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Kydex holsters have taken on a lot of the market share in a world where leather ruled supreme for over a century. Of course, part of this is because Kydex simply didn’t exist until more recently, but that’s no reason to dismiss it as the new kid in class.
While there’s certainly a place for both materials in the holster market, there are some definite advantages to using a Kydex holster over the more traditional leather alternatives. The best kydex holsters provide both serious retention and fast access, while remaining comfortable enough for long days in the field.
- Best IWB Kydex Holster: Relentless Tactical Stealth Mode
- Best OWB Kydex Holster: T.REX Ragnarok Holster
- Most Versatile Kydex Holster: Crossbreed Reckoning
- Best Budget Kydex Holster: Rounded by Concealment Express
How We Picked The Best Kydex Holsters
I’ve been carrying a firearm for 12 years, and I’ve gone through more than my fair share of holsters in that time. I’ve done a lot of personal experimentation with different materials, carry positions, ride heights, attachment methods, and more. Finding “The One” is a near-impossible task, but there are some things that I look for in choosing a Kydex holster. When looking for the best Kydex holsters, I evaluate products using the following criteria:
- Weight: You don’t need your holster adding even more weight than your gun, ammo, and spare mag already does.
- Adjustability: While the fit of the gun should be pretty uniform across the board, how it carries on different people will vary, so having some degree of adjustability is a big plus.
- Comfort: If a holster is uncomfortable, you won’t wear it – and this is even more applicable when dealing with Kydex.
- Cost: Does the holster provide good value? Kydex holsters are already more affordable than most leather makes, but some represent better value than others. I looked for the most sensibly priced models that still checked all the boxes.
The Best Kydex Holsters: Our Picks
Best IWB Kydex Holster: Relentless Tactical Stealth Mode
Relentless Tactical Stealth Mode Relentless Tactical
Why It Made the Cut: The whole point of an IWB holster is to provide secure and discreet concealment of your handgun, and the Stealth Mode holster from Relentless Tactical does exactly that making it our pick for the best IWB Kydex holster.
- Lifetime warranty
- Adjustable cant and retention
- Thin but sturdy Kydex is easy to conceal
- Made in the US with 100% US materials
- Very affordable
- Not compatible with pistols with lights
Made of 0.08” thick Kydex sourced from the US and completely made in the US, the Relentless Tactical Stealth Mode holster lives up to its name. Some Kydex holsters don’t allow for cant adjustments, locking you into positions that might not be the best for your body type. You can adjust the level of retention and the cant of the Stealth Mode holster so that you have a perfectly placed pistol on your belt. Plus, a lifetime warranty simply cannot be beaten.
Best OWB Kydex Holster: T.REX Ragnarok Holster
T.REX Ragnarok Holster Ebay
Why It Made the Cut: As the best OWB Kydex holster, the T.REX Ragnarok is an incredibly rugged and well-built Kydex holster. It’s not as flashy as some of the other options on the market, but it’s definitely more adaptable than many of the other options.
- Modular hole pattern
- Adjustable retention
- Heavy-duty material
- Made from 0.125” thick Kydex
- Works with multiple different mounting options
- Very specific gun fits – read carefully before buying
The T.REX Ragnarok Kydex holster is about as close to bombproof as you can get. Made from a heavy-duty Kydex sheet available in a half dozen different colors, what sets the Ragnarok apart from others on the market is the modular hole pattern on the back. This allows you to choose from your own favorite mounting options from companies like Safariland, G-Code, Blackhawk, Blade-Tech, S&S Precision, and more. It can also be used for competition/range/duty use with belt loops, paddles, offset mounts, or leg rigs. The fit for different models and generations is very specific, so make sure you’re absolutely sure what make and model gun you have before purchasing.
Most Versatile Kydex Holster: Crossbreed Reckoning
Crossbreed Reckoning Cross Breed Holsters
Why It Made the Cut: The Crossbreed Reckoning holster is a mix of leather and Kydex available with three different backing materials, four different gun pocket colors, five different hardware colors, and can be switched from IWB to OWB with ease. This means you can carry the Reckoning in a wide variety of positions to fit different situations, making it very versatile.
- Adjustable retention
- Comfortable material against skin
- Kydex and leather combo
- Very customizable
- Multiple carry positions
- Switch between IWB and OWB
- It may have more features than some people want
- Pricier than other options
Crossbreed is known for combining a Kydex shell with a leather backer, and their Reckoning holster is a much-slimmed-down version of their SuperTuck with a ton more versatility added to it. It ships in the IWB configuration, but you can easily adapt it to OWB carry as well, meaning you can wear this holster in any number of positions along your midline. There are a ton of personalization options for this model, not the least of which is the ability to adjust the retention to your personal preferences.
