Alien Gear is located about 30 minutes from my house, and for that and other reasons I’ve been a repeat customer over the last few years. Most recently on TTAG here, I reviewed AG’s newest Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB holster. In that large, dual-clip, hybrid holster style, I’m not sure it can be beat on comfort or price. In this case AG reached out to me in February and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a yet-to-be-released, outside-the-waistband holster that was supposed to be an interesting departure from the norm. What I received is the Cloak Mod OWB Holster . . .
Included in the packaging was an instruction manual, a belt slide attachment, and a green plastic sheet with all sorts of spacers, nuts, bolts, and washers of various sizes plus a hex wrench. I wouldn’t call it a game changer, but it’s certainly nice that the holster can switch between belt slide and paddle attachments.
The alien head paddle is curved slightly for comfort, and either the paddle or the belt slide can be adjusted for cant by bolting it through different mounting holes to achieve different angles.
The paddle has a large, square-on-the-inside lip for solid retention against the bottom of your belt.
But here’s the real trick. Instead of a stiff, Boltaron backing (Alien Gear prefers this polymer to Kydex and uses it for all of their shells and such), the Cloak Mod’s backing is flexible. It’s made by layering a stainless spring-steel flex plate underneath a molded sheet of rubber, which AG calls “a durable thermo elastomer retention membrane.”
It flexes and bends out of the way of whatever pistol is inserted, while keeping the gun pressed solidly into the Boltaron shell. The holster does produce that satisfying “clack” of a well-retained pistol snapping into place.
Retention level can be finely tuned by tightening or loosening the bolts that hold the shell to the backing, and adjusted even further by swapping the four spacers for any combination of the included shorter or longer ones and their appropriate hardware. All of this brings us to what I think is the main selling point of the Cloak Mod…
Shells are swappable, and they’re the same shells used on Alien Gear’s Cloak Tuck line of IWB holsters and on their leather-backed belt slide OWB holster. Additional shells, ordered à la carte, are only $12.88. With a simple swap, the same belt-side base unit can now work for all sorts of different pistols.
Alien Gear’s shells always do a good job of covering the trigger guard while not getting in the way of acquiring a full shooting grip. On the IWB holsters, they’ve always covered the back side of the trigger guard pretty much completely for me as well. The Cloak Mod here is a bit of an exception, leaving a little more of the trigger guard exposed on the back side. Not enough that I’m concerned — the trigger is still below the height of the backing — but it’s cutting it a bit close.
On the range, the rubber — err, durable thermo elastomer retention membrane — provides more grip and stick than an all-polymer or leather or hybrid polymer/leather holster. It isn’t a particularly sticky rubber, per se, but there’s more of a “thunk” type stuck-in-the-mud type of feel to the first part of the draw stroke. Once the gun starts moving it comes out smoothly with that familiar kydex sound.
Reholstering feels pretty good. Although the backing does spring flat once the gun is removed, it’s ramped on the entrance to the holster so the size of the holster’s mouth is actually pretty similar to that of an all-polymer style holster. The grip of the rubber and the fact that it has to spring out of the way means I have to drive the gun into the holster with a bit more authority. With most all-polymer jobs, the pistol will fall in under its own weight and need only a small bump at the end to snap it in place.
Overall, the rubber doesn’t slow down the draw stroke and I don’t mind the feel of it. It’s just something different. After holstering and removing my GLOCK 20 from the Cloak Mod about 200 times, the slide, frame, and slide stop didn’t seem to notice the rubber. No wear, no scuffing, no galling. The rubber did start to show scratches and scuffs pretty quickly, though. I think it’ll take a couple thousand in/out cycles before I’m looking to buy a replacement rubber backing sheet, but knowing Alien Gear that’ll either be extremely inexpensive or covered under their lifetime warranty.
In a market well saturated with OWB holsters, Alien Gear has done a couple of unique things to help their Cloak Mod stand out. The biggest value here is the swappable shells, which you can’t get anywhere else in an OWB holster with a solid belt mounting system. This means serious money savings for people wanting to OWB carry multiple firearm models for various uses. Despite that ability to work with hundreds of pistols, you still get a specific fit for each one — a custom-formed Boltaron shell, a spring steel-backed rubber backing, and fully adjustable retention.
Less novel, but still very handy, is the fact that the belt attachment can be switched between paddle and belt slide, and both are adjustable for cant.
As usual with Alien Gear, this all comes with good quality, a low price, and a solid warranty.
Specifications (Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Holster):
Ratings (out of five stars):
Utility * * * * *
Creating a holster that properly fits lots of different gun models is hard. The spring steel-backed, rubber backing under the Boltaron shell of the Cloak Mod is a novel solution, and it works. Big bonus that the shells also fit Alien Gear’s other holsters, and the shells are only $12.88. Swappable paddle and belt slide attachments, adjustable for cant, provide even more utility.
Function * * * *
The feel of the rubber on the draw and holstering stroke isn’t my favorite, but it isn’t an issue. It’s something that’ll feel normal after getting used to it. Otherwise, retention is positive and highly adjustable. The holster carries comfortably and both belt attachments work well.
Overall * * * *
The Cloak Mod isn’t my favorite OWB holster, but it’s a good one. If you carry more than one pistol OWB — for instance, I compete with a CZ but carry a GLOCK 20 in the woods and would BBQ carry a nice 1911 — it’s a stellar choice. Especially if you use an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck as your CCW holster.