View Full Version : Synthetic holster prices

May 11, 2001, 10:07 PM
Fobus seems to be going great guns. Uncle Mike's has a new Kydex holster that looks good out. Isn't DeSantis doing one too? Prices...$20 bucks or a bit more. I like my Ky-Tac, and know that a lot of folks like their MD Labs, Sidearmor, Bladetech, and other brands of holsters, but these rigs are considerably more costly. Do you think the mass merchandisers will force the smaller shops to lower prices? Or even worse? Like I say, my Ky-Tac is great, but the performance from the folks getting into the kydex game will probably be as good or better, and I won't be paying a hundred bucks for a holster and two mag pouches...

Scott Evans
May 12, 2001, 09:09 AM
Free market competition is great! However, when a group of manufactures begins designing products just so they can have a cheep one too then it becomes a race to the bottom.

Sure … cheep sells but dose it satisfy.

At what point will a product begin to lose features and overall quality as manufactures make the adjustments necessary to lower prices and still make a profit. I am always nagged with the question of “what are they giving up” to be the new king of low price?

If I find myself making excuses for the product, such as; “It’s not bad … for only $12 bucks” I force myself to step back, take a deep breath and evaluate how well the item will fill my need. Will it do well what I want it to do or will it just get me by. Shop performance first and price second as value is not measured in dollars alone.

May 12, 2001, 12:07 PM
“It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.
When you pay too much, you lose a little money - and that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the
thing you bought was incapable of doing what it was bought to do.

“The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and
getting a lot -- it can’t be done. It you deal with the lowest bidder, it
is well to add something for the RISK you run, and if you do that, you
will have enough for something better.”

-- Anonymous

I frequently marvel as folks proudly spend more than a hundred
dollars for a knife and then brag about their cheap holster.

Remember, it is the holster which permits you to carry the handgun with comfort
and discretion and, by stabilizing the handgun, assists in the effective and efficient
presentation of the tool which may save the lives of those you love.

May 12, 2001, 04:03 PM
I just wondered if the prices had any room to moderate with competition, I didn't advocate buying cheap at the expense of perfomance. I learned the cheap holster lesson years ago, you preach to the choir. A holster that cannot be worn is no bargain at any price. I will happily pay for Delfatti and KyTac or Safariland duty gear, never mind the price, until performance of something else is PROVEN. I was just wondering how mass manufacture and merchandising would have an effect, given the possibility that the performance can quite possibly very quickly be made to equal good handmade kydex rigs. I think that kydex lends itself to this phenomenon more easily than leather.

May 12, 2001, 04:31 PM
Am a devout Ky-Tac fan {'Hooper, B/H & Pt.5} along with the old stand-by Mad Dog & Cen-Dex. It may wind up being a "Bell Curve" phenomena? At least for the Kydex that is more "mass-produced" by forming over those Aluminum Slug Guns or ? Willing to pay the extra for the speed, fit, retention & versatility delivered from those that hand form & fit like Ky-Tac, etc. but.... it's nice to see good Kydex in the mid-range $ starting to be offered that looks like they also offer some not-to-shabby design innovation with a good price?

May 12, 2001, 07:24 PM
For the sake of this "what if," I am saying that quality is at the level needed. Remember, I am asking this with the assumption or belief that kydex, unlike leather, can much more easily be held to very good performance levels with mass production. There are variances in leather qualities that I'm thinking have to be allowed for in mass production. That won't be the case with Kydex. I only have experience with Ky-Tac (and I do love the Point 5!), but when looking at it, I see no reason that quality and fit would HAVE to be sacrificed by mass production. I am not denigrating this or any other hand work, I'm just not convinced hand labor is NEEDED to make Kydex work. Time will tell about the quality of designs, but they can be changed if the maker wants to improve them. That may be where the small operations have an advantage, at least for a while. Besides, aren't some of the larger companies really mass producers, anyway? Not the size of Uncle Mike's or anything, but not exactly one man shops. I'm talking about Blade Tech and maybe a few others here, don't really know for sure. It occurs to me that if the cheaper Kydex rigs don't hurt the small kydex shops, they may really put the bite on even some of the bigger mass produced leather shops.

