Let us take a look at one of Alien Gear's holsters and how it stacks up.
(Shoutout to Alien Gear Holsters for allowing me the opportunity to review one of their holsters.)
The fine print: They didn't pay me for my review, so don't get all bent out of shape. It is a fair and unbiased review.
And I get folks who always side-eye a website that seems to have nothing but stellar reviews... I do the same thing.
First of all, let's look at the actual holster itself before we get into fit and function.
So right away, you can probably tell it's one of those hybrid holsters with a mold-formed front face and a fabric backer for comfort.
This one, specifically, is their Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB holster.
The kit comes with little, green, rubber grommets to adjust the width of the fit for the holster shell to the backing, which helps modify the fit to contour to your body. While that's pretty cool, since most holsters are a one fit size all, this adds a bit of customization to the specific fit of your holster.
So, with the option to get a holster to fit several hundred models of firearm, which to choose?
The Makarov! (Yes, they had the option for a Makarov even... So why would I not?)
(Put up with me long enough and you will see I have an affinity for old, token firearms. Or, put another way; I have a type--)
So with that out of the way, we go straight into figuring out where it rides, and how well.
The soft backing is a neoprene, so it's comfortable to wear against the body and is rather breathable for long periods of time. It's also cut longer height wise to cover the rear of the gun from rubbing against your skin or an undershirt as well as providing a little padding.
I am very used to a low-profile IWB that sits about 1 o'clock, so having the wildly large backing on it threw me for a bit. (Don't worry, I know the belt in question is a terrible choice for the clip provided, much less holding anything.)
After fiddling around with it for several days everywhere from 1 to 6 o'clock (don't recommend, either professionally or from a comfort standpoint.) What seems to be a general consensus is it is 'supposed' to ride at about the 2-3-ish area in terms of positioning. I don't much care for that so after adjusting the fit with the little green guys I comfortably got it to ride at 1 o'clock with no troubles.
(A quick aside for folks who aren't super familiar with the clock analogy when it comes to carrying; when thinking of you as a clock your 1200 is directly in front of you, or your center line from top to toe and 6 o'clock is essentially follows your spine all the way down the back, and the rest of the numbers are in-between.)
Or grab your egg timer from the kitchen and think of a normal 12-hour clock going around the outside of it; that's essentially the shape of your body. Apply the same thinking to the firearm in correlation with your body.
Once I had it just right, I did everything I normally am allowed to do while carrying in public. (There's plenty of tasks you can do from the comfort of your own home if you are uncomfortable with carrying in public as someone new to the field of defensive firearms, or maybe don't quite yet have an applicable permit to carry or whatever situation your state requires.) So, I took it for a spin for a handful of weeks, walking around, driving around, normal range of movement such as bending down to lift things, etc. I will say it was definitely breathable and didn't chafe or make me sweat uncontrollably with my daily work attire. Once you get the fit of the holster to your body and the retention dialed in, it's a pretty good ride.
Here you can see me taking a quick snap in the local Wal-Mart. (Forgive the angle and quality; I am too cheap to have someone walking around taking pictures of me in the wild and having MySpace quality pictures is peak self-promotion in my book. The more 'natural' the better, right? Maybe one day I will just do videos and use raw footage.)
Anyways, it rode well with any attire; I did days with jeans and a t-shirt, khakis and a two-layer undershirt/button-up (above), jeans and a cardigan, and other various fits. I would recommend a slightly baggy shirt if you planned on trying to conceal, even at the deeper concealed positions the holster offers with the adjustable mounts.
Personally, I would highly recommend the O-Clips as an added security feature, as most clips like their standard ones or J-clips can definitely put you at a disadvantage if the belt is not designed to fit the clips exactly and even then, if in a confrontation, the adjustment of the body can expose the clips to movement that could potentially pop the loops free from the belt, as they are not a single solid circuit (as you could see a prime example in the earlier fit-check picture with the cardigan). I also prefer metal clips, loops, attachments, etc. over plastic ones for added rigidity.
Another downside is that when doing draw/re-holster practices at home, there was a little bit of maneuvering that was required because the soft-backing did not retain the full shape and width of the gun prior to re-holstering. This required me to take an extra second to line it up and slide it in, which in the grand scheme of things doesn't sound too terrible but it can definitely mean trouble for you if you can't re-holster as quickly as you can draw after a critical incident. It takes your attention away from the surroundings and can make the difference between safely re-holstering and simply hot potato-ing the gun if law enforcement is rolling up to respond.
It definitely holds the gun in place, and you can adjust the tension to your liking so it's not a one-size-fit-all scenario which is also a nice thing to point out. I didn't try it with any extreme physical activities like cartwheels (too out of shape for that.), but with normal day to day lifestyle it kept the gun exactly where it needed to be and released it with the right amount of give.
They are a little more expensive than your average holster of similar make, but the nice thing is that AlienGear comes with a "forever warranty" where if anything breaks, it's covered. And you have 30 days give it a whirl to see if it's to your liking.
The other neat thing is that for the CloakTuck you can swap out the Kydex shell for a different model if you decide to get a different style firearm. I think that's pretty neat.
All in all, I gave it a fair shake.
Don't get me wrong; it's a good holster, and with the benefit of the company pretty much completely backing their product it's a good deal for the price. However, it might just be a me thing, but I couldn't get used to the super wide fabric backing. It made it a little comfier to sit with during long car rides, but I don't know if that outweighs the need for a little more aiming to get the gun back in the holster. I would also wonder about longevity of a fabric backing if you are doing lots of reps for holster work at home. Maybe one day I will get a second one just to dissect and see what's on the inside and waylay any major concerns.
Maybe I will give it a second shake during the rest of the seasons; I would definitely like to see how it holds up during the summer months, but all of my testing was in the fall.
I definitely recommend it, if even just for a trial run. Like I said, spend the little bit extra to get the O-links and it is worth the price.