Gear Review: the N8² Tactical Pro IWB Holster

Finding the perfect holster for your carry weapon is the Holy Grail of personal defense. I would go so far as to say that many CHL holders spend a lifetime looking for, and not finding, a holster that is so comfortable, so reliable, and so effortless to use, that they simply give up and take what they can find. On that count, color me incredibly lucky, for I have read the Gradus ad Parnassum, taken up my quest, and found my Grail. I suspect that for many of you, the N8² Tactical Pro IWB Holster will be your Holy Grail of Holsters, too. 

I don’t have any stats to back this up, but I suspect that most people who carry on a daily basis who are not in law enforcement, opt to carry inside the waistband. Why? It’s easier to conceal a gun that’s tucked inside your pants than outside them, unless you have a situation where you can go around with your shirt untucked, or wear a coat. Even then, the chances of accidentally giving someone a peek at your piece is dramatically reduced if you carry IWB. But carrying inside the waistband is, well, a bitch. Unless you’re built like a Chippendale’s dancer or your physique resembles a tortilla chip, that love handle/spare tire/beer gut thang flat-out gets in the way of holstering/unholstering your gun when tucked inside your pants. And despite the First Lady’s best efforts, America shows no signs of putting down Le Pomme Français and backing away from the second helpings.

I’m in that same boat. At 6’4″ and in the neighborhood of 240 to 250 lbs, I’ve got more than a little overhang over the ol’ Wranglers, if you know what I mean. But I was determined to find an IWB holster that worked for me. Most people who have walked their own trail of tears to holster Heaven recommended the CrossBreed SuperTuck. I bought one and liked it. But it falls short of perfection. For the record, here’s my litmus test for the perfect IWB holster:

  • So comfortable, I forget I’m carrying
  • Doesn’t cost a king’s ransom
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Makes it brain-dead simple to unholster in a life-or-death situation
  • Makes it easy to re-holster without thinking or having to use two hands
  • Retains the gun securely, should I need to run, get in/out of a car, or contort my body

Seems simple, right? So just when I’m at risk of falling in with the “might as well put up with a holster that falls short of perfection” mindset, along comes N8²Tactical.com and their IWB Holster. If you’ve read my review of their original tactical holster, my only reservation about it was that their use of an elastic pocket prevented me from doing a one-hand reholster move. And many pros recommend that you be able to reholster one-handed if you have to draw/fire in a self-defense situation, so you don’t get mistaken for the bad guy. Still, the convenience, comfort, and function of the N8² Tactical IWB Holster was enough to make me a believer.

In the course of that review, I called the company and spoke to one of the Nates myself. He told me that they were working on a second product, that would solve the reholstering, but they were going about it in a very methodical, careful manner. According to N8² Tactical, there are some serious issues with Kydex as a holster material. First and foremost, it outgasses when warm. I don’t know about you, but the idea of inhaling a bunch of gasses from my holster is not on my to-do list. Kydex can also become brittle with age, and has some other negatives as well. N8² Tactical instead opted to go with polycarbonate (a.k.a. “Lexan®”), the same material used for everything from bulletproof windows and jet windshields, to football helmets. Using Lexan, however, required them to create molds, rather than just melt the stuff over a gun, as you can do with acrylic-polyvinyl chloride (Kydex). The result is a holster that has successfully checked off each and every one of the bullets on my list.

The Pro model of the holster looks almost exactly like the earlier model. Except they’ve substituted the Lexan pocket for the elastic, and a swivel belt clip for the original’s sewn-on clip. The swivel clip allows you to set the cant of the holster however you like. The Lexan pocket keeps the holster from collapsing, insuring you can reholster with one hand. But their design has an additional advantage – retention.

When I first received the holster, I found that my Kimber 1911 slipped in to the holster like a hand in a well-fitting glove. Getting it out, however, was just about impossible. After another call to the company, I learned why. The holster is designed to automatically retain your weapon, unless you twist it clockwise (towards your back) as you simultaneously pull it from the holster. The result is a holster that has a positive grip on your gun, but offers a foolproof way to unholster it at will.

Dont’ make the mistake of presuming that this is a substitute for a locking retention holster. Then again, if you are carrying concealed, you likely won’t need a locking retention system, simply because nobody’s gonna try to take your gun if they don’t know you have one. By the time they are aware you’re armed, you’ll already have your hand on the gun.

