Leather vs. Kydex Holster: What’s the Difference?

If you are in the market for a new holster, then you may be wondering what the difference is between leather and kydex holsters. The choice between the two materials can be a difficult one, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both materials have their pros and cons, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this article, we will discuss the differences between leather and kydex holsters and help you decide which material is best suited for your needs.

Why You Should Do Your Research When Choosing a Leather Holster

A holster is a device used to hold or carry a handgun, typically in a front-facing position. Holsters can be made from a variety of materials, including leather, kydex, and nylon. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when choosing a holster.

Because a holster is designed to hold a firearm in a specific position, it is important to select a holster that will allow the gun to be drawn and re-holstered easily and safely. The type of holster you choose will also be determined by the type of gun you intend to carry. For example, revolvers are typically carried in a leather holster, while semiautomatic pistols are often carried in kydex or nylon holsters.

Why You Should Do Your Research When Choosing a Leather Holster

There are two types of holsters: outside the waistband (OWB) and inside the waistband (IWB). OWB holsters are worn on the belt, while IWB holsters are worn inside the waistband.

Both leather and kydex holsters can be carried either way, but there are some key differences.

There are several advantages to wearing an OWB holster. First, it is easier to draw from an OWB holster. Second, OWB holsters tend to be more comfortable than IWB holsters, because they do not put as much pressure on the body. Third, OWB holsters are generally more stable than IWB holsters, so they are less likely to move around when you are walking or running.

IWB holsters on other hand are typically more concealable since they ride closer to the body. This can be a major advantage if you need to keep your gun hidden from view. If you’re going to consider an IWB holster, we’d suggest you go with leather because it’s more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. [1], [2]

What are Leather Holsters Made of

Leather holsters have been around for centuries, and for good reason. Leather is a tough, durable material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It’s also relatively comfortable to wear, particularly when it’s broken in.

Leather holsters are usually made of cowhide, though other materials like buffalo hide or sheepskin can be used. The hides are tanned and then molded into the desired shape. One advantage of leather is that it can be easily dyed to match the gun’s finish.

Leather holsters come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find one that matches your personal aesthetic. And because leather is a natural material, each holster is unique.

Leather items, including holsters have formed an essential part of traditional cowboy apparel. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that synthetic materials like kydex began to be used for holsters. [1], [2], [3], [4]

What is Kydex?

While leather has been the go-to choice for holster making for centuries, in recent years a synthetic material called kydex has become popular. Kydex is a thermoplastic material that is frequently used in the manufacture of holsters and other gun accessories. It is a durable, lightweight material that can be molded to fit a variety of different firearms.

What is Kydex

Kydex is a tough, durable material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It’s also relatively lightweight and easy to mold into the desired shape. [1], [2], [3], [4]

Comparison of Leather and Kydex Holsters

As you can see, both leather and kydex have formed quite a fanbase in the world of gun holsters. But which one is right for you? When choosing a holster, you’ll need to decide which material is right for you based on your needs and preferences. In this section, we’ll compare leather and kydex holsters in several key areas to help you make an informed decision.


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a holster is comfort. After all, you’ll be wearing your holster all day, so it needs to be comfortable enough to wear for an extended period of time.

Leather holsters tend to be more comfortable than kydex holsters. Leather is a softer material, so it’s less likely to cause irritation when you wear it. Additionally, leather holsters tend to mold to the shape of the gun more, which can make them more comfortable to wear.

Kydex holsters, on the other hand, can be a bit more uncomfortable. Kydex is a harder material, so it’s more likely to cause discomfort when you wear it. Additionally, kydex holsters don’t mold to the shape of the gun as much as leather holsters, so they can feel a bit less comfortable to wear.

Kydex holsters can also be comfortable, but they’re not as soft as leather holsters. They may cause some irritation if you wear them for extended periods of time. When pressed against, you will feel kydex holsters more. This isn’t a big deal for some people, but it may not be as comfortable for others. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]


Durability is very important when it comes to gun holsters. After all, you need to be able to rely on your holster to keep your gun safe and secure, no matter what. So, which material is more durable?

Leather is generally considered to be the more durable option. It’s less likely to tear or break than kydex, and it can withstand a fair amount of abuse. However, leather does require some maintenance to keep it in good condition. For example, you’ll need to regularly oil and condition your leather holster to prevent it from drying out and becoming brittle.


Kydex, on the other hand, is very tough and resistant to wear and tear. It doesn’t require any special care or maintenance, and it will usually outlast a leather holster. However there’s one advantage it has over a leather holster – it’s waterproof.

Leather is known to not handle moisture well. If you live in a rainy or humid climate, kydex is the better holster material.

