Leather vs. Kydex — it’s been a point of contention among shooters since the first days of the Kydex holster in the 1970s, but leather has endured and doesn’t seem to be budging anytime soon. And for good reason.
Let’s just say they’re both pretty awesome, but we should not give them a pass that easily. Though both options definitely have their strong points, the cons on these weapon carry options can make a grown man cry (literally). For instance …
You know that clacky-scrapy sound, when someone fast-draws from a Kydex thigh rig? If you’re like me, then chances are that you would always think, “Hmm… sounds cool, but it also sounds like this 1911  will soon be headed back to the blueing bench again.” Hey, let’s face it: Kydex can be very tough on weapon finish. It might not be able to remove the hard water stains off the Hoover Dam, but it’s definitely known for giving a handgun’s blueing the wire-brush treatment.
On the other hand, we should also not forget that Kydex holsters have always been known for being safe and effective. Leather holsters, on the other hand? Well, to be fair, I am reminded of this old video. Viewer discretion is advised.
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Turns out that if you don’t take care of your everyday-carry leather holster, then it could deform near the trigger well. And if you’re also running a 1911 with a trigger that tends to pull about the weight of an average Chihuahua … well, yes, then you’d have the perfect storm for an accidental discharge — not to mention a subsequent gunshot wound to the leg.
When it comes to leather, the rule is simple: Take care of your holster, and it will take care of you.
Ye Olde Benefits of Leather
Leather holsters basically last forever. Believe it or not, some holsters that are being used today will remain functional longer than most humans will remain living. Heck, there are even holsters from 167 years ago  that are still on display, and they look great! So, you might as well write your leather sheath or holster into your will, because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
With that being said, leather simply has no equal in classiness, general attractiveness, and has been making gunslingers swoon for a century and a half. You just can’t beat the sight of a Colt Peacemaker, nestled gently inside an oiled piece of cowhide and fitted to a gunbelt. Speaking of which, another interesting — but often overlooked — benefit of leather is that they make for a great CCW holster. They’re smooth, won’t snag on clothing, and they’re more form-fitting, flexible and comfy.
Why Kydex Rocks
Kydex is way cheaper (at least in comparison to leather holsters) and simply refuses to bow down to mud, dirt, grime, moisture, sweat or even fish guts. Not to mention, it barely requires any form of regular maintenance. Basically, just pray over it once a year, and you’re good. Allow me to elaborate by quoting one of the greats, Robert Farago from The Truth About Guns:
KYDEX 100 is known in the business as “The Gold Standard for Thermoforming.” It’s super tough and durable. It arrives at the holster  or sheath maker’s shop in a proprietary “alloy sheet.” It offers excellent formability, rigidity, break and chemical resistance. It also withstands high temperatures.
Now that sounds complicated enough to convince me on the durability factor. (But just to be fair, Farago does rip on Kydex earlier in the same article, due to its hate for gun finishes.)
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure that this article had much of an impact on the Kydex vs. leather debate, but hey, at least we had some fun in the process. To recap what we’ve learned here today, I will leave you with a good rule of thumb when trying to decide which holster is right for you:
Pick the leather holster for your Sunday clothes.
For everything else, there’s Kydex.
Which holster type do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the section below: