Review: Novatac Designs AIWB Holster | A Lesson In Too Good To Be True

When I was first trying out appendix carry, I decided to buy several different styles and brands of holsters to see what worked for me. Not only did I buy one Novatac Designs AWIB for My Walther PPS, but I also bought one for my Glock 43 during their Black Friday Sale.

Full disclosure, I haven’t carried with the Glock 43 holster very much since I was introduced to a holster that blows the Novatac Designs holster out of the water, but I have carried the PPS in the Novatac holster a few times begrudgingly while my Glock 43 was getting frame work done.

Novatac was selling the holster with an included trigger guard cover/holster for $25 shipped. It seemed like a really solid deal and the advertised lead time was only a week! Little did I know that they had either underestimated the demand for a cheap holster set or had severely overestimated their capabilities. Lead times quickly moved into the 6-week timeframe and then past a couple of months. Not cool.

Overall the holster looks reasonable decent given the price point, it isn’t until we look a bit deeper that we see where the Novatac falls short.

The shell of the holster is well molded to the gun and provides relief in all of the areas you need it to achieve a smooth draw, except for one area, the retention mechanism in the trigger guard. It is not adjustable and provides a bit too much retention. When you draw the firearm, the holster sometimes will follow the gun even with a good gun belt.

Edit: I misspoke, there is an adjustable retention screw but turning it does absolutely nothing to change the lever of over retention that the holster provides. Regardless of how loose or tight it is, the holster still clings to the gun like an over attached first girlfriend. 

Past the overly retentive design, the belt clip is the biggest failure of the Novatac holster. The holster body and the bottom of the clip are separated enough to allow the holster to come off your belt when drawing at a less than optimal angle. For this reason, the Novatac holster isn’t one that I rely on and has been left in my box of unwanted holsters.

How about the Glock 43 holster? The same drawback apply. While it appears nicely finished and looks like a great rig, the design falls short of expectations.

Not that you would have suppressor height sights on either gun in this review, but if you did they wouldn’t clear the sight channel. Also notice that the gun is not centered in the holster body for whatever reason, specifically the sights in the sight channel. Could this contribute to the holster coming off the belt in a draw? Maybe.

The trigger guard covers that were included in the package are extremely tight and again, not something that I would ever consider using for any reason. The only time I see it as being slightly useful is when placing a loaded gun into a lock box mounted in my truck should whatever bbusinessI am about to walk into has signage that prevents me from carrying a gun.

Both the Glock 43 model and the Walther PPS model are unsuitable, but the Glock guard is slightly better than the Walther. I found the PPS model to be near impossible to get off the gun without really yanking on the 550 cord lanyard.

I took both holster designs out to grab a draw on camera, excuse the slight belly fat, laziness has certainly taken its toll. I started with the standard holster and was able to get one good draw stroke on camera. I did run into a couple of issues where the holster didn’t stay attached to my Magpul Tejas El Original belt.

Moving onto the trigger guard cover, the disappointment really set in. You can really see how much movement that the draw required to get the gun free from the trigger cover and it is far too much for my tastes.

Novatac Designs has since gone defunct, but he is now selling holsters on eBay under the username ‘thatscustomkydex‘ for whatever reason. I feel like he bit off a bit more than he can chew and got so behind on orders that he ruined the Novatac Designs name given how long it took me to get my holsters.

I can’t say that I would recommend buying one of his products based on my experience. There are plenty of other holster makers out there that produce quality products in a timely manner. As for the one holster that I stull use? I will be replacing that with another brand holster as soon as I find one that I like for the Walther PPS because the Novatac is nothing short of subpar.

If you really want to take a look at what Novatac Designs is now offering on eBay, check out his store under the name thatscustomkydex HERE. MSRP is kind of all over the place, but I paid $25 per holster set on a Black Friday deal and I don’t even feel they are worth that much.

Finding a good holster and gun combo that serves you well fro concealed carry is tough, and you will go through a lot of holsters. Hopefully, this review will save you guys a few dollars when trying to find the right combo.

