How to make the perfect kydex holster

Ever since my post challenging the how custom, custom holsters are I have been thinking about what “options” would improve holster design AND be scalable to produce.

I have come up with 5.

1.) One major drawback to Kydex pancake holsters is that they are BOTH rigid and wide.

Rigid is fine for a holster with 1 mounting  point because it just takes up a “point” on your belt and it doesn’t need to conform (as much) to the carriers body shape. Wide is great for a flexible holster because it adds stability and distributes the weight of a heavy gun. But when the holster is both rigid AND wide, the holster needs to be shaped to fit the wearer or it pulls un-naturally away from the body.

For those with the proper know how, the holster can be reformed some, however no one wants to take a heat gun to a brand new piece of gear.

By offering 2-3 different curves, holster manufacturers could tailor the holster for those with tiny, average and more “generous” proportions.

2) Kydex holsters of this design are molded by squeezing heated kydex around a gun or mold in a book press.  Since most manufacturers use the same density foam on the top and bottom the “wings” on the side of the holster are centered on the firearm.

It should be possible to use either a different density foam, a cooler piece of kydex or a 2 stage forming process to create a holster with 80-90% of the molding coming from the top layer (think Crossbreed Super Tuck).

The major benefit of this would be the ease at which the holster would thread onto a double thickness gun belt.

3) The belt clips of kydex pancake holsters could be one of the biggest benefits of this style holster for women… if manufacturers took advantage of it.

Many women have trouble finding a holster because the are typically a) short waisted and b) have curves.

With normal clips made for a fit male, the butt of the gun is pulled towards the torso for concealment, but for a woman this can press the butt of the gun into their ribs… making carry uncomfortable.

By offering clips that press the butt (of the gun) away from the body, the holster could carry the gun vertically, comfortably.

4) The cant of all holsters is still described by the angle of the guns muzzle. This makes NO sense!

As a shooter you interface with gun based on the grip and it is well documented that the most common guns have very different grip angles. This means that if you find a cant that works great for your M&P, you can almost guarantee that, that same holster WON’T work for a Glock!

By describing the holster based on the orientation of the grip, you could improve the chances that a holster that works for you with one gun, would work for you with another.

5) The default color for kydex holsters is black… Why?

With the exception of dress clothes, it is fairly rare that Americans wear black pants and a large black square on your hip can draw unwanted attention.

A light grey holster is very similar in tone to both blue jeans and khaki pants.

If your cover garment happens to expose your OWB holster, this light grey color is both less likely to be noticed and less likely to be identified as a gun holster.

What do you think? Would these options improve the ways kydex holsters fit you? If you are a holster manufacturer, is there a reason that these options aren’t offered?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

Update 01/24/2014 – Comp-tac was listening! After this post Comp-Tac Victory Gear developed the Flatline Holster incorporating the offset clips and the asymmetrical molding described above.


  1. says

    These are Important considerations for anyone who carries for any length of time. Especially for Women who make up a lot of new handgun owners. A bad experience with an uncomfortable holster and then they end up carrying in their Purse, which should Always be a No-No!…

  2. Dave says

    I like my holsters black so they hide in the darkness of my cover garment, even if the jacket or shirt blows open a bit. It’s the same reason I prefer black handguns, stainless can stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise dark environment.

  3. says

    Without trying to spam my stuff I actually started making kydex because I wanted a narrower holster and none of the “custom” people who were all the rage at the time cared to make anything “custom”.

      • says

        It can be but finding a balance of narrow, curved, and the right height seems to go well. Not everything works for everyone and the sooner people preach that over other things the better.

      • Bruce says

        I am in the process of procuring the materials for my first Kydex holster.

        It seems to me the more critical Taco Style holster requires the 50-50 split to center the sight channel.

        Regarding the non-50-50 mating of the Kydex, everyone uses 2 pieces of 1″ deep Kydex sheet for both sides of the molding. What I’ve considered is using 1″ on one side and 2 pieces 1/2″ thick on one side (or possibly 1/4″).

