Which IWB Holster Material Is Best: Kydex, Leather Or Hybrid?

Which IWB Holster Material Is Best: Kydex, Leather or Hybrid?

Ok, I’ll admit it. For years, I carried my Shield around in a hybrid holster, a Crossbreed Minituck. I bought the holster because it seemed like a good compromise between comfort and retention, and at the time, I had little experience with other holsters.

Things have changed, though, and I know longer carry in a hybrid, for pretty much the same reasons that John Corriea lays out here:

And so, about a year ago, I switched from the hybrid to a PHLSTER Stealth Kydex holster, and I’ve not looked back. As for the supposed extra comfort of the hybrid, I have spent the last four months carrying my Shield one month apiece in a Galco Summer Comfort leather IWB holster, a Blade-Tech Nano Kydex IWB holster, a Blade-Tech Klipt Kydex IWB holster and I also drug out my old Crossbreed Minituck to complete the set, just to see how comfortable each of them are to carry around.

So, what have I learned after wearing different holsters for the same gun for a month apiece?

  • I really prefer holsters with an “FBI cant,” where the holster tilts the gun forward slightly. The Klipt is the only holster that doesn’t have that feature, and I found it very uncomfortable to wear on a day-in, day-out basis. I’m not going to wear it anymore, and in the future, I’ll avoid IWB holsters without the cant.
  • The hybrid holster was just as comfortable to carry as the other two holsters. Hybrid holsters are marketed to be much more comfortable than holsters made from other materials, but my experiences is that cant and position on the belt (straight up 3 o’clock in my case) made much more of difference than what the holster was made of.
  • Safely re-holstering my gun in the leather holster was a challenge at times. While the holster does stay open on the waist to allow it to be re-holstered, but there isn’t the smooth transition between “out of holster” and “in the holster” that there is with kydex.
  • The Florida heat made no difference in which holster was most comfortable, but then again, I’ve been wearing an undershirt since I first moved here, which provides an extra layer of padding.

All of this is subjective, though, so I thought I’d do a test to see which is fastest on the draw. I setup an IDPA target inside and then drew and fired one “shot” close to the Down Zero zone three times from each holster from three yards away, recording the result with the iDryFire2 app. I set up this test to remove accuracy on the draw, and isolate on how fast I could get the gun into play and get off a decent shot. Also, the tests were shot without drawing from concealment as I wanted to get an idea of how the holsters themselves behaved, rather than testing how well I cleared my cover garment.

The results:

 KydexLeatherHybrid
Shot 11.431.551.93
Shot 21.471.511.7
Shot 31.571.641.63
Average1.491.571.75
Percentage Slower-4.89%15.02%

A few notes:

  • Getting a good firing grip on the Crossbreed required a lot more legerdemain than the other two holsters. Even though the holster has a “combat cut” that facilitates a faster, easier grip, it just wasn’t as easy to grab the gun securely than the other two were.
  • The leather on the Galco held onto gun a little more than the other two holsters, resulting in a slower draw time compared to the Kydex, but faster than the hybrid. Now, I haven’t lathered any Draw-EZ into that holster (yet), but that might help even the. score a bit.
  • The “click” you hear re-holstering in a Kydex is a real comfort. No, it doesn’t substitute for watching your gun back into the holster, but it is yet another indication you did it the right way.

So is Kydex the be-all and end all of all holsters? Maybe, maybe not. As I said before, I didn’t smooth out the draw on the Galco leather holster before this test, so that might level the playing field a bit and help smooth the fussiness of re-holstering with that holster as well. However, if you’re currently carrying in a hybrid holster because you think it’s super extra-specially more comfortable than kydex or leather, I suggest buying a quality kydex or leather holster and find out for yourself what you’re giving up in return for pretty much nothing at all.

Done With The Trunk Gun.

Done With The Trunk Gun.

I usually work in a “business casual” environment, and so I have spent years carrying around a compact .380 pistol and not a whole lot more. I’ve had to learn just what a pocket .380 can do and can’t do, and while I’d like to carry around more with me, the fact is, I can’t, so I work within the reality I’m dealt with, not the one I want.

Which is why I’ve clung to the idea of a trunk gun for so long. The lack of decent sights and small size of a compact .380 means that a 25 yard shot is theoretical at best, and even 10 yard shots can be a challenge, so it’s nice to have something nearby that treats 25 yards as point-blank range.

But.

Trunk guns are, by their very nature, in the trunk of your car (duh), which means that you’ll need a minute or so to get to it. Also, unless they’re locked away in a strongbox or something similar, (which will increase your access time to the gun even more), they’ll be the first things stolen if your vehicle is broken into. Both of these are not the sort of thing I look for in a self-defense firearm.

Also, I’ve been re-thinking the gear that I stow away in my car. I’m moving the emphasis away from a “do anything” pack that will keep me alive for an indefinite amount of time, and moving towards a “get home” bag that’s more limited in scope but is right there when I need it. That same concept of “if it handy when you need it, it ain’t your primary” is also changing what I carry in my car for defensive firepower.

