|Product Tests : Cen-Dex Kydex Holsters|
Frank Spezzano, the owner of Cen-Dex holsters, became a sponsor of both my sites, at the beginning of 2003. At that time, my pistols were safeguarded by the Greek police, so when Frank send me a couple of his products to test, I told him that he had to wait, I couldn't test them without my pistols.
Last Saturday, I got my pistols back so I had the chance to test our Frank's holsters. First of all, these were my first Kydex holsters, so I really wanted to see how I would get used to this material. I must admit from the beginning, that I am a traditionalist, when materials are concerned for my pistols. I like forged frames and slides (even though I know that casts can be equally good), I like wood for my grips (even though I just love Matt Davidson's G-10 grips), and of course, I like leather for my holsters. So trying Cen-Dex products was a new experience for me.
After discussing with Frank, he was kind enough to send me the first holster for my evaluation. That holster was Frank's "Taylor Nighthawk", as it is called. It is a belt-loop holster, made out of Kydex of course, with a very useful 1-1.5" cut in the front, to allow faster clearing of the muzzle, when the pistol is drawn. The holster arrived, and I was anxious to test it, but of course, I had to wait, until I got my pistols back. So as soon as they came home, I gave the Nighthawk a try. I used my Bianchi belt to put the holster on, and inserted my Bigmouth in it. "Shhhhnap"!! The well-known sound, that you have read about, is definitely there. The holster is very well molded for the pistol, and it retains its contents well, even if held upside down and shaken vigorously. Pull the pistol out, and "shhhhnap", the familiar sound again.
I let the holster/pistol combo hanging from my belt, as I went around the house doing various chores. I had missed the feeling of my 1911s on my hip, and the holster test was exactly what I wanted to get the good old feeling back again. From this exercise, it was apparent that the holster was not a tight fit to my body. Of course, I still haven't tried any loop-type holster which hugs your hip as close as the traditional pancake, so this is not a Nighthawk's problem per se, it is more of a design feature than anything else. Mind you, it was not that the holster didn't feel secure or something like that, it was just that I am used to my holsters keeping the butt of the pistol close to my body, and this one did not.
I also noticed that the holster tend to move forward and backwards on my belt. I have to admit, that this old Bianchi belt is not the most sturdy gun belt you can find, but I am used to it, and I like it. I talked to Frank about it, and he said "No problem, I'll send you some spacers you can use to taylor-fit the holster to your belt.". Indeed, I got those spacers, which are nothing more than some pieces of rubber. You may cut the rubber as thick as you like, and insert a piece in the belt tunnel, either above or below your belt. In that way, the loop's opening becomes a little narrower, so it now fits my belt perfectly. There is still some movement, but it is nothing to worry about, the holster stays put, wherever you initially adjusted it.
In the picture on the right, you can barely notice the small piece of rubber, at the lower end of the belt loop of the holster. What you may also notice, is the deep cut, at the front of the holster, which is there, to make pointing the pistol to the target a little faster. If that cut was not there, you would have to lift the pistol's muzzle all the way to the top of the holster, for the muzzle to clear it. Now, as soon as the muzzle reaches that cut, you can start moving the pistol forward, towards the target, thus gaining some milliseconds of time. Neat thought.
On the picture above, you can see details from the back of the holster. What you cannot see here, is how securely the belt loop is mounted to the holster body. The belt loop consists of two layers of Kydex, which seem to be molded together, they are then secured by rivets, while three of these rivets also secure this sandwitch to the rest of the holster, two at the top and one at the bottom. Quite neat, quite effective. Also please note the silver rivet? Well, this is the nut of an adjustment screw, which allows you to adjust the tension with which the holster holds your pistol in it.
I still haven't got the chance to try this holster at the range, since I just got my pistols back. As soon as I have the chance to do it, I'll let you know. Most probably, on the first weekend of May. From the limited testing I did inside the house, I can say that it is a nice holster. Given the natural characteristics of Kydex, one can definitely use this holster in harsh environments, and not worry about it getting damaged. So, do come back for more, after I give this holster a try, at the range.
Together with this holster, Frank also send me a magazine pouch. Again, this item is made of Kydex and it is of minimalistic design. One layer of Kydex, folded in half, with one rivet at the bottom and an tension adjustment screw on the side. Another layer of Kydex forms the belt loop. The pouch holds one M-1911 magazine in place quite securely. I used an 8-round magazine, full with 230 gr. FMJ and tried to shake it free, while holding the pouch upside-down. I didn't manage it. Still, the magazine can be very quickly retrieved, without a hickup.
While I was discussing with Frank about his products, I asked him if he has a SOB (Small of the Back), vertical holster, but which would position the butt of the pistol towards the right side of my body. Frank was kind enough to oblige, and soon a second holster arrived.
At first glance, this holster looks very much like the Nighthawk, but made for lefties. The two things that set it apart from the Nighthawk, is first that this holster does not have the cut above the ejection port and second that the belt loop is only secured to the main body of the holster at the top. In that way, the holster acts like an IWB (Inside the Waistband) holster, since the belt loop rides above your trousers, with the holster inside them. I again tried the holster by wearing it for some hours inside my house, and it proved to be exactly what I've wanted. I like this style of carrying, even though I know that a lot of people have objections (sorry folks, I do not plan to fall on my back) and this holster is the first one I got which allowed me to carry my 1911 in this manner.
The SOB holster Frank send me, was a bit too tight at the trigger guard area, even if I completely unfastened the adjustment screw. So what I did, was insert a finger at that spot for a minute or two. Kydex has given up a little, so now the holster holds my 1911s just fine. Again, I haven't got the chance to try that holster in the range, but I'll do it as soon as I get the chance, I am sure it will be a very useful holster.
So, two worthy additions to my holsters collection, this time made of a polymer material.
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