About a year ago I bought an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster for my Glock 19. It has remained my carry holster for that particular gun. Up until now it is my favorite hybrid holster that I have yet tried. When I just recently got my hands on the Alien Gear ShapeShift Module Holster System I was excited to try it. I got the ShapeShift Starter Kit which is a modular holster setup that uses an interchangeable holster “shell” and “half-shell” that can affix to different backers to accommodate in-the-waistband, appendix, on-the-waistband slide, and on-the-waistband paddle. Yes, one holster system, four different carry modes. This system is also modular in the sense that you can order different shells for different models of handgun and the shells work with the same backers.
But in all honesty I was skeptical. In my experience, when a product does more than one thing it usually does multiple things poorly. I am happy to report that I was wrong and this particular product has thus far proven excellent in all of its configurations. In fact, I like the in-the-waistband hybrid option of the ShapeShift BETTER than my favored Cloak Tuk 3.0. Seriously. It has a smaller footprint, it is more comfortable, and has much more customizable retention and a smoother draw (which is adjustable). This variation of the ShapeShift is as of now my daily carry holster for my Glock 19.
The ShapeShift can do a lot and the system is modular so that the shell which holds the firearm affixes to different backers to accommodate different carry modes. So, while there is several carry modes achievable with this one system, each offers its own fully functional utility without compromise. I will be honest and tell you that the in-the-waistband hybrid mode is the only one of the four that I actually use because that is the only way in which I carry my gun. However, I will share my thoughts on the other modes since I have tested all of them.
The one caution I will provide is this: I have only been using the ShapeShift for a short duration so reliability and longevity are yet to be truly pressure tested. With that said, everything seems solid and I do not see anything in particular that leads me to believe there will be problems in this regard. The other Alien Gear holster that I have has held up great.
Initial Impressions of the ShapeShift Module Holster System
The ShapeShift comes in a nice box, upon opening there is a lot of hardware included. The manual is straightforward and within a few minutes you will be able to assemble any configuration you want. There are a variety of extra hardware pieces that come with the system. Alien Gear is good about providing additional hardware, this was the case with the Cloak Tuck 3.0 as well.
The belt clips provided for the in-the-waistband, appendix, and on-the-waistband holster configurations are all excellent. They do not snag on the shirt while drawing the gun. For some reason a lot of holster manufacturers never consider this when designing a holster. The clips on the ShapeShift are really well designed.
The ShapeShift Retention Feature: Awesome
My single favorite feature is the variable retention that can be set in the shell. This increases retention on the trigger guard of the gun and you can make it as loose or as snug as you want by simply turning the in-build nut with one of the little coupling pieces that are used to affix the shell to the different backers. No need for a stand-alone tool. As much as I like the older Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0, setting the retention on that holster is more tedious, it requires the adjustment of the four different screws that hold the shell against the backer which is the standard for all such hybrid holsters. The retention feature on the ShapeShift is better.
The ShapeShift In-The-Waistband Mode
This is my personal favorite of the four carry modes available but my bias may simply be due to the fact that this is the way in which I carry my gun. I never use on-the-waistband carry or appendix carry. As far as my thoughts on the quality of the in-the-waistband option: I now use it as my carry holster, so I don’t think I can provide a more favorable review than that.
The ShapeShift Appendix Mode
The appendix carry mode is what I think users who appendix carry may find the least favorable. The reason I say that is because the backer for the appendix carry is fairly large and most folks that I know who do appendix carry like very slim-line holsters. In my testing I found it to be comfortable, however, and in fact I like the appendix holster even as a strong-side-hip holster. It works perfectly well strong-side-hip and is comfortable and provides a smooth and excellent draw but for the appendix position I think some may find it bulky. It is, nevertheless, perfectly functional and the excellent retention feature of the shell is at work in all carry modes.
The ShapeShift On-the-Waistband Paddle Mode
I like the on-the-waistband paddle holster. Once again, the awesome and customizable retention of the shell allows you to adjust your draw stroke to your exact liking. This particular on-the-waistband option is as good as any that I have tried, and better than most. No complaints here.
The ShapeShift On-the-Waistband Slide Mode
I like this option as well as it facilitates a very fast draw so this particular mode would work well for those who may be interested in competition. No complaints.
Who is the ShapeShift For?
I think there are two groups of shooters who can get a lot out of the ShapeShift. First, gun carriers with experience who do indeed use a variety of carry modes and want to have consistency in design and retention from one mode to the next. Since the ShapeShift shells can be affixed to the different backers you are still using the same holster to a great extent. This consistency makes it an ideal option for those that use a lot of carry modes.
The second group of shooters that I believe have a lot to gain from going with the ShapeShift are those new to concealed carry. The reality is, if you are going to carry a gun seriously, you will end up with a draw full of holsters. We all have one. If you are undecided as to how you wish to carry then the ShapeShift provides a very solid and high quality option that will allow you to experiment with all the primary waistline carry methods. Regardless of your experience level or approach to carry I don’t think you can go wrong with the Alien Gear ShapeShift Module Holster System.
Note: Alien Gear Holsters will be making the ShapeShift available for other pistols in the future as well as other carry options such as drop thigh, ankle, forearm, pocket and others. You can read our article from the original announcement here as well as watch the presentation below.