As many of you all know I have a pretty moderate holster addiction I am currently at about a hundred holsters in my collection from about 40 to 45 different manufacturers ranging from off the shelf to custom kydex/leather. I firmly believe that there is a holster for every pistol that will make carrying that pistol more comfortable and the carrier more proficient while carrying with some practice. So when the opportunity presented itself to review the new Alien Gear SHAPESHIFT needless to say I practically leaped at the chance because of the reviews I read beforehand. I watched several of the review videos and immediately noticed the versatility of the Alien Gear SHAPESHIFT and immediately started setting my standards of 500+ draws. I made sure to draw from each level of retention as well as trying to cross draw simulating an injury that had disabled my strong-arm and taking notes pointing out both the good and bad aspects.
Getting to the review: upon arrival it came in some custom bags which is always a good thing because no consumer likes getting product that has been beaten up by the mail carrier. Inside what they delivered was another bag to add a second level of safety. Opening the bags I saw some pretty cool freebies like extra nuts, screws, basically a rebuild kit or lost parts kit, and of course some sticker swag and instructions. This was outstanding considering the nature of the holster is to be versatile and interchangeable. Alien Gear also threw in a paddle holster attachment which was an awesome alien head paddle for me to get a feel for the interchangeability which was nice.
So I was covering the options, going over the configurations with what was provided and it seriously reminded me of my G-Code RTI system with some major improvements. Alien Gear calls it the Modular Holster System and it is definitely that. It is very easy to switch between the method of carrying by depressing a tab and the shell comes right off in literally a second. The Modular Holster System also lets you choose the cant of the holster due to the rotating adapter that comes on the shell and therefore allows you to choose from 360 degree of wear.
So getting to the range days now: I removed the thumb release for the first few days of use because I wanted to get a feel for it with standard retention. I played with the adjustable retention unit and found a very happy medium rather quickly. I also found it was pretty neat to use the twist locks as keys to adjust the adjustable retention unit. I tested the paddle holster configuration first and it was a simple swap for the drop leg to the paddle easy peasy. I will say if you are going to open carry with the paddle configuration it sticks out quite a bit more than others I have worn.
Swapping it back to the drop leg utilizing the Modular Holster System made it a breeze. I had several perfect runs with my desired retention level at well over 350 draws. I was working right on getting the 500 draws review standards met. However, in my efforts to be as thorough as possible with what was provided, I reinstalled the thumb release taking it from good adjusted retention level and adding another security level. I started off with regular retention tests. Did it release without depressing the thumb release? No, I utilized the Modular Holster System and actually hung it upside down and walked around for a bit and it did not budge. It has a very solid active retention level. It simply is not coming out by conventional use.
The active retention level comes with a learning curve for the thumb release because of its position and design. It took me quite a bit of practice to adjust to this style. As I mentioned before I normally use a G-Code RTI rig that put the retention on the holster itself. I did start noticing the two leg straps were coming loose because on some of the draws I did not hit the button perfectly. Every time I pulled I thought I stretched them out a bit. Although the legs straps are very accommodating to various size legs there is no grip area. I would recommend maybe a few rubber strips to the inside of the leg-contact side as a preventative measure.
Let’s get back to the process of the learning curve conduction draws to meet my standards. Something happened the first time right about the 30th draw: while depressing the thumb release my magazine fell out due to the proximity of the magazine release on the Gen 4 Glock 19 I was using to conduct the review. So I continued to do the review and it happened again about another 15 draws into it. Now I am kind of upset with myself but concerned this could happen to someone who required a thumb release for their job, perhaps someone in security or some type of law enforcement profession.
Now keep in mind this is a standard Gen 4 Glock 19 magazine release. If you have an extended magazine release it may be more prevalent as it would be much closer if your thumb slips and hits it. I continued throughout the day and added about 300 or so more draws. Because of the issue I wanted to be as thorough as possible. All in total it happened 6 times which could be so many factors: maybe user error or adjusting to the retentive system but the placement and design of the thumb release is simply awful for me. The easiest solution is to just take it off unless your profession requires it. I recommend some serious practice because all of the malfunctions I had were early in the learning curve. Once I had it down to muscle memory it did not happen again but because it happened it had to be mentioned for integrity purposes.
Now with what I mentioned before does not mean that it is a bad holster. It simply means the thumb release was a bad experience for me. If you promptly remove the thumb release as I did it is a revolutionary design. They are designing some serious carrying methods and all of them are able to be utilized be the same shell. With some of the features like the Modular Holster System and the expansion packs allowing you to carry a wide variety of ways at the simple push of a button and the adjustable retention system. I found lots of strengths and one weakness during my review luckily it’s a simple fix for most consumers takes about two minutes to remove the thumb safety and the tools are provided. You can pick up your Alien Gear SHAPESHIFT starter kit for $99.88 off their website which for what you get it is pretty reasonable.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
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