand holster from Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Matte-Black-Holster-Left-Hand-Glock/dp/B07CZP9HG2/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1532391797&sr=8-8&keywords=outlaw+owb+kydex+holster) and it’s just amazing. They say they can fit 200 makes & models of handgun & it fits my Kimber Ultra II perfectly & with good retention.
    It’s OWB so it’s comfortable & with the optional ‘Speed Clips’ it is a 2 second process to put on or take off. The holster itself is curved to fit your hip & flat so there’s no printing even with just a T shirt.
    Just my 2 cents but check it out. It may be what you’re looking for too. (Usual disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Outlaw Holsters – just a satisfied customer)

  17. i read your article and agreed with your assesement of iwb kydex holsters.i have several myself. but after looking at the website can not find anything that says it fits a full size 1911. which holster did you order?.

  18. avatar mark s says:

    Dead Eye Luke ………………. I own several and love em all .
    I haven’t seen any mention of the fact you can adjust tension or redress it with a hair dryer .

    1. avatar J.T. says:

      Maybe a heat gun, doubt a hair dryer would do it unless its a industrial model. Industrial like used to dry hair on King Kong.

      But seriously good point. I’m sure a lot of people just buy the holster and use it as is without modifying it.

  19. avatar Phil says:

    I’ve also carried a 1911 in a kydex and concur with the article – a lightweight kydex doesn’t really do the trick. But my EDC is a Sig 938, not a 1911, and my holster is a IWB kydex from OnYour6 Designs https://onyour6designs.com/. I put that baby on when I get out of the shower in the morning and never think twice about it all day long. The retention is adjustable, so I’m confident that I can present quickly, if needed. The difference between kydex holsters is in the retention clips and hardware. I’m an FFL and I’ve tried everything; theirs is the best I’ve seen, and their prices and service can’t be beat. If you get on their customer list, you are notified of special offers where you can save even more money. They’re my go-to for compact carry holsters.

    1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

      Have you tried CrossBreed? If so you prefer OnYourSix to CrossBreed? I’m thinking about buying an IWB for my BUG.

      1. avatar Phil says:

        I’ve tried everything for big and small guns. Crossbreed’s lineup isn’t an inexpensive alternative, and it’s overkill for compacts. An inexpensive kydex IWB for larger guns would be the Aliengear at http://aliengearholsters.com/alien-gear-cloak-tuck-iwb-holster-inside-the-waistband.html?utm_source=google_shopping&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv-DaBRCcARIsAI9sba9cTnuZoiph5GVNFmDE9lfhIWHX5teYqPZQIcIc_Oavf9Zl5TPw8KQaAkNjEALw_wcB

        1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

          My BUG is a Kahr K40. So not huge but a little heavy for its size as it is all steel.

      2. avatar Mikial says:

        Danny,

        Crossbreed is my IWB holster of choice. I’ve tried Alien Gear and a few others, but Crossbreed never let me down yet. I have them for my 1911 Commander, G21, XD, and a few others. Great holsters and very high quality. But . . . they are not as inexpensive as some, Alien Gear for example. It’s all really a personal preference.

  20. avatar Paul says:

    On Kydex ….as they say “this ain’t brain science or rocket surgery”. I have a couple of Aliens that work great although I use them with much lighter polymer framed guns. Few holsters will really carry a full frame 1911 perfectly all the time whether it’s made from “moon plastic” or cow hide. My EDC is a S&W 642 Airweight carried in a Blackhawk “sticky” IWB, that’s mostly nylon cloth and foam and cost $20.00. I’ve using the same one for three years. If you want a hand made, hand stitched, name on it, cow part that cost you $200.00 … go for it …I’ll be the guy with the really big box of ammo instead.

    1. avatar J.T. says:

      I agree with you on the weight…..you said it with a lot of diplomacy. Almost so nicely I nearly missed it.

      The $33 holster really isn’t the correct tool for the job.

    2. avatar Mikial says:

      “I’ll be the guy with the really big box of ammo instead.”

      That brought a smile to my face. Well said.

  21. avatar J.T. says:

    Lots of comments…. this is going to sound disrespectful but isn’t. Its like putting a modern stereo in a muscle car. Sounds great but no modern anything on the actual machine. (I get it…. some people just like OLD stuff whether or not its sensible, practical, logical etc)

    Author carries a full size 1911 all the time? I seriously doubt it. No offense if he really does, but why not carry a sabre from the 18th century too? Heard of any guns designed in the last 30 years instead of 110+ years? I can’t take this seriously.

    For all the weight you could carry a ANY polymer gun and a spare magazine and have probably lightened your carry load by 20 oz. at LEAST! Does he wear the 5.11 tactical vest just to cover this thing? I guarantee you can’t just wear a t-shirt like any compact MODERN handgun.

    Going from a Hybrid holster to a all kydex holster is a big change. It’s pretty different design….. where the hybrid distributes the weight over a larger area but a kydex is in one spot. IF this author really does carry all the time, then I’m sure a hybrid Alien Gear is more comfortable. Since when does comfort have anything to do with security? oh well.

    At least he is willing to use modern holsters to carry his 7 +1 shot anvil. I would say that the maker of the kydex holster is risking stuffing 10 lbs. of sh*t in a 5 pound bag. It really isn’t a safe design for the amount of weight its being asked to carry. Do everyone a favor and go back to your hybrid holster which is designed to carry that kind of weight safely, don’t risk everyone’s safety trying to carry a locked and cocked 1911 with a 3 pound trigger in a $33 economy holster. Wow.

    1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

      Why yes, yes it is disrespectful.

      1. avatar J.T. says:

        I respect being safe and using common sense, but seriously try to look unbiased at what the author is trying to carry and what he is trying to carry it in.

        Makes ZERO sense.

        I do respect lawful concealed carry and the author taking the time to write an honest article, that is really cool. Missing the forest for the trees when you take a heavy gun and put it in a holster designed for a 30 ounce handgun. Look at the photo.

        I had a kydex holster shatter when I sat in a metal chair just carrying a Glock 19. Think what would happen in his situation. Two screws holding all that weight?

        Makes no sense at all. Sorry if it sounds disrespectful but stating the obvious with some humor to let it sink in for everyone else who might try it too.

    2. avatar Mikial says:

      I have to agree with Danny here, Bro.

      This is an article about a holster, not a forum to slam someone else’s EDC of choice. If you don’t like it, don’t carry it. And no, I don’t EDC a 1911, but I actually know quite a few people who do and they are very good with them. Respect, Brother, respect. We’re not a bunch of screeching Liberals here who attack anyone who doesn’t think like they do.

  22. avatar Gene says:

    Mine worked very well with a Ruger sr9c, good concealment and comfortable fit. I do have to reposition it when driving, but I can deal with that. In all honesty I like it better than my name brand one, it looks almost the same side by side, but this IWB is more comfortable

  23. avatar Jordan says:

    I recently purchased a similar holster for my glock 43, from CYA supply CO. $35 on Amazon. I was pretty impressed with how nice it was especially considering the cost.

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