I’ll be honest.
At first, I was skeptical about Alien Gear’s ShapeShift.
For some ridiculous reason, they get a lot of hate on forums and Reddit.
Being called the IKEA furniture of holsters, etc.
But also –
In my experience, if a product tries to do many different things at once, it usually ends up doing them all poorly.
“Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Well, I’m very happy to share with you today that I’ve been proven wrong.
Alien Gear ShapeShift is a great holster – in all of the 4 basic configurations that I’ve tested it in:
- Side Carry IWB Tuckable
- Appendix AIWB
- OWB Belt (Concealed OWB)
- OWB Paddle
And by “great” – I mean that every single of its iterations can hold its own against other, more specialized holster makers.
I do have a few minor gripes with it, though. See the pros & cons section below for details.
In this Alien Gear Review, we’ll cover the following points:
- Build Quality, Durability, Looks & Feel
- Retention & Fit
- Ease of concealment
- Belt clips, loops & adjustability
- Value for money
Alien Gear ShapeShift: Summary & Verdict
|Type: Modular Holster, IWB/OWB||Adjustability: Ride (height), Cant (angle), Retention|
|Material: Injection-Molded Polymer, Neoprene||Retention: Active “Click” Retention & Optional Thumb Tack Retention|
|Carry: Concealed & Open Carry||Light/Laser/Optics Cuts: Limited|
|Fit: Custom-Molded Fit||Gun Compatibility: Most guns covered|
|Safety: ✅Trigger & Barrel Covered||Warranty: ✅ Lifetime|
|Made In: ✅USA||Hand Orientation: ✅ Left & Right-Handed|
Alien Gear ShapeShift Pros:
- Great retention
- Polymer shell is built like a tank
- Lifetime warranty & 30-day test-drive
- 4 different carry options that ALL WORK
- Conceals good
- Easy adjustability – carry positions, height, cant, retention
- Good selection of clips
- Hybrid holster comfort – nothing rigid digging into your sides
- Great for beginners to experiment
Alien Gear ShapeShift Cons:
- Neoprene “alien skin” fabric is thick & tough, but not as durable as leather
- Slightly bulkier than minimalist full-kydex models
- One-handed reholstering is not always possible, the neoprene shell is collapsible
- No holster claw is available
- No light/laser mod support on ShapeShift holster
Who Should Buy Alien Gear ShapeShift:
There are two types of people that I’d recommend this for:
If you’re new to concealed carry, the ShapeShift will let you play around with different carry styles and find what works best for you. The adjustments are easier to do than on most other holsters, the security & retention are great, and it’s easily concealable when you need it to be.
So instead of going through a bunch of different holsters until you find what works for you, you can just buy this one and use it to experiment with different waistline carry methods.
You might also discover different ways to carry that you weren’t even thinking about before. For example, if you’re on a bike ride and want to carry. This holster will let you mod it into a belt-loop OWB in less than a minute. Convenient.
Alternatively, if you have many different guns, and you’d like to have the same holster setup for all of them. The holster shells on the Alien Gear ShapeShift system are interchangeable, which means that you can attach a G19 shell & P365 shell to the same backers. This consistency might make it worth it for you as well.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality of this holster. And by how much thought they put into everything. It’s difficult to go wrong with it, and there are no significant downsides to mention.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Alien Gear ShapeShift:
If you’re looking for a minimalist deep concealment holster, then you should look elsewhere. The ShapeShift doesn’t come with a holster claw, and the hybrid AIWB holster is bulkier than most specialized AIWB holsters.
The neoprene fabric can’t compete with leather in durability. Yes, it’ll hold for years. It’s thick, has good stitching, and in general, there’s little to fault with it. But if you’re looking for a hybrid holster that’s more along the lines of “buy it for life” – then I’d check out Hidden Hybrid.
The ShapeShift doesn’t support light/laser mods, so if you have any of those on your gun you’ll have to look elsewhere. Alien Gear has other holsters that will work with those mods. Do check though – ShapeShift accommodates P365XL with Romeo Zero, for example.
Alien Gear ShapeShift Review
About Alien Gear
Alien Gear was founded in 2010 by Thomas Tedder when he started experimenting with Kydex holsters in his kitchen.
It’s really surprising how many of these holster companies start in garages and kitchens.
They’re currently based in Post Falls, Idaho, and all of their holsters are made in the U.S.A.
They have since moved on to making their shells from injection-molded polymer instead of Kydex.
Starting out with their Cloak Tuck holster, they released ShapeShift – the star of this review – In 2017.
