There is a lot of shaming that goes on in our industry. And, just so we're all on the same page I consider you to be a part of our industry if you own and carry guns, and believe in the fundamental right to defend oneself with that gun.
That means you and I can be friends, even though we will likely never meet.
But the shaming has me scratching my head. Sure, I believe that every gun owner should do a certain amount of research before they settle down on a certain product. This research includes, but is not limited to, reading and watching reviews, product comparisons, finding out all you can about the company and the materials they use, etc.
Just as long as you find a safe and reliable product that has decent reviews, you should be fine.
Before I move on I want to make sure you understand what I'm trying to say. My point with this article is NOT to tell you that it's okay to use subpar gear, because that is never acceptable.
Instead, my point is that it's possible to find good gear that won't break the bank and that it is okay for you to buy a piece of gear that works for you, without feeling shame for spending less money on a product than someone else may be willing to spend.
Okay, now that the rant part of this article is over, let's get on to the actual topic:
Is it okay to use a cheap holster?
Yes, it is okay to use a cheap holster just as long as it meets certain criteria making it a safe holster. At the end of the day, any holster can be safe regardless of how much it costs, but not all holsters are going to be safe unless they meet these criteria.
In order for you to know what should be fine, let's go over some questionable designs that should be avoided regardless of cost.
Any holster with a soft sweat guard —
Reason being, a soft sweat guard can hit the trigger upon re-holstering unintentionally firing the gun.
I am generally not a fan of soft holsters with sweat shields. The holster in question could be a leather pouch type holster, a pancake with a sweat shield, a hybrid holster, or any of the others that utilize this soft backing.
And yes, I consider leather to be a soft backing. I do own leather holsters, too, for certain guns so I'm not saying leather in general is bad. Just that those with sweat guards may be unsafe after a while.
What has happened to some in the past, is that this soft sweat guard begins to roll forward and is no longer in the up tight to the body position. Then, if you're not careful this sweat guard can get caught inside the trigger guard when you're re-holstering your gun, and cause it to fire.
That's clearly not something you want to have happen.
Any holster that allows the trigger to be pressed —
Another big no-no is when the trigger can be manipulated through the holster
So does it matter if you have a 30 dollar holster? No, not really. In fact, there are plenty of decent Kydex holsters in that price range that are completely safe. Are they the best? Maybe they're not the best, but they are safe and that is most important.
One of the keys marking a good holster is that the trigger is safe and protected from being pushed causing an unintended discharge. If you can stick your finger in from the side of the holster and manipulate the trigger you should look into getting a new holster.
Any holster that uses less than good clips —
The clip on a holster is one of the most overlooked aspects of this essential piece of gear. Wide, single clips like the one pictured are often not good. The reason why they're not good is because they do a horrible job retaining your holster inside your pants when the gun is being drawn.
On the plus side, even if you buy a holster with this style clip, upgrading just the clip to a better system is very easy to do.
It isn't just these wide, single clips that are bad, however. I can't show them all here, but suffice it to say that if you get a holster and you practice your draw, which you should be doing by the way, and your holster comes out with your gun … you need new clips.
If the clips cannot be changed you need a new holster. The holster that comes out with the gun is considered unsafe for duty. Imagine if you had to defend yourself against an attack and you draw your gun and holster out at the same time. Not good in that every-second-counts scenario.
What's a good holster then?
Any hard holster that is made of Kydex, Boltaron, or leather (with the occasional other material thrown in) will be your best bet. Make sure there aren't any soft components that can jeopardize your safety by either being able to manipulate the trigger while the gun is holstered, or can somehow fold down into the trigger like the sweat guard can after it gets older.
Choose a two-clip system, or a better one clip system that doesn't allow the gun and holster to come out as a pair.
And at the end of the day, the price you pay doesn't necessarily make the holster a good one. I've seen plenty of expensive pieces of junk out there.
What do you think? Did I miss the mark on my assessment here? Let me know in the comments below. Also, you can check out our holster page to see some of the ones we sell, not all of which I think are good, but there are several good options.