I’m a self-diagnosed holster geek. I even wrote a whole book about holsters for concealed carry. It’s okay, though. I’ve had plenty of desensitization training and am recovering, and can now leave the house for short periods of time without buying a new one.
With that said, when I evaluate a new holster, I like to really give it a go—none of this pansy business of wearing a holster for an hour or so and then passing judgment.
When I got an opportunity to check out the new Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0,
I figured I would implement the “go big or go home” testing strategy—after all, one of the things the company heavily promotes in the 3.0 upgrade is a steel-reinforced support panel. What better way to test structure support improvements than by toting around a heavy gun?
So I requested a model built for the FNH FNX-45 Tactical pistol, a large handgun that carries 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP ammo in its double-stack grip and sports a 5.3-inch threaded barrel, optical sight mount, and weighs 33.3 ounces empty. Fill that magazine up with 15 rounds of .45 ACP and I think it weighs just less than a Mini Cooper convertible. I figured this would be a good way to see exactly how sturdy the new steel-reinforced Cloak Tuck 3.0 really is.
Before I get into a field report, I should explain the concept behind the Cloak Tuck 3.0. It’s a hybrid design, meaning that it uses different materials for different sections of the holster. The idea is to use the right materials for the job at hand. A large back panel made from layers of various things provides the interface to your body. A Kydex shell secures the gun. The back panel provides comfort and weight distribution while the Kydex gun shell is rigid to provide secure storage for the gun itself. Use of the Kydex for the gun pocket also helps keep the overall thickness of the holster to a bare minimum, which aids concealment. Let’s break it down:
A Big Back Panel
On this Cloak Tuck 3.0 sized for the FNX-45 Tactical, the panel is generously sized at nearly 10 inches wide and over 9 inches tall. That’s important, because the large surface area helps distribute weight. From the inside out, the layers are chosen to provide different functions. The body side is made of neoprene—the stuff from which wetsuits are made. It’s soft and squishy for comfort, but waterproof so sweat won’t make its way from your body to the gun. In the center is the new flexible steel band. That’s placed right behind the gun mount area and is pancaked between layers of ballistic nylon so the steel section won’t poke through the neoprene layer over time. The steel band on this particular model is about 3 inches tall and 4 inches wide. You can flex it, so while it provides support, it will contour to your waist. The outside layer is made from the “alien skin” material. It’s a “thermoplastic polymer,” with a light turtle-shell texture. It feels somewhat like a synthetic leather and a little rubbery.
The Kydex gun pocket is mounted to the flexible back panel using four Allen screws and squishy green spacers. By tightening these screws independently, you can adjust the retention strength to your preference.
Two plastic belt clips come standard with the Cloak Tuck 3.0 model. They will fit over a 1.75-inch belt and feature an aggressive hook that catches under the bottom edge of the belt. This design ensures that the holster stays attached when you perform an aggressive upward draw. If you prefer, you can order optional steel spring belt clips, leather snap loops, or “J” or “C” type clips. For me, the standard clips were the most secure.
The whole rig is adjustable for cant angle or overall depth of carry relative to your belt line. By mounting the front and back clips in different holes, you can angle the entire rig forward or backward to preference, and you can raise and lower both clips together to make the holster and gun ride higher or lower. Alien Gear includes a set of soft spacers of different thicknesses so you can adjust spacing between the clips or the Kydex shell from the back panel.
Testing and Results
The true test of a concealed carry holster revolves around three basic mission requirements. The holster needs to keep the gun stable and in the proper orientation for a quick draw. It needs to protect the trigger. Last, but certainly not least, it needs to keep the gun securely in your possession throughout a range of daily movement.
So I made it a point to wear this holster from morning until night, always toting a fully loaded gun. I did this for two reasons. I wanted to know how comfortable (or not) this particular holster was during extended periods of wear. I also wanted to make sure that the holster did its job and stayed in its proper position while keeping the gun secure throughout a variety of my normal daily activities. I made sure to wear this for many hours while sitting. I’ve found that some holsters that use widely separated belt clips can work loose when repeatedly switching between sitting and standing positions. The back belt hook came become detached, leaving the holster only attached by the front clip. Another thing I am made it a point to do was to wear this rig for plenty of driving hours. If a holster doesn’t fit you right, a sure way to find out is to wear it in a car. The bottom line is that I made an extra effort to use this one for many hours and in many different situations.
So how did it perform? While toting around a large pistol like the FNH FNX-45 Tactical seemed a bit silly at first, it actually worked very well. The biggest surprise was the ease of dealing with the weight of the fully loaded, high-capacity .45 ACP. On this particular holster, the belt clips are about 9 inches apart. I think this dimension, combined with the large back panel, really made a difference. The inside neoprene layer also grips your body, so some light friction also helps to distribute weight. The Kydex holster pocket was perfectly sized and provided great security and a smooth draw without any adjustment from the factory default. If that weren’t the case, I could have easily tightened or loosened the gun retention with adjustments to the Kydex pocket mounting screws. Trigger protection was a given as the gun’s action is completely enclosed within the molded Kydex shell.
All in all, I like this holster for inside-the-waistband carry. I live in the hot and humid Low Country of South Carolina, and the use of neoprene on the inside allows use of this holster with or without and undershirt.
At an MSRP of just $43.88, this holster is a deal. You’ll see comparable hybrid holsters in the $75 range easily. Why $43.88 and not a round number? I have no idea; blame the Aliens.