We’ve been doing a lot of Comp-Tac holster reviews lately and one or two of our readers have asked why I love plastic so much. I figured it might be best to let the founder of Comp-Tac, Gregg Garrett get his feelings out in the open. Make the jump to read Gregg’s thoughts on the ups (and the downs) of working with Kydex . . .
When is Kydex right? When is it wrong?
Kydex can be both wrong and right. Kydex is right because it holds up much better when it comes to moisture and the chemicals one might use on their pistols. Leather can hold the moisture which may require more maintenance if you want it to last. Kydex can be maintained with a quick wipe with a soft cloth.
Kydex can be wrong when it is the wrong thickness for the application. The biggest problem I see with many inside the waist band Kydex holsters on the market is the thickness of the material. Part of my testing involved shooting from a compromised position. If you roll on to your empty holster it should not collapse or break. We have chosen the thickness of the Kydex we use on our inside the waistband holsters to be thick enough to withstand any situation but thin enough to be comfortable.
What other materials did you evaluate for your holsters?
While making prototype holsters we tested the material ABS. ABS is entirely too brittle. Additionally, there is an off brand version of something similar to Kydex that costs about 1/3 what Kydex costs. I found this material a bit “user hostile” when forming, but more importantly it was more likely to break if you laid on it.
What specifically makes Kydex great for holsters?
Two things; maintenance and friction. Maintenance: as mentioned before, Kydex can withstand water and many solvents which makes the holster wear longer and stand up to more abuse. Friction: the composition of Kydex provides a smooth surface to place against the firearm. This allows the pistol to be drawn and re-holstered faster because there is less friction rubbing against it.
Have you ever experienced any problems using Kydex?
Yes. First, Kydex is an excellent material to work with because, as a manufacturer, we can get a perfectly formed fit for each firearm. However, sometimes we outdo ourselves and the holster fits so close it doesn’t allow for changes in the design. If a firearms manufacturer makes a change to the frame of their firearm our holsters do not “bend” to allow for that change. We have to head back to the drawing board to make a new mold.
Second, when we form a holster we use heat to make the Kydex melt into the shape of the holster. If you use heat to form something, heat can also deform it. If customers leave their holsters in the car in hot weather or allow them too near a heat source it can deform the holster.
Besides holsters and belt reinforcement, where else is Kydex used?
Often Kydex is used as a tough veneer like on a kiosk. Also, the aircraft industry uses it a lot. When you put your “tray table in its upright, locked position” it is covered by Kydex.
What is the hardest thing about working with Kydex? The easiest?
Probably the hardest thing is getting the working temperature perfect. If the Kydex is too cool it will snap while we are trying to form it, if it is too hot we can melt or burn the Kydex making it useless.
I’d say the easiest thing is converting customers!
You can have only one holster for the rest of your life (and it has to last that long). What is it and what is it made of?
That would be the MTAC. Deep concealment. Most comfort for carry. Yes it is part leather but its comfort is worth a little maintenance. I can still be competitive in a match. Clouds part, Angels sing.