May 12, 2001, 07:29 PM
The mass producers of Kydex holsters are able to achieve lower prices by improving the manufacturing process. The mass produced Kydex holsters are manufactured by machines and are far superior in quality and performance to hand made Kydex holsters. Kydex does not lend itself to hand molding due to the short amount of time one has to work the material before it becomes too hard. Hand molders reheat the Kydex repeatedly, and quite often overheat it, making the holster brittle and susceptible to breakage. Hand molders generally can’t achieve the molding detail, precise fit and smooth edge finish of a machine made holster. I would challenge anyone to compare the quality and fit of a Kydex holster from DeSantis, TAC PRO, Uncle Mike’s or Sidearmor with any hand made holster.

May 12, 2001, 11:53 PM
14inches, So you are one and the same as "TAC PRO", right?

May 13, 2001, 10:25 AM
A ramble.
I agree with a lot of what 14inches says.

Hand made quality requires a high level of skill and dedication on the part of each and every person involved.

Cost of making anything by hand does not change much with quantity made. The more mechanized the operation, the more the cost goes down with increase in numbers made. Once the parameters for quality are established, that level of quality is easier to maintain in a proper assembly line enviroment.

I can make a very functional Kydex holster for less than a bucks worth of materials. Then we add in the labor, insurance, packaging, promotion, plugs, clamps, heater, punch etc etc. If I were to make a hundred of em I would have to price them at around forty bucks retail. If I were to make a few thousand of em they could well retail for twenty bucks. If I were to crank out ten thousand a month the retail could come down to ten bucks or less.

It takes a lot of nerve to tool up for large production run. If you don't sell enough, your costs are way higher than if they were done by hand.....if the sales are high enough, then your cost goes down. And the quality, good or bad, can be the same whether making one or a jillion.


May 13, 2001, 08:57 PM
I normally lurk around here but here goes.

*** Rant on ***
I will ignore the issue of the "race for the bottom line" for now to address the issue of weather or not "hand made" or "mass produced" is really an issue. This discussion reminds me of the tired old argument of the "custom knife" or "mass produced knife". First, any quality kydex is using one type of machine or another, its just to what extent, some machines just cost more than others. I.E. Oven, Press, Hot tooling, sander, buffer, rivet machine, cnc mill, computer, ups truck. Those who think mass produced is some type of cookie cutter technology or that thier favorite "handmade" holster is made by little elves with blow driers and live copies of every handgun going is kidding themselves. One only needs to go by Sidearmor's web site or the Edge Works to see that there is a lot going into the production of a quality holster you can get your hands on inside of 2 weeks of ordering it. Sidearmor and others have been using CNC mills to make holster molds for a while now, the knife sheathing industry even longer. Edge Works has gone a step further by reverse engineering hand made holsters into "custom fit" production holsters, no easy task and not a cheap process even for the Chinese if they don't steal the code. These processes are mind and labour intensive.
Now for the issue of how cheap can they go....
As soon as the Asian manufacturers or a US/Asian provider company gets the G-Codes for quality holsters in thier hands you will find your kydex holsters at bargain basement price, probably not even kydex... but hey it will be cheap. Good luck on having those companies around for personal interaction and support for modifications and testing. Just about EVERY kydex holster manufacturer is available on the internet for personal interaction with your problems..... thats worth something isn't it?
*** Rant off ***
I am a G-Code Holster Fan

May 14, 2001, 09:08 AM
I am pretty happy with the kydex holsters I own. Both Blade Tech and Uncle Mike's make good stuff, although Uncle Mike's is a little more affordable.

Scott Evans
May 14, 2001, 09:47 AM

I see your point … “how will those without technology compete with those who use it if the quality of the product is equal?” (I got it :) ) I agree that it will be a tough proposition “IF” quality is equal. Personally I see the potential for production quality to exceed the hand-made if approached correctly. Innovation of new features, and speed in reacting to new marked demands is where the “hand only makers” will ultimately hang their hats. Performance of the product should be the first separator in any evaluation process with price and process secondary. With this in mind it has been my observation that some with production capability are being drawn into a price race, seeing how low they can go, and inevitably some are sacrificing a measure of quality to get to the bottom. Absolutely, with the proper application of technology, equal or better quality holsters can be produced at a lower cost so long as the maker refuses to trade performance for price. At some point though, in the performance to price ratio, the product will move from high value to just plane old cheep.


