View Full Version : N8² Tactical IWB Holster Trio

Harwood Loomis
2nd September 2020, 01:20

N8² Tactical IWB Holster Trio

New Holsters from a (Fairly) New Company


Reviewed for M1911.ORG by Harwood Loomis

I had thought I was getting too old for surprises, but they just keep coming. Every year I go to the SHOT Show I am astonished to find more and more companies making 1911 pistols, in a full range of prices from very affordable to “If you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it.” And now it seems I’m facing the same thing with respect to holsters. M1911.org has reviewed a number of holsters, by as many makers, over the years and we haven’t even scratched the surface of the holster market. And new holster makers keep popping up when we least expect them.

This time around, the new company is N8² Tactical, and the holsters we received for review are from their IWB model lineup. There’s a bit of a story about how we ended up looking at a trio of their products, but let’s put first things first.

Who is N8² Tactical?

Rather than get the details wrong, we’ll take the history of N8² Tactical directly from their web site:

The N8² Tactical story began in the summer of 2009 with a phone call between two friends, Nate Beard and Nate Johnson. The gun owners’ conversation eventually turned to the subject of concealed carry, more specifically, their frustration with the countless concealed carry holsters they had tried, only to discover they weren’t comfortable enough to be worn all day. They both knew that if a holster isn’t comfortable, gun owners won’t wear it and therefore, not have their firearm if and when they needed it. They even joked that since they knew exactly what was wrong with other holsters, they would know how to make a better holster.

That was a lightbulb moment.

So with their wives’ blessing, they dug in and began experimenting with different designs and materials. After a bit of trial and error – and a sewing class under their belt – Nate and Nate were able to successfully design holsters that were truly unlike anything else on the market. When friends and family started asking for holsters of their own, they knew they were on to something and Nate Squared Tactical was born!

After many years of friendship and mutual respect in the industry, MTC Holsters, LLC., the parent company of CrossBreed Holsters, purchased N8² Tactical in January of 2020 and moved the company to its headquarters in Springfield, MO.

N8² Tactical offers a lineup of six different models, all for inside waistband (IWB) carry. (As this review is being written, two of the six models are shown on the N8² Tactical web site as being on closeout sale. These are the Original and the Tuckable. It appears that these models are being replaced by the OT2 and the OT2 Micro, both of which feature a tuckable belt clip with a set screw for adjusting the rake.) They also offer magazine carriers, N8² Tactical T-shirts, and a product called the Magna-Arm, which is a heavy-duty magnet encased in a rubber housing that can be mounted to a wall, door, or under a desk to keep a firearm out of sight but ready for use.

The Back Story

Getting to the holsters, we have review samples of the OT2, OT2 Micro, and Professional. How we came to have all three is a story. When we were contacted by their publicity agent, Midnight Ride, we asked for a sample of the OT model to fit a 1911. Not long after, we received a holster in a plain white, padded mailing envelope. There was no packing slip but the package contained a holster. The return address on the package didn’t say “N8² Tactical,” it said, “CHT” (or “CBH”—at this point I don’t recall which). It took awhile to back-check the address and figure out that it belongs to CrossBreed Holsters. But there’s nothing on the CrossBreed Holsters web site about N8² Tactical holsters, so it took a bit more Internet sleuthing to deduce that N8² Tactical is now owned by CrossBreed, but N8² Tactical has a separate web site.

Having finally deciphered what we were dealing with, it was time to look at the product. And there was a problem. There was no way that even my smallest 1911 (a Para-Ordnance Slim Hawg) was going to fit in the holster. We contacted Jacob Paulsen at Midnight Ride (with photos), he contacted N8² tactical (with photos), and they said they didn’t know what they had sent us but that they would send us a correct OT2 holster for a 1911 ASAP. As a bonus, they also sent us a sample of their new Professional IWB holster, and a magazine carrier.

We believe that the first holster we received is actually a sample of the OT2 Micro, rather than an OT2. The OT2 Micro is listed as fitting the Colt Mustang, which is a smaller, 1911-ish pistol chambered in .380 ACP. The double action only Pony 380 is the same size as the Mustang, and I happen to own a Colt Pony .380. And it fits perfectly in the mystery holster. Mystery solved. Even better, the new OT2 holster accepts 1911s of all sizes. Progress!

The OT2 and OT2 Micro Holsters

These two models share the same basic design and construction, with the difference being size. The OT2 is for full-size handguns, while the OT2 Micro is for pocket pistols. Both are a hybrid design and construction, with the front holster face or pouch being made of a woven elasticized material of some sort and the back face is a larger “plate” of multi-ply leather that acts as both the back face of the holster and the sweat shield. There are no locks or straps or catches involved. The elastic front face is strong enough that it holds the firearm securely without any mechanical devices needed.

The OT2 Micro

The OT2

These are inside the waistband (IWB) holsters. The belt attachment is a rigid plastic clip that is attached to the bottom of a strip of leather that’s sewn onto the outside face of the elastic pouch. The attachment is by a hex-head screw, which can be loosened with an Allen key to adjust the holster’s cant. Because the only physical connection between the clip and the holster is at the bottom of the clip, the tail of a shirt can be pulled over the butt of the firearm and tucked into the space between the clip and the body of the holster, concealing the firearm even if the wearer isn’t using a jacket or other cover garment.