We have all heard that “a .22 on you beats a .45 in the truck,” and the car gun corollary to that is “a pistol you can deploy right now is better than a rifle that’s in your trunk.” As such, I’m switching out the trunk gun with a backup pistol that’s secure but yet reachable from inside the passenger compartment. Yes, I am giving up something in firepower to do so, but it makes little sense to me to have a gear bag that I can grab quickly but a defensive weapon which takes me a lot longer to get my hands on.

Factoring into this decision is that I’m pretty comfortable with my ability with the 9mm Shield I carry around in more casual settings. I’ve shot the FBI qual twice with it and scored at the Instructor level both times, and I know I can consistently make first-shot hits from the holster with it out to 50 yards within three seconds. A rifle it’s not, but then again, I’m not looking to solve rifle-sized problems, I’m looking to get the hell out of dodge with what I can lay my hands on this very moment.

As such, I’ve put my backup Shield into a Hornady Rapid Vehicle Safe, and the primary means to open it is the RFID chip on the back of my phone case. Because I use my phone for directions and listening to podcasts while on the road, it’s usually in the console right next to me as I drive. I can grab it, open the Rapid Safe and retrieve my gun for use in just under four seconds.

Try doing that with a rifle in your trunk.

Right next to the safe in the passenger foot well is my get home bag, which means I can grab gun and bag and head out in just a few seconds. Yes, the bag is out in the open, but it’s black on black, which means a potential car thief will need to be eagle-eyed indeed to spot it as he saunters past my car.

The 9mm Shield gives me more thump than my LCP2, and can be used as a backup for when I’m carrying my primary Shield. Inside the get home bag is a Sticky Holster that can fit both the Shield and LCP2 and yet serve as a pocket holster or an IWB holster if needed in a pinch. Yes, a dedicated holster is better choice for IWB, but we are talking about a situation where something that can do 80% of more than one job is better than carrying two tools that can do 100% of their dedicated job.

So between the get home bag and the gun safe, I think I’ve finally settled on a system that will keep me and my loved ones safe, no matter where we roam. Hopefully, I’ll never have to find out, but I ready if that day ever arises.

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

Oh really?

Cops have a lot of jobs to do, and shooting people is only one (very small) job among many. I’m ridiculously happy that the cops are around and they should be celebrated for what they do, but chances are “firearms instructor” is not one of the jobs they perform on a regular basis.

Speaking of trust icons, let’s talk about the “I know how to shoot, I was in the military” canard. Yes, you may know how to lay down suppressive fire with an M240 Bravo, but that skill (thankfully) doesn’t have a whole lot of application in the civilian world.

Pistols? Pistols have a LOT of application in the civilian world, and the standards for excellence in the military for pistols is not so excellent.

The new Marine Combat Pistol Program Qualifier is designed to be a more “real world” qualifier than their previous one which was pretty much just a bullseye match in olive drab.

Here’s the course of fire for the new qualifier.

Yes, you have FIVE SECONDS to draw and shoot two rounds into center-mass of a target that’s seven yards away, and the rest of the par times are equally ridiculous. If you’re any kind of competition shooter (like D Class or better) or have taken a decent two-day pistol course, you should have no trouble qualifying as Expert on this course of fire.

And it’s not like the target they use is extra-small, either. The 10 Zone, the highest-scoring part of the target is bigger than the already generous scoring area of a USPSA target, and compared its a veritable broad side of a barn compared to the IDPA target in the photo to the right. Heck, I’d bet that 3/4ths of my friends on social media could qualify as Expert using half the allotted time for the drill, and more than a few of them could easily do it in half the time and at double the required distance.

Are their good, nay, great military and law enforcement shooters? Of course there are. Does being in the military or law enforcement automatically make you a great shooter? Probably not.

 

 

 

Abby Normal

Abby Normal

Because I hate wasting good stuff at an away game.

Dear Tactical Abby,

I’ve been told by people on the internet that I must have a “no compromise” attitude when it comes to my personal security, but I worry that I have made a very bad decision. I really think that I’ve compromised my personal security and the safety of my family by not carrying around an M4, a plate carrier and a half dozen 30 round mags, as experience has clearly shown that this is the optimal choice for self-defense. Instead, I’ve foolishly, even recklessly compromised my security, and I’ve decided to carry JUST a pistol. What ever shall I do? How shall I rectify this dangerous oversight on my part? Because of what I’ve done, Abby, I’ve put myself and my entire family at risk!

Signed,
Defenseless in SW Florida.

Dear Defenseless in SW Florida. 

Have you ever considered learning what you can and can’t do with a pistol, no matter if it’s a full-size service gun, compact 9mm or a .380 pocket rocket and then putting that knowledge to use defending yourself and your family? Metal and plastic don’t adapt to changing environments, people do, though, and they do so all the time. That’s what training does for you; it also you to adapt faster than the other guy and come out on top.