Consider yourself warned.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Co-Director for TFBTV. He is a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially overly modified plastic handguns, precision rifles, and AR based things. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Don Ward

    “When I was first trying out appendix carry”

    http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/056/841/eb9.gif

    • BravoSeven

      I second that.

    • Joshua

      lol, god I’m dying.

      This is just too good.

  • Markarov

    Just one question. You mentioned, in passing, a ‘a holster that blows the Novatac Designs holster out of the water’.
    Which holster is it?

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      That review goes live on Wednesday. It doesn’t look like much, but it is hands down the best CCW holster I have found yet.

      • valorius

        The pocket clip on my Ruger LCP is by far the best holster I have found yet.

        • Joe

          I’ve always been curious how one keeps the trigger guard covered in that style of carry.

          • valorius

            One carries a pistol with a notoriously long trigger pull of 12lbs.

      • KestrelBike

        Flashbang Holsters’ Elliot Ness model.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          Nope. This is a very small company that I doubt anyone has heard of. I like what they are doing quite a lot.

          • Twilight sparkle

            T5 custom kydex?
            Or t.rex arms?
            At least those are my first two thoughts assuming you still wanted something specifically for appendix carry

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            No to both. Like I said, it is a rather unknown company with a product that isnt like most on the market.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I’m looking forward to this article then

      • imtoomuch

        I’m seeing this late. What brand was the holster?

  • Giolli Joker

    Patrick, you know that the readership needs a full frontal photo of that T-shirt.
    What does it say?
    “I carry Hi-point but my other gun is a Roland special?” 🙂

  • raz-0

    “except for one area, the retention mechanism in the trigger guard. It is not adjustable and provides a bit too much retention.”

    Uhh.. then what does that screw by the trigger guard do? Because on all my folded kydex like holsters, that’s the retention adjustment.

    There’s a difference between not adjustable, and made in a way that makes the adjustment useless.

    • QuadGMoto

      Kydex can be molded too aggressively, to the point where even adjusting such screws is not sufficient. I wound up with that problem on one holster I had bought. Fortunately, they promptly replaced it with one that was molded better.

      • Some Rabbit

        Could use a heat gun to warm the plastic along the sight rib and spread the holster open a bit. Or add a hard spacer in the gap to hold it open more and fix it in place with a small screw from one side. As for the dodgy belt clip, remove those spacers behind it to close the gap at the hook end.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          If I have a better holster, why would I fix a pile of junk?

          • Tom Currie

            Absolutely agree — BUT when you were using these holsters you DIDN’T “have b better holster”, so why would you use an ineffective and possibly dangerous holster when fixing it would have been easy.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            I absolutely had a better holster on hand, just not of the AIWB type. I have been carrying long enough to have several options of good, solid holsters.

            Once the holsters were identified as junk I quickly reverted to the Stealth Gear IWB that I previously was using. Once I found the holster that I believe is the best AIWB on the market the Stealth Gear was placed in that same box of unused holsters.

            We review things as they are shipped from the manufacture. Modifying them to make them work is an option but doesn’t help when reviewing products that other readers might end up buying. How I modify something might not be the same way Joe Reader does and might give a different result.

        • QuadGMoto

          The one I had a problem with wasn’t a folded Kydex holster. The outside is Kydex, the inside a flexible material. Even with it loose enough that the pistol could flop around inside, the molding around the trigger guard was so deep that it was still difficult to get the pistol out. Then putting belt pressure against it wouldn’t allow any release without looking like a Wile E. Coyote impersonation. When the Kydex goes deep enough into the trigger guard, it acts more like a lock than a detent.

      • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

        That is exactly the problem with both of these.

        • Tom Currie

          Yawn. Those holsters may or may not be much good, but both the issues you described are easily remedies by any user with any interest in doing so and a modicum of knowledge about kydex holsters.

          1. Obviously the retention IS adjustable — although perhaps not enough so. To fix that problem, simply replace the rubber washer on the tension screw with a thicker one — a small rubber grommet will usually do the trick. At worst, add a rubber grommet plus the original rubber washer.

