Finding the best Kydex holster is hard, not because there are few options but because there are so many.
Kydex is one of the most popular holster materials (if not the most popular) out there, so there’s no shortage of holsters to choose from. But all those options make it hard to weed out the good from the bad. And even from among the good ones, it can be tough to figure out which of the many options is the best for your particular needs.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to choose the right Kydex holster, including buying considerations, holster recommendations, and more.
Now let’s get started.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for Kydex Holsters:
- We The People IWB Holster
- Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Holster
- CrossBreed Holsters Modular Belly Band
- Outlaw Holsters Outlaw Style OWB Holster
- Alien Gear ShapeShift Pocket Holster
- Alien Gear ShapeShift Ankle Holster
Table of Contents
- What Is Kydex Anyway?
- What to Consider When Buying a Kydex Holster?
- Best Kydex Holster on the Market Reviews
- Final Thoughts
What Is Kydex Anyway?
But before we get too far, let’s talk about what exactly Kydex is in the first place.
Technically speaking, Kydex is the brand name for a specific type of thermoplastic made by Sekisui SPI. Some brands have their own proprietary versions of thermoplastic that they use instead.
However, “Kydex” is also colloquially used to refer to thermoplastic in general, especially in the context of holsters, in the same way that Kleenex is used to generally refer to tissues or Velcro is used generally for hook and loop fasteners.
But why is Kydex so popular for holsters?
Well, it’s waterproof, highly durable, and requires virtually no maintenance.
It can be custom molded to fit guns, including both revolvers and pistols, precisely to add minimal extra bulk to your sidearm. It’s also lightweight.
Kydex holsters also tend to be pretty affordable, so you get a great value for the money. More complicated setups do come at a higher price, but you can get a basic IWB or OWB holster pretty affordably.
What to Consider When Buying a Kydex Holster?
When choosing a Kydex holster, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to ensure that you’re choosing a high-quality holster that meets your individual needs.
Holster Type & Carry Position
Megan with Glock 19 IWB Kydex Holster from WeThePeopleHolsters
One of the first things you need to consider is what type of holster you want. There are Kydex holsters of basically every holster type, so there are plenty of options available.
You may already have an idea of what type of holster you want, but if not, there are some things to consider to help you decide.
First of all, do you want to openly carry or concealed carry?
If you plan on open carry, an OWB holster is the classic choice, but you could also go with a drop leg holster.
For concealed carry, you’ll want something easier to hide, like an IWB holster, belly band, or shoulder holster. An ankle holster is another option for concealed carry, but its less accessible position makes ankle holsters better for backup guns than primary sidearms. For subcompacts, a pocket holster can also be a great option for concealed carry.
How active you’ll be while wearing your holster also matters. Belly bands and ankle holsters are popular choices for people who carry while working out or playing sports.
With IWB, OWB, and belly band holsters, you’ll also need to think about where along your waist you want to carry. You can choose from appendix (strong side or cross draw), hip, or back carry. Which of these is best depends on your comfort, attire (if carry concealed), and whether you’re carrying a backup gun.
Wherever you decide to wear your holster, you should be able to quickly and easily draw your weapon, and be able to start firing without readjusting your hand after you draw.
No matter what type of holster you decide to go with, it needs to ensure that the trigger can’t be moved while your gun is in the holster. This is an absolutely essential safety measure that prevents accidental discharge.
Fortunately, since Kydex is a rigid material, all a holster needs to do to ensure trigger safety is completely cover the trigger.
Retention is equally important. Your holster needs to hold your firearm securely, so your gun doesn’t slip out of your holster accidentally.
To test retention, you can simply turn your holster in all directions while your gun is holstered. Your gun should stay in place no matter what direction you turn the holster in, even upside down.
Kydex may not be as naturally comfortable as leather or nylon, so you’ll want a holster that has features that help make up for the hardness of the material. For example, many Kydex holsters have sweat guards or breathable secondary materials (like neoprene) to help avoid sweat buildup between your holster and your skin.
Make sure your holster fits securely, so you don’t have to readjust it constantly. It also shouldn’t poke, rub, or irritate you in other ways.
We generally recommend wearing a layer between your skin and a Kydex holster to help with some of the comfort issues that can come with this material.
Lastly, you need to think about any accessories that you have on your weapon.
Kydex holsters are custom shaped for a firearm and accessories change that overall shape. That means that if you’re using accessories, a Kydex holster needs to be shaped for them as well.
Fortunately, many Kydex holster manufacturers also make versions of their holsters that accommodate the most popular sights and lights. In addition, some holsters have open faces to allow for muzzle devices.
Best Kydex Holster on the Market Reviews
1 We The People IWB Holster
We The People was actually kind enough to send me their Kydex IWB Holster to try out for myself with my Glock 19, so I can tell you from experience that it’s a great option for concealed carry.
The holster is made from thin Kydex and doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary bulk, so it found it pretty concealable. The sweatguard helped protect my skin from uncomfortable rubbing (and the gun from sweat buildup). The belt clip was secure and can accommodate belts up to 1.5 inches.