A pistol, any pistol is a compromise, and any pistol is also a suboptimal personal defense weapon. This is the reason why the military carries rifles around to shoot people in face rather than pistols. People like you and me, however, don’t carry around rifles because we don’t want to look like those open carry maroons who walk into Starbucks with their rifles at low ready. Instead, we choose a suboptimal platform (a pistol) for our comfort and the comfort of those around us. Get a pistol. Learn to use it well and then most importantly, carry something with you wherever it is possible to do so. Even the wimpiest of .22’s on your person when you need it is a more effective defensive tool than a tricked out Glock that’s nowhere to be found.

Signed, 

Tactical Abby

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Went on a family trip up to Orlando for my birthday over the weekend, so here’s some content I queued up for you all. Some of it written by me, so not.

An evidence-based approach to knife defence. I’m not the most-qualified guy to comment on this, but I found it interesting.

First Look: Savage B22 FLH. Really liked this little rifle. It’s a keeper.

A quick flow chart to help you stop bleeding.

Some really good advice on pocket pistols. When in doubt, go with a Failure To Stop Drill.

Five Skill Drills For The Indoor Range, because not everybody has access to a pistol bay.

Comparing an A Class vs C Class run on the same stage. I’m sucky and I know it.

New Lanes Are Opening Up

New Lanes Are Opening Up

A couple of interesting videos came across my Facebook feed last week. The first is from Saddle River Range, a very nice “guntry” club in Texas, showing off their new live-fire, virtual training system.

The second is Max Michel shooting the new Auto Target system by Action Target.

We are moving away from the “go to your booth, hang up your target, send it out, shoot it, bring it back” experience of the traditional indoor range into something that’s a little more stimulating, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

More, please.

The Cognitive Dissonance O’erwhelms Me.

The Cognitive Dissonance O’erwhelms Me.

Gun instructors: We’re teaching you how to defend your life with a gun, any gun. It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian. There is no such thing as a dangerous weapon, there are only dangerous men*.

Also gun instructors: You are a fool if you recommend that your students carry a pistol in .380 or a smaller caliber.

So which is it? Are the basic skills of marksmanship and accurate fire under stressful situations applicable to any handgun, or should you skip all that folderol and just get a Glock 19?

Me? I say, if you train with a pocket .380 and you know what it can and can’t do because of your training, go ahead and carry it with confidence.

That statement assumes a bunch of things, though:

  1. That people who own pocket guns don’t treat them as a talisman of self-protection, but rather have the desire to seek out training.
  2. That trainers are capable of teaching how to properly use pocket guns.
  3. That people are aware of drills and quals specifically set up for backup guns (Chuck Haggard ran us through the Atlanta PD Backup Gun qual at TacCon, and there’s one for Georgia State Troopers as well).
  4. Mostly importantly, that trainers realize they are not training student to be exactly like themselves, but rather, they are training students who can adapt their techniques to their own lifestyle. If your methods work only for you, you are not training students, your are raising up disciples.

How many of the assumptions we make about what makes an “effective” carry pistol are based on what is actually effective, and how many of those assumptions are based on what we ourselves are comfortable with and designate as being a minimum requirement for our classes?

Now, to be fair, there is a BIG logistical element at play here. Speaking as someone who regularly takes a 9mm Shield to training classes, it kinda sucks having to swap out mags twice as often as a Glock 17 user, and it only gets worse when I train with my LCP. Also, having just put 1600+ rounds through an LCP and watching its reliability FLY downhill after round 500 or so, they’re just not meant for, say, a Gunsite 250.

But that doesn’t meant that people who own them can’t be trained to a point where they can draw and hit a target at self-defense distances in a reasonable amount of time.

It just means ain’t nobody going to Rogers with an LCP.

 

* Or women. Or whatever.

Flash Site Pictures, Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures, Monday Edition

This is how we win. If we don’t do it more often, we’ll lose.

Dear city folk: We know more about guns than you do. Signed, country folk.
P!ss off, country folk. Signed, me.

Oh hai Trump Slump.

Caution: Using This Product Against Armed Citizens Might Result In Injury Or Death.

Ruger says “Bless your heart” to a bunch of nuns. Good for them.

I decided to go DA/SA before it was cool, but here’s Ernest Landgon to help explain why it’s useful. And cool.

Why off-body carry is usually a bad idea.

Fully Koala-fied

Fully Koala-fied

We are constantly being judged by standards. We’ve had the idea that we need to achieve passing grades or better drilled into us since at least our first day of school, and that idea continues through our adult lives. My bonus at work is based in part on how much new business I bring in, and that number is a set amount known to me and my boss. Standardized drills and qualifications are important in firearms training because if you (God forbid) have to defend a life and go to court, pistol qualifications are admissible as evidence and are not subject to cross examination (how do you cross-examine a piece of paper?).

Also, even before it gets to court, if you can bamboozle the D.A. with a list of certifications and qualifications that prove that you know how to shoot (and shoot as well as an FBI Pistol Instructor), your chances of going to court get smaller and smaller.

Shoot a qual, and shoot it either on video or with a witness. Create a foundation for your ability to defend your life with your pistol, and see how you improve on that foundation.