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Reviews => Gear Review => Topic started by: GunLink on January 10, 2017, 12:40:25 PM

Title: N82 Tactical Holster Review
Post by: GunLink on January 10, 2017, 12:40:25 PM
Innate Two Who?

We first tried out N82 Tactical ( (N82 -I feel like I still have to explain that it's pronounced Nate-Squared, for the company's namesake founders, Nate and Nate) holsters right around three years ago, in early 2014.  The buzz was building and they came with glowing recommendations from our pal Kevin the TacDaddy, who was one of their early stocking dealers. 


According to the website, their story started in 2009, borne out of frustration with the current offering of holsters which they felt were not comfortable enough for all-day-every-day wear.  Not able to find something that truly suited their needs, they started their own American Dream story and just solved the problem by taking matters into their own hands and designing a holster that fit the bill.  And it was good enough for other people to want the Nates to make holsters for them as well.  Now, years later, Nate, Nate, and the rest of the N82 family will gladly make holsters for anyone, anywhere, for nearly any firearm.

The first holsters that we tried and initially reviewed ( back in 2014 were for GunLink's project pistol - a KelTec P11 (  For the P11, we got to try all three flavors of the N82 Tactical holsters, to of them being very similar - the original model and the tuckable original model - and the professional model, which represented a substantial step up in several categories including sturdiness, retention, and general usability. 

Baby Got Back

The backing material of all three holsters is the same chunk of neoprene sandwiched between a soft, supple suede layer that goes against your body and a strong, oil-tanned slab of leather that goes against your handgun.  ALL of your handgun.  And then some.  The original three models of N82 holsters featured no combat cut for grip, no exposed slide, or any of that; the backing is between every bit of the handgun and your hip, with material to spare.  This not only protects your backside from getting jabbed by any sharp edges found on your firearm, but it also completely protects the firearm from your body and all the corrosive sweat and oils coming out of it.  I can attest that it does a fine job of that, too, having worn N82 holsters in some pretty hot, sweaty environments which other holsters have left exposed grips collecting sweat. 


However, the flip side of the big backing is that it doesn't provide any of the benefits of the "combat cut," which is to allow a full grip on the holstered pistol without having any leather get in the way.  I personally like the more open combat cut grip, but it is personal preference and, to be sure, many holster manufacturers sell many holsters with both types of cut.  Carriers of firearms with rough stipling or granular grips ( will definitely appreciate the extra coverage. 

The original models feature an industrial-strength swath of elastic shaped for your particular firearm that holds it in place.  It is not some rinky-dink piece of rubber band, it is a sturdy piece of material that does not appear to have any issue handling long term use that involves shoving a hunk of metal and polymer into it and wearing it in your waistband.

Going Pro

The Professional models feature, in place of the elastic, a plastic shell custom molded for your particular handgun.  This shell provides a number of benefits including easier reholstering, better firearm protection, and introduces a level of retention that is fairly unique to the N82 line.


The holster shown above is for a KelTec P11 and has the original metal belt clip that N82 holsters used to ship with (more on that below). 

The aforementioned retention system is not based on simple force to draw the pistol, straps to hold it in, or buttons to press.  To draw from a N82 Tactical Professional holster, the grip of the firearm is grasped and the firearm is twisted a few degrees toward your body (e.g. clockwise for right-handed people) to bring the trigger guard out from behind the retention indentation in the mold.  This method of draw is a somewhat normal extension of the draw stroke as your hand comes around/toward your body and onto the firearm, so it is pretty shallow learning curve that takes only a few practice runs to master and not much longer to ingrain in your muscle memory.  The direction that the firearm needs to be twisted will make it quite difficult for someone else to try to grab and snatch your carry gun away from you.  However, it should be noted that this - as with any other retention system, is something that your brain and body will have to remember to do (whether consciously or sub-consciously) if you need your firearm in a hurry during an adrenaline-fueled self defense situation.

