Holster/Types of Holsters/Kydex

holster on belt

A holster is a holder for carrying a handgun or other firearm. A holster is typically made of leather but can be made of a variety of other materials. It is used to hold or restrict the undesired movement of a handgun. A well-designed holster will provide protection to the handgun when inserted or removed from the holster or while being carried. This prevents three things: accidental trigger movement, accidental disengagement of the safety mechanism, and forward or rearward movement of the hammer. These features will vary greatly as applicable to the action of the handgun. The safety features of a holster generally require that a holster must be designed for each specific model of handgun.

Types of Holsters

Pocket Holster

Pocket holster
image of pocket holster

A pocket holster is a holster designed to carry a concealed firearm in the pocket of an article of clothing. Holsters are generally designed to offer protection to the handgun, secure its retention and provide ready access to it. Is pocket carry right for you?

Shoulder Holster

person wearing shoulder holster
image of shoulder holster

A shoulder holster consists of straps connected in a manner similar to a backpack, with the actual holster mounted to a strap on the right or left side. Normally, the straps cross over on shoulders and back and the gun can generally be placed over the chest or under the armpit, depending on the design. Shoulder holsters distribute the weight across the shoulders instead of directly on the belt. This is to provide better comfort than a traditional holster. 

They are designed to position the handgun in one of three ways: a vertical position with the barrel pointed generally toward the ground, a vertical position with the barrel pointed generally upward or a horizontal position with the barrel pointed generally behind the carrier. Spare magazines typically hang on the opposite side of the body from the holster. The firearm is then easily concealable with a jacket.

Did You Know?

Old West Shoulder Rigs

Shoulder rigs are said to have originated on the American Frontier during the late 1870s. Old West gamblers “Doc” Holliday and Luke Short were both known for their deadly speed and accuracy with a gun and sported shoulder holsters. Friends and lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson both attested that Holliday wore two revolvers — one on his hip and another under his left arm in a shoulder holster. Shoulder holders offered easy accessibility, comfort and concealability for cowboys, gamblers, lawmen and outlaws.

Photo of Doc Holliday's gravestone in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
“Doc” Holliday’s grave, Pioneer Cemetery, Glenwood Springs, Colorado (Image courtesy of Frank Jastrzembski)

Hybrid Holster

Hybrid holster
image of hybrid holster

A hybrid holster refers to the merging of two or more different types of materials in a holster’s construction. For example, a holster with a leather back pad and a polymer shell would be a hybrid holster. 

Related Articles From the USCCA Blog

Beginner Series: Gun Holsters

Beginner Series: Gun Holsters

Bob Campbell — December 10, 2020

Holster Comparison: Kydex vs. Leather

Holster Comparison: Kydex vs. Leather

Bob Campbell — June 13, 2020


kydex holster
brown kydex holster

Kydex, invented in 1965, is a line of thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride materials which gives the plastic rigidity. It also can be molded into various shapes. Kydex combines the properties of the acrylic (rigidity and formability) and the polyvinyl chloride (durability and chemical resistance) components. It has a wide variety of applications, most notably for firearm holsters and sheaths. 

Kydex was first used as a holster material in 1972 by Chicago FBI agent Bill Rogers. Holsters made of this material are lightweight and durable. Demand for his product increased rapidly, and Rogers took a three-year leave from the FBI to make holsters. In 1973, he started the Rogers Holster Co., later purchased by Safariland in 1985. 

The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. We make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed.