Scot’s Product Review: JM Custom Kydex

I have probably mentioned more than once how much I like leather holsters. I know I have mentioned how much I sweat in the summer in my hot, muggy climate. All that sweat does bad things to leather holsters, and then it soaks through and does bad things to pistols. I finally decided it was time to reconsider my prejudices against synthetics for something immune to sweat to use during the summer. These days, that pretty much means Kydex.

My preferred carry, by the way, is a strong side, inside the waistband (IWB) holster, and I usually carry a 1911 pattern pistol. I wear the holster behind the hip in the eight o’clock position (I’m left-handed.) I wanted a holster that would pretty much match what I am used to.

The first thing I tried was a G-Code outside the waistband (OWB) holster with a clever adapter that allows it to be used IWB. I’ve written about this holster before. It worked pretty well as an IWB. This holster, however, was designed for OWB, non-concealed carry. It is made of thick, heavy duty Kydex, and I felt something a bit thinner and lighter would be better. I also found the belt loop system to be a bit of a compromise. It was fixed for a 1 ¾” belt and I prefer a 1 ½” one. The loops also sometimes get caught on my shirt during the drawstroke. Don’t get me wrong. This is a great holster, but it isn’t being used in its primary role. The fact that I could successfully use it in an alternative manner is gravy. It allowed me to try something at a very low cost (since I already had the holster for another project) to see if there was any hope of success for me with a Kydex IWB.

I was, in fact, dubious that a Kydex IWB would work for me. Besides the snob appeal for leather, I am really used to the way it breaths and molds itself to your body. Kydex can’t do that, though its impermeability has its advantages. My sweat wasn’t going to rot it nor would it penetrate through the Kydex and rot my pistol. I was pleasantly surprised after using it for a couple of months to find that I could mold myself to the Kydex. I prefer it to go the other way, but it worked with good comfort levels.

My successful experiment led me to make some queries of friends. Several mentioned JM custom Kydex and I’m really happy they did. When I arrived at the website I found many choices. There are four variants of the strong side IWB, and you can even pick the cant you desire. I spent quite a bit of time studying the holsters I found on the page. His IWB Version One, which is formed from two sheets of Kydex riveted together on each side, looked good, but with so many choices, I decided I needed help.

With a bit of trepidation, I emailed John Mayer at JM Custom. I felt my question could be taken as an insult. It was almost as if I were asking him for a copy of someone else’s holster rather than using his own design. I told him what I normally carry and asked if he thought his IWB Version 1 with a 15 degree cant would be a close match. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to reply and guide me through the process of choosing the right holster. He felt I had picked a good match in the IWB Version One. I also asked him about my concerns about the safety being pushed off in the holster. I’ve seen holsters that do that. Mayer informed me that he molds the holster so it blocks the safety in the on position. This sounded REALLY good to me. When the holster arrived, I checked and it works as advertised. You literally can’t push the safety off while the pistol is holstered.

I want to mention that this was purchased privately. Mr. Mayer did not learn I was going to write a review until long after I got the holster, so this is the sort of help everyone can expect.

I also got to choose the color of Kydex. Olive Drab always looks good to me (as my wife says, I’m boring), so that’s what I ordered. I also got to choose the width of the belt loops to match my belt and add a shirt guard to help keep clothing out of the holster. Besides interfering with holstering a pistol, a shirt tail or jacket can get into the trigger guard and cause a negligent discharge. Shirt guards are a good thing. They also help keep sweat out of the pistol. JM gives you a choice of no guard, a medium height one and a full height one. For me, the full height was a no brainer.

You get a choice of a 10 or 15 degree cant, and I chose the 15 degree. Mayer says that works better with a full size pistol, like a 1911 or Glock 17. Truthfully, I might have liked a bit more, but it works quite well for me as is. John suggests the 10 degree cant for a smaller pistol. That’s good advice, but I think it is also wise to consider exactly where on your waist the holster will ride. The further back it goes, the more cant you need. If you like it far back, you might want the 15 degree cant even with a smaller pistol.

I placed the order and then it became a matter of waiting. Mayer, like most good custom holster makers is backordered. His current lead time is nine to ten weeks. Selfishly, I kind of hate writing about folks like this, as it increases the wait the next time I want something.

After what seemed like an eternity (but sooner than the listed wait time), the package arrived. I was very pleased when I got it open. The holster is well crafted with no flaws I could find. The Kydex is a pleasing dark olive drab with a matte finish. The belt loops are made from a “polymer/rubberized coated nylon material”, which appears strong enough to raise the Titanic. They were correctly sized to fit my 1.5” belts. I also got loops to use with a 1.25” dress belt. One of the snaps was initially hard to fasten, but it worked in with reasonable speed. I’ve often found this issue with good holsters. Patience solves the problem.

I found the holster works very well and is quite comfortable. It rides slightly lower than I expected. When I got to the range with it, I confirmed that it was low enough for my belt to very slightly interfere with the draw as I wrap my fingers around the pistol. Since the holster is held together with three open rivets on the front and back, I found it a very simple matter to move the belt loops down to the next row of rivets. That made the draw stroke just about perfect for me. I think it was slightly more comfortable in the lower position, but it is completely acceptable in the higher one. I also tried varying the cant by using the higher one on the front loop and a lower one on the rear. It may have helped the draw slightly, but it did effect comfort adversely, so I went back to using it on the same level rivets.

I’ve been living with this holster for a couple of months now and am very happy with it. It provides excellent access and comfort. Nothing catches or interferes with the draw and so far, the pistol has not had to absorb any sweat. The holster itself can be rinsed off in warm water and be as fresh as new.

There is a tension adjustment so you can set how tightly the holster holds the pistol and the effort it takes to release it. I find I don’t need very much on an IWB holster as there is usually enough pressure against the pistol from my body to hold it securely. I’m also at an age where I’m not showing off my agility, which puts less stress on retention.

I bought it for summer use, but frankly, it is fine for year round. I just have to get over my leather thing. I still think leather is more comfortable, but this is plenty comfortable for all day wear. I’m fine seated, too, even in the car. That is a good test of comfort as the seated position in a car puts a lot of pressure on the holster and pistol.

JM Custom offers several other holsters as I mentioned earlier. The IWB Version Two uses a single sheet of Kydex that wraps around the pistol. It is more compact than the Version One. I sometimes wish I had gotten it instead, as it might have been a bit cooler. Someday, perhaps! The IWB Version Three has the belt attachment on top of the pistol. It also offers the option of zero cant for appendix carry. Appendix carry is increasingly popular, but I prefer to carry behind the hip. It also has the option of an extra tuck, is intended to force the butt of the pistol closer to the body. The IWB Version Four uses J hooks to facilitate rapid on and off of the holster and has a smoother interior for comfort. I’m personally not that much of a fan of J hooks, but many people really like them. I usually do just as well with regular loops for the rapid on and off thing.

There are also outside the waistband holsters, magazine pouches, and holsters for pistols with lights.

The only problem I had was my impatience to get the holster. This is good stuff and well worth a look if you need a holster. I’ll never give up my love for leather, but I’m now happily using a Kydex holster. That says a lot, but don’t turn me in to the leather police. The IWB Version One goes for $75.00. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Scot Frank Eire