Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 IWB and Cloak Slide OWB Holsters
By Chuck Hawks
Alien Gear holsters (www.aliengearholsters.com) are made in Hayden, Idaho USA. They are built to last a lifetime and come with an Iron-Clad Triple Guarantee. This includes a 30 day money back guarantee, unlimited holster shell trades for life (if you change guns, Alien Gear will trade your plastic shell to match your new gun) and a Forever Warranty. The latter is simple and says, "If any part of your Alien Gear Holster ever breaks for any reason, including the clips, we will repair or replace it for free" Clearly, Alien Gear is proud of and confident about their holsters and want to take care of their customers.
When Ibro Palic of Alien Gear contacted me about reviewing one of their new Cloak Tuck 2.0 inside the waistband (IWB) holsters, I declined. I do not like strong side concealed carry holsters and I particularly do not like IWB holsters, which I find impossibly uncomfortable to wear. I told Ibro I was not the right person to review their product.
However, Ibro was not to be put off. After a further exchange of e-mails, in which I offered to compromise by reviewing one of their conventional (outside the waistband, or OWB) belt holsters, Ibro convinced me to try both the Alien Gear IWB and OWB types. He claimed they loved to have folks who did not find IWB holsters comfortable try the Alien Gear version, as it usually changed their minds.
Since Alien Gear holsters are molded for a specific model of pistol (with or without a specific external laser attached), I requested my test samples for a Ruger LC9s with a LaserMax, a pistol I was in the process of reviewing. Soon, sample Cloak Tuck IWB and Cloak Slide OWB holsters arrived for this review. Note that the plastic holster shells are fully interchangeable for use with Alien Gear IWB and OWB rigs and they are designed to cover the gun's trigger to help prevent an accidental discharge.
The Cloak Slide
I opted to try the Cloak Slide OWB model first, as I figured I would prefer it over the IWB model. My daily wear belt is a 1.5 inch wide Wilderness Tactical heavy duty nylon model, which is sufficiently stiff to carry a holster, as well as keep my pants up. (The holster's belt loops will accommodate belts up to two inches wide.)
I ordinarily never wear a holster on my belt, preferring a small fanny pack for daily concealed carry. Since I wear it in front, it allows access to my pistol when I am sitting down, even in a car with the seat belt fastened. (The seat belt goes against my body, under the fanny pack.) A fanny pack with its own belt is like wearing a separate gun belt and holster rig, which I have always found more comfortable than having the weight of a firearm attached to my pant's belt. Perhaps this is because I have spent so much time in the field carrying a magnum revolver in a cross-draw belt/holster rig.
The Cloak Slide holster is a hybrid design, meaning the part that goes against your pants is leather and the part that covers the outside of the gun is plastic. The advantage to composite construction is that it provides the comfort of leather with the protection of a plastic holster. It weighs 5.2 ounces.
It comes with specific instructions about how it should be worn, which I followed. Briefly, Alien Gear suggests that, for a right handed shooter, the best position to wear their OWB holster is between the 3:00 o'clock to 5:00 o'clock position, depending on the user (12:00 o'clock being straight to the front). This means strong side carry with the holster over or just behind the right hip. Positioning the holster on my right hip proved to be the most comfortable position for me.
I wore the Cloak Slide during my daily routines. This means when driving, working at my desk, during staff meetings, grocery shopping and at a cafe. These are the things I do during a typical working day.
To keep a gun concealed in an OWB holster, one must wear some sort of covering garment. In the case of the Cloak Slide, either an un-tucked shirt or a jacket that covers the rig will suffice.
Since I normally wear a long sleeved T-shirt (or a short sleeved T-shirt on really warm days), rather than a shirt with a collar and buttons, and always tuck-in my T-shirt, I needed an outer garment to cover the OWB holster. I chose to wear a light nylon windbreaker to cover the Cloak Slide on the sunny and warm (low to mid 70's F) Spring days during this review. This windbreaker is long enough to cover an OWB holster, unlike the shorter (Eisenhower length) lightweight jackets I normally prefer.
Indoors, I normally remove my jacket, so I had to remember to keep the windbreaker on in public, to my discomfort. Outdoors, I found the unzipped nylon windbreaker would blow back in even a very light breeze, revealing my pistol. Thus, I had to partly zipper the jacket to prevent this, making it even hotter and more uncomfortable on sunny days. This meant I was uncomfortably warm most of the time, whether indoors or outdoors, one of the disadvantages to wearing any type of OWB concealed carry holster during warm weather.
