For those who follow me, you know as well as I do, I have written many reviews on holsters in the past.
Today, we shall be reviewing just one specific variation, namely the Alien Gear ShapeShift Modular Holster System, in what has come to be an incredibly vast universe within the tactical gear product-line.
To most all of us who own handguns, holsters just happen to be among one of our most critical assets.
Matter of fact, if you really think about it, there is an inherent or mutual dependency between handguns and holsters as the proper and correct usage of either one at any given point in time, might mean the difference in a potentially life-threatening situation.
To put it another way, at the end of the day, all holsters have been designed to offer protection to the handgun; secure its retention and provide easy access to our weapon as needed.
I see purchasing a holster as somewhat of a balancing act.
Choosing the best holster for your particular needs is a matter of personal preference, however, there are some generic characteristics which are important considerations that we all should bear in mind.
Again, choosing the right balance of features in a holster can be particularly important as some of these features and/or considerations, such as quick access to the weapon, could result in severe injury or even death to the user.
Needless to say, nowadays, there are a limitless number of holsters in the marketplace.
By far, I think most holster categories are identified by the place in your body where you will wear the holster.
Below, I give you a list of some of the most common categories classified by their “method of wear” as follows:
As though these were not enough, there are other categories such as attachment options, etc.
Bottom line, by the time you take all options into consideration your choices and alternatives have grown exponentially to where even the most adept among us, can be easily overwhelmed, and will be prone to making mistakes as to which system best suits your needs, thus our review today, which we hope will help you in your purchasing journey.
Important Considerations When Choosing a Holster
So, as I mentioned before, there are some rather notable features and/or considerations we must all be aware of when purchasing a holster. Some of the factors that should be considered of foremost interest include the following:
A well designed holster should always provide protection to the handgun during insertion or removal from the holster as it is carried around.
The objective here is to prevent: a) accidental trigger movement, b) accidental disengagement of the safety mechanism, and c) forward or rear movement of the hammer.
Holsters designed with retention capabilities will help avoid a handgun being removed from the holster by anyone other than the user himself or herself.
In addition good retention will help prevent an unwanted dislodging of your firearm.
More often than not, we should be concerned with our desire to alert others of our being armed.
Well designed holsters can make a handgun virtually impossible to detect.
Most holsters with good concealment capabilities are designed to be worn with a covering garment which will help conceal the weapon with no need of special apparel.
The ability to wear a gun for an extended period of time without excessive discomfort should be an important priority to consider in the purchase of any holster.
Make sure to purchase a holster with the assumption you will wear it for prolonged periods of time.
A well-designed holster should be made of materials that are compatible with the protection of your weapon.
It should not snag your handgun, nor should they be excessively abrasive to where it can damage either the firearm and/or our body skin.
Ease of Draw
The name of the game in the use of holsters, is the ability of the user to draw his or her weapon with ease.
Ease of draw can be sometimes compromised in concealed carry, thus you need to make sure that your holster pick provides for an easy draw and re-holster of your weapon.
The ability of a holster to withstand the abuse of long-term usage should be a critical feature to consider as, otherwise, you may impair the performance of the holster, which can be potentially unsafe.
All good holsters should provide for the adjustment of gun cant and position which will, in turn, aid in both comfort and concealment.
Prices of holsters are as varied as are the different models and styles available in the marketplace.
There is literally a price-point for all budgets out there.
That said, however, bear in mind, we should never try and cut corners in this all-important asset.
All told, just please remember that, like any tool, a pistol is only as good as the holster that carries it.
If the holster you have chosen fails when you most need it, the handgun will be rendered just as useless and/or worthless.
Alien Gear Overview
The success of the Alien Gear Holsters, like most any other success stories, comes with a history of accomplishments well worth sharing.
It all starts when company founder Thomas Tedder could not find a handgun holster, he genuinely wanted to carry a pistol in.
The operation began in his kitchen as he developed a design he was willing to wear as concealed carry.
t his wife’s request, he eventually moved to his shed and in 2013 he finally relocated Alien Gear Holsters to Hayden, Idaho.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
Tedder’s success centered around the realization that the most potential lay in a hybrid holster design, which mated a rigid plastic retention shell molded for the gun it would hold to a backing platform made of a durable cloth such as leather.