Best Budget Kydex Holster: Rounded by Concealment Express
Rounded by Concealment Express Amazon
Why It Made the Cut: Just because something is classified as “budget” doesn’t mean it has to be cheap. Instead, the Rounded by Concealment Express IWB Kydex holsters pack a lot of bang for your buck.
- Adjustable cant
- Works with threaded barrels
- Accommodates suppressor-height sights
- Incredibly lightweight
- Works well in multiple carry positions
- Trigger guard undercut
- Not compatible with pistols with lights
A good concealment holster is one that disappears from the view of others Since the Rounded by Concealment Express holsters only weigh an average of three ounces, they’ll disappear from the mind of the wearer as well. If a holster adds too much bulk or weight, then it’s not something you’ll want to wear often. That’s not a problem here. The undercut trigger guard ensures a positive grip when drawing your gun and you can adjust the cant so that you get the exact right fit for maximum concealment and comfort. Plus, most of the models are available for just $39.95 – proof that a budget classification doesn’t have to mean cheap.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Kydex Holsters
From the way you’ll be carrying your holster (strong side, crossdraw, etc) to the environment and conditions in which you’ll be using it (lots of sitting, humid weather, etc), there’s a lot to take into consideration before settling on a Kydex holster.
Here are some of the things you should think about before buying:
Method of Carry
Do you prefer to carry inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB)? Here are two points to think about first:
- IWB: Depending on where you position the Kydex holster for IWB, it might be uncomfortable.
- OWB: A Kydex holster is perfect for OWB carry since it’s so rugged. It’ll provide great protection for your gun.
Body Location of Carry
The positioning of a holster can vary widely whether it’s being worn IWB or OWB, but there are also other options. Have you considered shoulder holsters, pocket holsters, or even ankle holsters? The location on your body also plays a role in the type of material you choose for a holster.
- Pocket Carry: Pocket holsters aren’t generally made out of Kydex. Since it’s a tough plastic-like material, its edges can wear through thinner pocket material.
- Shoulder Holsters: While most shoulder holsters have been traditionally made out of leather, Kydex allows a level of customization that can actually be more comfortable than leather. (And, of course, the harness material will still be leather.)
- Ankle Carry: Getting hit in the ankle by something hard hurts, and you’re going to bang into your gun from time to time as you get used to wearing an ankle holster. While most ankle holsters have a fabric wrap to them, keep the base holster material in mind as you decide the comfort of carrying in that location.
Money is always on everyone’s mind, especially when it comes to holsters. If you’re going to trust your life to this holster to hold onto your gun securely in any situation, then you don’t want to cheap out and buy something that’s poorly made. On the other hand, you may not be in a position to spend a ton of money, and that’s fine. Generally speaking, Kydex holsters are more affordable than leather holsters. If you’ve got a smaller budget, Kydex may be the best choice.
People have been customizing leather holsters for centuries with different carvings, stamped designs, and sometimes even paint. However, doing so is an art form in and of itself, and it doesn’t come cheap. With Kydex, different customized designs can be printed directly onto the material itself. That makes it a much more affordable option for customization.
Q: Do Kydex holsters scratch your gun?
No, as a general rule, Kydex holsters will not scratch your gun. Kydex is a type of plastic, which is, of course, a softer material than the metal components of your gun.
Some guns are built with lots of polymer parts, like Glocks, both materials are relatively soft and shouldn’t damage one another. So as long as you aren’t purposely jamming your gun haphazardly into your holster, you shouldn’t see any scratching from the Kydex. Like all holsters, though, after repeated holstering and unholstering, your gun will exhibit wear marks from use—but that’s different than Kydex scratching a gun.
Q: Are Kydex IWB holsters comfortable?
Yes, Kydex IWB holsters are comfortable, but there’s a caveat. You’ve got to find the right style, size, and carry location for you specifically for it to be comfortable. What’s comfortable to a friend may not be comfortable to you.
Q: Is a leather or Kydex holster better?
Deciding if a leather or Kydex holster is better is a purely personal thing. Leather has been a mainstay for over a hundred years for a reason, but there’s also a good reason why Kydex is gaining popularity. Of course, there’s also the hybrid leather-and-Kydex holster option, which provides the best of both worlds.
Final Thoughts on the Best Kydex Holsters
Choosing the best holster is an incredibly personal decision. The way I judge a holster’s performance and what is important to me may be different for you. If your favorite holster isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In that same vein, just because a holster is on this list doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone.
Most gun owners have a lot of holsters floating around in boxes and bags. We’re always looking for the perfect holster, and sadly, such a thing probably does not exist. Alas, following the methodology listed above has allowed me to get pretty darn close.
Once you pick out your next Kydex holster, be sure to check out our list of gifts for gun lovers for more helpful accessories.