“I’d never own one of those things (hybrid holster), they are junk.” so said one self-styled expert at a shooting class I attended this year. The gentleman in question was referring to the Inside-the-Waistband hybrid holster I was using. Aside from the social faux pas of criticizing another man’s gear, that statement got me to thinking about the perception that hybrid IWB holsters are a poor choice. It is perplexing to me I must admit. I have never had an issue with my choice and I carry a fun in that type of holster EVERY day for ten to twelve hours a day.
I decided to start asking questions, not of students, but of firearms instructors who observe students day after day. Specifically, I inquired as to issues students were having with the IWB hybrid holsters. Before we move on, our definition for a “hybrid holster” for this review is one that uses a combination of a Kydex® or some type of polymer holster pocket backed by either leather or reinforced nylon. This style of holster is designed to be tucked inside the waistband of the user’s trousers. Depending on the manufacturer, the holster is secured with metal or plastic belt clips, belt loops or a “J” hook.
While not necessarily listed in the order of absolute frequency, the issues students seemed to have with “hybrid” holsters during training courses were; 1) holsters coming out of the pants during the draw-stroke, 2) students unable to reholster due to the body shield/guard folding over the holster opening, 3) students unable to reholster due to the holster opening sinking down below the edge of the waistband AND subsequently muzzling their body while searching for the opening with barrel.
Farther down on the list but mentioned occasionally was the issue of the holster breaking in some way; the plastic holster pocket splitting, rivets coming loose, and clips (plastic type) snapping and /or breaking. During the next couple of paragraphs we will address each of these issues individually and address the likely causes.
Holster Coming Out During Drawstroke
This issue seems to be one of the biggest complaints with the hybrid IWB and it does indeed happen, but why? One common misconception is that if your holster has clips on it you do not need to wear a belt. Wrong. A high quality, rigid/stiff belt is an essential component in the gun carrying equation. It is bewildering to me the number of people who either try to carry without a belt or use whatever cheap dress belt that is hanging in their closet.
Solution: Purchase a quality belt and wear it.
When the issue of spring-steel metal clips arises, many folks will complain that their clips have lost their “spring” and are loose. The primary suspects in this case are the “Arm and Disarm” CCW people. These are the folks that go through their day constantly taking their gun and holster off and then putting it back on. The IWB holster with clips is so easy to remove that they constantly take it off and put it back on, on-off-on-off all day long. These folks go through this daily kabuki dance and then complain a month later that their spring-steel belt clips have lost their “spring.” Also at play is the quality of the clips. Cheap, poorly made, belt clips are not going to last as long as those that cost a little more and that is really no surprise. If you find you have constant issues with spring-steel clips regardless, try something different, such as the “J” hook design or some type of belt loop. Belt loops are obviously not discreet but they are the most secure option.
Solutions: Stop playing the On-Off-On-Off game all day long. Purchase quality gear. Try “J” hooks or belt loops.
This issue is two-fold. First we have the guard/shield portion of the holster (extended backing to keep the gun from pressing directly against the user’s body) folding over and inhibiting the reholster process. This issue will vary greatly based upon material used to make the holster backing. Thin, cheaply finished cowhide leather is a common culprit. Horsehide leather backers are less likely to have this issue but it is still possible that they might curl.
I understand addressing this next issue may hurt some feelings, but we must talk about it.. The girth of the user is a definite contributor to this problem. If your “love-handles” are so pronounced that they press the body-shield of your holster down over the opening that is not the holster’s fault.
Most often the reholstering difficulty arises when shooters attempt to come back to the holster and thrust the gun straight down into the opening. This technique is quite simple with large, rigid duty or competition holsters that stick out from the body. Securing a concealed holster, by their very nature, requires it to be very close to the body to remain discreet.
Back in the old days of concealed carrying, we used to use stitched leather “pancake” holsters. These devices held the gun securely to the body but had a tendency to flatten out when the gun was drawn. The technique I was taught by John Farnam in 1986 was to bring the gun back around to the rear of the holster and rock it back into place. This was much more effective than trying stab the gun straight down. This also tremendously minimized the tendency to muzzle your body while reholstering.
