Better Than Kydex Is Not Just A Tagline
Kydex holsters became more or less the standard during the last 20 years, but is there a better material, a better way to make them? Yes, there is.
While Kydex is a good material and a good material for the purpose of making holsters, it has some weaknesses that some other materials and manufacturing methods don't have.
Ergo, we can say with full confidence that yes, there is something better than Kydex holsters.
What Is Kydex?
Kydex is a type of thermoplastic material, specifically an acrylic polyvinyl chloride. In other words, a type of PVC plastic.
Kydex was originally developed in the 1960s for use in aircraft interiors, but its versatile nature has made it a popular choice for other applications. Its range of colors, patterns, and finishes have further expanded its usability, making it a practical and aesthetically pleasing material for an extensive list of products.
In recent years, Kydex found increasing popularity in the production of holsters for guns and knives, tools sheaths and so on. Its plastic-like nature allows it to be easily molded, while its durability ensures that the item it holds remains secure and protected from light impacts.
With its resistance to water and most solvents, it’s an ideal material for outdoor gear and can be used in any weather condition without degradation. The resilience of Kydex, coupled with its wide range of possible applications, makes it a go-to material for manufacturers across various industries.
Why Kydex Holsters?
The first kydex holsters emerged in the 1970s, especially those made by former FBI agent and competitive shooter Bill Rogers (also founder of the famed Rogers Shooting School) and by the SNIK company.
Rogers' Kydex holsters were developed for law enforcement (OWB with a leather lining and a snap loop for retention) whereas SNIK holsters were created for competitive shooters.
Both more or less arrived at the same material choice for the same reason. Kydex has a relatively high strength to weight, is quite durable despite being light, and is very easily worked. You can literally make Kydex holsters with a toaster oven, and a lot of people actually have.
The same is true for Boltaron, which is a very similar product (a polyvinyl polymer) developed by Rohm and Haas, the same company that created Kydex, which is for all intents and purposes identical.
Rogers' designs proved popular, but he didn't have the ability to meet the sheer demand after closing several successful contracts with government agencies, and ended up selling his design to a fledgling holster maker called Safariland in the 1980s. Other companies eventually started catching on, eventually culminating in an explosion of holster companies turning out Kydex (and Boltaron) holsters.
Is There Something Better Than Kydex Holsters?
Yes, there is. Injection-molded holsters are absolutely better than kydex. Here's why.
An injection-molded holster is made from a robust thermoplastic material which is molded under high pressure and heat, which - like forged compared to cast metal - creates a denser, harder holster.
They withstand daily wear and tear better than Kydex holsters, which tend to crack or warp over time. Given the lower mold temperature, Kydex holsters are known to warp much more easily; they've been known to warp if left in a car on a hot day.
The ruggedness of the injection-molded holster makes it ideal for law enforcement, military personnel, and outdoor enthusiasts who put their equipment through harsh situations. It's also ideal for concealed carry, as it means you can expect a far longer service life.
Additionally, injection-molded holsters are superior in terms of fit and customization. The process of injection molding allows for intricate designs and specific gun models to be captured in the molding process, ensuring a perfect and secure fit for firearms. This is not always the case with Kydex holsters, which are generally heated and hand-shaped, which can result in inconsistencies and a less secure fit. The precision of injection molding guarantees an exact fit every time.
The production process for injection-molded holsters is also more efficient. Injection molding machines can turn out finished product at a blistering pace, in some cases in a minute or less. All that's needed from there is final assembly.