From its inception, the main objective of the Alien Gear design was to address the weaknesses found in typical holster designs of the epoch.
Whereas conventional hybrid designs of the time used an 8-ounce leather backer, Alien Gear used a 12-ounce backer, and, instead of using a thin shell made of thermoplastic acrylic polyvinyl chloride [PVC], such ad Kydex, Alien used a thicker shell devised for greater durability.
Another yet common feature of Alien Gear’s holsters was their use of hex screws and crushable rubber washers to attach the retention shell to the holster.
Competitors had traditionally used rivets which were non-adjustable.
Belt clips on the Inside-the-Waistband [IWB] holsters were also made adjustable by Alien Gear so that the holsters would ride at the height and tilt angle preferred by its user.
In addition, Alien Gear developed a universal shell system, in which the same holster shell could be placed on any backer made by Alien Gear.
Alien Gear ShapeShift Modular Holster System
Suffice it to say, from the time the Alien Gear company was founded in 2013, there was a product evolution which started with their original Cloak Tuck Series, followed by the Cloak Slide, the Cloak Mod paddle holster, and the Mag Carriers.
During the various stages of development, the company gained a reputation for its improvements in their use of various backing materials, featuring innovative alternatives to those previously used in holster manufacturing.
Each of the new systems introduced by Alien Gear offered yet new and improved capabilities over the predecessors, as each system became a “best-seller” each in their own right.
In January 2017, Alien Gear CEO, Thomas Tedder announced the introduction of a system he labeled as the ShapeShift Modular Holster System – a system which no one else had ever developed.
The new star of the show allowed users to buy a single scabbard and attach it to multiple mountings.
The mountings included:
- 1IWB / OWB
- 3Belt Slide
- 5Drop Thigh
- 9Surface Mount
Alien Gear ShapeShift – The Future of Concealed Carry
At the time of its introduction, with its groundbreaking design, the Alien Gear ShapeShift promised to be the future of concealed carry and with time, this assumption became a reality as, in fact, we can summarily conclude this system did change the industry in the years that followed.
To put it in simple terms, ShapeShift offers an endless array of custom carry options to match virtually all types of mounts.
The ShapeShift system first became available in the summer of 2017, with the launching of the Starter Kit, featuring two IWB holsters [Hip and Appendix], and two OWB holsters [Paddle and Slide].
Subsequently the company launched holster systems that covered 75 – 85% of all handguns people owned – all with Alien Gear Holsters’ 30-Day test drive and their “Forever Warranty.”
The ShapeShift Starter Kit
The ShapeShift Starter Kit, one may say, is the foundation of the ShapeShift Modular Holster System, and it includes everything you need to carry in four distinct ways.
In just a few quick steps you can quickly transform the ShapeShift into 1) An IWB holster, 2) An Appendix Carry holster, 3) an OWB belt slide, and 4) an OWB Paddle holster.
As if this was not enough, the Starter Kit also includes a bonus Holster Mount, so you can attach your ShapeShift quickly and effortlessly to a variety of surfaces.
Upon my personal experience in years of using the ShapeShift IWB Holster, I find it to be unsurpassed when you are looking for comfort and concealability.
The shell of the modular holster is attached to the base with a single mounting point that virtually eliminates printing making the holster accommodate better against your body.
A stainless-steel core helps give structural support to the system while a soft CoolVent neoprene base helps maintain its comfort.
This holster offers an advanced upgrade as compared to other appendix carry options by offering a single mounting feature which greatly improves concealability together with a breathable neoprene backer which makes for an ideal AIWB carry.
The ShapeShift’ s OWB Paddle Holster stepped up the evolution of Outside-the-Waistband carry with a customizable design that can be equipped with adjustable active retention, passive retention, or both.
The OWB Paddle Holster design comes with an adjustable 360°-degree cant that can be tilted in 12°-degree increments.
The ShapeShift OWB Slide Holster outperforms its competition as far as handiness is concerned while typically, other belt slide holsters, are notorious for the wobbliness when holstering or drawing the firearms often leading to unreliability.