Solutions: Purchase high quality holster, shed some pounds, adjust your method for reholstering.
This issue only materializes when people actually use their gear. The guy who buys a holster and then wears their gun for a few hours at a time, once in a while, but never trains or goes to the range, will rarely have a problem. These are the folks who use a holster as a dust cover.
Worlds collide when a person sets out to be an armed citizen but for reasons decides to go bargain shopping. A cheap holster is always going to be a cheap holster.
It dumbfounds me that someone will state that they intend to be an armed citizen and commit to carrying a gun every day as a tool for saving their life, but they are appalled at the thought of spending $50 to $75 on a holster. Folks, $75 divided by 365 comes out to twenty cents a day. Can you afford twenty cents a day for a tool that you are using to save your life?
People who bargain shop for cheap hybrid holsters or, for the love of all that is holy, buy kits to build a holster themselves are simply delusional. Are you playing at self-defense or are you serious? So you spent $839 for a SIG P229 and your holster investment is $35? That does not make any sense however you look at it. Would you put $20 tires on your F-250 4×4?
Solutions: Purchase quality gear from a reputable company. Cheap holsters will always be cheap.
That is all I have to say about that.
Professor Paul Markel
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I use a “hybrid” holster for my EDC, a Crossbreed like shown in the picture. I have used it for more than three years now with little or no difficulty. I am also an instructor. If you do not know how to properly setup and use your equipment it will fail you.
During the first few months I adjusted the holster depth and cant though almost every conceivable position until I found the optimal one for me. Then I spent time training and practicing drawing and re-holstering until it became automatic.
My finding is that people like to bitch. They will always find some reason to dislike something even if based on here say an anecdotal information.
People will always have a difference in preference, but we should never compromise on quality and training.
I agree with you on this one Cliff. I used a Crossbreed for the first 5 years, but just switched to Triple T–so far so good. I took all that I learned from my Crossbreed setup and applied it to this one and it’s perfect. The only real noticeable difference for me is that the Crossbreed really molded to my body and was easy to remove the whole package when I needed to, not when it wanted to… and the clips. The Crossbreed clips tore up every shirt I own. The Triple T uses a better clip, no rough edges, and a prosthetic-grade leather backing.
I agree with the two above. I use Alien Gear and it has done well for me the last 2 years. I will soon try a different hook for tucking my shirt in. But have had no issues with holstering my pistols. And I change it every month for a different firearm.
Compared to the writer and other readers, I am a novice with IWB, having started 3 years ago when I got out of the Army. That being said, here’s my 2 cents. I started with Crossbreed and wore the the MicroClip and appendix for almost 2 years with a CM9. Only negatives, I did cut (dremel) the leather to fit me (easy fix) and one, after 6 months, lost a LOT of its retention. Yes, wearing your belt appropriately tight mitigated most retention concerns, as I am not jumping around. I changed to a Shield with an Incog 7 months ago but might re-try Crossbreed’s appendix holster…
Good, informative article. I’ve never actually used a kydex/hybrid holster. The little bit I’ve messed with and seen of them, I’m concerned with the noise issue…the rattle and click on the draw. In an edc self-defense scenario, drawing with stealth from cover or concealment, my concern is that the noise could give away your presence or position, or give them that fraction of a second advantage ( or more like losing that fraction of a second jump on them). I’ve been partial to quality made stiff molded leather holsters because they are silent. Is this a valid concern? Maybe as a IWB it would be muffled or dampened by the pressure of the belt and pant. Could kydex holsters be molded over a gun form that is covered with a layer of velvet or something similar, so that could be added as a lining? Does anybody already do that?
One of these days I will probably get one and try it, using it in a range setting initially, to get some first hand experience and see what I think.
I got a Crossbreed Super Tuck 3 years ago. Loved it. But the screws holding the clips, especially the front, always worked loose. Then the kydex cracked along the front edge. It was still usable. After a year and a half I bought a Galco King Tuck, a knock of the Super Tuck. Not as much issue with the clip screws. But it cracked too. My front sight dug a groove in the front, ant the back cracked in two places.
