Alien Gear is a huge name in the firearms industry. They're known for inexpensive hybrid holsters, supporting nearly every make and model on the market. With a handful of unique designs, they've established themselves as one of the dominant holster manufacturers on the market. Wanting to see if the hype was real, I picked up my own Cloak Tuck 3.5 hybrid holster.
Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 Hybrid Holster Construction and Design
Hybrid holsters are relatively simple in design. A kydex or injection molded shell is bolted onto a leather or synthetic backer. The soft backer presses against the skin, which is supposed to improve comfort over a standard kydex or leather holster. Most hybrid holsters stop here, but the Cloak Tuck 3.5 adds a few features which I'll detail below.
I selected the gen 5 Glock 19 MOS shell for my Cloak Tuck. This gives room for an ambidextrous slide stop, accommodation for most optics, and suppressor height sights. The shell fully covers the trigger guard, which partially responsible for the pistol's retention. Overall, the shell itself is fairly well made. That being said, I do take on major issue with the shell portion of the Cloak Tuck 3.5
In order to accomodate optics, Alien Gear has opted to add a massive hood to the shell. This reminds me of optics ready duty holsters like the Safariland 6354DO and 6360RDS. Extra material results in extra bulk, and this bulk sits near the belt line. This bulk ends up reducing comfort and concealment. Traditionally, optics ready concealment holsters simply cut away material atop the slide, allowing wide compatibility with various red dot optics. I'm not sure why Alien Gear didn't go the traditional route, but they should've.
The backer on the Cloak Tuck 3.5 is very unique and a major selling point of the holster. Instead of traditional leather, Alien Gear uses their CoolVent neoprene backer. In addition to padding, this is lined with steel to improve rigidity.
This is probably my favorite feature of the holster. The steel liner does a great job preventing loss of rigidity in the backer. However, the steel can become permanently bent, which is the case near the belt attachments. The pistol helps prevent the liner from bending, but this is still something to be aware of. Shaping of the backer is excellent, allowing for a full firing grip while holstered. The pistol side of the holster features a scaly rubber feeling material. This material prevents sweat from seeping through onto the pistol. Overall, this is about the best backer on a hybrid holster, despite its shortcomings.
Alien Gear uses proprietary plastic clips for the Cloak Tuck 3.5. There are three positions for ride height on each clip, which also modify cant when properly adjusted. These clips are extremely easy to reposition due to a smart quick detach system. Simply rotate the clips 180 degrees, and the pop right out of the holster, like a key. Insert the clip into the next position, rotate again, and you're good to go.
Weapon retention similar to a leather holster, but worse. There is inconsistent pressure from differences between the kydex shell and soft backer. This means that retention will vary fairly widely from person to person. You'll get some slow dragging from the backer, and a mild "popping" feeling from the shell. Retention is adjustable via 4 screws and and varying size spacers included with the holster.
Another shortcoming of this inconsistent pressure is trigger access. Even when worn, I am capable of getting a finger on the trigger on the backer side of the holster. From the probing fingers of curious children to an attacker trying to take our gun, we can see why this is a problem.
Holster Use and Wear
I wore the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 throughout the Summer to see how it fared with real use. I've worn it to the gym, doing yard work, and more. Over the past several months, the backer has stayed rigid despite repeatedly being soaked with sweat and rain. I suspect this is completely due to the metal liner within the backer.
I have had some serious problems with holster retention on the belt. Despite only experiencing normal wear, the belt clips have repeatedly come loose from my pants. This allows the holster to shift upward, losing concealment. Additionally, this means the pistol is at risk of being lost under more aggressive movement, such as a fight, chasing an unruly child, or the other trials of life.
Regarding donning and doffing the holster, I have to unbuckle and unbutton my pants to get the holster inside my waistband. This is due to the sheer size of the Cloak Tuck 3.5, and is not the case with kydex and leather options when carrying concealed in any position. I also have to loosen my belt by one notch to accommodate the holster. I can see why some folks don't bother carrying all day if they're frequently adding and removing their holster to their pants.
The backer does not breathe well, contrary to marketing material, and stays wet for extended periods when exposed to rain or sweat. At worst, I found the backer still wet over an after taking of the Cloak Tuck 3.5. This is standard fare for hybrid backers. Since the CoolVent backer is exceptionally soft, irritation is reduced compared to other hybrids.
Of all the hybrids I've worn thus far, this is the biggest and bulkiest. Bulk is significantly increased with the massive optics hood. This bulk makes the holster more difficult to conceal, and significantly reduces comfort over long periods of wear. While the CoolVent backer does help mitigate some discomfort, it doesn't completely stop it.
Final Thoughts on the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 Hybrid Holster
The Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 offers some serious advantages over other hybrid holsters. The steel liner and CoolVent backer help to reduce problems common to hybrid designs. That being said, the holster still suffers from many of the same problems inherent to the type. If you are dead set on a hybrid, this might be your best bet. However, I suggest you look into quality kydex or leather options from people like PHLster or KSG Armory.
The Cloak Tuck 3.5 starts at $40 on Alien Gear's site.