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Certain things are a tradition for good reason. Turkey dinners at Thanksgiving, because it’s right around hunting season. Thanksgiving day football games, so you have something to yell at besides your relatives.

Some things maybe were good traditions at one point, but maybe could stand to be retired. For instance, can we drop the act about caring about Olympic downhill skilling? If people only care about something every four years, they really don’t care all that much.

Another tradition that some people insist on is that a 1911 must be worn only in a leather holster. And it really should only be of the pancake, Askins, Yaqui Slide or Summer Special variety. Plastic holsters should only hold plastic pistols, as the refrain goes from the Statler and Waldorf fuddy-duddies.

Those holsters look good, it should be said…or at least, sometimes they do.

Let’s be honest – you should save that Yaqui slide holster for a barbecue gun, a shining safe queen that’s basically worn to show off because you dropped a good chunk of change on it. Beyond that, does it really matter all that much?

Arguably, Kydex and other polymer holsters actually are better for carrying on a regular basis. They’re more precisely molded than leather, which is block-formed and then stitched. Polymers are either press-molded – by heating a sheet of Kydex or Boltaron and then pressing down over a mold – or are injection-molded. Provided the company making the holster has done the molding right, that creates a better fit and without any break-in needed.

At this point someone mentions something about holster wear on your pistol. True, you don’t want your carry gun scratched, gouged and otherwise roughed up until it appears to have been beaten with the ugly stick. A two-year-old pistol shouldn’t look like it’s ready to buy its first legal drink.

But the truth is that if you want to keep a gun looking good, you should keep it in a safe. Guns can be art, no doubt about it, but a working firearm of any sort – a carry gun, your hunting rifle or shotgun – is going to get scratched and dinged if your’e doing it right. There’s no way to avoid it. Think of the marks as imparting a certain character and you’ll be fine. 

As for function, look at police trade-in guns at your local gun store. They’re beat up, but still run very, very well.

And you know what? Some Kydex holsters actually look pretty cool. And some leather holsters are downright ugly. 

Yes, leather was the standard many years ago and sometimes the old ways still make sense. Let’s get real, though. Unless you have a barbecue gun that’s worth showing off…nobody gives a tinker’s cuss what you wear your carry gun in so long as it’s safely carried.

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  1. I don’t want a holster that’s molded to my gun. I want a holster that properly holds my gun and is, as much as possible, molded to my body. Kydex sucks.

    • tyeah, the kydex rig pictured in this article does suck.. not all kydex holsters are made the same, however.

  2. “Holster” should follow “Shoulder”, putting ‘kydex’ on there only confuses the issue.

    If you 1-911, then you can even do mil-surplus issue shoulder holsters.


      • Well, I was thinking along the lines of leather ‘paddle’ holsters or a Glaco shoulder holster than full-flap, but I suppose the flapped variety would be superior for protecting the finish of Browning’s ‘Epiphany’ of firearm design…

    • Glocks belong in leather too. And putting your barbecue gun in a Yaqui Slide is just asking to get your front sight splattered with barbecue sauce.

  3. Kydex is noisy and cannot adapt to the body shape of different body types, and all Kydex holsters are not the same some are so flimsy and flex so much when worn bending over will likely find you trying to catch your 1911 before it hits the floor, or cringing when it does.

  4. Arguably, Kydex and other polymer holsters actually are better for carrying on a regular basis.

    You know, this is really an “it depends” situation.

    I have some fine leather, Kydex and combination (crossbreed) holsters — even some nylon holsters and they’re all excellent in the right situation, but you have to know the limitations of each holster.

    I carry a good bit on horseback and I mostly stopped wearing Kydex on horseback after I fell off a horse, landed on one and cracked it. Leather has more give.

    On horse I typically wear a leather OWB pancake holster with a thumb break or a Bianchi Carry-lok, because I really don’t want the pistol coming out due to all that movement. (Or old school cowboy-style belt & holster with a hammer loop for SAA revolvers).

    Out doing stuff like fixing fences, I use a Wilderness Safepacker, because it’s dirty work, barbed wire can drag along you (got a gouge in my G26 from that), and you want the gun completely covered.

    My top EDC holsters are a FIST thin stitched Kydex OWB pancake (G26), Bianchi leather OWB pancake Carry-lok (G26), a Bianchi leather OWB pancake with thumb break (Ruger LCR), and a FIST Kydex tuckable IWB (Kel-Tec P32), plus a couple DeSantis Nemesis pocket holsters (Ruger LCR, Kel-Tec P-32).