I’ll keep buying them, because its a great design, but it seems like they have a limited service life.
To be fair, I’m carrying 10 extra pounds and my holster is caught in a battle between me and my belt.
BTW, I carry every waking hour and train with my carry gear every week so my holsters get lots of presentations.
I carry a Springfield XDS .45 in an Aegis Armory Shield IWB supported by “A better belt USA ” 1 3/4″ double bull hide kydex reinforced belt. The shield holster was comfortable from day one and provides EXCELLENT retention to my XDS. The belt that was made for me provides superior support even when I carry my full size pistol. If you are going to carry a pistol your belt is equally as important as your holster.
Used my old faithful hybrid for a number of years, tried the alien and that thing was horrible as retention was constantly an issue. Get the horsehide and spend the extra couple bucks for a top quality belt, won’t go wrong if you train with your gear etc. Good article on what to look for and issues found. TNJR
I carry a G26 in a Comp Tac Minator and have never had an issue that. I did put blue lock tight on the screws though.
I tried a hybrid and it was uncomfortable. Of course, I have found all IWB holsters to be uncomfortable and have given up trying to use them. I carry a Diamondback DB380 or Ruger LCP. Those are small enough to carry comfortably in the pocket though.
I have used the cross breed for last 5 years and not had eny of those problems best holster I have
Carry my FNS40 everyday and when I CC I use an aliengear holster. Its so comfortable I can barely tell its there. I am a slender man so I carry at the 5 o’clock position using a left handed holster so the grip is pointed outboard. This lets me carry the fullsize handgun and still wear properly fitted polo shirts.
I also carry a IWB. For the summer i carry the S&W Sheild in a Raw Dog holster and during the winter carry a S&W SD9 in an Alien Gear holster. I have not had any issues with reholstering and drawing my tool.
I also use an alien gear and have no issues.
Enjoyed your comments and think they are right on.
It does bother me that your comments were even necessary.
Either do things right or put it in back in safe and lock it up.
Have often wondered about this very issue and how best to resolve.
The problems I had with hybrid holsters that made me stop using them were three-fold. Let me say up front that I had a model from the “original” hybrid holster company, made with their highest quality backing.
First, the squeak. Every time I moved, that thing would rub and squeak. I sounded like the Tin Man after a week of rain. I tried saddle soap, I tried powders, I tried oil; nothing would stop that squeak.
Second, the clips. I wear my holsters right around 3 o’clock. With the wide footprint of the hybrid design, the long leg of the clips would stab me in the thigh whenever I sat down. So I got in the habit of having to slide my holster back and forth whenever I stood or sat. Not exactly discreet.
Third is the fact that most models are designed for all lengths of a particular model, so they only really cover part of the slide on longer bbl models. This led to the muzzle and front sight of my gun rubbing holes in all my pants.
Now I stick with either all-leather or all-kydex models with minimal moving components, and full coverage of the muzzle.
I almost forgot about the fourth reason I don’t like them: Retention
The hybrid design depends on pressure from the belt to hold back and shell closer together for proper retention. The flip side is that when that pressure is removed (in the restroom, for example), the pressure is gone and the retention with it. Creative solutions were required to keep the pistol from sliding across the floor.
I’ve been carrying a full size 1911 in a hybrid for going on 6 years now and I wear mine while running heavy equipment, cutting wood, and playing with the kids and I’ve never had a problem. Even while using the rest room with my heavy stainless 1911 but I also use a 5.11 Tactical Kevlar reinforced carry belt that is pretty stiff.
For the models with Kydex, most manufacturers give instruction for improving retention by using a heat gun to mold the Kydex a little tighter. I’ve never had to do this, so I’m not sure how well it works or how easy it is to do. I’ve not had the problem with my Crossbreed.
Quality Hybrid holsters do not rely on your belt to hold your gun in the holster. Using retention screws with rubber retention washers are the way to go. I can literally hold my holster upside down outside of my pants and my S&W M&P40C will not fall out. I can adjust the tension for an easier draw or tighter fit.
Good article. I carry a Glock 27 in the N82 tactical IWB professional holster. No retention issues, very comfortable and holds its shape so re-holstering is not a problem.
