When it comes to holster material, combining leather with polymer gives the armed citizen the best of both worlds. No wonder hybrid holsters for concealed carry are so popular.
Hybrid holsters have become hugely popular in the last few years. One such is Mark Craighead’s Crossbreed brand, so popular the brand has become almost a generic term for this sort of rig. As the name implies, the hybrids comprise a mating of leather with Kydex or polymer. The portion that encompasses the gun on the outside is made of the hard synthetic, while the leather is used to form a broad backing between wearer and holster, separating and protecting one from the other. I use that phrase advisedly: the “shield” protects the gun from the user’s sweat, since these are often carried under a shirt directly against bare skin, and at the same time protects the skin from being abraded by sharp edges on the firearm.
Several companies make hybrids that are also “tuckable,” meaning they can be effectively concealed beneath a tucked-in shirt. Comp-Tac produces a popular model in this vein, the Minotaur MTAC.
The backing material varies. Crossbreed offers both horsehide and cowhide, explaining, “Horsehide is a denser and lighter-grained flesh than cowhide. This results in it being more moisture resistant.
Customers in very humid climates or who tend to sweat heavily find this to be a useful option, as horsehide tolerates dampness better. Horsehide is only available in natural finish, as its moisture resistance can also cause it to not take dye well. Additionally, the natural finish is very attractive on Horsehide.”
It is possible to eliminate leather entirely from the picture. N82 – phonetically, Nate Squared, since the company was founded by two guys named Nate who consider their partnership more than the sum of their parts – makes a very comfortable hybrid holster whose backing is a cushioned synthetic.
The concept of leather or other material between the gun and the wearer is not new. It goes back at least to the Shadow Concealment holster of years ago, now produced as the LAW Concealment holster. The good news and the bad news existed then, and remain for this type of holster.
The good news is that the shield does indeed protect the wearer from the sharp-edged gun, and the gun from the sweaty wearer. The bad news is that the side of the pistol’s grip area is pressed tight against the leather shield, and the fingers have to dig between the two to gain a drawing grasp. This very definitely slows down the draw.
Honest holster-makers recognize this, and give their customers some options. At Crossbreed, the option is the Combat Grip. The company explains, “The Combat Grip is where we trim away some of the leather from the holster backer. This allows a firmer grasp on the gun during the draw stroke.
This modification does sacrifice a little bit of comfort but does increase the draw speed. This is an extra cost option because this cut is made to follow the contour of the slide/grip of the individual firearm and varies from one gun to another. Approximately 20% of our customers like this option, the others either have no preference or feel it sacrifices too much comfort.”
Raven Concealment is another brand of hybrid, and perhaps best known for combining the concept with not only bare pistols, but those with lights attached. The brand has earned a strong following.
Jason Christensen at Concealment Solutions also makes a hybrid with the option of a light on the gun, the Mamba holster. I find its synthetic backing slows me down less than leather, and for that reason it’s my current choice for concealed carry of a full-size Glock with SureFire light attached.
One thing to consider with the backing design on these hybrid holsters is body shape. If there’s a spare tire around your middle, the good news will be that the hybrid’s backing will be particularly comfortable. The bad news is that the pressure of the flesh will tend, over time, to roll the material over the back of the slide. On the models where the entire grip-frame is shielded by the backer, it may eventually start rolling over the backstrap of the grip frame itself. This won’t just slow the draw, it can stall it or cause a “fatal fumble” when you need the pistol most. A minimal backing will be more important for those with this type of body shape.
This article is an excerpt from The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, 2nd Edition.