Before we begin, let’s set some baselines to see if this review will be relevant to you.
- This was not a scientific, standards base, control group study. It is my opinion based on the things that are important to me.
- I am a nobody but I train a lot. Here is my story :
Lifelong martial artist (TKD, Muay Thai, BJJ), no LEO or military experience (save being an Air Force brat), NRA pistol instructor (who isn’t?). I have received previous training from George Wehby of I4Tactical, Matt Jacques of Victory First, John Murphy of FPF Training, Chris Sizelove of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Aaron Brumley of Solo Defense, Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, Pat Goodale and Wayne Fisher of PFT Training, and private training with Al DeLeon of the State Dept’s MSD unit. I shoot anywhere from 200 to 400 rounds a week. I try to compete three times a month. When not traveling for work I train BJJ 2 to 3 times a week.In addition, I am also a contributor on PrimaryandSecondary.com and a moderator on three of P&S’s Facebook groups. I have learned, broke bread, shared drink, asked questions and (carefully) expressed my opinion with many professional pipehitters without getting my ass handed back to me.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a Raven Concealment Systems fan. I do not think they have made a holster model that I do not own. So why am I doing a non-Raven review? Well first, doing a Raven holster review is an exercise in the obvious. “The fit is perfect….The build quality is amazing…the lifetime warranty is the best…..blah blah blah”. End Raven review. However, to ask Raven to make a holster for every person’s individual taste would be impossible and a poor business model. That is where holster makers like Nicholas Pratt of North-Central Illinois Custom Kydex (NicKydex) come in.
So why did I decide to review one of his holsters instead of one of the myriads of other holster makers out there? Well, a couple of reasons…1. He persistently asked the staff at P&S to put his kit to the test 2. He kept asking 3. He asked some more.
So I decided to give him what I thought was an impossible task. I wanted a fully enclosed, AIWB holster for my Roland Special. It needed to have soft loops and a RCS claw. It needed to be comfortable and not move around on my belt. Oh…and I needed it in a week for the Pat Rogers Memorial Training Weekend. Ha! Deal with that dude…oh…I will have it on Tuesday…uh…OK thanks.
Sure enough, I get it the Tuesday before the FoP weekend. It came in a nice package with stickers and business cards. Bribe me with stickers will you? Let’s check this thing out and see if it matches Nick’s packaging and persistence.
Oh…what is this? Is that suede covering the holster? And, what the hell….is that an RMR hood? Two things I was not expecting but nice touches that intrigued me. The taco fold over design seemed very strong. The give when squeezed was minimal unlike some AIWB holsters where they press flat like an accordian. The holes and rivets looked precisely cut and installed. I did not notice any slop in the craftsmanship. And thank baby Jesus that Nick used the actual RCS claw and not some silly piece of bent kydex. But man, I wonder if the suede is going to start to tear or peel off. I wonder if that hood is going to slow down my draw. Well good thing I have my VG3 at the ready. ‘Cause ain’t nobody gonna make Jedi look the fool in front of the hitters at the FoP this weekend.
Fit and Retention: The RS slipped in with an audible smooth “thunk”. It remained in place and did not wiggle while holding the holster with gun upside down. The draw was smooth without unnecessary retention drag. We are off to a good start.
Concealability: I was worried at first since this is not a small holster. Then I remembered that I am a big guy and the Roland Special is a big gun. Sand removed from my lower region and I put it on. The loops folded over my Ares Gear Aegis belt with ease. The RMR hood fit easily behind the belt and the claw was exactly where it needs to be. Gun holstered. T-shirt bloused over the gun. Gun disappeared. Impressive.
Comfort: So I did add a piece to the holster here. I always cut a piece of foam and make a bump and attached it the back of the holster. This helps push the holster into my body and also provides some padding for comfort. It is much like the RCS Eidolon bump but a little bigger for a bigger guy. Nick said this would be an easy option for others that may want it as well.
I was able to drive to and from Alliance, Ohio (10 hours total), do all of TD1, and all of the HIX hotel driveway meetings (HAHA) without any discomfort.
Performance: I carried it every day, ran the holster through the FoP weekend, while I AI’d for Steve Fisher in a CHE class, during countless range sessions and through a couple of Outlaw matches. In total, 2000 rounds were run through the RS over a two month period while I was using this holster. Below are the drills I ran. NOTE: If you read my Overwatch Precision trigger review these will be familiar. I ran my review periods concurrently.
The drills I used for testing: Dot Torture, the FAST drill, and 1 reload 1 at 7 yards. I also decided to see how fast I could go with a 1 shot drill from concealment at 5 yards.
Dot Torture: Ran the drill five times over a week’s time at 6 yards, slow fire. Perfect 50s on all of them. While the holster is not a main component to successfully complete Dot Torture, maintaining the required focus while drawing from a crappy holster doesn’t help.
The FAST Drill: Ran the drill 10 times. Average times were between 4.62 and 4.92. The Holster is huge in the FAST Drill. Getting under 5 seconds can be completely lost if the holster does not cooperate.
1 Reload 1 at 7 yards from concealment: Times averaged between 2.6 and 2.8 seconds. Same as the FAST drill. Quick 1R1s with a subpar holster is not a recipe for success.
1 shot at 5 yards: Fastest was at .82. I recently put into my “game” some things I learned from Clay Klemm of Team Sig. These techniques helped my speed mode markedly, that said the holster did not detract and may have helped with the new found speed…again YMMV.
Drill Outcomes: I did just as well or even better with the NicKydex holster than with my other holsters.
So in conclusion I find this holster impressive, durable, and of high quality. After two months, the suede still looks good. The loops and snaps are holding firm. The holster did not lose any retention or rigidity and honestly….I am very surprised. Like I stated previously, the standard for me is Raven and other holster makers have just not ever come close to that mark. Nicholas’ confidence in his product shows with his unconditional lifetime warranty on all his holsters. I am also confident in it and that is why it is now part of my rotation.
One other note of importance, lots of people puff up their chest and say their kit is the best ever, but when it is time to step up…especially to the guys at Primary and Secondary, it is usually crickets after that. Nicholas stepped up and backed his claims up. Well done, my friend, well done.
You can find Nicholas and North-Central Illinois Custom Kydex on Facebook and on the web at www.nickydex.com.
Be Good. Stay Safe. Get Training.
Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski