Photo credit: Photos by Frank Borelli
I had opportunity last fall to be in the company of a whole collection of contemporary warriors. Inevitably, somewhere among such a group, are a few who have come up with their own kit. This meeting was no exception. I found myself looking at a holster, magazine pouch, cell phone pouch and multi-tool pouch, obviously made of Kydex®, but in gray and of a design I'd never seen before. The guy wearing it was someone whose opinion I value, so the fact that he was wearing it meant I felt I should check it out. All of the items had been made by Rick Palmer, owner/operator of Center of Mass Tactical (C.O.M.). A couple months ago--after having followed up with him--I received my own set: holster, two magazine pouches, and a multi-tool pouch. My cell phone wasn't on his list of available models. This week's review is of this Kydex equipment from C.O.M..
Now there's one thing you should understand up front: as strong as Kydex is, the strength and safety of it is purely a function of design. Some Kydex designs incorporate multiple retention features, while others have a single retention feature. That's the case with the test holster I received from C.O.M.-- the retention was the fact of the Kydex molding to the gun. In this case my test gun was my Glock 19. As you can see from the picture, the holster is properly molded to the gun and fully encloses the trigger/trigger guard as any good holster should. The "grab" of the Kydex around and slightly into the trigger guard is what secures the gun into this holster.
The tension that grips the gun can be increased or decreased by adjusting how tight the two Allen screws are. In between the front and back lip of the Kydex are two rubber grommets that compress as the screws are tightened. This compression (also a contained expansion) keep the holster properly stiff and holding onto your weapon with YOUR desired level of retention/"grab". I keep mine pretty snug. I figure that if the feces hits the oscillating rotator then my adrenaline dump is going to be sufficient that I won't even notice having to pull on my gun a little harder to get it out of the holster.
In this picture, shown right, you can see the two Allen screws, both rubber grommets, and the belt loop formed out of the Kydex. The belt loop is NOT an added on piece of Kydex that is held on by additional screws. Instead, the holster is designed and formed out of a single sheet of Kydex. While this prevents the usual weak points found where screws hold different pieces of Kydex together, it also means that the stability of the holster is equal to that of the flexibility/stiffness of the Kydex at any given point.
In this case the Kydex moves just enough to be comfortable on your belt. I wore this holster to the range on a 1 ¾-inch leather garrison belt and it was quite stable. It is not adjustable for cant forward or backward, but is suitably positioned for a reasonable grip and draw. As there is no secondary retention such as a trigger guard hook or a thumb strap, I'd recommend this holster primarily for concealed carry. If you decide to carry it openly, be sure of your weapon retention training, capabilities and tactics. The weakest spot of this holster, like almost every other Kydex holster, is where it wraps around those two Allen screw heads. If you pull hard enough--or if someone pulls on your gun hard enough--those screw heads will pull through the holes in the Kydex, stretching / tearing it as they go, and releasing your gun. This is not a criticism of C.O.M. holsters--or any other holster for that matter. It's simply a fact of life with Kydex.
The two magazine pouches shown above were sent with the holster. One is a molded belt loop design and the other is a spring clip design. While I prefer the security of the molded belt loop, the spring clip can be very convenient if you have to take it off or put it on going to and from a controlled area (for example). Both pouches securely hold my magazines while leaving plenty exposed for easy snatch and reload.
During range time I presented from the holster several dozen times with no issues. The Kydex used didn't show any signs of wear at the end of the range day. The magazines went in and out of the pouches smoothly and I noticed no loosening of the material through the day.
On the Center of Mass website you can find holsters to fit a wide variety of handguns and some truly unique magazine carry options (they make a mag pouch for your AR mags that fits onto the handguard of your AR). The holster sets can obviously be had in black or gray, but I remember Rick telling me some other colors are available as well. I can't find them on the site and can't remember what they are off hand.
Rick's stuff is reasonably priced and performs as you should expect. Remember that Kydex is only as strong as the design, and if you have realistic expectations of the design you'll not be disappointed.