The choice between the original and professional lines is not just a matter of price where more money buys you more holster, however - there is a genuine decision to make based on personal preference and I have not found a clear, across-the-board winner for all firearms.  One clear choice of what not to get is if you plan on wearing the holster with a tucked-in shirt.  If you do, avoid the original model; but both the original tuckable and professional models are capable of being worn with a shirt tucked around it inside of your trousers. 

The original vs the original tuckable

That being said, I find myself using the professional model holster more often than the original model.  I think that the elastic of the original models, along with pressure from your wristband/belt should provide plenty of force needed to hold the pistol in place for pretty much all normal situations.  However, I usually end up wearing the professional model for the peace of mind in knowing that it will stay in place should I get the notion to spontaneously doing somersaults or end up in a spur-of-the-moment wrestling match.


Single-clip holsters are not my favorite type of holster thanks to the potential for them to shift around or change cant, but the N82 stays in place pretty well, especially when used with a good, thick carry belt like our Bigfoot doulbe-14oz leather steel-core belt ( which provides plenty of area for the belt clip to grab onto.  On the other hand, single clip holsters are pretty easy to get on and off without a lot of gymnastics. 

How Does it Hold Up?

Most of the action that our P11 has seen has been on smaller pistols at permissive trade shows where discretion is a big benefit, although I do wear the Glock 19 professional model shown above when the situation calls for it.  It is certainly the case that the Nates have achieved their goal of crafting an eminently comfortable holster.  The padded backing does a great job of preventing any sharp corners or edges from poking the wearer and the soft suede is barely noticeable, staying comfortable in temperature ranges from chilly winter mornings to the balmy southern summer days.

Note that the Glock holster shown above sports a molded polymer belt clip as opposed to the metal clip shown in previous photos.  This design change, which includes new mounting hardware behind the clip, was a result of finding out that the original design could result in the clip loosening up if the wearer is frequently changing the cant angle by moving the clip around.  The new design eliminates this by separating the mechanical attachment to the holster from the clip itself and the cant angle into separate parts.  The polymer is also probably easier on your belts and clothing.  The clip upgrade is something that N82 is happy to do for you if you send in your holster or run into them at a show - Nate Beard personally upgrade two of our holsters at the 2016 NRA show (

Aside from having to be accustomed to a slightly modified draw method to overcome the professional model's retention, the only other issue that I have had with any N82 holster is on the Glock professional model.  As can be seen in the photo, about 3/8" of the muzzle end of the slide sticks out past the plastic shell.  Given the soft backing, normal daily movement allows the firearm to slightly rock in-and-out, bringing the slide into contact with the edge of the plastic.  On the Glock model, there is also enough room for front-to-back rocking that brings the top of the slide, just above the ejector, into contact with the shell.  In these two spots, the holster has caused minor surface finish wear on the slide - albeit, probably no more than other polymer/kydex holsters would in other spots, and the wear appears to be only cosmetic.  The P11 professional model does not seem to suffer from the same issue. 


The entire line of N82 Tactical holsters lives up to the founders' goals of being incredibly comfortable, thanks to their thick backing.  If comfortable carry is paramount to you (after all, if it is uncomfortable you won't wear it, and the pistol you leave at home does you no good when you're being mugged and beaten), then they definitely deserve some consideration.  The variety of holsters offered leaves users with a decision to make that will largely be based on personal preference.

One thing that I have would note, is that the N82 holsters have a sizable backing on them that doesn't change much between models.  On compact or full size pistols, the gun-to-backing ratio is pretty reasonable.  As the handgun shrinks to sub-compact pistols, I feel like that ratio skews a bit toward the "this is a lot of footprint for a holster for a tiny gun" end of the spectrum.

Check out N82 Tactical on their website ( or at a a show near you.

Title: Re: N82 Tactical Holster Review
Post by: GunLink on January 10, 2017, 12:48:40 PM
N82 is also producing magazine carriers (, as well as a new dual-clip holster called the Pro Tandem.  If we get a chance to do a full review of these, we will put that review here. 


My initial thoughts are that something so small as the magazine might tend to have the same issue as micro pistols where you end up with a lot of footprint from the backing to carry something that could slip into a watch pocket.