Maybe I’m the oddball here. I love my Crossbreed(s). I have them for four different handguns and besides a bit of squeaking when they were new I’d put them in the awesome category. I have never had one come off my belt on the draw, the clips are metal, so I don’t see them breaking anytime soon. I’ve never had a problem with retention and re-holster isn’t a big deal. The horsehide back is comfortable and does a pretty good job at shielding sweat. I did lose a screw out of one of the belt clips once they came out when I was jogging. I just put in a spare and loctited it and it hasn’t come out since.
I’ve tried other types of holsters from 100% leather to 100% kydex (raven style) and I always go back to the crossbreed. It works and it’s comfortable no matter what I seem to find myself doing.
Love crossbreed also. Squeaking is easily fixed by putting a felt tab (same kind used for chair legs) between metal clip and leather sweat guard.
I bought a Crossbreed super tuck deluxe with the horse hide backer. I on average carry my Glock 19, 10 to 14 hrs a day. I’ve never had an issue with the clips not keeping the holster in place or had any issues with the re-holstering of my weapon. I have had a little issue with the retention but a few minutes with the hair dryer and wood dowel fixed that. I’ve tried several different holsters of the years and The Crossbreed is the only one I still enjoy carrying everyday. I also believe that buying cheap gear will get you killed on the day that you need your weapon to be where its supposed to be and easily accessible.
I have carried my Springfield XD40 Subcompact for 3 years in a Crossbreed Hybrid holster. I have not had an issue. I wear it all the time from going to the store to working in the yard or watching TV in my home.
I too have been using crossbreed holsters for 5 years, everyday 10 plus hours a day. I have not had any issues with the crossbreed holsters that I own.
I carry a Springfield XD Subcompact 9mm in y Crossbreed and can wear it all day comfortably with no issues! Of course I also wear a good leather (not pleather) belt!!
Springfield XD .45 compact 5″ barrel in a Crossbreed Supertuck with horsehide and spring clips. No problems. A popular imitator with an ET logo uses cheap plastic that easily shatters. YouTube it.
My wife and I both have crossbreeds. I have the supertuck horsehide.she has the mini cowhide. Had mine 4 yrs hers 2. Love them both never had any issues. Had to put in an extra hole to adjust mine to the perfect angle. But that was easily solved. And it’s made in my home state. America made. Hell yeah
I own an Alien gear holster and have carried for over a year in it. NEVER had an issue with it. Its a good holster and they have a great garuntee. Folks that have no clue are the ones having problems.
Alien gear holsters has produced a fine holster, but they do their holster an in justice with all their negative advertising and lies against the original maker of that holster which is CrossBreed. They will eventually realize that their “smear” tactics against CrossBreed will hurt more than help their sales
I recently bought the new holster that CrossBreed introduced. The CrossBreed Appendix holster. It is absolutely the perfect holster for carrying at the one 0-clock, or appendix area. check out their website and watch the video on the Appendix Carry holster
Thes crossbreed holsters are great. But, you have to use a proper gun belt with them which is 1/4 inch thick so holster will stay put when drawing. If holster folds over and you can’t re holster, it’s because user is overweight. Period
It is very interesting and informative as well. I found what I was looking for a long time. Thanks For Sharing this..here we have the best concealed carry holsters on the planet! (IWB) In waistband, ankle and pocket holsters.
When I first started carrying concealed regularly 16 years ago, I fell into the bargain holster trap, which actually ended up costing me more. If a cheap holster was performing like a cheap holster, I replaced it with another cheap holster, all purchased from my local gun shop, which only sold cheap “Universal” holsters. It wasn’t until I started attending training classes that I finally broke down and spent some money on a quality holster, belt, and mag carrier.
Ironically, when I totaled up the cost of all of the cheap holsters in my “box of regret”, and all the cheap belts chewed up by cheap holster belt-clips, I could have purchased my quality rig and still had enough for 200 rds of practice ammo.
Live and learn, or just take Professor Paul’s advice: get a good holster and belt.
Price and Quality does not always go hand in hand. I agree your math of investment though…