        Then gluing a small piece of Velcro to hold them in place, change the thickness of for the non-50-50 I could move the 1/2″ piece to the other side so my mold would be 1/2″ on 1 side and 1 1/2″ on the other side.

        My story is here:

        I am speaking of a single clip and Taco style holster pocket. Proper clip placement (angle and location on the holster pocket) is important to a stable holster. Balance can be identified by holding the gun as carried using two fingers one on each side just behind the trigger guard. This can identify the cant off vertical and where best to locate the clip.

        Ron, thanks for your great write up. It is useful with lots of good thoughts.

        • Bruce says

          Correction to the third paragraph.

          “…everyone uses 2 pieces of 1″ deep Kydex sheet for both sides of the molding.” This is the foam for the mold, not the Kydex. Sorry for my error.

  4. Sam says

    Really awesome, solid points! This is a market niche that needs to be filled. Or, the bigger “custom” kydex manufacturers should immediately start some R&D into these suggestions.

  5. says

    This afternoon I got an e-mail from the owner of White Dog Holsters addressing my comments and I thought I would post them here.

    Not being a holster manufacturer my opinion means exactly squat, but I have some ideas how to address all of Devin’s points; however I only have one issue with his comments… He got to WTBGU! via the IDPA page and I tossed him the biggest complement ever at the top of the post.

    I need to talk him into subscribing by e-mail!



    I saw your holster article (I was linked to it from the IDPA facebook page) If you want I have a few thoughts from the holster maker’s perspective:

    1. My best holsters are made when I know a person’s build. I was talking to Gila Hays about this a week ago. She thinks that a shooter needs to become friends with a holster maker to get a truly custom holster. Wile this is true, and if someone is forthcoming with this info I can build them the holster they want. The problem is that most people just want to click their mouse and order a holster. I regularly see orders where the customer leaves out all info except for gun model.

    What I am trying to say is people should not be afraid to send the holstermaker a friendly email with a few details. The worst that will happen is a large company will ignore them, and if it is a small company they will write a sticky note and slap it on their order.

    1.5 I also put a curve on my leather/kydex “Mutt” holster like I do with the purebred. I think I am the only one?

    2. It is possible. The only way I can see it working is using 080 on the front and .125 or .093 on the back. I would worry about it sliding around on the belt.
    I dont think it could be done with moulding the holster in 2 different halves. there is a good chance the kydex would be over moulded and when the two halves are put together the holster would be too wide, i.e. 1 1.2 the width of the gun’s slide.

    3. The low mount belt loops I offer were designed by my wife. Try putting the belt loops from that mag pouch i sent you on your holster and let me know what you think. For one lady that had a pronounced hourglass figure I made them a bit different to fit her, but the low mount works for many women.

    4. Good point. It would be a nightmare for big holster companies that stock everything, or hard to program a web page for. Truly a custom option.

    5. I am stocking more grey kydex, and I have noticed more people ordering grey.

    Hope this helps? When I have time I want to make you a new G19 holster with some of the tricks I have learned over the past year.

    Thank You,
    Devin Wulle
    White Dog Holsters

  6. Will says

    I find that you are mostly wrong on this. The muzzle angle (bore axis) is important for two reasons.
    One is concealment. If this wasn’t a concern, most handguns would be carried at a vertical angle. However, to keep the butt from printing, it has to be angled. Also tends to keep the butt from banging it into things like chairs, etc.

    Two, draw angle. When switching from holster to holster, or to a different gun, if this angle is not consistent, you may have trouble getting the gun out as fast as you may need to. For example: During a class, I switched from an IWB to a paddle type. Once in a while, the gun refused to come out when first grabbed. This is heart stopping! Later, I compared the holsters, and discovered that the draw angle was different. The plastic paddle holster had a slightly more vertical cant, and the gun was locking up due to the “normal” angle I was trying to draw at. The leather IWB holster has what is termed the “FBI” cant, I think. That seems to be the default angle for most hip located holsters.