But what about comfort? With suede on the body-size, cowhide on the gun side, and an inner layer of neoprene (wet suit rubber) in-between, the holster is comfortable and resists any sweat from your body leaching through the holster and coming into contact with the gun.

If there is a drawback to the Pro holster, it’s only the availability factor. While the regular model is available for a wide range of guns, for both left- and right-handed shooters, so far, the N8² Tactical Pro IWB is available for right-handers only for the following guns:

  • 1911 WITH 3″-3.5″ BARREL (NO RAIL)
  • 1911 WITH 4”-5” BARREL (NO RAIL)
  • BERETTA 92
  • GLOCK FULL SIZE
  • GLOCK COMPACT/SUBCOMPACT
  • KAHR PM/CM/MK
  • KAHR CW/P/K
  • S&W M&P FULL SIZE
  • S&W M&P COMPACT
  • SPRINGFIELD XD/XDM FULL SIZE/COMPACT
  • SPRINGFIELD XD/XDM SUBCOMPACT

The good news is that they are hard at work adding additional makes and models of guns. And they are letting user requests drive which models they work on next.

I don’t want to sound like an N8² Tactical fanboy, but it’s hard not to get enthusiastic about a holster that nails every one of the things on my feature list. I also like the fact that they are a small, home-grown company, based right here in the USA.

The original N8² Tactical IWB holsters went for $39.95. They are still available. The new Pro model lists for $69.95. While the original holster is a fine piece of workmanship, the Pro model is, frankly, worth the additional 30 bucks.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: N8² Tactical Pro IWB Holster
Leftie Model available: Not at this time
Available for:

  • 1911 WITH 3″-3.5″ BARREL (NO RAIL)
  • 1911 WITH 4”-5” BARREL (NO RAIL)
  • BERETTA 92
  • GLOCK FULL SIZE
  • GLOCK COMPACT/SUBCOMPACT
  • KAHR PM/CM/MK
  • KAHR CW/P/K
  • S&W M&P FULL SIZE
  • S&W M&P COMPACT
  • SPRINGFIELD XD/XDM FULL SIZE/COMPACT
  • SPRINGFIELD XD/XDM SUBCOMPACT

Finish: Natural Suede (inside) Full-grain cowhide (outside) 
Price: $69.95 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Comfort * * * * *  
It doesn’t get any better than “I forgot I had it on.”

Ergonomics * * * * *
As long as you’re a righty, you’re in like Flynn. Currently, Lefties need not apply.

Reliability * * * * 
I’ve carried with their older holster since May. Other than forming to my gun/body, it looks new. I see no reason this one will be any different.

Customizable * 
This is a custom-fit holster for a specific gun. You want “customizable” go buy a G.I. Joe.

Carry * * * * *
If you wanna carry concealed, this is the holster for you.

Overall Rating * * * * 1/2
An excellent holster, that will earn the remaining half-star when they release left-handed versions and cover more makes/models of guns.

comments

  1. avatar Charles says:

    This looks great, thanks. The Lexan portion of the newer holster looks bulkier, do you notice much difference when you wear it?

    1. avatar Brad Kozak says:

      Not a bit, actually. I was surprised about that, too.

  2. avatar Ben Eli says:

    Some of their models are designed to allow one to tuck in a shirt behind the clip, in front of the firearm. Does the Pro do this as well?

    1. avatar Ben Eli says:

      Nevermind, it is indeed tuckable. Awesome for cubicle ninjas.

  3. avatar Nemesis says:

    I bought the Pro model for my M&P 9c after your initial review. My Cross Breed is collecting dust and my Comp Tac IWB is a forgotten memory. The N8 Pro rocks. So much so I bought one for my father who just got legal to CC. He falls into the “if it isn’t %100 comfortable, he will never carry” category. I do forget that I am wearing it too.

  4. avatar Rabbi says:

    I got one in for review myself and found it unusable.While it was comfortable, the backing does not allow a fast and proper grip on the gun.The way that it should have been designed, and the manner which I will modify it, is to remove the back portion of the holster that is against the pistol’s grip. With that modification in place, it should be very easy to grasp the gun and it should become a very serviceable holster, but it is useless to me until then.

    So far, the best IWM holster that I have found is
    http://www.fist-inc.com/holsters/k1/iwb.htm.

    The Fist is comfortable and highly customizable without sacrificing utility.

    My search for improvement over the Fist is ever continuing.

    1. avatar Brad Kozak says:

      Different strokes. I don’t have a problem at all gripping my Kimber with it in the holster. And I would find it annoying and uncomfortable to have the grip in direct contact with my hide.

