Some time back, I checked out the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster. One of its features is that it’s built like a tank from layers of materials, each chosen to provide a different function. Since it was supposed to be a “heavy duty” offering, I decided to order the original Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB for a crew-served handgun – the FN FNX 45 Tactical pistol. This lovely beast holds 15+1 rounds of 45 ACP and weighs roughly the same as FN’s MK-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher. Well, maybe not quite that much, but it’s no wimpy pocket pistol. To make a long story short, and you can read the full details here, I liked the Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB – a lot. It does an admirable job of toting around a heavy gun securely while distributing the weight across its generous back panel and mounting system.
When I heard about the new Cloak MOD (Outside the Waistband) OWB holster from Alien Gear, I decided to check one out configured for the same gun, again because it’s a heavy duty holster built for rock-solid security.
The Cloak MOD OWB is a five-layer affair, more or less. I only count five if you include the removable mounting paddle or belt loop component. The holster base itself is composed of a panel of springy steel sandwiched between two layers of Kydex. To this, the gun-specific shaped holster pocket attaches. The steel not only provides structure, but it also helps apply pressure to the inside of the gun pocket compartment. It pushes against the Kydex layer against the gun, providing a sort of friction retention. It’s a neat concept, and I like the way the gun fit. Additionally, the Kydex shell attaches to the holster base plate with four screws that run through rubber washers. Tightening or loosening these provide additional retention pressure to meet your personal preference.
To the opposite side of the holster base plate, you mount either the rubber belt loop attachment or the paddle mount. Holes are drilled in such a way that you can adjust the cant angle.
It sounds complicated with all the layers, but I don’t see it as overkill, and I really liked the gun security in the shell. The other benefit is that you can easily swap gun shells with the same base layers and belt mount.
What’s Not So Hot
I was excited about the direct belt attachment option, so before even trying the default paddle configuration, I took the holster apart and installed the rubber belt loop attachment to the backing plate with a 15-degree forward cant angle. I just prefer the forward tilt, especially with a larger gun.
Before I tried it, I was optimistic about the rubber belt loop as I assumed it would help keep the holster from slipping back and forth around the belt. Speaking of belts, I used a Looper – Blade Tech gun belt. This belt has two layers of sturdy leather than sandwich a Kydex inner belt, so it’s rock solid and has no flex whatsoever. None, nada, zero. Imagine cutting a solid sheet of Kydex into a belt shape and spray painting it brown. That’s how rigid this belt is. It’s a great platform to support even the heaviest of handguns. That’s important to note, as I’ll get to in a minute.
I tried the Cloak MOD out using my FNX 45 Tactical, empty at first, so it was light. And here is where my bubble burst a little bit about that rubber belt loop. Even without the weight of ammo, the rubber belt loop flexed – a lot – causing the gun grip to flop outwards away from the belt. The rubber is just too soft and flexible to provide a stable mount. I’m sure it’s more comfortable than a rigid plastic or metal loop, but the lack of support would probably drive me nuts. Keep in mind that I was using a rock-solid gun belt that doesn’t flex.
Actually, I’m being too kind here. I really, really don’t like the rubber belt mount. I must be missing something because I can see absolutely no benefit to it. The gun flops around like a pound of overcooked linguine when mounting with this option. I won’t be using that configuration, ever.
The Paddle Option
I’m not crazy about paddle holster mounts in general, which is the main reason I started with the Cloak MOD right off the bat by installing the belt loop attachment. Since that didn’t work out so well, I decided to give the paddle mount a try, so I re-installed it and configured the same 15-degree forward cant angle.
The biggest problem I’ve had with most paddle holsters is that if you draw enough times, they will eventually pull out with the gun. If you haven’t yet pulled a paddle holster out with your gun, your time is coming. As you go about your day, moving, sitting, standing, driving, and such, things shift and many paddles can work loose to the point where the belt catches are no longer in the right position, and you can suffer the dreaded premature holster dismount.
If you mount most paddles with the paddle behind your pants, the retention hooks have to press through the fabric to “hook” under your belt. When pushing through the denim, those retention hooks tend to lose the benefit of the sharp hook ledges latching under your belt. The layer of denim makes the sharp hook a rounded ledge.
To get around this problem, you can wear the paddle completely outside of your pants by slipping the paddle between your pants and the belt. This allows the paddle hooks to do their job as they catch directly on the bottom edge of the belt with no fabric insulation layer. On the downside, you lose some of the stability benefit of the large paddle being inside of your pants where it’s less likely to move around.
The first thing I noticed about the paddle mount is the aggressive lip that hooks under your belt. This sharp ledge on the Cloak MOD is clearly intended to minimize the risk of inadvertent paddle removal. It’s as good as a system that I’ve seen with paddle holsters, so that’s a plus.
While I loved (and still do) the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB, I can’t say the same for the Cloak MOD OWB. The holster shell and base plate system are great, but I’m not at all crazy about the mounting options. Granted, part of that involves my aversion to paddle designs. If this holster was a paddle-mount only, I never would have ordered it for review, so I don’t feel that I’m being unfair. I was only interested in the belt-mount option, and that turned out to be a dud. I hope that the Alien Gear folks ditch the rubber belt mount and offer a solid Kydex belt loop. That would put this holster back in the starting lineup.