    Different grip angles is what your wrist is for. I can switch between Glock and 1911 types, and have no problems, as long as the holster cant is the same.

    BTW, a heat gun was used on the two plastic Israeli holsters I’ve got, to pivot the holster body relative to the paddle mount. Since then, no more drawing problems.

    • ronlarimer says


      This is exactly why I write posts like this. I like that it drives thought and debate. Thanks for the post!

      In my look at grip angle ( I actually show how the different grip angles change the concealibility of the gun. By defining the muzzle angle only you make a Glock concealable and you bang the 1911 on chairs.

      As for your wrist, I think that getting a good master grip is important so shooting and I show no reason to fight body mechanics

      I can see how drawing could be an issue and plan on testing that further! Thanks again!

  7. says

    I am a small holster manufacturer with this exact same thought process although it’s tough to explain via a reply on how I resolve this exact problem email me and I’ll be happy to explain how the process works and would love some feedback from folks like yourself –

      • says

        Ride height is always adjustable along with cant by moving the belt loops for multiple configurations our page has finally been finished so if you would like to give us a once over I would appreciate also I would be happy to build you a holster and then get some feedback from you. (No charge of course) – Nicholas.DeLane

  8. says

    Wow, I just stumbled upon this and it is a great article. I had never thought about the gray, but it makes perfect since. We need more gray options. I don’t generally do OWB holsters, but I am thinking about getting a Comp-Tac Flatline(which is what led me to this article). I may have to get some gray Duracoat to go along with it.

  9. daren says

    Yes, very cool but as a person who makes knives and the kydex sheaths for them id like to comment. 1. Everyone wants black. I have pieces of camo, gray and red and even at half price nobody wants them. But i think your correct but not everyone sees it that way.
    2. There is no way that one could heat up the kydex, get a perfect form around the knife or gun, and at the same time bend the sheath to curve it around the waist. It just doesnt work.
    3. All my sheaths come with a screw so one could tighten or loosen the retention. Also my sheaths have 2 leather leather straps, one is hard mounted the other can be placed on any 2 eyelets on the sheath to allow for either a vertical carry or a slanted carry. They also come with an adjustable drop down belt loop and a piece of kydex formed around 2 thick belts to allow for a horizontal carry or literally any kind of orientation. Every single carry option allows for the thickest belt to threaded through it twice.
    So pretty much i thought every sheath was done like that but i guess that im an odd guys because i dont mind getting off my ass, rolling up my sleeves and doing some hard work.

  10. says

    Your Quirky Drawing is what drove/attracted me from a Google Search.

    I make AND sell my pancake holster by waist size. Yep. Just like a pair of pants.

    I created my own round press and adjust to waist size per order. So far, no complaints, in fact I have a returning customer % that is high.
    Mine also offer easy on/off tabs to allow you to don or doff my holsters without having to remove your belt. Same goes for my mag holders.

    So yes. Like you said, we’re different in shapes and size and need holster makers to be aware of this and implement that into design.

    thanks, tom

  11. Brian Mumford says

    You bring up a great point. Personally, after more than a decade of concealed carry, I no longer use kydex. I bought a leather holster for the first time last year and never looked back. Mitch Rosen and R Grizzle HIGH riding leather pancake holsters are rigid enough in my opinion (even the Mitch’s express line), and they conceal extremely well OWB because the leather allows them to conform to your body better than any kydex designs I’ve seen.

  12. says

    If you are looking for an adjustable cant clip for your concealed carry holster for both men and concealed carry holsters for women then you should check out the VersaClip by Just Holster It. You can retrofit almost all holsters that use FOMI clips. And are just as economical as the FOMI with the same great strength. So whether you are looking to carry appendix or small of the back, VersaClip gives you the cant adjustment you need.

Speak Your Mind