If you're like me, you probably have accumulated more than a couple drawer's worth of inside the waistband holsters. It just happens when you start shooting handguns and carrying them in different fashions. Usually, the collection starts with cheap holsters off the store shelf that (if used enough) also seem to carry a shelf life. Hopefully the next holster you acquire is a little bit nicer, and so on until you end up with a cardboard box full of neglected holsters, to guns you might not even own anymore. It's okay, it happens everyday and I am especially guilty of it.
Thats why i was so was excited when Alien Gear asked us to give their latest outside the waistband holsters a try. Since reviewing both the Cloak Tuck 2.0 and Cloak Tuck 3.0 inside the waistband holsters, I have been eager to upgrade my range bag with an OWB paddle holster in the same level of quality. Meet the Cloak Mod OWB holster!
The all-new Cloak Mod OWB holster is the result of you and I. What I mean is specifically in the last couple years the industry and consumers have really directed product trends towards simpler design and more modular/flexible features. You can see this taking effect in almost every product type in the firearms industry today, and you will definitely be seeing it more and more in the holster game in the coming months.
While Alien Gear has had an OWB holster available for some time in the Cloak Slide OWB holster, the design felt like an augmentation of their Cloak Tuck holsters just repurposed for outside the belt. It still works and has good retention, but the balance between function and form was a bit off. So after spending over a year in development, Alien Gear arrived at a new design to be the next evolution of their OWB holsters.
The Cloak Mod is a stronger holster overall. The buff in structural integrity comes from the spring-steel flex plate at its core. This new addition is what made the biggest leap forward between the Cloak Tuck 2.0 and 3.0 IWB holsters, as it grants the rig more strength and flexible support than any other material without adding unnecessary bulky layers. The outershell is molded to fit your pistol shape, but its the steel plate that gives when you holster the firearm, applying even pressure against the shell and keeping your gun retained firmly. This is where traditional kydex holsters lack, the front and back shell is merely a pocket with tight tolerances that holds the gun in place. Eventually after regular wear and tear that comes with use, the tolerances expand and retention decreases. This is one of the only times you'll see a grown man using a hair dryer... to heat up the kydex and manually reform it to retighten those tolerances around your gun.
Of course a bare steel plate pressing against your pistol's slide and frame would be a terrible idea, which is why Alien Gear's engineers added a layer of rubber-like material to act as a buffer. They are calling this a thermo elastomer retention membrane, but I'll call it THERM for short. So THERM rests between your gun and the steel flex plate, which gives alittle when you insert your gun and helps "snap" it into the contours of the molded outer shelf when fully inserted. Retention can then be further adjusted by loosening or tightening the four main flathead screws, so you can find just the right amount of grip you prefer for your gun and your intended use.
Of course just like every decent OWB holster (actually ANY holster in general) is cant angle adjustment. Any holster maker worth their salt should accomodate the end user's comfort and preference. Some guns draw better from a forward cant, and some shooters prefer a rearward cant. This preference can really differ from gun to gun, as a larger framed gun may need better leverage to draw, especially if you were blessed with small arms.
Not to rest on their laurels, Alien Gear also integrated a wider opening in the mouth, designed to help guide the muzzle of your gun into the rest of the holster. I really felt the benefit of this feature in both the Sig P938 and Glock 19 versions I reviewed. While the general rule of thumb is "draw fast, reholster slow" to prevent fumbling around especially without breaking eye contact with your surroundings, having a flared mouth makes a huge difference, especially larger guys with and extra tire in the old midrift that makes reholstering without looking an extra challenge.
Finally I'll get to the holster's attachment hardware. You are provided with both a paddle and a belt slide... Yet another growing industry trend I praise the gun gods for! Using the same hardware, you can select whether you want your Mod holster slid onto the belt or clipped over with a curved paddle. If you aren't sure the difference, try both! The Alien head shaped paddle (poor, poor E.T.) whose face gets smothered against your hip is designed wide so as to spread surface contact and pressure and prevent discomfort. I can tell you the paddle is great for shooting at the range stationary or in competition running around from target to target. When carrying outside the range in a defensive role, the paddle's built in retainment lip keep unfriendly folks from yanking your holster off your belt.
