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Author Topic: Alien Gear Holsters Reviews and Follow-Up  (Read 3127 times)

Offline GunLink

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Alien Gear Holsters Reviews and Follow-Up
« on: January 06, 2017, 03:34:06 PM »
Several years ago, shortly after Alien Gear Holsters opened their doors, we rolled the dice on the still relatively unknown newcomers to the holster scene and bought our first couple of holsters from them.  And we are glad we did!  The original holsters are still holding up great and, since then, we have had the opportunity to try out some of the subsequent products that the company - which has continued to grow and innovate - has brought to the market. 

We have given initial-impression reviews of Alien Gear holsters on the GunLink Blog, including the Cloak Tuck and the Cloak Tuck 2.0, as well as right here on the forums.  In this thread, we will revisit the Alien Gear Holsters and see how they are holding up years later and how some of their new products perform.  Stay tuned to this thread as we add to it and feel free to add any comments and your own reviews.



Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 1.0 IWB Review
« Last Edit: January 06, 2017, 03:47:22 PM by GunLink »

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Alien Gear Holsters Reviews and Follow-Up
« on: January 06, 2017, 03:34:06 PM »

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Offline GunLink

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Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 1.0 Review
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2017, 03:34:32 PM »
Around the time I bought my first pair of Alien Gear Holsters, if you asked a random "gun person" about them, there was probably about a 30% chance that they had ever heard of them.  Among those who had heard of them, it was probably about 50/50 odds that they only thing they knew about was the price and they had a passing notion of a new, more affordable hybrid IWB holster that had come along to challenge some of the more established companies.  They would compare them to the then-market-leader of riveted hybrid holsters or, if they had dug a little deeper into the holster industry, to one of the very few makers who had the ability for swappable shells. 

If you ask the same group of firearms enthusiasts today, you would likely find that the Alien Gear name is ubiquitous and nearly universally known as a maker of affordable, well-made holsters. 

Of course, that early in the company's history, the holsters that I ordered were the original Cloak Tuck models, with the heavy leather backing, metal being the only option for the belt clips, and what appeared to be hand-cut lengths of rubber brake hose for spacers.  And it was awesome!  Here was this new company, making good holsters, selling them at a great price, and doing it in a creative way without sacrificing quality.  After a couple months of wearing our new holsters for nearly every waking moment, we wrote this Alien Gear Cloak Tuck Holster review.

Since then, things have changed some, but not a lot.  Alien Gear now sends out holsters with a neat little parts pack of custom molded spacers and more consistent hardware, but they still use the same high quality leather, thick Kydex shells, and pride in their product.  After around three years of wearing the Cloak Tuck 1.0 nearly all day, every day, I think I can speak pretty well on how they perform. 

Among IWB holsters that I have owned and tried, including other Alien Gear holsters, the original Cloak Tuck is easily right up at the top of the list for general everyday use.  The wide, two-clip footprint supports the weight of a medium-large sized handgun well and spreads it out the weight.  The dual clips also hold the holster at a fixed cant and help to keep it from moving around.

Once I found the cant (or lack thereof) and ride height that I liked best (deepest ride height, neutral cant - i.e. clips attached to the top hole on both sides), I removed the hardware from the lower holes to keep them from causing extra wear on clothing.  The Cloak Tuck 1.0 originally came with metal clips which, at some point along the way, I changed over to Alien Gear's now-default nylon belt clips.  Truthfully, I liked the thinness and sturdiness of the metal clips better, but I put blue Loctite on the hardware and I'm just too lazy to switch back.  The nylon clips work fine and are probably a little easier on my belt and clothing than the metal ones would be. 



All components of the holster are holding up very well, especially for a weight bearing item that gets sat on, banged into walls, wrenched around by seat belts, caught on chair arms, drawn from, occasionally slept on, and worn in all conditions from extreme colds to blisteringly hots and from rain and humidity to arid environs.

The rear hardware that contacts the body/undergarments has long since been rubbed free of any of the black coating that they once wore and are now polished to a bright shine.  With the exception of one anchor, all are free from any sort of rust or oxidization.  As can bee seen in the photo, one anchor has been replaced with a different type of anchor that was included with the holster hardware due to a cross-threading incident early on.  I am not sure which type of anchor Alien Gear is providing with these holsters currently (or if they all come with the more easily movable type that the 3.0 model shows.  The larger type shown hold more securely, but the smaller type are easier to install and remove for the end user. 



