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.
Thank you Tyler, this has made me understand way more than I previously knew about kydex.
I didnt know the aircraft industry used kydex as well, thats pretty neat.
I have a comp tac infidel holster for my 228. I love it, it conceals so well, you dont even know its there. My Galco and Blackhawk holsters printed badly b/c the sig was a bit on the chunky side…am a fan of comp tac now
Thanks for the write up. I was really close to purchasing the OWB paddle holster, but I am very concerned about the deforming in heat. I live in Las Vegas, and I could see myself leaving my gun and holster in the vehicle while at work. I would not want to have to remove gun from holster each day before getting out of truck.
Any advice? I really like your company, and product!
I own two Comp-Tacs. Excellent holster, great value, and superior customer service made me a repeat customer. Looking at ordering a belt and some more mag pouches in the future.
Thanks for the write up Tyler!
Mike W.- We do not recommend leaving your holster in the car for extended periods of time. If you crack your windows and put the holster under the seat out of the sun it may help, but especially in a hot climate we would not recommend leaving it in the car.
Kydex is cheap. Leather is expensive. If it was the other way around, Comp-Tac would be extolling the virtue of leather.
It’s the job of business to drive excess costs from the system, even if quality is driven out, too. No disrespect intended, but that’s just the way it is. Which is why I prefer steel guns and leather holsters, even though I also own polymer guns and Kydex holsters.
And while everyone keeps talking about kydex being fast, leather can be crazy fast as well. Like the Front Line Yamam holster. It’s a IWB holster where the leather is rough side out, the smooth side is as fast as Kydex but doesn’t mar the finish of the weapon and unlike Kydex, you can’t break it by rolling onto it. Having the rough side out allows it to grip to you a bit better as well, keeping it from moving when you draw. Love that holster.
I haven’t gotten my ccw yet but will been soon. I live in an open carry state and care using a canvas/kevlar leg holster, I’ve had it for years and has held up wonderfully even with my constant practicing of draw and shoot at the range and at home using snap caps so the maintenance is reduced. I was wondering if you could or are using any type of fibers to reinforce the holsters or is that not possible? I don’t know much about holsters that are made from matierials other then leather or heavy clothes/metal. Just a question/idea.
I’ve been carrying and competing with Comp-Tac holsters for nearly 10 years. In all that time I have never broken one of their holsters. This includes sideways prone, wrestling with kids and dogs, and one off-road motorcycle crash.
My only complaint for Comp-Tac is that they don’t make any holsters for K-frame smith revolvers.