However, kydex holsters may be harder on the firearm itself. Kydex is a harder material, so it can cause wear and tear on the gun over time. This is less of a concern with leather holsters. [1], [2], [3], [6], [7]


One of the main differences between leather and kydex holsters is retention. Retention refers to how well the holster holds onto the gun. A good retention holster will keep your gun securely in place, even if you’re running or moving around a lot.

There are two kinds of retention: active and passive. Active retention holsters have a mechanism, such as a thumb break or trigger guard lock, that must be disengaged in order to draw the gun. Passive retention holsters, on the other hand, don’t have any moving parts. They rely on friction to keep the gun in place.

Leather holsters generally have good passive retention. The natural materials used in leather conform to the shape of the gun, creating a snug fit. Kydex holsters can also have good retention, but it depends on how they’re made. Some kydex holsters have a tight fit that creates good passive retention, while others are designed for a more comfortable fit and don’t offer as much retention.

Still, most kydex holsters come with special features that add to the retention, such as a thumb break or trigger guard lock. These features can make kydex holsters just as secure as leather holsters, if not more so.

Another factor worth keeping in mind, is that leather holsters can loosen up over time, while kydex holsters will maintain their shape. This means that a leather holster may not offer the same level of retention after extended use as it did when it was new. [1], [2], [3], [4], [7]


When it comes to choosing a leather holster, noise is an important factor to consider. Leather holsters tend to be much quieter than their kydex counterparts. This is due to the fact that leather is a natural material that does not produce the same amount of friction as kydex. This makes it ideal for use in situations where you need to be quiet, such as when hunting or trying to defend yourself. [1], [3]

What is Kydex Noise

Speed of draw

When it comes to choosing a holster, the speed of draw is an important consideration. For some people, the faster the better. For others, the focus is on security and retention. And for some, concealment is the most important factor.

Since kydex holsters are made from plastic, they usually have a faster draw than leather holsters. That’s because you don’t have to overcome the resistance of the holster material when drawing your gun. Leather holsters, on the other hand, can be more difficult to draw from because the material tends to collapse around the gun when you attempt to remove it.

In addition, leather holsters often require you to break the leather in order to get a smooth, fast draw. This can be done by drawing and re-holstering your gun several times. Kydex holsters, on the other hand, are usually ready to go right out of the box. [3]


Holsters aren’t only functional, they’re also a fashion accessory. And like any other type of fashion accessory, your holster should reflect your personal style. If you’re the kind of person who appreciates the classic look of leather, then a leather holster is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a more modern look, kydex might be a better choice. [1], [2], [3], [6]


Obviously, you’ll need to take care of whichever holster you choose. But some materials are easier to care for than others. Leather, for example, will require regular oiling and conditioning to keep it supple and prevent it from drying out and cracking. Kydex, on the other hand, is a synthetic material that is virtually maintenance-free. You can simply wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris.

Still, if you take proper care of your leather holster, it can last for many years. The same goes for kydex – with proper care, it will serve you just as long.


When it comes to customization, kydex definitely has the upper hand. Leather holsters can be customized to a certain extent, but kydex holsters can be custom-molded to your specific gun model for a perfect fit. Kydex holsters also come with an adjustable retention and as we already discussed, can be fitted with a variety of accessories. If you want a holster that’s truly customized to your needs, kydex is the way to go. [1], [3]


Concealment is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a holster. If you need concealed carry, then you’ll want a holster that can help you keep your gun hidden. Let’s take a look at how leather and kydex holsters compare in terms of concealment.

Leather is a great option for concealment. Leather holsters can be made to hug your body, which helps to hide the outline of your gun. Additionally, leather is a natural material that tends to mold to your body over time, making it even more comfortable and concealable.


Kydex holsters are also great for concealment. Kydex is a rigid material that can be molded to fit your body snugly. This helps to hide the outline of your gun and minimize any printing (the outline of your gun showing through your clothing). However certain types of kydex holsters (such as those with large clips or loops) can be more difficult to conceal. [4], [5], [6], [7]


Obviously important considerations when making any purchase are price and value. So, how do leather and kydex holsters compare in this department?

Generally speaking, leather holsters tend to be more expensive than kydex holsters. This is because leather is a natural material that is more expensive to produce than synthetic materials like kydex. Furthermore, leather holsters often require more individualized craftsmanship since they must be cut and molded to fit a specific gun model, whereas kydex holsters can be mass produced more easily.

Still, some customized kydex holsters can be quite expensive as well. So, price alone should not be the deciding factor when choosing a holster material.

