Like many of you out there in the concealed carry world, I am guilty of having that bin o’ holsters that is accumulated over the years, despite my best efforts to keep everything tidy and streamlined. I have got a plethora of OWB, IWB, AIWB as well as various and sundry duty-type holsters for work. What I did not have was a satisfactory method of carry for when I was not on the job and did not feel like wearing jeans or tactical-type pants. I did not want to carry a J-Frame loose on a pocket or in a pocket holster, I was just looking for a manner to carry & effectively conceal a service-style handgun in the AIWB position while in PT clothing or even (GASP) pajamas or jogging pants. Until now, I had the choice of utilizing holsters with bulky external clips that did not lend themselves to optimal concealment whilst in PT clothing, and while functional, led me to want something that would facilitate the carriage of a service-sized pistol comfortably.
Late in 2020, I had heard that PHLster had something incredibly special in the works, via a Primary & Secondary podcast. Intrigued, I reached out to Jon Hauptmann at PHLster two days before Christmas and was pleasantly surprised when he immediately returned my email and readily agreed to send me an ENIGMA and a PRO series holster for the GLOCK 48, my walk the earth gun now. Holiday delays with the postal system notwithstanding, the ENIGMA system arrived in January and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Jon was kind enough to assemble it, requiring me to only adjust the belt and don it immediately.
Now, it should be mentioned that one of the key features of the ENIGMA is the ability to utilize a wide swath of the AIWB holsters currently on the market if they are not light bearing models. I cannot speak to that, as I pushed the “easy” button and opted to not only give the ENIGMA a try, but also the PRO holster. At this point I should mention that the ENIGMA serves as a chassis system, and, per PHLster, you can mount “NON-light bearing holsters with a ModWing, Darkwing, Raven wing, and similar AIWB concealment claw/wing attachments which have the standard 5/8ths hole spacing” As a system, it appears to be very well engineered and thought out. I had heard about how lightweight that entire system is, but until you put it in your hands and opt to wear it, it is hard to convey adequately.
With a GLOCK 48 & and appropriate level of belt adjustment, the system goes on and, if properly positioned, you can almost forget that you are carrying a handgun. A word to the wise- while my ENIGMA and PRO arrived assembled as a unit, it is my understanding that the ENIGMA by itself ships disassembled. PHLster has excellent video tutorials available to help facilitate a smooth and trouble-free initial setup of the chassis.
The ENIGMA can be worn under gym clothes, dress pants and even jeans. No external belt is required. Depending on your choice of firearm, it is entirely possible that you can take your EDC game from the low-pro to covert (hat tip to Mike Green of Green-Ops for his superb Covert Carry Class for that reference).
In the two-months that I have been wearing the ENIGMA on a daily basis, I’ve been spoiled by its level of human engineering, functionality and quality. It is absolutely evident that Jon and the PHLster crew are shooters, and every detail has been well-thought out. There are no superfluous frills, gimmicks, or anything else with the ENIGMA.
At the end of the day, here’s how I rate the PHLster ENIGMA;
PRICE $84.99 5/5 Not inexpensive, but the price is commensurate with the level of quality that you get and for the amount of workmanship exhibited in the manufacture of this chassis. Add in an excellent PRO holster and you are looking at another $79.99. First Responder discounts are available.
FUNCTIONALITY 5/5 It is very evident that the ENIGMA was designed by experienced shooters and gun carriers. It is an incredibly well thought out system. The ONLY very minor quibble that I have is that the belt should have a type of fastening band (elastic or otherwise) to keep the excess belt tucked in and not flapping loose.
WEIGHT 5/5 This is going to be one of those subjective areas, but with a loaded GLOCK 48, the ENIGMA/PRO feels very lightweight, but ultimately your carry gun will dictate the final weight of the system.
DURABILITY Unsure at this point. Need more time to test. I have had it for about two months, but I do not see any unusual wear or fraying. A word to the wise- ensure that the screws have a bit of thread locker on them. This will prevent them from working themselves loose and causing the holster to move or otherwise shift from the chassis. With that said, I see no reason why this would not be an exceptionally durable chassis system over the long term.
COMFORT 5/5 The entire “system” was extremely comfortable, and no break in period was needed. Subjective, as some people may not feel that AIWB is for them. I rate it an A+ in this regard.
Long story short- if you are looking for a comfortable and versatile AIWB chassis that accommodates a wide swath of handguns, the PHLster ENIGMA is worthy of your consideration.
I was furnished with this chassis/holster from the manufacturer 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 on my personal experience with the product.
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