Both ShapeShift’ s OWB Slide, and Paddle systems are made of sturdy materials which make for improved longevity and consistency over time.
ShapeShift Innovative Features
I personally believe that innovation reigns supreme in making product-lines succeed in any industry, regardless.
When you combine innovation with cutting-edge technology such as Alien Gear did with its ShapeShift systems, the ensuing success in capturing a sizable market-share in the holster industry was a highly predictable outcome.
As such, it is in our best interest to review all such features that made possible for Alien Gear to attain the level of success it has achieved with their ShapeShift Modular Holster Systems, albeit noting I am not listing these with any particular order of priority, per se.
Focusing on a minimalistic design, the ShapeShift Modular Holster system boasts a low profile in all its configurations.
Alien Gear’s zero-bulk holsters offer better concealment than ever before.
Among other things, the ShapeShift allows to be worn in the half shell configuration, so that your holster will have a lower profile in either the IWB, Appendix and/or OWB Slide.
Adjustable Clips - Zero Hardware
The ShapeShift Holster systems allow you to adjust your ride height and cant [angle] by hand with their adjustable holster clips.
They come available in a variety of styles; the new polymer clips require no tools or hardware, thus making it easy for you to customize your ShapeShift in no time whatsoever.
Ease of Shifting Carrying Positions
If there is one thing which makes the ShapeShift Modular System stand out among the many other systems in the marketplace it has to be the ease with which you can change from one carry position to the next.
To transform the ShapeShift from an IWB holster to an Appendix Carry Holster, all you need to do is simply swap out a couple of pieces and you are ready to go.
Shifting to your favorite carry position is accomplished in just a few toolless steps.
Enhanced Holster Flexibility
With its innovative, game-changing mounting point the ShapeShift IWB Holster flexes to your body on first contact and offers more flexibility than any other concealed carry presently available in the market.
The wings on the sides of the ShapeShift curve to the side of your body effortlessly in just seconds, which, in essence, amounts to more comfort.
Safety, one may readily say, is at the core of what you should look for from any holster system.
And safety is one of ShapeShift Modular System’s key features.
With their thumb-release and Adjustable Retention Unit, these secure holsters offer a variety of customizable safety options specifically designed to cover both sides of your trigger guard in every carry position.
Alien Gear introduction of their thumb-release available with every ShapeShift Core Carry Pack offered new levels of active retention.
To push their passive retention to the next level, Alien Gear invented their Adjustable Retention Unit, a device that affords you to easily customize your retention with just the spin of a twist lock.
Gun Duplication Technology
By using state-of-the-art technology, Alien Gear captures every detail of the firearm with their Shift Shell.
This shell’s design offers a perfect fit when holstering the handgun.
Every detail caters to a minimalistic design while all the bulk is cut from the ShapeShift Modular Holster.
Steel Core Retention System
For the ultimate safety and security ShapeShift adds an embedded layer of steel core that serves as a sturdy backbone to the entire holster base, providing with all the additional retention and stability needed.
Premium Engineered Polymer
The ShapeShift line is made with a proprietary premium polymer designed to withstand the test of time.
This polymer has heat and impact-resistant properties making it much stronger than the Kydex PVC thermoplastic used by most other holster manufacturers.
With their premium polymer, ShapeShift is able to offer a lifetime warranty on all their holsters.
Alien Gear’s Ballistic Nylon and Skin Texture
All ShapeShift holsters are made with a layer of ballistic Nylon - a woven fabric designed to strengthen the holster in order to withstand the hardships and rigors of daily use.
In addition, these holsters have a surface material also specially designed for the IWB and Appendix carry, while providing a perfect amount of drag in your draw.
One of the added-value features I personally like the most of the ShapeShift line is their Holster Mount.
This handy accessory is included in every ShapeShift Core Carry Pack allowing you to go from your waist to virtually any surface, and mount it to wood, drywall, sheet metal and plastic as needed.
With the push of a button, you can take your holster from the Paddle to your bedside table, desktop, or car. In essence, ShapeShift Holster Mount affords all kinds of personal safety in the rigors of your daily life.
