A closer look at CrossBreed Holsters and how the company strives to create the perfect symbiosis between Kydex and leather.
Many a great designer has created something from nothing. Still, some of the greatest produced great from the good. Such is the case for the late Mark Craighead, founder of CrossBreed Holsters.
In the early 2000s, Craighead tinkered and toiled with handgun holsters, trying to make something work for his shooting style. Leather had its qualities, but so did Kydex. Still, where one worked, the other failed.
So, after years of trying everyone else’s handgun holster ideas, he finally decided to create his own. And, when he did, he did it in about as American a way as there ever was: by taking a trip to Walmart and hijacking his wife’s kitchen to build the first of many hybrid leather-Kydex handgun holsters, maximizing leather’s comfort and durability with the durability and malleability of Kydex.
He made one. Then, his neighbor wanted one. Then, his friends wanted one. Next, he started selling his holsters on eBay, and the rest is, as they like to say, handgun-holster-making history with Mark founding CrossBreed Holsters LLC in 2005.
Holsters, With Purpose
According to his wife, Carol, Mark was often asked about the name CrossBreed Holsters. “He was not ashamed to answer that,” she said. “Although there is some reference to the hybrid holster designs he created, the larger meaning behind his company’s name references the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross that was made for all mankind.”
On Aug 24, 2012, Mark died unexpectedly. However, long before he left us, he did two things that would virtually guarantee his legacy would live on: He married Carol and founded CrossBreed Holsters.
“My late husband, Mark, founded the business back in 2005 in our kitchen after searching tirelessly to find the perfect holster,” Carol said. “After countless hours of research and adjustments, he finalized the design of our flagship holster, the SuperTuck. Upon Mark’s untimely passing, I had a decision to make: either sell the business that Mark had started, or put all of my energy into making it into the most successful holster company I could. After years of struggles and hardships, I can say that I’m proud of what this company has become.”
Since Mark’s passing, Carol and her family of employees who call CrossBreed Holsters their home have rallied to keep Mark’s dream of making a better handgun holster alive. CrossBreed Holsters, once a company that started in a home, is now a household name in the firearms industry.
Carol has never stopped supporting Mark’s dream.
“Mark was always an incredible advocate of the Second Amendment and personal protection in general,” Carol said. “Between growing up with a father in law enforcement and his time in the military, Mark understood the importance of firearms. Mark instilled that in not only his children but also in me, constantly taking time out of his busy schedule to take us to the range. When Mark passed, I took it upon myself to continue his legacy of support for the Second Amendment and firearm ownership through the business and my journey. Spending time helping others learn the importance of firearm ownership has become a part of my everyday life.”
Still, loyalty and love aren’t enough to keep a business running. Carol learned, adjusted and grew to keep CrossBreed Holsters successful. “With Mark’s untimely passing, I was thrust into something that I had little experience in, which put me in a position of relying on those around me,” Carol said. “Becoming a leader meant not just P&Ls and sales reports, but it meant becoming a trusted ear, a shoulder to cry on and being honest with people even when it was hard to hear.”
Carol hasn’t let Mark or CrossBreed’s global community of handgun holster owners down then or now, and she will be the first one to tell you she couldn’t have done it on her own.
“Mark was the greatest influence I have had coming into the firearms industry,” Carol said. “His passion for the company, his employees and the industry are where I learned how to give as well. I am blessed with several long-term employees. I could not and would not be here without them. Last is the vast amount of people in the industry who, like so many others, have not only mentored me but also have become dear friends.”
CrossBreed Vs. Covid
The past few years have proven especially challenging for Carol and her team at CrossBreed Holsters. While the demand for handgun holsters has skyrocketed, the supplies and logistics necessary to keep up with the handgun ownership surge have plummeted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Carol noted that other external influences such as politics, labor costs, manufacturing skills and ever-evolving technologies took their toll on the firearms industry, including CrossBreed Holsters. “All of the listed items have had profound impacts on not only our business but all businesses,” Carol said. “Politics can make or break your year in the firearms industry and is incredibly difficult to plan. COVID-19 has continued to plague manufacturers with increased material costs, increased labor costs and the difficulties of navigating how to keep your employees safe.”
Still, Carol knows what CrossBreed Holsters needs to do to remain successful. “Our goals at CrossBreed remain the same now as they have from the beginning: take care of our customers, take care of our employees and make the finest concealed carry holsters on the market,” she said.
What Carol sees as her company’s strength and most significant area of focus is also where she sees some others fail catastrophically. “The biggest mistake I see other companies make is losing sight of their customers,” Carol said. “When you forget the people that have supported you through the years, you are doomed to fail. We have tried to focus on adjusting our procedures to allow us to continue to produce the highest quality products while absorbing as much of the increased expenses as possible.”
Now, Carol and the CrossBreed Holsters family of employees wants customers to know what they’re getting when they buy from CrossBreed, which now offers a wide variety of handgun holsters and firearms accessories. “We want our customers to feel confident that when they buy a CrossBreed Holster that they are buying a holster designed to be with them for a lifetime,” Carol said. “We want our customers to have confidence in knowing that we are always here with industry-leading customer service and have the utmost confidence in knowing that they have chosen a top-quality holster.”
Looking forward, Carol sees a promising future for the CrossBreed Holster family. “We are going to become a family of brands dedicated to producing products not only in the firearms industry but adjacent markets as well,” she said. “By focusing on what’s important and empowering my employees, I have incredible confidence that we will be successful in all our goals.”
To learn more about CrossBreed Holsters, visit them at CrossBreedHolsters.com.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2022 CCW special issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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