Thursday, December 3, 2015

Alien Gear IWB Rig

While on business in Miami recently, I met with my good friend Arthur Viani at Ghost for a fine cigar and Bourbon…its something we do as often as possible and while I am sure it is not good for me, it sure is good! While enjoying our unhealthy pastime, the conversation drifted to holsters and Arthur told me about an IWB rig he was quite fond of.  “This holster is comfortable to wear all day and has no “hot spots” that will annoy the shit out of you” he exclaimed.

His proclamation came after I admitted that I no longer wear IWB rigs. I was once a huge fan of the carry mode, having carried a variety of pistols and revolvers IWB for decades. Like many, my first IWB experience was with the suede clip-on gun sack offered by many manufacturers, mine just happened to be Bianchi. I wore this in varied locations with a J Frame snubby…groin line (aka appendix carry but a bit further to the side), behind the hip, cross draw…none with any success before I was given my first “real” IWB rig.

A friend of mine was an LAPD officer assigned to Metro and he showed me a Ted Blocker rig he was using with his Smith & Wesson 6906 and was quite happy with it. It had a metal belt clip, but unlike the one found on the gun bag, this one had a hook on the bottom of the clip that locked in on my belt. My buddy told me he would swing by the LAPD Academy and pick one up for me. He did and I was quite happy with the new rig until I moved on from my 6904.

As guns changed, so did the holster and I finally settled on the classic Milt Spark’s Summer Special, a design created by the late, great Bruce Nelson, California Narcotics Officer, firearms trainer and holster manufacturer. His wife/widow Sandy was recently appointed to the Board of Directors at Ruger...a well deserved appointment!   I met Bruce on several occasions and found him to be a true gentleman who died way too soon.  As the years and decades rolled by, I noticed my Summer Special became less and less comfortable. A “dead spot” for lack of a better term had developed on my hip that made wearing an IWB rig almost intolerable! I moved away from that mode of carry thinking I would never return.  It was at this point that Arthur gave me an Alien Gear rig and told me to try it.

A check of their web site revealed the holster is called a “Cloak Tuck” and is a hybrid Kydex/leather holster with a fore and aft belt attachment(s), either a clip or J Hook depending on what the end user wants.  My rig came with two plastic clips that can be adjusted up and down along three holes that allow for the cant to be adapted to the wearer’s requirements. The tightness of the Kydex to gun fit can also be adjusted via the spacers that attach the Kydex body to the leather hip plate. 

The leather plate is long and fairly wide, designed to spread out the pressure of the gun inside the trouser band, something older rigs like the Summer Special do not supply. This is not an indictment; it just “is what it is” nothing more or less. The back of the leather plate is covered with some type of rubber material which…if I understand the web site video correctly…is to keep moisture from making it’s way to your holstered handgun. It also, however, supplies a certain amount of padding that makes the holster more comfortable and keeps it from “traveling” around once inside the waistband.

I put the rig on in Arthur’s shop and wore it around, finding the draw is clean and crisp from the Kydex body while the rig did not irritate my “dead spot”. Hmmm, things were looking up! The only way I would know if the rig was for me was to wear it around…a lot! So I opted to do so. I started wearing the rig that day under a T-Shirt while in Florida and then under a jacket and coat once I returned to November in Ohio.

The holster continued to be comfortable and I quickly became a fan. I talked about the holster on my business Facebook page and was contacted by a reader who stated "other instructors" did not like the Alien Gear holster as it was not secure. He was interested in what I thought. Admittedly, I was not sure what he/they were referring to, but figured if there was a problem I would encounter it soon enough.

As I wore the rig I did not encounter any problems with the gun staying in place, either in the holster pouch or in the belt, so I figured that as not it. Truth be told, the only real "problem" I have with the rig is getting it in place! Its not like tucking a Summer Special into the requires some finagling. It does not surprise me that once in place the rig does not move. The only other thing I could think of was the belt clips themselves.  Admittedly, I first thought the tension of these clips was a bit weak, but as I wore it I did not encounter any problems with them unlocking on to the belt.

The only other "problem" I had with the holster was the high sweat shield on the back behind the gun. This shield gets in the way of my shooting hand thumb as I wrap around the pistol to get a secure firing grip. I am a FIRM believer in the gun is not lifted until the shooting grip is established! I see many students trying to adjust their grip once the gun is clear of a high sweat shield rig only to drop it at some point. When I do fouled hands drills in my Combative Pistol course, this is quite common. Get a solid grip before drawing! The high sweat shield concern is not a new phenomenon for me, so I just decided to cut it off. It was at this point I discovered the Alien Gear rig has a thin piece of flexible metal between the leather and rubber lining.  Normally I would just cut and forget, but the metal required additional attention as I did not want to get cut or snagged. In the end, I fixed the problem with a bead of Shoe Goo along the cut. 

I like the Alien Gear holster and plan on using it for years to come.  It is comfortable, made in America and well thought out and is reasonably priced. If Arthur wanted it back…oh well…


  1. I have had zero issues with the two that I have. Their warranty and guarantee is great. As well as the ability to ship the shell back and get one for a different handgun at no cost. Enjoy!

  2. Mr Spaulding,
    I surmise that the Facebook poster was referring to the possibility of the holster backing could covering the grip in unorthodox draw position such as a grounded entanglement. This was made evident to me when attending Craig Douglass ECQC course.

    It isn't an issue while upright (I carried a similar hybrid holster for a while) but if grounded, he large backing had a tendency to cover the grip of the pistol and fouling the draw.

  3. They have since come out with glass infused nylon clips with have more closing strength. I had a couple of occasions where the older clips would come off my belt. The new ones work great!