All in all, Alien Gear has been a mainstay in the American holster industry for more than half a decade now.
How We Tested
I carried their ShapeShift holster with my Sig P365 for one week. I tested out all the possible variants that this holster allows for:
- IWB tuckable
- AIWB appendix
- OWB Paddle Carry
- OWB Belt Carry
Everything worked well, and I’ll have a couple of things to say about each of the carry modes.
But for the most part, I was carrying it in the tuckable IWB mode, the one with the biggest fabric piece. So keep that in mind while reading this review
Their holster lineup has gotten pretty confusing over the years. So, I’ve included a short review of each one of their holsters below. So that you can compare them better and choose the one that fits you best.
Ready to get into the nitty-gritty?
Build Quality, Durability, Looks & Feel
What’s In the Box
Alien Gear ShapeShift is a modular holster system. You attach the holster “shell” and “half-shell” to different backers depending on which carry mode you want.
From my experience, the system is designed well. Every component has been thought through. Even with the smallest bolts and screws – the effort that they’ve put into it is impressive.
If you order the core carry pack, it’ll come in a nice box with all the parts neatly laid out. Each section of the box also has a small note, letting you know which part goes where.
There’s a very thorough user manual you get with it. So even if you’re a total beginner with holsters, they’ve done everything to make the process easier for you.
Make sure you keep the manual because it’ll take some time to know which parts go where. After a couple of times adjusting it, it’s all quite intuitive.
There’s very little that you can do wrong with the assembly. So don’t worry about forgetting to attach a nut or a screw, or anything like that. The adjustments you need to make are simple, and the instructions that they attached explain it really well. A child could do it.
The kit comes with an extra mount. You can use it to attach the holster under your desk or put it on your wall. All the screws & and even a drill bit (for the additional desk/wall attachment) are included.
To summarize – the packaging and presentation are good, it might be a little scary at first with all the parts, but in about half an hour anyone can be an expert in this.
ShapeShift holster shell is made out of injection-molded polymer, not Kydex which is more common these days. It feels like an old-school durable hard plastic. In a good way.
The injection-molded polymer has its advantages over Kydex:
- The mold is more precise, giving you better precision & fewer imperfections
- It’s harder, stronger & more resistant to heat than Kydex
- More durable & long-lasting
It does feel darn tough. I haven’t dropped or smashed mine – nor do I intend to do that. But the material feels sturdy and built to last.
For OWB carry you keep the shell together, but for “alien skin” backers you slide it apart and attach one half to the backer.
Neoprene “Alien Skin” Backer
The “Alien Skin” material is made out of durable neoprene, and you’ll be using it for IWB/AIWB carry.
I haven’t had the holster very long, and I was initially concerned about the durability of the soft material patch. After doing some research on YouTube and Reddit, I can say that the material holds up quite well after years of use.
Anyway, that’s not the case at all.
The Alien Skin backer is thick, feels solid, and comes with great stitching & build quality. Yes, it’s not leather. But as far as synthetic materials go, this one is right at the top when it comes to durability.
OWB Holster Parts
For OWB, here’s what I’d use the different carry modes for:
OWB belt mode keeps the holster close to your body and makes for a great OWB concealed carry holster. You’ll have to cover it up with a coat or a jacket, but for comfy concealed carry you can’t do better than a good OWB belt holster.
The OWB paddle holster works well for competitions, you can have the gun set quite far from your body. It’ll give you the fastest draw, but because of the distance from your body, it’s more difficult to conceal.
- Both OWB holster modes have an attachable thumb release for level 2 retention. You press the thumb release down with your thumb (duh) to pull out the gun. It’s safe and intuitive to use.
- You can adjust the cant on the fly for both OWB holster modes – no tools needed.
The paddle of OWB paddle holster has an upside-down alien head printed on it. It’s a cool design feature. It won’t be visible while you’re carrying it because the head is on the inner side of the holster.
ShapeShift Expansion Packs
You’re getting 4 carry modes with the Core Carry Pack, but there are additional expansion packs that you can purchase for the ShapeShift.
With these, you can turn your ShapeShift into a:
- Drop leg OWB holster
- MOLLE holster (for tactical vests)
- Shoulder holster
- Ankle holster
- Pocket holster
- Belly band holster
- Car holster (located in front of the seat between your legs)
- Backpack holster
This gives you an additional 8 modes of carry, bringing the total up to 12. All of the holsters above are quite specialized, and I’d recommend that beginners start from the waistline holsters included in the core carry pack.
But it’s good to have them as an option.
