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What You Should Know About Our Holster Shell Swap Program

One of the aspects of purchasing an Alien Gear holster is our holster Shell Swap program, formerly standard for all holsters sold but now only for the Cloak series of holsters. Some folks are curious why we offer unlimited shell swaps and/or how it works.

Additionally, some people wonder why we don't offer this service for our ShapeShift series of holsters.

The short answer is that our design of hybrid holster make installing a new shell far more feasible than the typical holster design does, but it isn't quite the same with the ShapeShift system. That said, let's go ahead and get into the nitty gritty.

Why A Concealed Carry Holster Shell Swap?

How could we offer a concealed carry holster shell swap?

Do we dare disturb the universe?! Yes, we do! Because we made it possible.

So, if you take a look at the typical hybrid holster design, you'll notice a common theme among many of them. Not all - some folks we won't mention followed our good example! - but many feature the same holster design. There's a back platform (usually leather) that has a molded plastic shell riveted to it.

Now, rivets are a secure attachment, but they aren't adjustable. What we found was that a nut and bolt assembly provided the same security of attachment, but also allowed for an adjustable - indeed, customizable - retention profile. We also devised a shell attachment pattern that employed the same bolt spacing for virtually any size of pistol, though we had to devise one for revolvers and one for semi-autos.

That's why you can't put a semi-auto shell on one of our revolver holsters and vice versa. However, you can put a shell for a K-frame revolver on a J-frame holster backer, and you could install a 1911 shell on our compact or even micro-size semi-auto backer...if you don't mind a whole lot of the shell hanging over.

We dubbed it the Universal Shell System, as you could install any shell for any gun we made a holster shell for.

Why, then, offer a shell swap program? Well, most of us here at Alien Gear own and carry guns every day. One thing we know, because as people who own and carry guns, is that people change their gun every so often for a new one just like how you might buy a new car every few years. Instead of having you buy a whole new holster - which other holster companies will require you to do - we offer you the ability to get the holster shell for your new gun but keep using the holster. We like to provide value to our customers, and our shell swap is proof positive of that.

How Does The Shell Swap Work If I Need A New Gun Holster Shell?

The process for getting a new holster shell if you need a new retention shell on your gun holster is pretty simple. There aren't any hoops to jump through; all you have really have to do is fill out a form and visit the post office. We take care of the rest.

There's a form that comes with purchase of your holster for the shell swap, if you have purchased a holster from our Cloak Tuck line of gun holsters. Whether it's the Cloak Tuck 3.5, the original Cloak Tuck or even a Cloak Mod Drop Leg Holster, it doesn't matter. If it uses the Cloak series Universal Shell design, you can get a shell swapped.

Step 1: take off the original shell. Use the included hex key to back out the bolts and washers and take them off. Remove the shell.

Step 2: fill out the included form or download and print one from our website. You can find the form here. Tell us what new gun you want the holster shell for on the form. If you can't get to a printer, you can write it out by hand, but make sure that it goes to the address listed on the form.

Please make sure we make the new shell first. We feel awful when we have to contact a customer and tell them we don't make a holster for the gun they want a shell for. You can browse our gun library on our Search By Gun page. This way, you don't have to get some bad news from us.

If there's a gun you'd like a shell made for, please let us know! We add new guns fairly regularly, so we may be able to get yours added.

After you have your form filled out, find a post office, UPS or Fedex store, and send your old holster shell in along with the change form or note telling us which shell you'd like to replace it with. We receive it, process the order and send you the new shell.

Another question we get fairly often is why the Shell Swap isn't offered for ShapeShift shells. It's not unreasonable to wonder, after all; we offered it the entire time up to the release of the ShapeShift, why wouldn't we keep doing it?

The reason is because of the difference between ShapeShift shells and our Cloak series shell design.

What you'll notice about ShapeShift shells is that they are double-sided. For most configurations, there's a full-length half outer shell and a trigger guard inner shell. Other configurations use two full-length half shells, fully enclosing the gun.

By contrast, the Cloak series shell is just the outer shell. The fitment is still custom; the Cloak series shell is custom-molded for the make and model firearm you carry, but is molded via a traditional press-molding rather than injection molding, which is how the ShapeShift shell is made. A few select pistols are offered with injection-molded Cloak series shells, but most are done the traditional way.

What does that mean?!

ShapeShift products have a lot more engineering that goes into them, along with machinery, tooling and so on. A Cloak shell is pretty easily made; we press-mold a sheet of hard plastic, cut away the excess, polish it and away it goes. It only takes a few minutes. A ShapeShift shell is more complex to make as it is a much more precise item.

Additionally, the shell isn't the same. To replace the shell for a different make/model, we'd need to replace the outer shell and both inner shells - both the trigger guard and the full-length - so it isn't really feasible for us to do so at this time.

It's like the difference between changing a hubcap and switching to a whole new wheel on your car. Hubcaps are pretty easy to replace. New wheels? Not so much; you have to get the tires off the old wheels, put them on the new ones and so on.

Unfortunately, that means we can't offer the Shell Swaps for the ShapeShift holster system at this time, at least outside of the the 30 Day Test Drive trial period. Additional ShapeShift shells are, of course, available for purchase, but we can't offer the swap program for the ShapeShift line for now.

But given that the Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB is such a good concealed carry holster...is that really so bad?