I have no idea how it happened, but it did — I got “old-ish.” There I was sitting in my shop admiring some new holsters just delivered by the big brown truck when the words came out of my mouth — “They sure don’t make stuff like they use to.” The holsters laid out on my bench were built like Peterbilt Trucks — rugged and handsome at the same time. I looked around the shop to see if someone else was in there with me — nope, I was alone. I thought it had to be a ghost of my dad or grandfather because I don’t say things like that. Um … er … make that used to not say things like that.

The holsters I was admiring in my shop were made by Mr. James Ervin Nelson of Nelson Holsters. James, like many holster makers, came about making holsters out of not being able to find the perfect holster, so he created his own. James comes from a family of leather workers so the transition to holster making made sense.


Using medical-grade neoprene as a backer for the holster keeps moisture off the
holster and gun. It makes carrying a full-size pistol, dare I say — more comfortable?

Hybrid Design

Life throws rocky roads and big bags of avocados at us some times. We have a choice to negotiate the rough terrain and make a bunch of guacamole or throw our sucker in the dirt and do nothing but complain. When James’ wife Jana was diagnosed with severe epilepsy he quit his job as a firefighter/EMT and got schooled up as a CNA so he could take care of his bride full-time.

James filled his downtime with perfecting his holster creations and started selling them to friends and family. James still wasn’t satisfied with the comfort level of the IWB holsters and started to experiment with combining a neoprene backing to an IWB holster. He quickly found out he was onto something.

The XCalibur is the result of combining an overbuilt, aka “built to last” leather holster with the modern twist of sewing on a neoprene backing. The holster looked thicker than a normal IWB rig, but I soon got used to it and after some break-in, I found myself uttering the familiar phrases: “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “He’s really on to something.”

The medical-grade neoprene serves two functions. The most noticeable is providing cushioning and blocking moisture from the holster and gun. For those who are dedicated to carrying IWB everyday, these exceptionally built holsters combined with the neoprene make hauling around a big gun more comfortable. And comfort translates into actually carrying the gun rather than leaving it at home.


The Avenger design is a timeless one. James pays tribute
to it by building a handsome yet very rugged version of his own.


Quality components and attention to detail sets
the Nelson XCalibur apart.

Avenger Style

The Avenger-inspired holster needs no introduction. The design is timeless and a huge favorite for belt carry. The Nelson version is simple, and like the Xcalibur, built to last for a few generations. It’s hot out here in San Diego for most of the year, so CCW is mostly IWB but when it cools off some, outside the waistband is my favorite way to carry.

The Avenger design keeps the gun close and makes for fast, or in my case, almost-fast draws. The reinforced opening makes for smooth re-holstering without having to use your fingers to hold the holster open. By they way, if you have a holster requiring two hands to re-holster, give it to your dog as a chew toy.

It’s easy to see from spending some time using Nelson holsters and gear, James takes pride in his creations and makes sure attention to detail is put into every product crossing his bench. It’s kind of like how stuff was made in the old days. See, I can’t stop saying old guy stuff now. Best I get used to it, eh?


By Sammy Reese

For more info:, (828) 729-3415

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