      1. avatar DonWorsham says:

        How do you feel about having to twist the gun to get it out?

    2. avatar DonWorsham says:

      Agreed! For IWB go with Fist.

  5. avatar Nico says:

    What didn’t you like about the Crossbreed that you like about this one? I have a Crossbreed Supertuck and I very much enjoy it. I especially like having two clips versus one, for weight distribution and stability.

    1. avatar Taurus609 says:

      Nico, I agree with you, the CBSTD covered all of the requirements Brad listed, and I like the two clips to one for weight distribution.

      1. avatar Brad Kozak says:

        I own both. I’ve found the N82Tactical holster to be so comfortable I forget I’m carrying (which I guess could be a bad thing, but still…). The N82Tactical is every bit as stable as the CrossBreed, and a lot more comfortable.

        1. avatar Taurus609 says:

          Brad, just going by the photo, does the holster twist when drawing, for it looks like it would work as a pendulum with just the one clip!?

  6. avatar Yorokobi says:

    Have you tried the Comp-Tac Minotaur MTAC holster? The price is a touch higher but it fits all the qualifications (speaking from my own experience) and is more customizable than the N8² Tactical Pro.

    http://www.comp-tac.com/product_info.php?products_id=95

  7. avatar Rabbi says:

    The Mtac is a far better design as there is no backing to prevent a full and complete grip of the pistol while in the holster.

    Unfortunately, I don’t like their belt clips as it is too easy for them to slip from the belt or not be placed properly.

    Perfection is elusive!

    1. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

      Have you tried their redesigned C-Clips?

      When locked in place on a proper belt, I have yet to see them slip off. If anything, it takes a little bit of doing on your part to get them off when you want to.

      I LOVE the Comp-Tac products. I have the Mino’s for my 1911 fullsize, 1911 Commander, Glock 22 & 17 and I have the C-Tacs for my S&W 586 & S&W 629. All of them are set up with the newly designed C-Clips.

  8. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    Remora Holsters. http://www.remoraholsters.com no clip, no belt, adj. cant. no worries.

    1. avatar Rabbi says:

      The problem with the Remora and alike is reholstering. The flat holster is impossible. The one with the reinforced top does not keep it open enough for my liking–too difficult to reholster quickly.

      To facilitate reholstering, a holster should not flatten with the gun is removed.

  9. avatar racer88 says:

    I’ll chime in. I’ve been wearing a Crossbreed Supertuck for a couple of years now. And, it has served me very well. But, I’m always looking for the next best thing. And, based on your previous review (of the previous model), I bought the N82 Pro model just a few weeks ago.

    IMO, it’s not as comfortable as my CBST. The primary reason: It rides too high, forcing my G27 against my ribs. The CBST is height and cant adjustable. Admittedly, I’ve only worn the N82 Pro a couple of times. And, I will play with it some more.

    I do like the Lexan clam-shell, which seems very durable and retentive.

    But, at this point, my CBST is the clear winner. Besides the adjust-ability of the CBST, I think two clips are better than one.

  10. This may be a dumb question, but I’m new to semi auto’s having just purchased 2 of the Smith and Wesson Sd ve models in 9mm and 40. Just wondering how much difference there is in the S&W M&P compact and the SD ve’s. In other words, will my Sd ve’s fit in the N82 Professional holster? And if not, any suggestions as to another holster for the SD ve models? Thanks

  11. avatar Herschel Moore says:

    The alien gear holster does better for me than any of the listed holsters more comfortable and more adj and customizable and about half the price of any of these with a lifetime warranty and a life time exchange policy if u change guns.great quality holster as well not cheap made china stuff givem a try at alienwearholsters.com or look them up on Facebook

    1. avatar Brew says:

      Just a slight correction their website is http://aliengearholsters.com and yes I to have to agree that those holsters by alien gear are my preference above any of the ones you have listed on here.

  12. avatar AJW says:

    Hi Brad. I just started conceal carry. I read a lot about IWB holsters and bought the N8 2 Pro for my Glock 19 and Kimber 4″. I also bought the Crossbreed Supertuck for both. I am experimenting. I will also get a Remora to try, just to compare. Great review.

    About the OVERHANG on the Wranglers…. I had that issue also. Not really about this thread, but that can all change if you adopt the Paleo lifestyle. I lost 60 lbs in 12 months…. search it on google.

