​Protecting Your Kydex Gear from Extreme Temperatures

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As temperatures dip lower, the maintenance and care of your Kydex product becomes quite important for a number of reasons. The information below will help you learn why extreme temperatures affect the material, and how you can protect your Kydex gear over time.

What is Kydex?

All of our products are made from a high-quality material called Kydex. More specifically, Kydex is a line of thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride materials manufactured by Kydex LLC, a division of SEKISUI Polymer Innovations LLC.

The material has a wide variety of applications, including aerospace projects, building interiors and fixtures, vehicle components, medical equipment housings, electrical equipment enclosures, components for patient beds in hospitals, store fixtures and displays, and in our case, gun holsters, ammo carriers and knife sheaths.

We use a specific thickness and texture of the material, which helps us maximize comfort and durability. It also helps us minimize bulk.

It’s important to remember that the thickness and texture of Kydex is different in every application – i.e. what is used for hospital beds is not the same as what is used for your holster. Additionally, not all makers of Kydex holsters use the same thickness and texture, so you should never assume that a holster made by Company A will be similar to a holster made by Company B.

Kydex is flexible during the molding process, allowing the manufacturer to replicate the intricate details of a handgun, magazine or knife, therefore increasing the retention and fit of your holster, carrier or sheath. The fit and function of a Kydex holster is very different from one made of leather or nylon.

Once molded, Kydex has a rigid shape and a smooth interior. As long as it is well maintained, the item will always retain the shape it was molded to. That’s the biggest difference between a Kydex product, and one made of leather or nylon – the holster will retain its shape, even when the firearm is withdrawn (the holster does not collapse).

How Temperature Affects the Material

While Kydex is known for its durability, it is not indestructible. It is especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.

Extreme Heat

When extreme heat is directly applied in one specific area (i.e. you watched a few YouTube videos on how to make your own holsters, and decided you would use a hair dryer to try and loosen the retention of your holster. Spoiler alert: That’s a really bad idea, and will damage your product indefinitely.) the area becomes warped and damaged as the material releases the molded shape.

At that point, the holster is no longer safe to use, and it cannot be fixed. It is also very easy to overheat the area, and burn the material, causing a melted appearance and compromising the integrity of the material in that area.

When extreme heat is applied to the entire product (i.e. you left the holster in your car on a hot day) the entire holster loses its shape and definition. Once again, the holster is no longer safe to use, and cannot be fixed.

Extreme Cold

Typically, extreme cold affects the entire product (i.e. you left the holster in an outdoor mailbox or your car for several days during the winter).

In this case, the Kydex becomes cold and brittle, allowing it to crack under pressure. Once a crack forms, the holster is no longer safe to use, and cannot be fixed.

Once the Kydex has been compromised by the extreme cold, even the simplest everyday actions such as tightening the adjustable retention or the force of your belt pushing the holster closer to your body, could cause damage. That's why is critical to avoid extreme cold for prolonged amounts of time.

Remember, short bursts of exposure aren't a big deal, and typically do not cause damage to occur, so you don't need to worry too much about everyday use. 

But let's say you're spending the day at the outdoor range and the temperature is around 15 degrees F. Is that OK?

In this case, the best way to avoid damage is to wear the gear, rather than leaving it out on the table for a few hours. Why? Your body heat will help keep the gear warm, thus minimizing the risk for damage. 

How Can I Protect My Gear from Extreme Temperatures?

1) Avoid Extreme Heat

NEVER attempt to modify an Alpha Concealment Systems product yourself. 

This includes, but is not limited to, using a hair dryer, heat gun or toaster oven. These are not proper methods for modifying a holster that has already been molded, and employing these techniques will only leave you with a damaged product that cannot be fixed. Furthermore, this is not how we manufacture our gear, and it is not a proper heating method, regardless of what so-and-so says on YouTube.

If you’re having an issue with your product, ALWAYS contact Customer Service right away.

Don't expose your product to high heat for extended periods of time.

Don’t leave your product in your car during warmer months; vehicles tend to act as ovens during periods of high heat. 

If you absolutely must keep your holster in your vehicle, we recommend doing so for very short amounts of time, and storing it in the glovebox, trunk or center console, which do not heat up nearly as much as other portions of the vehicle’s interior. 

2) Avoid Extreme Cold

Don’t expose your product to cold weather for extended periods of time. 

The interior of a vehicle is cold enough during the winter to damage your product, and so is the interior of an outside mailbox. If it’s cold enough for water to freeze, your Kydex product is vulnerable.

Oops - you forgot your holster outside and an ice storm rolled through. What should you do?

Take the gear inside as soon as possible, and place it on a flat surface at room temperature. Allow the Kydex some time (we suggest a few hours) before you try and use it again. We can't guarantee this will prevent damage, but it's the best action to take in the event of accidental prolonged exposure.

Always check your gear for any signs of damage before using, and be sure to always use safe handling practices, and use an unloaded firearm, when testing the fit/function of an Alpha Concealment Systems product. Afterwards, the customer should exercise safe handling practices every time an Alpha Concealment Systems product is used in conjunction with a firearm - please consult the NRA's Gun Safety Rules

REMEMBER: There is no warranty on the holster, ammo carrier or knife sheath itself – our lifetime guarantee only extends to the hardware on your product. So it’s important to take proper care of your product, as it will not be replaced should it become damaged from personal use. 

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