The Cloak Side, worn as directed, is comfortable for sitting in an open-side chair, but uncomfortable in a contoured office chair (such as I use in my home office), or when driving an automobile with bucket seats. Drawing the pistol while sitting in the car would be out of the question, as it is very awkward to reach and, in any case, covered by a jacket and strapped in place by a seatbelt. About half a day at a time was all I could stand without removing the holster and gun.
This is typical of my experience with all strong side holsters and one reason I do not use them for daily carry. If I absolutely must carry a concealed handgun in an OWB holster, I prefer a cross-draw rig with the gun at about the 10:30 position, butt slanted strongly to the front to allow comfortable sitting. The gun is more difficult to conceal in this position, but at least you can reach it sitting or standing, with either hand, in case your strong hand is indisposed.
If you do not mind the weight of a firearm on your belt, the Cloak Slide is a comfortable holster to wear, at least when not sitting in a comfortable chair or driving a car. It conformed tightly to my body and was not in the way when standing or walking. It would be fine when sitting on a bar stool or the like.
Pistol retention is good and adjustable to fit your needs. I used the holster as shipped and never felt I would lose my pistol, regardless of my body position or activity, including standing on my head.
Access is similar to other strong side, OWB, concealed carry holsters I have tried that carry the pistol tight to the body. It is better than an IWB rig. The Cloak Slide holster is formed precisely to the gun and grips it firmly, so a strong drawing motion is required to yank the gun free from the holster, but there are no retaining straps or snaps with which to fumble. This is a good thing, as in my opinion simpler is better.
I am no fast draw artist, figuring I should have my gun in my hand well before I need to shoot. However, those who are will probably approve of the Cloak Slide holster draw (as long as they are not sitting down).
Unlike many leather and nylon holsters, the Cloak Slide's plastic outer holster does not flatten or collapse without a pistol inside, making reholstering at least possible, if not convenient. As with any concealed carry holster, insert the pistol slowly, making sure that your shirt and jacket are clear of the holster and cannot catch the trigger.
The Cloak Tuck 2.0
Like the Cloak Slide, the Cloak Tuck 2.0 is a hybrid design. The part that goes against your body is neoprene composite and the outer shell that covers the gun is plastic. The holster weighs 5.5 ounces.
The Cloak Tuck IWB holster also comes with complete "how to wear" instructions, which I followed to the letter. For a right handed shooter, they suggest a 4:30 carry position. This puts the holster about over your right back pocket. The rig goes inside the waistband of your pants with the plastic clips outside the waistband and clamped securely over your belt. The standard belt clips will accommodate belts up to 1.75 inches wide. (Other clips are available from Alien Gear.)
Using clips, rather than loops, is not only more convenient, it means, at least theoretically, that if you have to quickly ditch your gun you can remove the gun and holster as a unit, leaving no evidence of it behind. Unfortunately for this theory, the Cloak Tuck's clips are so aggressive and take such a solid bite over a belt that to remove the holster I had to unbuckle my belt, then unbutton and unzip my pants in order to free the clips and remove the holster. Good for holster retention, bad for quickly dumping the rig in an emergency.
The holster's instructions note that the hardest part of a handgun to conceal is the grip. It needs to be positioned to lie flat against your body, not sticking out. This is why Alien Gear recommends the 4:30 position for most users, as it keeps the grip against the body. (It also keeps it against the back of a chair or car seat, as I was to discover.)
The Cloak Tuck is adjustable for cant, ride height and retention. I chose to use the holster as I received it, the factory adjustments seeming about right to me for strong side carry.
The default cant angle is about 20-degrees, the so-called FBI cant. To increase the cant, raise the front clip and/or lower the back clip. To decrease the cant, lower the front clip and/or raise the back clip.
Ride height (how high the holster sits in relation to your belt) is adjusted by moving the position of both clips. To raise the ride height, lower both clips. To lower the height, raise both clips.
Retention refers to how tightly the holster grips the gun. Retention is increased by tightening the screws that attach the plastic outer holster to its neoprene backing. Alien Gear includes a bag of extra hardware with the holster in case desired adjustment exceeds the limitation of the default screws. Note that the screws must always be tightened at least two full 360-degree turns in.
The disadvantages mentioned above pertaining to a strong side OWB holster also apply to an IWB holster, except that the IWB holster and gun is inside your waistband and doubly uncomfortable because of it. You need to buy pants with an oversize waistband (and perhaps an overly long belt to match) to allow space for the holster. Fortunately, my Wilderness Tactical belt is plenty long and infinitely adjustable within its range due to its velcro closure.