From your posting I can see that you have no understanding whatsoever of any of the efficient thermal molding process that are in play with many makers. Also, your premise that simply because something is hand made it is superior or that efficient repetitive methods are inferior is just plane ignorant. Again (as I have asked you this before) who are you talking about so that a reasonable individual can measure what you are saying against fact.

I have been involved daily, for nearly 5 years now, with all sides of this issue. I hand make holsters and sheaths, I CAD generate from scratch precision molds, and I digitally reproduce the handmade in production formats.

Repeatability (making the first the same as the last and everyone in between) requires as much or more skill then any other phase of the process.

May 14, 2001, 03:28 PM
It never ceases to amaze me that people who have never seen a Kydex holster being made, seem to know more about the process than the people who make the holsters.

May 14, 2001, 06:47 PM
Mr. Evans, From the tone and some of the content of part of your last post in this thread it sounds like this is/has become an emotional issue for you? You reply in the defensive, etc. giving supect to yet something else? If your other reference to previous posting means you think whatever I posted or did not post was directed at what you make you are mistaken. Have never seen same. Personally don't NEED to know how kydex is formed or ? but DO need to know what works for own meager personal use. Have taken the time and expense to do so not to mention simply observing & asking what other active & dedicated shooters use in IDPA style Matches, etc. Make no mistake there is some stuff out there that costs as much as the good hand crafted stuff and IS popular with those who may not want to look into what's in use/REALLY good and otherwise available that is pure JUNK & not worth 1/2 of what they charge. When the mf'd. stuff {as you describe same} comes up to the same level as what can be had right now will be glad to try same out at full retail but no "Confidentiality" clause will apply. Wonder if you have an axe to grind with the sucess of a few small-time plastic holster makers that are getting the recognition & the sucess they deserve for their efforts & skill {as pistol shooters too!}? Think you are way of the beam re your mini-rant. ps "cheep" is not "cheap" or is cheep really cheap?

Scott Evans
May 15, 2001, 08:59 AM
This was the first time I asked you who you were talking about.

There is no rub with you recommending what or who you like … have at it.

What is becoming a bur under my saddle is your blanket statements that purvey the sentiment that any molded holster made from a production process is inferior to any hand made simply because it is not hand made. Further your description of the production process is inaccurate; yet you state it as if you know of what you speak. Likewise this misinformation is contained in several other post you have made here on TFL and elsewhere on the net. With few exceptions all the “production” synthetic holster makers are small family run or they employ only a hand full of employees. As one of these I take exception to a general statement (particularly one made over and over) that discounts the quality of production holsters with no good reason other then what you imagine the process to be. Again, think what you like, recommend what you want. However, when you pass error as fact … expect someone to call you on it.

[Edited by Scott Evans on 05-15-2001 at 11:08 AM]

Matt VDW
May 15, 2001, 01:52 PM
One thing that I've noticed is that despite the proliferation of kydex holster makers, the range of designs and the handguns they carry has remained very limited.

For instance, just about everyone who makes a kydex holster makes a straight drop outside the waistband holster for a Glock 17/22/31. There have to be at least a dozen companies competing for that portion of the holster market. But when it comes to, say, a vertical shoulder holster for a Steyr M40, or an ankle holster for a Kahr P9, the field is wide open.

I understand that companies want to sell what people are buying. At some point, though, doesn't it make more sense to dominate a niche market instead of butting heads with everyone else in the mainstream?

May 15, 2001, 09:40 PM
Matt VDW, you have hit on my pet peeve. I understand that they need to recover production tooling/design costs, so they build what will sell the biggest numbers. If you are right handed and carry a Glock or 1911, things are great. On being a left handed S&W shooter? Man, I'm a double minority! Thank goodness for the small custom makers and I guess I'll keep paying their prices. I think that is why I started this thread, come to think of it.

May 15, 2001, 09:48 PM
DeSantis has Kydex holsters for S&W 99, 5900, J frame for right and left handed shooters. http://www.desantisholster.com