This has been one of the longest reviews I’ve ever taken to write. The reason being is this is essentially four holsters in one. This means I’ve had to take the time to review each holster to even try to do an all-encompassing review. There’s a lot I have to say about this holster system, so sit back, and hopefully, I’ll cover the questions you need answered.
The ShapeShift Starter Kit – What’s in the Box
I covered the Starter Kit a bit more in depth in my first look, but I’ll do a quick rundown here. The ShapeShift Starter Kit is a 4 in 1 modular holster system that offers users 2 OWB options and 2 IWB options. This includes a paddle OWB option, a concealable slide holster, an appendix carry option and a traditional hybrid style strong side holster. There is also a surface mount so you can mount the holster under a desk, in a cabinet, or in a vehicle with ease.
When you first open the box it’s easy to be intimidated. There are tons and tons of pieces both large and small. It’s almost overwhelming. Luckily the instruction manual is easy to read and detailed. It doesn’t take long before you can put together the holsters without referencing the instructions. Each holster features a similar strain of logic so it’s easy to configure.
The ShapeShift Holster Advantages
The Primary advantage of having a system like this is that you can configure the ShapeShift holster for any situation you may face. From a tactical OWB situation to a deep cover concealment you’re covered. I’ve liked Alien Gear holsters in the pack because they offer a level of modularity you don’t find with other holster makers. The ShapeShift takes that to a whole new level.
The Testing procedure is what took me so long to review this piece of kit. I wanted to kit range time with each one of them as well as carry time. Three holsters are aimed at concealed carry and the fourth at open and duty style carry. For the three concealed options I wanted to carry each method for a week to ten days. For the non concealed option I carried it around the house and property for a week. These four options are just the beginning and you’ll find more options here.
The Paddle OWB is more or less a duty holster. One unique feature you can use is an active security device that locks the gun in place unless pressed. This security device is my biggest gripe. I like the idea but had issues with the execution. It can be placed on the front or back side of the holster. I found the device very stiff and hard to use easily. I had to really shove my thumb into with some force to release it. Maybe when it wears in it would be a good tool, but it hasn’t worn in just yet.
Without the device, the holster is simple and effective. It pushes the holster away from the body a bit to allow clearance for a rapid and easy draw. The gun slides in easily and holds the weapon well. I was concerned that the holster’s ability to split would compromise its ability to carry the weapon securely but I was quite wrong. It’s not going anywhere without someone ripping it out or you being tilted upside down.
This particular configuration is not the best for concealed carry because it presses the holster out so far. It’s better suited for competition, open carry, etc. The offset even allows it to be easily worn with armor. On the range, it was nice and easy to use. The offset also allows you to rotate the holster to change its cant on command. The holster itself feels remarkably strong, and the paddle’s spine is steel reinforced. Alien gear is also working on a tighter option to pull the gun closer to the body for those who prefer that.
Now I generally prefer an OWB holster when I carry concealed and this is the best route to take with the ShapeShift holster. This slide holster uses the smaller neoprene backing that has a steel core and is made of Cool Vent neoprene material. It’s quite light and comfortable against the body. This is important because it’s held quite tight to the body. Being so tight makes it very easy to conceal. Even with the massive Glock 17 I concealed this gun day after day with nothing but a t-shirt.
The slide design really makes this thing cling to the body. The use of a neoprene soft backing is actually a really good idea. It makes a comfortable sweat guard. The malleable nature of it makes it so the design better conforms to the body to increase concealability. The softness of the material means it’s still comfortable while held so tight to the body.
As you’d imagine when a gun is held tight to the body it takes some push and shove to grip the gun properly. It’s not hard, but something to train for and be aware of. The slide holster has been my personal favorite mode so far, and I’ve carrying in the 4 O’clock position. Hitting the range with IWB meant being more conscientious of my draw, but its really no different than any other holster.
The ShapeShift IWB holster is exceptionally comfortable. I bought this system for the Glock 17, a gun not known for it’s compactness. I didn’t expect IWB to be a very comfortable means to carry the gun. On day 1 I carried and rocked the IWB holster for a very long day of family time that ranged from a movie to lunch, and shopping at a mall. No doubt the neoprene backing is what made this so comfortable. The Cool vent backing keeps things cool, and the stainless steel core supports the big Glock 17 well.
The Cool vent moniker isn’t just a gimmick but is fully functional and quite comfortable. Seriously I live in Florida, and our three days of winter and fall haven’t hit yet. I didn’t have a puddle of sweat pooling under my holster like I do with most IWB carry. The IWB is very similar to the Cloak Tuck IWB 3.0 in terms of comfort and layout. This model is leather-free though.
The ability to adjust cant and height is a nice touch to the most modular holster on the market. Drawing isn’t compromised and the grip is easy to grab. The gun rides nice and high which makes it easy to grip and rip. The polymer shell is easy to install and locks down nice and tight. The clips are interchangeable with Alien Gear’s variety of different belt attachment options if you don’t like polymer and want leather loops or metal clips it’s an option.
The AIWB holster is my least favorite of the 4. This is due to the fact that AIWB tends to be my least favorite way to carry. I’m not one of those who constantly harps on shooting off your own junk I just find it uncomfortable in general. The AIWB uses the smaller backing and a simple single clip system.
With a gun as large as the Glock 17 this makes it a bulky holster and it’s a big package. Walking and standing were easy and comfortable it’s just sitting that I found uncomfortable. The handle tended to dig into my stomach a bit, and in a vehicle was where the real pain came from.
Outside of sitting the buckle is nice and easy to attach to the belt and it’s wide enough to grip the belt and stay in place regardless of how you move. The super comfortable Cool vent Neoprene material is great in its role here and the pad is cut high enough to give you a solid sweat guard when carrying for extended periods.
Drawing is easy and rapid as appendix carry tends to be. It’s also pretty easy to conceal a gun like the Glock due to the position appendix carry puts the gun. Overall I don’t think it’s a bad AIWB holster, AIWB just isn’t really for me.
After just a bit of time with this holster, I can build any one of them in just a couple minutes. Everything besides attaching and detaching the manual retention device is the only thing that needs a tool. For that, all you need is an Allen wrench.
Besides the stiff retention device I don’t have many. One would certainly be the fact this holster isn’t cut to accept an RDS. That might be a concern if you are like me and rocking a red dot ready pistol. I’m sure 99% of concealed carriers don’t necessarily have that concern.
Still Not Done
So the ShapeShift Holster line is going to keep growing. It seems in the future we may see a shoulder holster, an ankle rig, and more. Alien Gear has already released a MOLLE mount and even a leg rig. We’ll have reviews of those up very quickly as well. If the ShapeShift keeps growing this is very likely the last holster you’ll ever need. You can check it out here.