It’s also important to keep in mind that price isn’t everything. Just because a holster is less expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better value. In fact, some lower-priced leather holsters may not offer the same level of quality as a higher-priced kydex holster. So, be sure to do your research and choose a holster that offers the features and quality you need at a price you’re comfortable with. [3]

What About Hybrid Holsters

Another option to consider is a hybrid holster. A hybrid holster is a type of gun holster that combines both leather and synthetic materials in its construction. The most common hybrid holsters on the market use a leather backing with a Kydex or other hard plastic shell molded to the specific gun model for the front of the holster. This combination of materials results in a holster that is comfortable to wear while still providing a secure fit for your gun.

What About Hybrid Holsters

One of the biggest advantages of hybrid holsters is that they offer a good balance between comfort and security. The leather backing provides cushioning and support, while the hard plastic shell ensures that your gun stays securely in place. This makes them ideal for everyday carry, as you can be confident that your gun will stay put no matter what you’re doing.

Another advantage of hybrid holsters is that they are often more affordable than their leather counterparts. This is because they use less expensive materials in their construction, which means that they can be sold at a lower price point. [1], [3]


What holster material is best?

It really depends on what you are looking for in a holster. If you want something that is durable and easy to maintain, then kydex might be the best option for you. However, if you prefer a traditional look and feel, or want something that is more comfortable to wear, then leather might be a better choice. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which material suits your needs the best.

What type of holster is most comfortable?

There is no definitive answer to this question as comfort is subjective. That said, many people find leather holsters to be more comfortable than kydex holsters. This is because leather is a softer material that won’t feel rigid when pressed against your body, while kydex is a harder plastic that does not have the same give. Additionally, kydex holsters can sometimes rub against your skin, which can cause discomfort.

Because of their softness, even the most thick leather holsters can be worn inside the waistband without much discomfort. However, this can’t be said for kydex holsters, which are often too rigid to be worn comfortably in this position.

Are leather gun holsters good?

Yes, leather gun holsters are good. They have a number of advantages over other materials, such as kydex. Leather is a natural material, so it is more comfortable to wear than kydex. It also molds to the shape of your gun, making it more concealable. Leather is also less likely to scratch your gun’s finish.

However, leather does require more care than kydex. It needs to be conditioned regularly to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Leather also has less protection against the elements than kydex.

Do leather holsters have good retention?

Both leather and kydex holsters have great retention. The main difference is that leather holsters will have a more natural “give” to them, while kydex is more rigid. This means that it is easier to reupholster a firearm in a leather holster, but the draw may require a bit more effort. Additionally, leather holsters are also more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, as they do not cause the same amount of chafing and irritation as kydex.

Kydex holsters however often come with special mechanisms, such as a thumb break or other locking system, which can provide an extra level of security. And leather holsters will come loose with use, so they will need to be re-tightened from time to time, while kydex will hold its shape.

Useful Video: The Best Inside Waistband Holsters


When making the decision on which type of holster to buy, it is important to consider all the factors. Weight, comfort, concealability, and price are all important factors that come into play. Since firearms and your safety are involved, it is worth taking the time to make an informed decision.

Leather has been used for centuries to make holsters and other items. It is a natural material that is comfortable to wear and can be molded to fit the firearm. Leather holsters require a break-in period and will form to the shape of the firearm over time. They are generally more expensive than kydex holsters but will last longer with proper care.

Kydex is a synthetic polymer that is very strong and durable. Kydex holsters are often preferred by those who carry their firearms for self-defense purposes. They offer a high level of retention, which means the firearm will stay in place even if you are physically active. Kydex holsters are typically less expensive than leather holsters but do not have the same level of comfort.

No matter which type of holster you choose, be sure to practice with it and become familiar with how it works. This will help you be prepared in the event that you ever need to use your firearm in self-defense. If you’re still not sure which type of holster is right for you, we suggest trying out a few different types to see what works best for you. The only way to know for sure is to experience it for yourself! Thanks for reading and we hope this was helpful.


  1. https://wethepeopleholsters.com/blogs/news/kydex-vs-leather-holsters-know-how-to-choose-the-right-gun-holster-for-you
  2. https://relentless-tactical.com/blogs/rto/leather-vs-kydex-holsters-for-concealed-carry
  3. https://www.falcoholsters.com/blog/handgun-holster-showdown-leather-vs-kydex-vs-hybrid
  4. https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/blog/holster-comparison-kydex-vs-leather/
  5. https://shop.roundedgear.com/blogs/news/6-benefits-of-an-iwb-kydex-holster
  6. https://1791gunleather.com/top-5-benefits-of-leather-holsters/
  7. https://www.incognitoconcealment.com/blog/benefits-of-a-kydex-holster/