Detector response functions (DRFs) are often used for inverse analysis. We compute the DRF of a sodium iodide (NaI) nuclear material holdup field detector using the code named g03 developed by the Center for Engineering Applications of Radioisotopes (CEAR) at NC State University. Three measurement campaigns were performed in order to validate the DRF’s constructed by g03: on-axis detection of calibration sources, off-axis measurements of a highly enriched uranium (HEU) disk, and on-axis measurements of the HEU disk with steel plates inserted between the source and the detector to provide attenuation. Furthermore, this work quantifies the uncertainty of the Monte Carlo simulations used in and with g03, as well as the uncertainties associated with each semi-empirical model employed in the full DRF representation. Overall, for the calibration source measurements, the response computed by the DRF for the prediction of the full-energy peak region of responses was good, i.e. within two standard deviations of the experimental response. In contrast, the DRF tended to overestimate the Compton continuum by about 45–65% due to inadequate tuning of the electron range multiplier fit variable that empirically represents physics associated with electron transport that is not modeled explicitly in g03. For the HEU disk measurements, computed DRF responses tended to significantly underestimate (more than 20%) the secondary full-energy peaks (any peak of lower energy than the highest-energy peak computed) due to scattering in the detector collimator and aluminum can, which is not included in the g03 model. We ran a sufficiently large number of histories to ensure for all of the Monte Carlo simulations that the statistical uncertainties were lower than their experimental counterpart’s Poisson uncertainties. The uncertainties associated with least-squares fits to the experimental data tended to have parameter relative standard deviations lower than the peak channel relative standard deviation in most cases and good reduced chi-square values. The highest sources of uncertainty were identified as the energy calibration polynomial factor (due to limited source availability and NaI resolution) and the Ba-133 peak fit (only a very weak source was available), which were 20% and 10%, respectively.