Alien Gear ShapeShift 4.0 IWB Holster
So, for all of us whose lives revolve around handguns and firearms, concealed carry has, throughout time, become one of our most sought-after considerations whenever we are looking to purchase our next holster.
And, by default, whenever we talk about concealed carry, Alien Gear’s ShapeShift 4.0 IWB Holster must be among our forefront considerations without exception.
While I took the time to detail all generic features offered by all ShapeShift Modular Holster Systems earlier in this review, at the sake of being somewhat repetitive, I am compelled to share the features offered by the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB Holster, this being one of the top sellers in the Alien Gear line.
At a very affordable price point that ranges from $55.00 to $88.00 dollars depending on the system of your choice, the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB is well within reach of all budgets by most prospective buyers – another good reason which has gained this product-line the popularity it now enjoys in the marketplace.
While the price-point may be a lead criterion for many, there are quite a few other features which have earned the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB a 4.6 out of 5 stars in their “customer reviews” –below please find a listing of some of the features that made possible such high ratings:
At the time I wrote this review, the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB was offered in an incredible array of 82 options to fit the most popular firearms in the marketplace – [too long a list for me to detail all the options], however accessible in most websites that feature this product.
The ShapeShift 4.0 IWB is fully adjustable from the ride height to the cant, to the retention, all can be adjusted without the use of any tools whatsoever.
The ShapeShift 4.0 IWB can be concealed with great comfort, while reducing the footprint with its neoprene backing giving it the necessary flexibility to move and shift your body in whatever is your mission.
The neoprene works as a sweat-wicking material that is breathable eliminating the possibility of irritation when wearing the holster for prolonged periods of time.
Change of Carry
Among my preferred features offered by the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB is the ability to change your carry, meaning you can easily expand this holster allowing you to swiftly change carry from open, to concealed, to shoulder.
This particular model comes with the IWB holster option as well as the completed shell for use with other ShapeShift Products.
The fact that these holsters are made in the USA, gives buyers that extra-added security in terms of quality and craftsmanship not commonly found in similar systems.
Alien Gear’s IronClad program was designed to insure you have one of [the] best holsters for life after their 30-day test drive.
Summary and Conclusion
A. Brief Synopsis of our Review
I believe the most fitting way to summarize today’s review is for you to do an evaluation and/ or a comparison between all those features which I detailed under Section 2 of this review, namely, “Important Considerations When Choosing a Holster”, and compare them to all those I also detailed under Section 5 of this review under “ShapeShift Innovative Features.
I dare say when you finish this comparative exercise, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Modular Systems, matches, even exceeds all expectations in virtually every key feature that we look for when purchasing a holster.
What more can I say?
I am a fan of this company and their products.
I got to be honest with you though, at first, I was somewhat skeptical as to what to expect.
In the past, I had always contended that when a product claims to do several things at the same time, invariably, I found most of them really did not do all they claimed and/or did so only partially.
Got to admit though, when it came to Alien Gears ShapeShift’ s claim of being a hybrid holster system capable of accommodating all of its configurations, I was readily swayed to dropping my preconceived notions of products incapable of doing multiple things.
In fact, it is safe to say that Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Modular Systems can do exactly all that they claim they can do.
B. Our Final Verdict
The ShapeShift system is truly modular so that the shell that holds the firearm can be affixed to different backers to accommodate the different carry modes.
Each of these modes are fully functional in their own right without compromising the rest.
My personal preference happens to be the Inside the Waistband [IWB] carry, however, I have used all other modes and I was equally impressed with their performance.
Bottom line, the Alien Gear company and their ShapeShift holsters are winners in my book.
I have worn their systems for some time now and used them in all kinds of chores and missions.
You name it, I have done it and have been, still am, more than satisfied with all those features I have always looked for in a holster - bar none.
My verdict, absolutely and positively give the Alien Gear ShapeShift your utmost consideration.
Meantime, as always, I truly and sincerely hope you have enjoyed today’s review.
Moreover though, we, at Tactical Dept, hope today’s review will be instrumental in making your purchasing journey of a holster a more pleasant experience – one we trust to have made somewhat less overwhelming and lots simpler for you.