My immediate reaction when I saw the size of the leather backing was that it was much too large, and that it would probably be very uncomfortable. In reality, this proved not to be the case. The leather is pliable enough that it conforms to the wearer’s body, and the generous amount of contact area helps to prevent the holster from shafting and possibly altering the cant angle. The back surface is suede leather, not smooth, which further helps to prevent the holster from shifting position.

The Professional

The profession is also an IWB holster but, unlike the OT2 and OT2 Micro, the actual holster pouch is not elastic fabric, it’s rigid, molder polycarbonate. The Professional models are very gun-specific, molded to the exact shape of a particular firearm. It’s also a tuckable design, utilizing the same belt clip found on the OT2 and OT2 Micro, and it is also adjustable for the angle of cant. On the Professional, the belt clip is attached directly to the polycarbonate shell of the holster itself.

The Professional

The back side of the Professional model is, like the OT2 and OT2 Micro, a large patch of multi-ply leather with a suede back. The polycarbonate holster body is attached to the leather backer using a series of blind screws. The screws penetrate the face ply of the leather backer plate, but not the suede backer ply. That means we could not determine what the screws go into. On the holster we received, for a 1911, the attachment used a total of eight screws, for on the slide side of the holster and four on the frame side.

Unlike the OT2 and OT2 Micro holsters, the Professional features positive retention. When the pistol is inserted into the holster, a molded projection engages the trigger guard in a very positive fashion. It is effectively impossible to withdraw the pistol by pulling it straight up. The harder the pull, the stronger the holster holds onto the pistol. There are no magic catches or mechanical release mechanisms that can break or malfunction. Instead, the butt of the firearm is simply rotated slightly toward the wearer’s body (meaning, for me, a clockwise rotation because I’m right-handed) and it releases. The rotation doesn’t have to be done before the draw stroke has commenced but, at least for me, it seemed to work better that way. Once I had done it a few times, it became very easy to draw smoothly. My first attempt to draw from the Professional, however, was—humbling.

The Flex Magazine Carrier

Along with the two replacement holsters, N8² Tactical also sent us a sample of their Flex magazine carrier. This is constructed the same as the OT2 and OT2 Micro holsters, with an elastic fabric magazine pouch sewn into a multi-play leather backer. Like all three holsters, the Flex is intended for IWB wear and has a tuckable belt clip.

The Flex Magazine Carrier

Because the magazine pouch is made of elasticized fabric, one size can stretch to accommodate a number of different magazine sizes and shapes. Because we received only a single magazine carrier, we don’t know if there is only one size for every pistol, or if they have single-stack and double-stack models. The one we received held a single stack 1911 magazine snugly and securely.



The workmanship and materials in all three holsters and the magazine pouch are top shelf. All these products include a layer of moisture-proof Neoprene sandwiched between the two leather plies of the backer plate, to stop moisture transmission from the wearer’s body to the firearm (or magazine). The belt clips easily accommodate 1½-inch belts, and will probably accommodate a 1¾-inch belt but we didn’t have one available to try. The clips will not lock to a 2-inch wide belt.

The concept of marrying an elastomeric fabric holster to an oversized leather backer plate is ingenious. I give the founders of N8² Tactical lots of credit for innovation and for execution. If I were looking to purchase one of their holsters, though, my choice would be the Professional, even though it costs $15 more. The reason comes down to one factor: reholstering.

Every bit of training I have seen and advice I have read from trainers who know a lot more about these sorts of things than I go stresses that we should be able to reholster using just one hand and, preferably, without having to look at the holster. When the holster is a piece of stretchy fabric with a soft mouth, that’s just not possible. Being molded to the firearm out of a rigid material, the Professional retains its shape and allows easy one-hand reholstering.

I use, I found the wide leather backing plate to be much more comfortable than I expected when I first saw it. Despite the three plies of material, it's flexible enough to bend to the shape of the wearer's body. Some manufacturers of IWB holsters suggest wearing them at the 4:00 o'clock position, meaning behind the lateral axis of the hips. I usually wear a OWB (outside waistband) holster at about the 3:00 o'clock position, so that's where I placed the Professional model, and it felt very much at home. I had never worn an IWB holster with anything other than a pocket pistol, so this was a new experience for me. It was also my introduction to tuckable holsters, and I found that the tuckable feature works better than I had anticipated. The following two photos illustrate the Professional model in use. The belt clip is the same for all three models, so these photos are representative of all three.

How the Professional fits the belt and the body

The Professional, with a dress shirt tucked over a Colt Lightweight Officers ACP

Combine innovative ideas with quality materials and solid craftsmanship, and the N8² Tactical trio are worth a look. Our choice would be the Professional, but the OT2 and OT2 Micro are lower cost, which may be a consideration for some buyers.


The M1911 Pistols Organization would like to thank Jacob Paulsen for arranging for us to review these holsters, and we thank N8² Tactical for providing samples of their product for evaluation.

You may discuss this article here (https://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?111646-N8%B2-Tactical-IWB-Holster-Trio&p=1005957#post1005957).

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N8² Tactical
6955 West Carnahan Street
Springfield, Missouri 65802

Tel: 888-732-5011
E-mail: customerservice@n8tactical.com

OT2 IWB MSRP: $39.95
OT2 Micro IWB MSRP: $39.95
The Professional IWB MSRP: $54.95
Flex IWB Magazine Carrier MSRP: $34.95