By: Spencer Durrant
Holding a concealed carry permit is a right no gun owner I know takes lightly. Knowing you’re able to keep yourself, friends, and family safe should the worst occur provides incredible peace of mind.
Holster manufacturers have noticed the uptick in concealed carry permit holders in the country and have responded in kind by producing more options than ever. Whether you’re just starting to carry or have carried for years and are looking to upgrade your holster, you’ll want to put as much attention into choosing how you carry concealed as you do in choosing what you carry.
Generally, you have two holster materials to choose from: Kydex and leather. The biggest difference between the two is maintenance. As Robert Farago noted over at The Truth About Guns, “Kydex holsters are virtually maintenance-free.”
Leather, on the other hand, needs t“A trial court ruled in their favor, be cleaned, checked for wear, and replaced regularly. You also have to worry about leather holsters getting wet. If you re-holster your gun in wet leather, you risk damaging your gun.
Here are a few other things to consider in weighing the pros and cons about each material:
• Leather holsters allow for a near-silent un-holstering process. Kydex holsters are noisier.
• Kydex isn’t temperature-sensitive, nor does it require a break-in period, like leather does.
• Leather is generally nicer looking.
• Kydex holsters don’t commonly need to be replaced. Leather ones do.
Now, not every holster is exclusively Kydex or leather. Kydex-leather hybrid holsters are available. But the main parts of the holster – those that touch your body – are almost always one of these two materials.
Personally, I’m partial to a leather holster. I carried a Glock 23 for a few years and built a custom holster for it. That holster is still the most comfortable one I’ve ever worn. I carry a CZ PO-7 now, and Kydex holsters are harder to find for that model of gun. Being able to make my own leather holster for the CZ is a huge perk, since I can’t realistically custom-build something from Kydex.
Maintenance, longevity, and functionality are all affected by the material of your concealed carry holster. But the most important part of choosing a holster material is how comfortable it is to wear. Concealing takes some getting used to, and not every holster feels great. You should try a few different concealed options before settling on your regular, go-to holster.
Just as there are generally two types of holster materials, there are also typically two styles of holsters, defined by having either a fixed or adjustable camber.
A fixed-camber style means no matter where you carry on your waist, your gun will always be at the same angle and height. If you don’t have or need a varied wardrobe and don’t see the need for adjusting how your gun sits inside the waistband, a fixed-camber style is a good choice.
Most people go with an adjustable camber, though, for one reason: if you like the holster material and size, you can adjust the style instead of buying a completely new holster. If you want a sharp 90-degree angle between your belt and the grip of your gun, you can make that happen. If you’d rather it sit closer to 45 degrees, it’s as simple as moving a few parts around and adjusting ‘til it’s just right.
Size is very important when it comes to carrying concealed. Some concealed carry holsters are unnecessarily bulky, and others are too slim to do a good job of keeping your gun secure.
I tend to lean toward the slimmest profile possible for my guns. I have a few Phoenix Arms HP22A pistols, a Glock 42, and the aforementioned CZ PO-7. Each gun needs its own holster, and they’re all slim, yet sturdy enough so I don’t have to adjust my belt throughout the day. Sizing the holsters right means I don’t have to worry about printing (my gun making a visible impression through my clothing) or discomfort when carrying.
Make sure you like the size of your holster before you buy it. Remember, you’ll likely be wearing this thing for ten to twelve hours a day. It might feel great in the store for five minutes, but could you wear it half the day and not be tired of it?
A good holster is comfortable to wear, sized right, secure, and easy for the carrier to draw from – so don’t forget to practice!
Spencer Durrant is an outdoors columnist, novelist from Utah, and managing editor of The Modern Trout Bum, writing from Utah. Contact him on Twitter and Instagram at @Spencer_Durrant.