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    Grandmaster BehindBlueI's's Avatar

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    Review: 1 year with Red Nichols leather

    It's been roughly a year since I ordered and received my belt, magazine carrier, and holster from Red Nichols.


    Current condition:

    Same gun, I just changed the grips to ones with a bit more texture, which I'll review at another time.

    I'd ordered this set up as I believed it would be a good combination of form and function for duty carry. I've been quite impressed with the beauty of Red's work since I was first exposed to it on High Noon Holsters. The "old school cool" of the Bogart based naming system for the holsters caught my attention as well. As those of you who've met me know, I'm still in to fedoras and the assorted "classic detective" accoutrements. I will not, however, sacrifice function for the sake of nostalgia or fashion. Defending yourself or others with a firearm is just too serious a business to do so.

    First, the belt.

    The belt, which I've seen Red variously refer to as the "triple curve" or as the "sidewinder" is an absolutely incredible piece of gear. When I first got it out of the box I was skeptical. It appeared to thin and too supple to work as a real gun belt, particularly with a relatively heavy duty gun like the P226. I was using a Daltech Bull Belt, and it was thicker, stiffer, and looked out of place when wearing a suit (although it's quite nice for jeans and boots). Real use proved Red's design and erased my misgivings. This is the first belt I've had that I don't have to either tighten to the point it's starting to get uncomfortable OR hitch my gun back up in to place every time I stand up. The curves sort of go up and over your hips and they keep the gun were it's supposed to be as you sit, stand, run, etc without letting it sag. You just cinch the belt up as tight as you would a normal belt with nothing hung on it, and it stays.

    The tapered design means when you're wearing a suit jacket, even unbuttoned, only the thin part shows. It is a good looking belt and it's so out of place with a nice suit as most of the chunkier options out there.

    This is, hands down, the best gun belt I've owned.

    Next up, the holster.

    The holster is a "Beat the Devil" avenger style holster. I elected for an open top holster, as I carry concealed with a suit jacket or sports coat and concealment is retention, and my department doesn't mandate a thumb break. If I carried openly, I would have went for a retention holster, of course. The holster required no break in. I elected for the kangaroo leather lining. The gun fit, and fit correctly, right out of the packaging. There was no "stuff the gun in a Ziploc bag and cram it in the holster for a week, then you can use it" instructions. I could have strapped it on and went to work that day. I've got to vet my equipment, though, so I held off and did roughly 1,000 practice draw strokes from both concealment and open carry. Sometimes you find glitches in the gear when you do this. Did I ever tell you about the time I tried a vertical shoulder holster and nearly ripped my nipple off with the hammer of the Sig? Different story for a different day, but just an example of the sort of unexpected things you sometimes run in to.

    The gun holds the holster close enough to the body to conceal well under a suit coat, but with enough of a gap to achieve a proper fighting grip on the initial draw. The sweat shield is stiff and doesn't fold over the mouth of the holster, allowing for easy reholstering without flagging yourself or requiring the off hand to get involved. It's held up well to thousands of draws of dry fire practice, range trips 3-4 times a month, and daily duty carry with no signs of reduced function or appearance.

    Finally, the magazine pouch.

    This large thumb wheel allows you to adjust the tension easily and quickly, and is something I've never seen before on a mag pouch. It's a "set it and forget it" type thing for me, once I got it where I wanted it, it has stayed there without need for further adjustment. I like mine tight enough I can run or fall and the magazine stays in but it doesn't tug at the belt when I pull it to reload. It's quite stable, I've taken to carrying an extended SCT magazine for my reload and it still holds it tight and conceals well. I was pretty iffy about running a mag pouch with a clip instead of a belt loop, concerned I'll pull the whole assembly free of the belt in a "oh crap" reload, but under time pressure it's been pretty steady. I have managed to pull it off when I grabbed the leather instead of the magazine and tugged it, so it is possible. I've contacted Red to see if he can make one with belt loops instead of a clip, as I would prefer the extra security. I'd also like to see a double magazine pouch option, or a handcuff/magazine combination.

    Performance wise, the gear doesn't hold me back any. It's smooth and consistent. I'm hovering around 6.00-6.10 FAST times warmed up and 6.50-6.60 FAST times cold. Someone with faster sight acquisition and a better reload speed than me could get under 5 seconds with this set up.

    Durability, the pictures tell the story. My department is about to transition to the new Glock 17M, and I'll probably be retiring this holster soon, but I suspect it would have lasted the rest of my career. I've already ordered the exact same set up for the Glock 17, including a second belt (this time in black).

    red nichols holsters is his current web site. He's in Australia, and making them by hand himself. He guarantees a 4 week delivery time to North America, which is smoking fast for a custom holster of this quality, IMO. I'll get pics of the Glock set up probably sometime in August.

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    Last edited by Roadie; 07-30-2016 at 19:24.
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