The Pro Tandem looks like a good, comfortable dual-clip holster with best-of-both-worlds benefits in N82 comfort with two-clip stability and weight distribution.  It should be noted that, as of the last time I spoke with Nate Beard, the Pro Tandem is not offered with a "combat cut" and there were no plans to offer it in that configuration.  This is due to how the edge material would have to spread and flex to follow the contour of the inside radius versus the outside radius of the curves.
Title: N82 Tactical Kydex Envoy (and Ambasador) Review
Post by: GunLink on July 26, 2017, 01:27:44 PM
While doing some social media surfing not too long ago, we came across a post from N82 Tactical introducing their latest holster model - the Envoy.


We gathered that the new holster had a kydex shell and made use of passive retention (that was pretty easy - since it says as much in the post) and it sure looks like the Envoy has dropped the edge material like the earlier models that we reviewed in favor of a "naked" edge as shown in the Tandem photos above.  We've always been impressed with the comfort of the N82 line and love seeing companies innovate and grow, so we reached out to Nate Beard for some more details about the Envoy holster.

What's New

Nate let us know that the main, obvious difference between the N82 Tactical Professional model and the Envoy model is the shell material and tooling used for the retention part of the holsters.  As described in our Pro model review above, the Professional holsters use clear, stiff polycarbonate material for the shell with a deep, straight ridge that sits behind the front of the trigger guard for retention.  To draw from a Pro model, the wearer grasps the pistol's grip, twists the pistol slightly inward to lift the trigger guard past the ridge, and draws. 

The Pro model retention bump is pretty steep and flat

In contrast, Nate explained, the new Envoy model from N82 uses a shell made from more flexible Kydex.  While the retention ridge behind the trigger guard doesn't look much, if any, shallower than that on the Pro model, it feels a lot more rounded.  That flexibility and smoother bump provide passive retention from the Envoy, allowing the wearer to draw straight up and out of the holster without any other action or motion (read: twisting) needed aside from overcoming the resistance from the retention bump.  This sounded like an evolutionary step forward in the holster line and Nate offered to send us one of the new holsters to test out, so we took him up on the offer. 

(  (

When it launched, the only Envoy shells available were for close to a dozen Glock models and Smith & Wesson's trifecta of Shield pistols.  Since we already have carry experience with the N82 Professional model for a G19, we figured that would be the one best suited for the fairest comparison and Nate got one in the mail to us. 

Out of the box, the Envoy looked very similar to the Pro, with the exception of color/translucence/texture of the shell material.  The Envoy comes with the new polymer clips (as do all new N82 holsters now, I believe).  The backer, not surprisingly appears to be identical, as does the method of mounting the shell.  As we noticed from the IG post, the envoy features a "naked" edge, which Nate told us is going to be how all future holsters will be constructed based on customer feedback from the Pro Tandem and "for future plans on the models" (we wonder if this is secret code for "combat cut coming soon").  At first glance, I wasn't particularly keen on the lack of edge binding - I thought the trim looked good where it was.

The Backing - As Good as Ever

Since, edge binding notwithstanding, the holster backings were the same, it is no surprise that the Envoy was every bit as comfortable as the rest of the N82 lineup - which is to say very comfortable.  The suede is soft and cool and doesn't stick to you when you sweat, and we have been doing a lot of that with temps in the high 90s and low 100s and plenty of outside work to do.  All that sweating put the N82 Envoy's pistol/body isolation to the test and it kept the oceans of sweat off of the pistol and kept me not having to worry about sweat corrosion on the slide - even if the sweat got into the suede back, it would still have a layer of neoprene and another layer of leather to get through before it found my precious EDC Glock. 


We did, however, notice that once the holster dried out that there were white sweat stains along the bottom edge - presumably from the sweat either running/dripping or wicking down to the edge through the suede.  Truth be told, I tend to think of the N82 holsters as more "fancy" than a lot of other holsters in the Box O' Holsters (maybe it's the suede, maybe it's the smooth leather on the front, or maybe it's the comfort or overall craftsmanship) and I don't usually punish them by working hard outside in triple digit temps.  As such, I'm not sure if I haven't noticed sweat stains on other N82 holsters because they have the cloth edge binding covering it up, or just because I haven't soaked them as thoroughly. 