          2. If your waistband plus belt isn’t thick enough to catch the hook on the clip remove the rubber washers from behind the two screws. The other possible problem that can cause your issue would be if your belt was imply too wide for the clip so that the hook did not make it to the bottom of your belt. In that case, either obtain the proper size clip to match the belt you choose to wear or if no wider clip is available, wear a belt that proper width for the clip. Regardless of whether or not the holster maker mentions it, ALL holsters that engage the belt are really made to properly fit only one size belt. Most will work with a narrower belt although they will be a bit loose. Proper fit occurs only when the holster is properly matched to the belt (which is why all the top name brand holster makers specify the belt width for their holsters and usually make different sizes available).

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            I tried both bud. The retention should be adjustable but the molded in retention bump located in the trigger guard is so pronounced that it is almost impossible to improve. The only solution would be to heart up the Kydex so that it is no longer as pronounced. Sure, it’s easy to fix, but a good Kydex holster maker would know better than to make it as pronounced as it is.

            As for the belt clip, that is not something that is easily fixed without replacing the clip itself. Removing the washers will result in top portion of the clip not being wide enough to accept a good, thick gun belt. The second issue is that the screws provided then protrude far enough inside the holster to damage the firearm when inserting the gun or drawing.

            The holster is set up to use 1.5″ belts as indicated on the clip where it says 1.5″ on the face of it and the Magpul Tejas El Original belt the holster was tested with is a 1.5″ belt. The issue is that how Novatac set the clip up on this holster it is actually optimal for a 1.5″ standard department store belt or a gunbelt that is slightly undersized at 1.4″ or so. When the clip is placed on the Magpul belt the bottom claw pops off when the holster rotates slightly or is canted front or back when sitting.

            Trust me, I wanted this holster to work. I dislike writing negative reviews a lot, but when something doesn’t work there isn’t much I can do about that.

        • raz-0

          Then say that rather than saying it doesn’t have them.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Edited: I was thinking of another holster.

      Those screws don’t do much to change retention without making the holster so loose that the pistol flops around in the holster.

      • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

        It looks to me like the internal angles are too sharp for good drawing and reholstering. Its pretty, but it doesnt work that well.

        • Tom Currie

          It does look like the molding is too deep on the holster shown. Of course, a heat gun or even a hair dryer will normally make short work of that problem.

          Of course, when you’re a gun media pundit who gets paid to “test” gear, it’s easy to just trash anything that requires effort. Those of us who pay for our own gear often find it more reasonable to tweak things to make them work better.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          Pretty much spot on.

  • Stu

    Spellcheck. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

    • rjscribbles

      Yeah. I would be embarrassed to publish this article under my name with this many mistakes.

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    Here comes Johnny with his pecker in his hand,
    He’s a one ball man and he’s off to the rodeo

    • Old Tofu

      doesn’t rhyme and can’t dance to it , -1

  • MadMonkey

    I’m leery of recommending anything Blackhawk, but the ARC holster is perfect for AIWB for me. I have one for my G42 and G19 and both work perfectly. For $20 it’s hard to go wrong.

    • valorius

      You appendix carry a glock? o.O

      • MadMonkey

        Yes.

        • valorius

          Of all the firearms in the world i could deliberately aim at my femoral artery and family jewels on a daily basis, besides a nambu, the glock would probably be last on my list.

          • Zack mars

            You have a list?

          • valorius

            doesnt everyone?

          • Zack mars

            That list should be “#1, nope, #2, nope, #3, nope”

          • valorius

            Fortunately for me i find index carry to be extremely uncomfortable, so it’s a non issue for me.

          • MadMonkey

            Avoid pulling the trigger and you’ll be fine.

          • valorius

            Avoid your trigger getting snagged on your belt or waistline. Or you won’t be fine.

          • MadMonkey

            That’s why you look before you reholster.

          • valorius

            Yes, take your eyes off the criminal you’re trying to cuff, or the home invader you just put down, etc. No one trains people to take their eyes off a threat so they can safely reholster their pistol.

            A true DAO is far far more user friendly in such situations.

          • MadMonkey

            If there’s an active threat to your life, you probably shouldn’t be putting the gun away.

          • valorius

            If you have to cuff the guy, you have to put your gun away.