    BTW, there are literally no Kydex holsters with a thinner profile than FIST’s stitched Kydex holsters. I highly recommend them:

    Brace yourselves: my main 1911 holster is a Fobus paddle holster. Don’t carry it enough to go for something nicer. 🙂

    Use what’s good for the situation and what feels good on you.

    • “Out doing stuff like fixing fences, I use a Wilderness Safepacker, because it’s dirty work, barbed wire can drag along you (got a gouge in my G26 from that), and you want the gun completely covered.”

      The most tore-up my arms have ever been was years back helping someone re-string a barb-wire fence. And we cheated by using a come-along and a truck hitch to tension it. I looked like I wrestled a pissed-off cat…

    • “Out doing stuff like fixing fences”
      I own a goat dairy and live on a goat farm. Half my life is fencing. Even on just 800 acres, it never ends. I am constantly cut, somewhere. If patches didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be decent in my jeans.
      The upside? I can drive a T-Post like a MF!
      I’ve found that OWB just doesn’t work for me, regardless of the holster type, the gun is constantly caught on something.

      • The Wilderness Safepacker is more of a gun pouch than a traditional holster — maybe a full coverage rectangular flap holster? I carry it on my tool belt. If I have a coat or coveralls on, though, I sometimes carry a gun inside the coat or coveralls (pocket carry). I don’t like IWB when doing hot sweaty work — just too uncomfortable for me. In the summer, I’ll turn a leather or nylon IWB holster into a sodden mess in nothing flat, and even with Kydex I’ll soak my gun in my salty sweat in no time.

      • Mr. Taylor, for protection against barbed wire, you might try some of the gear that’s made for meat-processing workers, like Kevlar gloves and forearm protectors and aprons (The workers often cut themselves with their super-sharp knives while trimming meat.).
        I’ve also seen Kevlar forearm protectors for knife-attack defense use.
        I would wonder whether snakebite leggings, chaps, and gaitors (Yes, that is the spelling, folks.) might help as well.
        I wonder if there’s some good gear for the installers of razor-ribbon fencing, too. It should be in the same catalogs as razor ribbon itself…and razor ribbon is a lot more vicious than barbed wire. All the best.

  5. That is one UGLY Kydex holster. And I am ugly enough without wearing an ugly holster.
    If I am going to wear an OWB holster, it is going to be nothing but leather. Put a little bling in your life! On top of which Kydex OWB is too operator for me.

    Of course, I am a biased. I do not own any plastic holsters. I almost went that way with an IWB for my Kahr, but found a very comfortable leather holster instead. (I bought the same holster for my 1911, but I don’t carry it.)

  6. I’m mostly converting to Kydex. I not into the larger pants – IWB thing anymore and Kydex OWB works great (for me).

    Yes, they make noise. Yes, they don’t have the cachet, smell, and sound of leather. Yes, they look more utilitarian that art.

    They do stay open after a draw. Mine hold well (so far) without a thumb break.They don’t stretch. They don’t have corrosion from the hardware. The draw doesn’t change with different pants/ belt loops / belt combinations.

    I bought a Bianchi holster for my Python for a specific event so that I could show her off. I didn’t try it until the day before. It was so snug that drawing was difficult (just in case something bad happened). So the Python went back into her case and I carried my usual (at the time) Sig P239…in Kydex.

    My 2¢

  7. I love my Mitch Rosen and El Paso Saddlery holsters. I carried a 1911 IWB in them for a long time. Not because I didn’t like Kydex, but because almost all of the Kydex holsters I found were not great quality. Now I carry an STI 2011, IWB in a Kydex holster that is suede wrapped. It’s outstanding. Travis Miller made it.
    I still marvel at the poor quality of most of the Kydex holsters out there. Wrong fit, wrong cant, edges in the wrong place, not really made for living and fighting in…etc.
    As it is, I’ve found good holsters from CompTac, Travis Miller, and KMFJ, and that’s about it.

  8. Sneaky Pete for IPhone, Sneaky Pete for Ruger SR22 and Sneaky Pete for extra magazine, that one has Ruger Firebird craving on it. All of them leather.

  9. I care every year about Olympic Uphill Skiing…. because if they can finally get the rockets and mag lev fine tuned….

  10. Kydex and 1911’s? seriously, who has made one that keeps the hammer and extended beavertail from digging into your side, that doesn’t cost over $100…. for plastic? And they’re heat sensitive as well. WTF And considering the variety of 1911 why is it that a commander length holster is a unicorn in this type of holster. I gave up looking for one that works after test driving 4…Leather and a remora work just fine for me…


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