The belt was not a problem, but my selection of pants was very limited. I own only one pair of oversize blue jeans (40 instead of 38 waist), purchased by mistake. They finally came in handy for this review.
Basically, the IWB Cloak Tuck creates the same problems as the OWB Cloak Slide. You still have to wear a cover garment indoors, although it need not be not quite as long, since the lower half of the pistol is inside your pants.
The weather being sunny and 71-degrees F on the day I finally decided to take the plunge and wear the Cloak Tuck, I wore a light cotton (unlined) jacket over my usual T-shirt. My schedule for the day included driving to town for a "Shooter's Coffee" meeting (about 30 miles in the car round trip), a trip to the bank, grocery shopping and back to my office for writing and editing this article.
The first thing I discovered is that inserting the pistol in the IWB Cloak Tuck is much more difficult than holstering a pistol in the Cloak Slide. The extra pressure of the waistband and belt on the outer holster made holstering impossible without taking down my pants; irritating and awkward in the bedroom and really an attention getter in public.
Driving a car became akin to torture, as when sitting normally the car seat forced the butt of the gun to dig into the right side of my back. I had to drive sitting in an upright, partially twisted position in my usually comfortable and supportive car seat. This was doable for my rural, 20 minute drive to town, but a non-starter for a longer trip or if driving in stop and go traffic.
Once at our usual coffee shop for Shooter's Coffee (a casual staff meeting), the coffee bar's metal backed chairs proved even more uncomfortable than the padded car seat. After about five minutes of leaning forward in my chair I said to heck with it and went to the men's bathroom to remove the holster rig.
My out of the house experiment with the IWB holster lasted about one uncomfortable hour before reaching the limit of my irritation factor. My concealed carry mode became a plastic shopping bag for the rest of the morning.
At this point it is perhaps redundant to mention that sitting and trying to work in my ergonomic office chair while wearing the Cloak Tuck was an even more uncomfortable experience than driving a car or sitting in the coffee shop. It was a total non-starter.
Drawing the pistol while sitting would have been almost impossible in an actual emergency. Trying to draw would require so much obvious contortion and effort that it would likely draw the attention of an armed opponent and get you killed.
The Cloak Tuck, like any strong side IWB holster I have ever tried, is functional and reasonably comfortable to wear only when standing, walking, or sitting on some backless perch, such as a stool or bicycle seat. That is assuming you do not mind the weight of the gun trying to drag your pants down all day. (I do mind.)
Drawing from a standing position would have been possible, if slow. (The holsters excellent retention works against it here.) Reholstering, without attracting a lot of unwanted attention, would be impossible. Anyone who chooses to carry concealed in an IWB holster would do well to consider a cross-draw model, for the reasons already mentioned.
Sorry, Ibro, but I tried. I warned you at the beginning that I was the wrong person to review a strong side IWB holster. They are simply inappropriate for my normal activities, preferred dress code and body shape. Of course, gentle reader, your experience may vary.
I do not like strong side concealed carry holsters and I particularly do not like strong side IWB holsters. They are too restrictive, uncomfortable and troublesome for my life style.
I am a writer, so I spend most of my time writing and editing while sitting in a contoured office chair with padded arms. Much of my remaining time is spent driving a car with bucket seats. Both activities are uncomfortable when wearing any kind of strong side holster and especially an IWB rig. Even sitting in the kitchen chair at my reloading bench was uncomfortable.
The Alien Gear holsters would be a much better fit for someone who is on their feet all day and habitually wears loose clothing with a cover garment, whether indoors or outdoors and in all seasons. I am just not that person.
To be fair, for anyone who prefers a strong side holster for concealed carry, either IWB or OWB, I think these Alien Gear holsters will be a hit. Their adjustability makes them more adaptable to various body types than conventional strong side IWB and OWB concealed carry holsters. Their large padded areas make them more comfortable than conventional holsters. They conform to the wearer's waistline and, if the user is wearing an adequate (meaning heavy, wide and stiff) belt, they support the weight of a lightweight pistol, such as the Ruger LC9s, well.
Alien Gear holsters are well made, right here in Idaho, and they are as good or better than anything of their type I have seen. The people at Alien Gear make every effort to stand behind their product and provide the absolute best customer service possible.
Copyright 2015, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.