While I am biased toward leather for my CCW needs, I do use Kydex for my duty rig. I have also used many of the major manufacturers’ offerings with great success and highly recommend them if they fit your carry needs.
Things I like about leather holsters:
- The feel and smell of leather. Sure, I’m an old romantic at heart—I just love the smell and feel of nice leather.
- Leather is easy to care for—a quick wipe down is all that’s needed. (Look for an article on leather care in the future.)
- Leather is quiet: there’s no loud “snick” during the presentation.
- Long term comfort. When broken in, leather has that “feel” that is not achieved by synthetics.
Things I like about leather rifle slings:
- The feel when going into a slung shooting position is so much better than the synthetic offerings.
- Field carry is very comfortable.
- When shopping for a leather holster, figure out what your specific needs are. Try your friends’ holsters. See what works for you. Hit the range and try everything. Remember that one holster might not suit all your carry needs. I wear an OWB in the winter, an IWB in the summer, and can be found with different rigs on at other times depending on my mission.
When contacting a holster maker, consider it a long-term relationship for your defensive needs. You are entrusting him with your life. Make sure he is aware of this and has a background in defensive use of firearms. You don’t want a leather worker who makes holsters in his spare time.
Interview the maker with specific questions about your needs. If he does not offer what you need, ask him to recommend someone who does. Oftentimes we holster makers are in touch with others whom we like and who can assist in finding the correct leather for you.
Don’t forget eBay, Gunbroker and online forums for finding a holster. I have found some superb deals online.
Do ask holster makers about cancellations. Some customers will cancel orders, leaving a “hole” in the maker’s schedule. He can easily put your name on a rig, cutting the wait for a custom holster. I keep a couple of slots open each week for soldiers/police/shooting class attendees for this sole reason.
Leather for firearms is not just my business, it’s my passion. I look forward to sharing more on this topic with PDN readers in the future.