I appreciated the undercut trigger guard, which allowed me to get a positive grip when I drew my weapon. I also liked the audible click produced by the adjustable retention system.
Though I don’t currently have one in my Glock, I also want to note that the holster’s open face allows for threaded barrels. It’s nice to have that option if I switch out barrels in the future.
Currently, WTP Holsters offer a great deal only for our readers as below:
15% off sitewide at We The People Holsters with code ROCK15
2 Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Holster
If you’re looking for an OWB holster, the Alien Gear Cloak Mod is one of our favorites.
This versatile holster can be worn as a paddle holster or a belt slide holster by simply switching out the attachment on the back of the holster. The paddle is curved to fit closer to your body. It also has a retainment lip to help it stay secured to your waistband, even if someone tries to pull it off.
In addition to swappable attachment hardware, the Alien Gear Cloak Mod also features swappable shells. You can use the same base for multiple guns by simply switching out the holster shell. Each shell has a large open mouth, making it easier to holster your weapon.
Finally, the Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Holster has both adjustable cant and adjustable retention.
3 CrossBreed Holsters Modular Belly Band
If you don’t want something attached to your waistband, a belly band is a great option. Many belly bands don’t offer adequate trigger coverage, though, with only flexible materials over the trigger.
The CrossBreed Modular Belly Band is different. It has a Kydex front shell to ensure that the trigger is totally covered and to generally protect your firearm from wear. The back of the holster shell is leather to make the shell more comfortable.
The holster shell attaches to a velcro panel on the band, which allows you to use holster shells for different guns with the same band. The band also wraps around the waist both over and under the gun, so the elastic can provide extra support for the weight of the firearm. Once wrapped, the band itself is also secured in place with velcro.
In addition to a spot for your gun, the belly band also has a slim pounch perfect for a spare magazine or flashlight, as well as an additional pocket for other small items, like keys, cards, or cash.
The band is available in four different sizes to fit different body types. The shell is available in left or right hand draw versions, and in multiple color options for both the leather and Kydex pieces.
4 Outlaw Holsters Outlaw Style OWB Holster
Like the classic leather pancake holster but want the convenience of Kydex?
The Outlaw Holsters Outlaw Style OWB Holster might be perfect for you. The wide panels that envelope the gun on both sides are reminiscent of the leather pancake holster, a design which reduces printing and helps with weight distribution.
This holster is available in a variety of waistband attachment styles, including belt loops, speed clips, leather loops, and paddles. You can also switch between the attachement styles, though you have to purchase additional attachment points separately.
In addition to the various attachment styles, this holster comes in a huge array of prints and colors, so you can choose one that fits your style.
The Outlaw Style OWB Holster is hand-crafted in the United States. It also comes with a one year warranty.
5 Alien Gear ShapeShift Pocket Holster
Next up is the Alien Gear ShapeShift Pocket Holster.
Like all pocket holsters, this one is for small guns, so if you want a holster for your 1911, just keep looking. It’s great for subcompacts like the S&W M&P Shield, Springfield Armory Hellcat, or Glock 43 though.
This holster is part of Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Modular Holster System. This line allows you to mix and match ShapeShift holster shells and ShapeShift holster backings. That allows you to use the same shell with different style holster backings and different shells with the same backing.
The pocket holster in particular is very slim to avoid printing. In addition, it has a pocket hook that further inhibits printing and helps keep holster secured in the pocket upon draw. The thumb press also helps make drawing easier while keeping the holster firmly in your pocket.
Like most Kydex holsters, this one features adjustable retention. One thing that makes it a little different, however, is that you don’t need any tools to adjust the retention. Just use the twist locks on the holster shell.
Finally, Alien Gear covers this holster with their Forever Warranty.
6 Alien Gear ShapeShift Ankle Holster
The Alien Gear ShapeShift Ankle Holster is another option in Alien Gear’s ShapeShift line. On top of that, it’s one of the best ankle holsters on the market.
It features a unique two-piece wrap design for a more secure yet comfortable fit. The lower wrap loops under the heel, then wraps around the ankle (securing in place using a adjustable elastic strap) for a secure foundation. The upper wrap is designed to mold around the ankle, with a polymer spine and an ergonomic shape. It all secures in place with velcro.
This design keeps the holster from rotating or sliding without the need for a calf strap or garter. The ShapeShift Ankle Holster even supports full sized handguns, unlike a lot of ankle holsters, though smaller guns are easier to conceal at the ankle. You can choose from six ride height positions for easier concealment and greater comfort.
The wrap itself is made from moisture-wicking, perforating neoprene for comfort and breathability.
Still not sure which holster is right for you? No worries!
It’s generally a good idea to try out several different holsters anyway so you can figure out which one works best when you actually use it. You may even find that you switch between a few holsters depending on your needs on a particular day. This is especially common for concealed carry, where the best holster may vary based on your attire and activities for the day.
The buying considerations and holster recommendations that we’ve given here, however, should be all the information you need to get started finding the best Kydex holster for you!