IWB holsters are available in various materials, from Kydex to Cordura nylon. Still, many gun owners prefer leather, the traditional holster material, for its comfort and aesthetic appeal. But what specific features should you look for in a leather IWB holster?
Reasons to Choose Leather
Gun owners choose leather holsters for several reasons, mainly relating to comfort or style.
Leather is softer than Kydex and more compressible, which can have two distinct advantages. Some gun owners find leather more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods, as the leather is less likely to dig into the body. If you experience a fall or you’re forced against the ground or another hard surface, a leather holster may dampen the blow because it has more give.
Soft on the gun
Kydex is a popular holster material, but it can accelerate finish wear on some handguns because of its hard surface. Since leather is softer than Kydex, it’s not as abrasive to the gun’s finish, preserving it for longer.
Using a Kydex holster, drawing and re-holstering your firearm can be noisy because the weapon clicks into place. While this can provide useful audible feedback, it doesn’t allow you to draw and re-holster your weapon discreetly.
Kydex undoubtedly has tactical appeal, but some gun owners may find it too utilitarian for their tastes. Ornately styled and carved leather holsters have a classic look and feel.
What to Look For
A leather holster needs to be safe, durable, provide adequate retention, and offer some degree of adjustability. However, there are also specific points related to the leather that you should consider.
Every holster designed for self-defense should be durable. The material should be thick and feature heavy stitching. A double-layer shell provides the necessary strength to protect your weapon and last for years of regular use. The thickness of the leather and its quality also determine how the belt clip holes wear. As these holes support the weight of the firearm on the gun belt, the leather needs to be strong.
Retention and adjustability
In OWB (outside-the-waistband) holsters, active retention systems are common to protect the firearm against unauthorized access. Law enforcement officers often use active retention to defend themselves against being disarmed by criminals. A thumb break or other fastener may also be necessary for those holster designs that can’t provide effective retention passively (e.g., nylon holsters or holsters that are not designed for a specific firearm).
However, in an IWB holster, passive retention allows for a faster, more efficient draw stroke. For that reason, you should try to find an IWB holster that provides adequate passive retention to securely hold your firearm in place, regardless of your activity level.
The inside of the holster should be a tight fit against the exterior surfaces of the gun in multiple places to keep it snug and prevent it from either falling out or being taken from you.
Ideally, the holster should allow you to tighten or loosen the retention, according to your personal preferences, using one or more screws. A suitable holster should have holes on both sides to allow independent adjustment of ride height and cant. By adjusting the ride height and cant, you can find the balance between access to your firearm and effective concealment under clothing.
Concealability and tuckable clips
The concealability of your holster depends on how and where you carry your gun on your person and how you dress. An IWB holster should allow you to carry your weapon as discreetly as possible. In addition to pressing against your body, the exterior surfaces of the holster should not cause printing, which is when the holster becomes visible through clothing.
When using a holster with tuckable belt clips, you can tuck the fabric of a T-shirt or collared shirt into your pants between your waistband and the holster, concealing your weapon. The belt clips remain exposed, so it’s advisable to coordinate colors to reduce visibility. In addition, avoid belt clips that have high-contrast decals.
Rigid holster mouth
When you draw your firearm, the holster mouth should remain open. If the holster mouth collapses, it may require you to use two hands during the re-holstering process — one to open the holster and the other to insert the weapon. This increases the risk of you flagging yourself with the muzzle.
The opening should be rigidly constructed for another reason. In the worst-case scenario, the holster mouth may deform or fray, stopping you from re-holstering your firearm or activating the trigger on the downward stroke.
Gun safety is ultimately your responsibility, and you should practice trigger discipline consistently. The third rule of gun safety is “Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.” However, your equipment should help rather than hinder your observance of gun safety rules.
Every holster, regardless of material or design, should cover the trigger guard. When you place your hand on the gun, the holster should physically prevent your index finger from entering the trigger guard until you complete the draw stroke and your gun clears the holster mouth.
A fully covered trigger guard protects the trigger from being activated by an assailant during a struggle, by loose clothing catching, or by objects in the environment.
A dedicated gun belt is an essential accessory for any concealed carry holster, whether leather or Kydex. Since an IWB holster is designed to be held close to the body, your gun belt should be rigid to prevent the holster from canting outward, printing through clothing.
To ensure a consistent draw stroke, your holster needs to remain in the same position throughout the day. A durably constructed gun belt can provide that consistency. If you use tuckable belt clips, try to match the colors to reduce the contrast.
We Offer the Most Versatile Leather Holsters on the Market
We The People Holsters manufacture several high-quality concealed-carry holster types in both leather and Kydex for concealed and open carry. Our leather holsters are made from the finest vegetable-tanned leather and are handcrafted in the United States for a 100% American product.