The Cornered Cat
Gear check!

Here’s a little secret that’s a surprise to a lot of people: carry gear wears out.

This is true no matter what kind of holster we use, whether it’s leather or Kydex or hybrid or elastic or nylon or anything else. It’s true no matter how spendy or cheap the products were, and it’s true no matter how well made they are.

Flexible holsters (the ones made of fabric or elastic) tend to wear out much faster than those made of Kydex or leather. Not always, but it’s the way to bet. In my experience, soft holster products tend to last around a year before they wear out. When they do, they stop holding the gun as well, stop protecting the trigger as well, and stop fitting your body as well. The bit about not protecting the trigger as well is hugely important! If the material was just barely stiff enough when new to prevent trigger movement, it may not prevent trigger movement when well-worn.

Velcro just dies. It quits sticking. I used to have a holster (a good holster that I loved) that attached to my belt with a Velcro tab, so that nothing would show on the belt line. It was an awesome holster, but the Velcro was destined to stop working far too soon — and it did. My wake up call came one day at the range, when I drew my holster along with my gun as I was practicing.

Good leather will likely last several years, and gradually stretch to get looser and looser over that time. That’s why the best custom-made leather holsters¬†always hold the gun too snugly when they are new. Eventually, no matter how well-made, the leather will become so loose that the holster fails the Tip Test, and then it should be thrown away.

Cheap leather doesn’t last as long as good leather. The wearing-out process looks about the same as it does on good leather, but goes a lot faster. Plus, it will tend to get softer and more pliant as time goes on, which means the holster is more likely to squish shut where it was rigid originally.

Good Kydex lasts longer than cheap Kydex, and both last a lot longer than basic plastic. All three types break suddenly, most often at stress points where they attach to the belt or at wear points that retain the gun. If you’re lucky, they won’t break in the middle of the grocery store, spilling your gun to the floor. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Everything wears out. No exceptions! When a holster wears out or breaks after a reasonable amount of daily use, that’s not a fault in the product. It’s just the way things go. Unless the holster wears out much faster than one would expect given its core materials, or breaks prematurely because of a design flaw, the fact that something can wear out is no reason to recommend against its use when new.

But. Pay attention here…

It’s important to regularly check your carry gear to be sure it’s still in good shape. If you get in the habit of checking for holster wear whenever you clean your gun, your holster can’t surprise you in a dangerous way when it wears out. You’ll have enough warning to replace the product before it becomes untrustworthy.

Stay safe!

One Response to Gear check!

  1. larryarnold says:

    Good article on checking your holster.

    But don’t forget checking the belt holding it. In particular check where the leather or webbing is fastened to the buckle, around the buckle holes you use the most, and wherever you hang gear on it.

    Pay attention to fasteners. I once got a cellphone case with a metal clip that, within a month, ruined a really good belt.

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