The slide is a bit more classic, and requires the user to thread a belt through the slide inbetween your pant's belt loops. This method is secure and great for concealed carrying under a cover garment, as well as on the range. Alien Gear's slide isn't just a piece of plastic either, its a flexible rubber that will help grip the belt and reduce excessive friction while still being comfortable without any hard edges to jab your when bending over. The real difference between the paddle and the slide boils down twofold: You can use a paddle without a belt (over the waistband) and the large curve surface against your hip gives better leverage when drawing. The slide ultimately is more secure since its on until you remove your belt but decreasing the bearing surface to just your belt in a smaller rectangle will cause the holster to hang more, especially with heavier guns. Since I will primarily be using the Glock 19 at the range and the Sig P938 on the streets, I've chosen to keep them in paddle and slide configuration, respectively.
For the cherry on top, the Cloak Mod’s holster shells are fully swappable... just like the Cloak Tuck series. This means you can easily swap out your shell to match the firearm you want to carry... literally remove four screws, replace shell, and retighten! Not only that, but Alien Gear will give customers with the Mod holster free shell trades for life. If you ever sell or trade off your handgun for a different model, just send back the old shell and let them know the new model to replace it, for life! (hello laser blasters).
They're so confident with all their holster products, Alien Gear has an "Iron-Clad Triple Guarantee" that covers your OWB holster with a replacement or repair if it breaks for any reason. Plus with the 30-day test drive, you can return the Mod to Alien Gear with no fuss and no hard feelings.
Putting the Mod in modularity, the Cloak Mod Holster is fantastically priced and featured holster option. I'm glad to see the price point for these stay low enough for new gun owners and less frequent shooters to have access to a very high quality holster without spending more than 3-4 boxes worth of ammo. Working in retail I saw a lot of first timers go for the cheaper nylon holsters because A) it was in the store and convenient to toss in the cart and B) They're inexpensive and no value is placed in the tool that keeps your gun secure and not in the dirt. It's like buying a $600+ rifle and mounting a $50 scope with $10 rings... put value in the things that keep you and your shiny investment safe, because it will make using your firearm more enjoyable by 10 fold, I promise!
Pro-Tip: I tell everyone interested in giving Alien Gear a try to take advantage of their 2 holster combo deals. If you're like me and need to have holsters for several different handguns, $47.88 a pop for the Mod OWB adds up quite a bit. However, instead of $72 for two holsters, two holsters can be purchased as a combo for as little as $49.88. Both holsters come with sets of durable clips and interchangeable shells for the guns of your choice. This not only assures consistency in your holster usage for all your guns, but increases resale value if you ever decide to sell a gun with the high quality holster you got for a steal!
FIREARMS INSIDER REVIEWS – 8 KEY POINTS
Claim to Fame: After spending over a year in development, our OWB paddle holster is ready to be carried by those looking to protect themselves on a daily basis.
Target Market: Handgun owners, open carry & conceal carry, recreational shooters
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Swappable Holster Shells
- Flexible spring-steel core plate provides strength and support
- Layer of thermo elastomer for added retention
- Wide open-mouthed design for easy reholstering
- Includes paddle and slide for user configuration
- Iron-Clad Triple Guarantee
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black only
What others are saying?:
- Swappable shells let you carry more guns in your collection without buying a whole second holster
- Both paddle and slide hardware is adjustable for cant angle
- Paddle is wide enough to spread bearing pressure across hip while fitting between belt loops
- Slide is made of rubber with a round friction button to help control position on belt
- Ride height not adjustable
- Paddle one size fits all so maybe large for most CCW belts
- Layered design leaves visable gap between backer and plate, possible concern of debris or rust overtime.