Retention & Fit
The retention is well-executed. The click when you holster the gun is very audible and satisfying.
Everything fits perfectly, the tolerances are really tight on my P365.
When the gun is holstered, it’s secure.
I can turn the holster upside down, and my P365 stays in place. There is nothing shaking or rattling around when I shake the holster with my gun in it. It doesn’t feel like there is any risk whatsoever of the gun falling out.
As with all plastic holsters, most of your retention is going to come from the active click, the holster snapping in place around the front of your trigger guard. That’s also where the retention screw is located.
The retention adjustment is also well-executed. You don’t even need a screwdriver to adjust it – you do the loosening & tightening using one of the twist lock knobs as a wrench.
If you want even more security, there’s the thumb tack that you can attach to it for level 2 retention in the OWB carry modes.
I find it comfortable. I did mostly carry IWB, but I’ll share my thoughts on carry modes that I’ve tested.
The “alien skin” material is thick but soft enough to contour against the body. Unlike leather, it doesn’t take much time at all to break in. Mine was fine after about a day of use.
Nothing got in the way while I was moving around. The holster stays in place, just as it’s supposed to. It’s a comfortable choice for sitting as well – both in the car and in the office.
At the same time, the neoprene backer is thick and well-made – it doesn’t flop around or get in the way of you using the holster. It’s all cut and designed in a way that it’s impossible for the material to compromise the trigger in any way when drawing or reholstering.
The holster is attached to a single point on the fabric, which gives it enough wiggle room to adjust to your body. That’s not the case with most hybrid holsters out there.
I think they got that part right, and I’ve seen others online mentioning this as well.
The OWB carry is more comfortable than IWB, as it should be. With the belt loop mode, I get a really nice, solid connection to the body. Nothing to criticize here – it works as it should.
No issues with the paddle either – some people complain online about it not sitting tight enough on the belt, but I didn’t have that issue.
Keep in mind that if you live in the south, the neoprene fabric bit might become uncomfortable with sweating. It does keep some extra heat. They do say that the fabric is sweat-wicking on the inside. I don’t sweat that much, so it wasn’t an issue for me.
Ease Of Concealment & Holster Claw
The neoprene fabric does make the holster a little bigger than the minimalist kydex models. I could especially feel the extra bulk with AIWB carry.
But that’s to be expected with hybrid holsters. You’re getting a bit more comfort, for a size that’s a bit bigger. Whether that’s a problem is going to depend on your body type & the clothing that you wear.
One of the biggest gripes I have with this holster is that it doesn’t come with a claw/wing for deep concealment.
This means that if you have a bigger handgun with a longer grip that you want to concealed carry, then you’ll see more printing than you would with other holster makers.
Now, everything’s personal, and always depends on your body shape, clothes, etc.
In my case, there is no printing in most situations. With my P365 nothing sticks out, and the holster sits flush with the body. But it’s a very small gun.
But because they don’t even make the claw/wing, I can’t give this one 5/5 in the concealment department.
Other than that, it conceals well. It’s not the smallest holster out there, so obviously there will be more printing vs. using an ultra-thin kydex model.
Belt Clips & Adjustability
The ShapeShift belt clips are strong and made out of polymer. The clips work with 1.5″ and 1.75″ belts – you choose the width while checking out.
It’s impressive how easy they’ve made it to adjust ride & height. You don’t even need a screwdriver to remove the clips on the “Alien Skin” part of the holster.
You just take the clip, turn it 180 degrees, and it comes right off. Then you can re-attach the clip to the socket that you want for adjusting the height.
Note: In case you’re wondering, this would never happen by accident in a day-to-day carry situation. When you’ve got the clips attached to your belt, it’s impossible for them to turn 180 degrees. Only when you have the holster in your hands.
You can get zero cant with this one.
The clips do lock at the top, but they wobble around a little bit to adjust to the angle of your body. The holster stays in place well.
For an additional $10, you get the full set of clips for the holster:
It’s up to personal preference which one you want to use – loops for maximum security, as it’s physically impossible to remove them from the belt without breaking them. Clip for convenience, as it’s easy to snap on & off the belt if you need to remove your holster throughout the day.
To summarize, I have nothing bad to say about the clips. They’re well-designed, sturdy, and get the job done.
Ease Of Draw & Reholstering
Despite the great retention, there are zero issues on the draw.
It’s easy to get a positive grip. The holster doesn’t cover the handle at all, in all of the carry modes.
I had no issue making quick draws from both AIWB and IWB positions in the sub-2-second range. Same for OWB modes, but those are made for fast draws.