Lastly on the holster's backing material, I did notice a couple other things I hand't ever noticed on N82 Tactical holsters in the past.  I tend to carry the holsters anywhere from 3:30 to 5 o'clock or so on my body.  This placement lets my belt ride fairly flat across the rearward part of the holster, but can flex the front edge fairly harshly sometimes.  I'm not sure if they're gluing the suede backing to the inner neoprene layer now and the old models were "free floating" or what, but on the Envoy, I noticed that the suede was kind of bunched up where that flexing happens and stays bunched up even after the holster is off.  Around the top/front rivet that holds the shell onto the backer, I also noticed a tiny bit of cracking in the black front leather where it had been flexed tightly (like stretch marks for holsters).  I think that the creasing/cracking is just superficial cosmetic damage that won't effect performance or longevity at all, but I did notice it and it made me wonder further if they changed anything about the construction of the backing from the old models (gluing layers together, tanning/dying process, etc.) 

That Draw, Though...

So maybe the above is a lot of words over the part of the holster that hasn't changed (and remains as great as ever) when the real meat of the changes is on the holster's shell.


I love most things about American manufacturing and fabrication and I know that N82 proudly makes all of their holsters in North Carolina and, after they acquired Magna-Arm (, they brought that production into the same area, so I was, of course, curious about the who, how, and where of the new shells. 

Nate filled me in that the Kydex is being formed and trimmed on the same machines as the polycarbonate shells but they have to make new kydex specific molds for the new Envoy and Ambasador (Pro Tandem with Kydex) holsters. Except for the materials used, the new shells look identical to the old shells with regard to shape, mounting hardware, mounting hardware locations, etc. 

The draw on the Envoy is fantastic.  Just as advertised, it is a straight draw past some mild passive retention.  As comfortable and protective as N82 holsters are, my only two beefs with the hard-shell models have been the extra twist-to-draw motion needed on Pro models, and the little bit of extra thickness on single-clip models.  The latter is solved by N82's two-clip models, the Pro-tandem and the Ambasador.  Lots of people love the extra retention offered by the Pro and it does work well provided that you have time to practice and build up the muscle memory.  Given the range of firearms I carry in different holsters, I personally prefer a simple "grab the pistol and pull" method of drawing across the board.


Nate also said that Kydex is more sensitive to heat and UV than the polycarbonate used on the Pro series but it is definitely the material of choice to allow the flex needed to allow for the straight draw.  We have carried a lot of holsters, including Kydex OWB and IWB in very hot environments (hot weather, hot engine compartments, etc.) for years and have never seen any signs of degradation from either heat or UV exposure (which will be very minimal with N82 holsters, since they are IWB holsters). 

N82 Tactical Envoy (left) and Professional (right)


All in all, I think that this new version of the N82 Tactical holsters makes it near perfect (if you are a fan of the twist retention, they were already pretty much there).  They are very comfortable, completely isolate your body from the pistol (and vice versa), and are now even more user friendly with an easier draw that doesn't require extra practice, muscle memory, or brain cycles. 

The extra thickness issue is no longer an issue if you have a problem with it, since N82 introduced the two-clip models at last year's NRAAM (

The only remaining issue that I could stretch to come up with would be the lack of cutout to allow for an easier full grip, and I am not even sure that counts as an issue.  N82 holsters have the full-coverage backing by design to keep sharp angles, high ridges, and aggressive grip texture off of the wearer's body to stay comfortable and to keep the wearer's body off of the firearm to help prevent corrosion.  Although it is three stacked layers, the backing is pretty flexible and doesn't really get in the way of your thumb when grabbing the pistol to draw it.  Nonetheless, it seems like that option is more likely to be a possibility in the future now that the edge binding is going away. 

Good job, N82, on continuing to improve your products to give concealed carriers what they want and need.