Anyone in the tactical, concealed carry, or shooting sports world knows that there are a ton of companies building kydex holsters and accessories. Some copy – if not make – exact clones of systems that are well-known and highly regarded. Others have unique ideas and sport great craftsmanship that separates them from the K-crowd. zZz Custom Works is one of the later.
Martin Zatrapa says that the decision to start creating his own kydex products came about because of long wait times, and/or the gear didn’t meet his standards. Many of the big-name kydex makers are still producing square holsters, magazine and accessory pouches with straight lines and tons of extra, unneeded material. Many are still using thin .060 kydex which, in my opinion, is fine for inside-the-waist holsters where a bit of flexibility and lighter weight is a plus, but not for use on first line gear or the trendy “warbelts” that nearly everyone wears for for the multitude of tactical shooting classes. zZz Custom Works is building their standard holsters with .080 kydex, and use .093 for their heavy duty holsters, large knife sheaths and tomahawk sheaths.
The holsters supplied to me by zZz Custom Works were each built for my full-size Smith & Wesson M&P 9. Martin sent me one of his standard, OWB strong side holsters in tan (or FDE if you only use “tacti-cool” colors), a matching double magazine pouch, and a matching single M-4 Speed pouch. Also included was a holster I wasn’t too sure about using when he and I talked on the phone… but more about that in a bit.
First impressions are important to me and, as the saying goes, “image is everything.” The holster and mag pouches are very nicely finished. The edges are smooth – nothing sharp to snag clothing or skin, and the zZz logo is nicely pressed on the outside. A drain hole is cut on the back of the holster as well in each magazine well. The belt loops are some of the strongest I’ve come across, built from .125 thick kydex. All the edges are cut close enough to the gun/magazine to minimize material, but there is plenty to provide a secure hold. One nice touch that I haven’t seen before is the use of allen-head screws instead of smooth or slotted ones like other makers use. You’ll need an allen wrench if you want to remove the belt loops, but I had no problem adjusting the tension screw by just holding the outside with my finger and using a flat-head screwdriver on the back.
As I said, the belt loops are made of a thick .125 kydex, and are built to the size of your belt – in my case 1.5 inches. The loops have enough depth to allow easy belt threading, but aren’t so overly large that the holster and mags sit too far off the body. They are angled, from top to bottom, which, as I’ve experienced, allow the holster/pouches to be snugged tightly against the body for concealment, but push the grip or top of the magazine out just enough to clear the tiny bit of “love handle” my 40+ year-old body carries. I have to say, it’s nice not to be poked in the side by the top of my magazines!
Retention on both the holster and magazine pouches are excellent. I had a bit of a problem with the double mag pouch at first, as the front magazine would pop right out if I turned the pouch upside down. But after a bit of discussion with Martin, I found it to be user error. Usually is with me! I messed with the tension screw just a bit and actually seated the magazine into the pouch, and now they stay where they belong, even with my 20 round extended mags.
PMAGS snap securely into the well-made M-4 Speed pouch. Like the holster and double pistol mag pouch, the M-4 Speed pouch features the same heavy duty belt loops. I have to be honest and say, other than a few minutes on the range one day, I haven’t had the opportunity to really run drills or use the M-4 Speed pouch. But I can compare it to other custom-made pouches I own and say the zZz M-4 Speed pouch is MUCH better. I have a carbine class coming up in a month or so and I’ll run it then and update the review.
The final piece of gear sent to me by zZz Custom Works is their C.A.C (Concealed Appendix Carry) holster, designed in partnership with Falcon Operations Group in Huntington Beach, CA (www.falconops.net). I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of a.) being able to conceal a full-sized pistol in the front of my pants, and b.) having said pistol pointing at the family jewels. Now, I do have experience with AIWB (appendix inside the waistband) holsters, I’ve been carrying a Kahr CW9 that way for several months now, but I really thought the longer barrel and much larger grip of the M&P would be not only impossible to conceal, but down right uncomfortable. Boy, did zZz Custom Works prove me wrong.
The C.A.C. Holster is a simple but effective design that is held in place with a single belt loop that can be adjusted to position the holster in that “sweet spot” that everyone who carries AIWB knows about. The holster sits deep in the waistband, but still provides plenty of purchase for a proper grip and draw. Re-holstering is easy, though I still feel the need to look down and make sure my shirt isn’t getting caught up In the trigger as I do. And yes, I can conceal my full-sized M&P easily under a polo shirt with the C.A.C. Actually, it conceals far better than with my old tried-and-true Raven Concealment Systems holster.
I’ve been carrying the M&P quite a bit in the C.A.C. holster and am happy to be carrying a full-sized gun. Even more importantly, I’m happy to be carrying a full-sized magazine – especially on those days when I’m doing high-risk activities, like shopping at the local Bakara market (ie Walmart). After practicing with an empty gun (as to not blow my nuts off), I recently put the holster through some draw-and-shoot drills. And, as I have experienced in the past with AIWB carry, draw and presentation of the gun is FAST from the C.A.C. rig! The C.A.C. is quickly becoming one of my favorite concealed carry holsters.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the design and quality of zZz Custom Works products. Their team has extensive military, law enforcement and nuclear security experience and it shows in the care and workmanship they put into their holsters. Not that I expect to need it, but zZz Custom Works provides a limited lifetime guarantee on their products and their customer service is wonderful.
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