One of 2017’s signature words seems to be “bigly.” As it turns out, that’s a great description of the gun I chose when field testing an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 Holster.
A couple of years ago, I reviewed the FN FNX 45 Tactical pistol. The details are for another story; for now, just know that it defines “bigly.” This gun packs 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP into its double-stack profile, and even though it ain’t petite, it doesn’t require a sling or tripod. In fact, you can carry it with the right holster setup. Interestingly, the folks at Alien Gear make a compatible holster, so I decided to give their inside the waistband (IWB) Cloak Tuck 3.0 model a try with this handgun.
The holster is a hybrid design, although it’s more hybrid than similar models on the market. The “hybrid” concept is similar to others in that it relies on a large backpanel that goes against the body. This is married to a polymer shell that’s molded to the contours of your specific gun. As a result, you can swap out shells so one backing can fit different guns. The more practical benefit of this hybrid approach is that the hard shell material is great for keeping a gun stable and secure. It’s also skinny, which aids concealment.
On the other hand, hard plastic isn’t the ideal material to press against your sensitive love handle area when carrying inside the waistband. That’s where the large back panel comes into play. The generous size provides stability for even the “bigliest” of guns while the soft material flexes to contour around your body. The result is a very comfortable mount. Bottom line? Hybrid holsters use different materials in different places to create comfort, stability and solid retention.
Where the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 differs from the earlier 2.0 (and competitor) designs is how the backing is constructed. The Cloak Tuck 3.0 panel is a layered system that uses different materials to provide different functions. Closest to your body is a layer of neoprene. That’s the stuff that 007 and all those nameless henchmen divers wore in those underwater fight scenes. The purpose is to prevent moisture from passing from your body to the gun just as neoprene dive suits prevent water from getting to the body. It also happens to be very soft, spongy, and as a result, comfortable.
Outside of the neoprene is a flexible steel panel. It provides rigidity to support even the heaviest of guns, but still flexes to match the contours of your body. This is sandwiched between ballistic nylon fabric so the steel won’t wear its way out of the backing over time. On the outside surface is the “Alien Skin” layer. The company calls this a “thermoplastic polymer” but you can think of it as a soft, rubbery and slightly sticky material. It prevents stuff like gun oil from going the other way. More importantly, the soft and slightly tacky surface aids in gun retention. Just to be clear, when I say “sticky” there’s no moisture; it’s dry, but provides traction.
The Cloak Tuck 3.0 holsters ship with a bag of parts including lots of different spacers used to mount the belt clips and holster shell. You can use these to customize the space between the belt clips and backing. Add larger spacers and you’ll have more room for tucking in a shirt over the gun. The belt clips themselves are the means to adjust the ride height and cant (forward or backward lean of your handgun.) A series of holes in the backing allow you to mount each clip higher or lower. This is what allows you to adjust the overall height of the gun shell. If you mount one clip higher or lower relative to the other, you can adjust the angle.
I’ve been using the Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB holster for quite some time here in the hot and humid environment of the South Carolina low country. Humidity and sweat are a problem most of the year, so the large waterproof backing is a real blessing because it offers great protection to the gun against sweat. That same large backing also does a wonderful job of supporting even this very “bigly” FNX 45 Tactical handgun. When I mount it using a proper gun belt, it stays in place. Not only that, the weight of the gun is easily distributed across a wide area so it feels a lot lighter than it is.
And that’s the secret of carrying a full size, “bigly” gun. Use a good belt and the right holster for the job.
Images by Tom McHale