  13. avatar Manning says:

    N82 pro. What about wear on your gun? I wouldn’t see to much of a problem with stainless, but what about wear on blued guns?

    1. avatar bobo says:

      Manning.
      Are you carrying to protect yourself and loved ones or to look cool?

      Wear on a utility pistol should never be a consideration as long as it does not affect they way the gun performs.

      If you want something to carry a bbq gun in, go all leather.

  14. avatar Abinsur says:

    Great review. Like all holster opinions though, extremely subjective. Just ordered one per this review and will post up when it comes in. My current holsters with similar attributes are: CBST, CB ‘quick clip’ and Minotaur by Comp-tac. I carry a full-size firearm in almost all cases, either a M&P .45, or XD tactical. Based on my holster experiences, a single belt clip and a loaded full-size just don’t mix. With a smaller, lighter gun (I used to carry a glock 30 in a CB ‘quick clip’ (one wide belt clip)), the ‘sag’ or increasing/decreasing cant of the gun as you carry it, changed, but it was manageable. Switching to the full size and ordering another CB ‘quick clip’ made the limitations of a single belt clip obvious, to me anyways. I then ordered the super tuck, and it was a tremendous leap forward in terms of keeping the ‘cant’ of the pistol (and as a result, the ride height also) consistent. I was pleased with the supertuck, but like everyone else, was always looking for a better option. The Minotaur was more comfortable, equally adjustable, but bulky. With two belt clips, the design was very similar to the super tuck, actually. I now have used the Minotaur for two years and have modified it quite a bit, trimming leather here, cutting down the kydex and polishing edges there. But I’m always open for another rig. The only reason I would even consider a single belt clip design (like the N82 Pro) is the backing material (suede), strikes me as both comfortable, and if I’m right, more likely to ‘grip’ my underwear or undershirt material, thereby providing some extra resistance to the aforementioned cant issue with a single clip design. The CB and the minotaur both have a (now that they’re broken in and well used) semi-slick back, that essentially slides around against my clothing. The suede however….that might make a difference… We will see. The off-gassing comment is almost laughable, I must say. I work in the automotive industry. I know my…ahem…German company has studied this extensively and if ‘offgassing’ bothers anyone, I strongly recommend never driving a modern car again. You are breathing in (particularly on a hot day) varying amounts of VOCs and other ‘offgassed’ chemicals that would make the diminutive kydex holster emissions seem like pure O2 in comparison.

  15. avatar Lfshtr says:

    Carry cross draw @ 2:00. Being LH, works great seatbelted in vehicle, hides well in CCW. I have done some quick draw in shoot outs, (tournament) on left hip. In real life the guy that makes the first move WINS every time. In my younger years we practiced this method and almost every time the guy that makes the move is the guy that goes home. So carry where is best suited for yourself. Be safe and watch out for the BG.

  16. avatar Jim says:

    I just received my n82 pro today, so I don’t have much to go on as far as a review. I can say it is very comfortable, and I have no problem quickly drawing both my Glock 22 and 23.
    I ordered it by phone because I had some questions. This was about the most pleasant experience I have had as far as great customer service. I really can’t say enough. Shipping was fast.
    The thing I was most concerned with was the draw. This is certainly not an issue for me.

  17. avatar Matt C says:

    I was just doin some searching,,, I’m new to all these holsters and ccw. I just purchased my first gun, it’s a Springfield XD Mod 2. I was goin to purchase an alien gear holster which my CCW instructor had recommended but then today when I was goin to purchase they alien gear holster, I decided to find out some more reviews and stumbled across the N8 Tactical holsters, I can’t decide which one to get,,, I looked at the price difference but I just simply can’t make up my mind on which to get.. My concern is that I don’t usually wear 2 shirts so which one would be more comfortable against skin, whether it’s a warm or hot day. I’m just not sure which one to get.. SOMEONE HELP ME DECIDE lol…

  18. avatar James W says:

    I too wandered around in the maze of compromise IWB holsters for years. I have a cardboard box full of also rans. I saw the N8sqd holster in a Massad Ayoob article, and asked my brother for the pro-model for my birthday.

    I’m a believer. It is hands down the beat holster I’ve ever worn and now all of my handguns, carry or casual trip in the woods ride in a N8 pro.

  19. avatar Gregg Nelsen says:

    I just purchased a FN 9mm handgun, what IWB holster will fit my gun? It’s not compact, but it can still be carried, think it’s a 4″ barrel. Suggestions appreciated.

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