The nylon clips that it currently sports have a bit of a curve away from the body and have a bit of a cross-jawed look to them, but they do not show any signs of fatigue or failure.  In the time that I wore the metal clips, there were no signs of similar deformation.  I added the Loctite to the clip screws' threads because, initially, they would start to work loose after a week or two of wear, which they no longer do.

The Kydex shell - thicker than most competitors' shells - is still in identical condition to the day I received it, with no sings of cracking, bending, flexing, fatigue, or failures.  It is entirely unremarkable in that nothing has changed and it is still doing its job consistently.

Out of the box, the thick leather backing was smooth and flat and provided a good, tight fit that helped hold the pistol secure.  No break-in period was required, but after years of use, the holster is now fully custom-formed to both the pistol and the wearer and holds the pistol even better. 

I prefer the leather backing of the original Cloak Tuck to the neoprene backing of the 2.0 that I have spent some time wearing for a couple of reasons.  The first is the form-fitting nature that the backing has acquired over the years that provides a 100% custom fit.  We have a good collection of holsters around GunLink HQ, including a handful of Alien Gear holsters, so we don't do much shell swapping, particularly on this Cloak Tuck 1.0 that I use nearly every day.  However, the swappable shells are one of the selling points of these holsters and, if someone plans on using the Alien Gear for multiple handguns, being formed to fit one in particular might not be a benefit and the backing of the 2.0 and 3.0 holsters might be better suited for the job. 

Other reasons that I prefer the leather back include durability and comfort.  Humans have been crafting durable goods from leather for many thousands of years because it just plain works well for that job.  Boots, saddles, tool grips, early armor, motorcycle gear, jackets, and, yes, holsters.  It is abrasion resistant, tear resistant, flexible, semi-breathable, and it handles moisture well.  The latter three of these properties also contribute to to an all-important aspect of holsters: comfort. 

All of the Alien Gear backing materials are comfortable and flexible enough not to feel overly stiff when wearing them, but I think that the leather really shines when it is hot out.  The neoprene backing is not particularly breathable, which is why they make wet suits out of it.  In hot weather, the neoprene backs tend to lay right against the hip and create a sweaty spot that doesn't get wicked away.  Even when hiking or training in upper 90s or even triple-digit heat, the leather feels more comfortable and, although it soaks up some of the sweat, it has never soaked through anywhere close to the firearm side.

One more great benefit of the original model is the price.  Alien Gear burst onto the scene, disrupting things by offering a high quality holster at about a third of the price of competitors.  Upgraded models are slightly higher cost, but still less than competitors.  With something as important as concealed carry gear, which your life can depend on, one shouldn't scrimp and pinch pennies to save a little money at the expense of quality or reliability.  The original model holster still starts out under $30 and, as our years of rough use on these models have shown, that eminently affordable price does not represent any cost cutting, corner cutting, reliability reducing measures. 

If the Cloak Tuck 1.0 that I use ever did fail, I would buy another one in a heartbeat... not that I would need to, thanks to Alien Gear's amazing warranty and customer service.

Offline GunLink

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Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 Review
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2017, 04:59:28 PM »
The Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 IWB was similar in appearance and, mostly, in construction as well. 

The same hardware was present (or, at least, available - the second gen holster came out around the same time as the company began offering [ur=http://blog.gunlink.info/2014/08/22/alien-gear-offers-new-lines-of-holsters-accessories/l]new clip selections)[/url].  The same thick, sturdy polymer shells were out front, the same screws, same t-nuts, same spacers. 

With this iteration of the holster, Alien Gear began offering a new line of belt clips to keep the holster secured in place, including polymer clips in regular, C-, and J-clip configurations as well as leather loops: 



The C- and J-clips allow the clips to be mostly hidden behind the belt, but I had trouble with getting them to fit over certain belts; especially with the J-clip, which might be better suited to narrower dress belts than a heavy duty carry belt.  At first I wasn't sold on the polymer clips, but after I LocTite-ed them on to a holster and was too lazy to take them off, they started growing on me and now I use them almost exclusively.  But the clips weren't the big change between the original Cloak Tuck and the Cloak Tuck 2.0. 



