By Roy Huntington
When kydex first appeared, the die-hard leather crowd (where I was firmly entrenched) sneered, jeered and dismissed. I was writing this column then and honestly thought it was a bit of a passing fad. “Right … hard plastic holsters? I don’t think so.” But I was only wrong by a zillion miles. I’ll point out, however, those early renditions were crude, clunky, ill-fitting at times and poked and prodded tender parts in ways leather never imagined. I think we naysayers had a right to be doubters. I recall another company — in the early ’70s — did an injection molded sort of “rubber” holster, complete with molded-in “basket-weaving” and I think we all sort of verped a bit when we saw it. It died, thankfully, fast — before any of us had to seek therapy for seeing it.
But people being people, and shooters being shooters, the new technology was honed, new types of synthetics appeared, new ways to manipulate them were discovered and things turned around. I watched the synthetic holster and accessory trend go from a struggling new idea into a steamroller, taking on the conventional leather market head-on — and often winning soundly. Today’s kydex and syn rigs are often beautifully constructed, elegantly designed, comfortable, attractive and frankly, offer engineering ideas simply not possible with leather. I’m glad I was wrong, and glad, by some twisted quirk of fate, over 25 years later, I find myself still writing this column regularly, so I can share my “wrongness” with you. Here’s a couple of shining stars to showcase what I’m talking about.
Vedder’s LightDraw is feathery on the hip, offering a solid hold on the gun and easy re-holstering.
Gun is a Rock Island 1911 .38 Super with Eagle Kirinite grips.
The LightTuck and mag pouch from Vedder are thin, comfy and hold the gear well. The belt is
their Cobra quick release model and a good match. The metal belt clip is a highlight.
Mike and Brooke Vedder got their concealed carry licenses and discovered they just couldn’t find holsters fitting their needs. So in 2012, they fixed that by starting Vedder Holsters in their garage. They’ve grown since and now have a great team, working hard to assure hand-crafted holsters get into the hands of their customers — fast. With a standard 2-3 day lead time for the production of all their gear, that’s ground-breaking in what is usually an “iffy” delivery window market, especially from custom makers. But, according to Mike, “Every part of every holster is designed with the end-user in mind. We aim to be affordable, without sacrificing quality — giving customers the best bang for their buck.”
What I like about their gear is it’s priced within the budget of anyone — from around $50 to $65 or so — you can actually get it fast, and each is hand-made and fitted to an exact gun. It’s honestly custom, but affordable and accessible. Our test samples showed excellent fit, finish and design and I liked the fact belt clips were stamped steel and not plastic. The “LightDraw” OWB rig is, indeed, lightweight and very easy on the hip. The “LightTuck” IWB model is practical and offers a number of cool design features, including their “Claw” to help hold it in place. It’s extremely thin — and comfort is its middle name.
There are many options and holster designs from them, so you need to go to their website to check out what meets your needs. From what I saw in my test samples, I can recommend their craftsmanship and products without hesitation.
High Noon’s Stingray (right) and Direct Hit (IWB). Both showcase the leather and kydex/leather side of things.
Gun is a FRAG 9mm 1911 from Guncrafter Industries.
The War Hammer from High Noon features a leather thumb snap, injection molded
belt loops and a thin, pancake design.
High Noon Holsters
Another “garage” start-up, High Noon began in 1997 and amazingly enough, their first two holster designs — the Hideaway and the Sky High — are still offered. Looks like they nailed it from the start. Working in leather initially, they moved to include Kydex as time passed, while also moving their shop from their humble garage-size, to over 4,000 sq. ft. today.
I’ve noticed shops starting in leather tend to incorporate leather in many of their kydex designs. High Noon’s “Direct Hit” showcases a kydex outer shell with a thin, high quality leather lining, beautifully done. It does away with the kydex “snick” sound and is a good blending of technology for we old leather hounds. The leather “Stingray” is a solid design and will hold up against anything made by bigger — and custom — makers today. I especially like their FAQ page, with 128 questions answered — and their very comprehensive website.
According to High Noon: “We instill the importance of quality and customer support in the High Noon Holsters team. The customer will always be right and we go at length to ensure 100 percent satisfaction.” Hard to beat that.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index; Vedder Ph: (352) 729-6749; High Noon Ph: (727) 939-2701.