          • MadMonkey

            If you’re cuffing the guy, he’s not an active threat to your life (especially as a typical citizen).

          • valorius

            You need to watch the hundreds of videos online of cops fighting for their lives with one cuff on a perp.

          • MadMonkey

            A uniformed cop is highly unlikely to be carrying appendix. A plainclothes officer may be, but it’s a moot point since he’ll have a risk of a holster obstruction no matter where it’s located. We’re talking about the typical citizen’s concealed carry anyway, who is probably never going to handcuff someone.

          • valorius

            This sub-debate has been going on long enough that i don’t even remember what the original comment i commented on was. 😛

  • nova3930

    AIWB: Crushing more nuts than Planters for 30 years!

  • Ark

    Call me a simpleton, but it just looks like yet another folded kydex holster to me.

  • Mr. Katt

    Three words: Andrews Custom Leather (in St. Augustine, Fl)

    End of search.

  • jake rogers

    For the money Outlaw Holsters can’t be beat. I have several and they all have been awesome. Most of my holsters are very high end but I find myself carrying a Outlaw OWB most days anymore.

  • Mike

    @Patrick R. Try one of mine. Rekkr Custom Kydex. Thay reminds me, i owe Sara one.

  • Landru

    I am perfectly happy with my Desantis Cozy Partner of which I own
    two of them.

    It is comfortable for the long haul, have kept their shape, and offers great retention.

  • valorius

    Not only do i find appendix carry to be unbelievably uncomfortable, it also seems unbelievably stupid as well.

  • Edeco

    Since Stephen Colbert’s vile outburst I can’t read about holsters without getting triggered 🙁

    But yeah the belt I wear 99% is over 1.5″, and I don’t want to damage my levis, and am too lazy for the snaps on a Bladetech, so I’ve made note of that relatively loose clip.

  • Mike Cramer

    19charlietactical.com and on FB / IG. All my holsters have adjustable retention.

  • cory miller

    Fist Holsters. Unexceptional look, but best by far. Strong metal clip, thin kydex, strong retention but no problem with draw. Holster drawer is full of others, but Fist is used daily.

  • Toxoplasma

    My God, you guys really need a copy editor.

  • Risky

    My experience with the Glock 26 holster from Novatac has been mostly positive. Good lord the group buy for the $25 holiday special was a goat rodeo, though… I did have the issue with the clip not engaging the belt but that was an easy fix by moving the rubber washers to the outside of the clip rather than underneath. That makes the clip edge actually touch the side of the holster.

    I don’t find the retention pressure too great in either the IWB or trigger guard cover to be too great, with the IWB having a good range of adjustment. The Glock 26 design is different than the PPS design shown in this article with the G26 having 2 screws side by side in front of the trigger guard with the closest one being very close to the trigger guard. The sight channel is also centered on mine.

    It’s one of two holsters that I carry regulary… though the trigger guard holster just sits in the drawer. For $25 in a world of $50-60-90 custom kydex I’m pretty happy with it. Definitely not a gamble I would take again with this maker, though.

  • Ryan L

    Come on. Everybody knows you can’t put a roland special instaglock in anything other than a gcode or trex.

    Making kydex holsters is really pretty easy. The press designs are freely available online and you can get into it for ~100-150 bucks. Then you can mix and match until you find something that works perfect for you. It’s been my experience that the trickiest part is finding the perfect retention vs easy on/off vs staying on the belt on the draw. That said my guess is most people will get the hang of it by about the 4th revision. The good part is you can always just reuse the hardware. You can reheat the kydex or chuck it if you don’t like your results. It’s a pretty forgiving medium.

    I like knifekits and index fasteners for the hardware. Dex can be sourced just about anywhere.

  • Not Rocket Science

    It’s kydex, not kryptonite. To loosen the retention up a bit, take a heat-gun (or your wife’s hair drier) to an inch or so of the trigger guard area for about 30 seconds and get the kydex nice and warm. Then with your safed and cleared weapon, punch it in and out a few times and it’ll open the retention bump out a bit. Repeat as necessary. If you want more rention do it with the weapon in the holster and just use your thumb to press the retention pocket in more.