While the holster bases were available in the same four micro, sub-compact, compact, and full-sizes as the still-available leather Cloak Tuck bases, the construction had drastically changed.  The new 2.0 bases consisted of a layer of neoprene between vinyl and cloth.  The vinyl side is the side that contacts your firearm, so it is pretty resilient to being poked at by sharp corners, safeties, take-down levers, mag releases, and other pointy pistol parts. 

In addition to being more resistant to punctures and abrasions from all those pointy parts, the vinyl material and spongy neoprene would be more resistant to permanently taking on the impression of the pistol being carried in it like my go-to leather Cloak Tuck has over time: 

 

On holsters with the shell permanently fixed to the base, this wouldn't be a problem, but part of Alien Gear's mega-warranty is free shell trades for life in case you ever change your carry gun (or order extra shells so you can switch it up whenever you want).   Each time you wear the 2.0, it is spongy enough to custom mold itself to the gun but it won't take on that mold permanently.   



The cloth backing of the 2.0 base is supposed to make it comfy against your body, and it does - it is not cold, clammy, sticky (like friction-y, not like a half-eaten lollipop), hard, or any of the other things that leather can be when you put it on for the first time in a day.

In addition to to being soft and protecting you from high corners on your carry gun, the neoprene sandwiched in the middle of the 2.0 base also serves another important purpose: protecting your carry gun from you.  More specifically, protecting your carry gun from sweat, oils, and other things that come out of human beings and can cause rust.  This is an important function of an IWB holster and, as I found, was especially important on the 2.0 and is related to one of the reasons why I never did end up liking the 2.0 as well as the original Alien Gear. 

While leather also protects your pistol from you and vice-versa, it doesn't form a 100% water and air-tight seal.  It isn't exactly "breathable" or "absorbent," but it is more so than the neoprene base of the 2.0.  I found that when wearing the holsters in especially hot, humid environs, the 2.0 tended to create more of an uncomfortable sweaty patch underneath of it than the original leather model did.  That is the first reason why the 2.0 fell short in my eyes. 

The main reason why I never fully got on board with the 2.0, however, was that sturdiness - or lack thereof - in the base material.  None of the three materials - cloth, neoprene, or vinyl - are especially stiff materials.  As I first came to find out when I endeavored to remove the spare t-nuts for the unused belt-clip holes, Alien Gear had tried to stiffen up the base with some unadvertised fourth material sandwiched in the mix.  As best as I can tell by peering through the now-vacant holes, the extra material appears to be a thin plastic layer (think 5-Star spiral notebook cover) between the top vinyl layer and the middle neoprene layer.

When I first pulled out the spare t-nuts, the base material around the now-empty holes got just a little... crunchy.  If I flexed the material around the holes, it sounded like a crinkly Jolly Rancher wrapper.  The real crunchiness didn't come until just a couple of months ago. 



I was in the local gun shop where we hang out (which is now a stocking Alien Gear dealer now, btw) outside of normal working hours and the guys had heard about but never actually seen an Alien Gear holster so we were doing some holster swapping to see how green the grass was on the other side of the holster fence.  I had the 2.0 on me and an original in my vehicle to share around.  When my one friend tried to slip the 2.0 into his pants without completely dropping trou, both wings of the neoprene base folded themselves right in half in a desperate attempt to not be stuffed down his backside, creating the bend seen in the photo above. 

None of my leather bases have ever had this issue, but this was a near death experience for the Cloak Tuck 2.0.  That corner of the base doesn't completely flop around, but it isn't nearly as stiff as it was to begin with, and flexing it produces the nice crunch seen below

A post shared by GunLink (@gunlink.info) on




Alien Gear has since further improved the design and used a far, far more robust material inside of their latest generation of IWB holsters - the Cloak Tuck 3.0 - which has a thin strip of spring steel inside of the base sandwich.  Since its release, the 2.0 has disappeared from the offerings on the Alien Gear website.  Although I haven't yet had a chance to try out a 3.0, I imagine that it provides all the benefits of the 2.0 along with fixing the crunchiness issue and improving the holster in several areas.  When we get a chance to try out the 3.0, we'll include a post here in the Alien Gear review thread. 
« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 10:49:09 AM by GunLink »

Offline leadfarmer

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Re: Alien Gear Holsters Reviews and Follow-Up
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 10:08:06 PM »
My AG holsters are great