Obviously, a lot of this is going to come down to practice, but I have nothing to criticize when it comes to drawing.
Keep in mind that when the ShapeShift is in one of its IWB forms (IWB/Appendix) with soft material attached, then one-handed reholstering can be compromised because the softer material collapses inside of your waistband.
I imagine it’s more of an issue if you’re on the bigger side.
It’s a small inconvenience and quite common with leather & hybrid holsters. Hidden Hybrid is the only holster maker I’ve seen that has managed to avoid this, but they use really thick leather.
Alien Gear ShapeShift’s Price & Value For Money
The Core Carry Pack currently retails for around $110, which brings us to the question:
Is it worth the money?
I’ll start with this:
If you’re a beginner with concealed carry, most probably you’ll end up going through 3-5 holsters before you find the one that works best for you.
And it won’t be a fast process – you might carry a holster for 1 year before ultimately deciding that it’s not for you.
With ShapeShift, that process will be significantly faster and cheaper. For the price, you’ll definitely find a carry mode that works best for you & your lifestyle. So part of the value lies there.
In case you wanna crunch the numbers:
- An average non-modular holster will set you back about $50. That’s mid-market – nothing premium, but not super-cheap either.
- With ShapeShift you’re getting 4 of those for $110, so about $30 each.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide – I own many holsters, and I was just looking to try this one out. But it’s hard not to see the value that this kit brings for beginners.
Guns & Mods Supported
Alien Gear ShapeShift currently supports & types from the following makers, and they probably have a model for yours:
- Charles Davy
- Dan Wesson
- Lone Wolf Distributors
- Magnum Research
- Rock Island
- Shadow Systems
- Sig Sauer
Shapeshift does not accommodate for lights/lasers, but some optics will work e.g. Romeo Zero. They have other holster models though that come with light/laser cuts, you won’t get the flexibility of the ShapeShift system with them.
Video Review & Unboxing
Alien Gear Holster Models
Alien Gear ShapeShift Holster (IWB)
ShapeShift is the star of this review, and everything written above applies to this holster. For reviews on the ankle & shoulder modes of the holster, take a look at the following links.
Alien Gear Cloak
Cloak Tuck is Alien Gear’s tuckable IWB holster. I’ve heard good things about it, and it’s different from the ShapeShift in that the shell is made from pressed Boltaron. It’s a little more streamlined, thinner design.
Better for concealment than ShapeShift. Cloak also comes with more options for lights/lasers and covers rare handgun models that ShapeShift doesn’t.
It’s also the holster that first earned Alien Gear their fame in the holster community. As with ShapeShift, you can reuse the shell for different configurations, but you’ll have to purchase the expansion packs separately.
- Drop Leg
- Belly Band
The switching between different carry modes is less streamlined, and generally, I’d recommend cloak only if you know what you’re looking for. ShapeShift is better for quickly swapping out different holster platforms and experimenting.
Either way, you can get their 30-day test drive on both systems to try them out and see which one works best for you.
Alien Gear Rapid Force Duty Holster
Rapid Force is a more durable OWB drop-leg holster that is made primarily for law enforcement. It gives you Level 2 and Level 3 retention, a completely natural, lightning-fast draw, and greater durability. It works well with optics and is made for larger guns.
Unless you work in law enforcement, this one’s probably not for you.
Alien Gear Cloak Mag Carrier
As most holster makers, they have a mag carrier that you can purchase.
It’s up to you to decide whether you need one or not.
The mag is fully adjustable and comes with small Allen keys hidden inside so that you can adjust it on the fly.
Alien Gear’s Warranty, Shipping, Customer Support
- Alien Gear offers a lifetime warranty on all of their holsters.
- They offer a 30-day test drive for all of their holsters. If you don’t like your holster after 30 days, the company will buy it back from you.
- They have free shipping as well included in their shipping options.
The customer support is friendly – you can feel that these guys care and genuinely want you to be satisfied with your purchase.
Loose Rounds: Do We Recommend Alien Gear Holsters?
Yes, we do.
There is a lot of strange hate for AG on forums – Reddit concealed carry forums, etc.
But after testing out the holster myself, it’s damn good and I don’t know where all the hate and elitism is coming from.
It’s a great holster that does its job well, what more could you want?
Sure, it’s not going to work for everyone. No holster will.
But I’m impressed by the quality of the whole package, and it’s surpassed my expectations.
I hope this Alien Gear Holsters review helped you make up your mind about the company.
Thanks for reading 🙂