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Polymer holsters like the shapeshift are better than kydex

Why Polymer Holsters Beat Standard Kydex Holsters

With any new idea, including open and concealed carry holsters, there will be concern about change.

This is an issue with innovation.

Trust is built over time, but when classic construction, design and materials are disrupted by something new, people are naturally concerned and worried about trustworthiness and efficacy.

Changing the carry world with the ShapeShift modular holster

One piece of feedback constantly provided to Alien Gear Holsters: there are multiple moving parts in the new ShapeShift Modular Holster System — are they safe for everyday carry?

Yes, and here's why.

The ShapeShift Modular Holster Parts

Sure, the ShapeShift Modular Holster System feels like the adult version of Legos.

At least, that's what people say in comment threads.

Their resulting concern is valid and, well, to be expected when the idea of holsters had been predicated upon layers of leather and thread for generations, only to recently be disrupted by thermoplastics and other synthetic materials.

ShapeShift parts are a bit different than typical kydex variants.

Each part is a proprietary polymer blend — a variation of that stuff in many modern striker-fired handgun variants.

The thing about polymer is that it's abrasion, impact, heat and cold resistant. It has performance characteristics chosen to withstand heavy abuse.

High quality, engineered materials are molten and injected into molds designed to maintain structural integrity in even the most intense stress tests.

The number of pieces in each carry style will vary.

The Shape Shift Shell, however, only comes in two configurations.

    The half-shell configuration includes:
  • One half shell
  • One trigger guard component
  • Two twist locks
  • One adjustable retention unit
  • An optional thumb release

This is for IWB, AIWB and belt slide configurations. They connect to each backer with a single clip that locks the half-shell to the backer.

Once locked in place, the shell doesn't back out.

There are no materials that will corrode or oxidize.

It's not bolted.

Shift Shell half shell configuration

The Shift Shell stays as is at the exact level of retention tuned in with the adjustable retention unit, which is tightened or loosened with a twist lock.

    The full-shell configuration includes:
  • Two half shells
  • Two twist locks
  • One adjustable retention unit
  • One rotating adapter
  • An optional thumb release

The two half shells are locked together and secured to a respective component for an OWB paddle, drop leg, MOLLE or holster mount.

Naturally, people have gotten used to metal bolts holding a shell together or to a backer, and grew to trust that style through everyday carry.

Seeing those phased out of a holster design can cause concern.

But, each component here has been thoroughly stress-tested to withstand rigorous abuse.

Shift Shell full shell configuration

The Security And Testing Of Our Polymer Holsters

Rotating adapter on the shapeshift

There is one particular aspect of this polymer holster system that has gained attention for its ratio of size to perceived strength: the rotating adapter.

It's used to lock the full-shell configuration to components for the ShapeShift OWB Paddle, ShapeShift Holster Mount, ShapeShift Backpack Holster, ShapeShift MOLLE Holster and ShapeShift Drop Leg Holster.

One Alien Gear Product Designer shed some light on the strength of the rotating adapter itself in the ShapeShift OWB Paddle Holster.

"If you grab the handle of the gun and pull out away from your body the holster generally fails around 100-200 pound-inches of torque," he said. "If you try to pull the holster straight out of the socket it will run you 300 pounds. Both of these are surprisingly difficult to achieve when the paddle is mounted on your body."

Like every other aspect of Alien Gear Holsters, it's subjected to a research and development process called "highly accelerated life testing" or HALT.

This is a process of stress-testing products and designs to the point of failure during the prototyping phase.

Weaknesses are found. The design changes. A new product is made.

This is done several times over with each carry style in the ShapeShift Modular Holster System to improve the reliability of each.

Each element, piece and aspect of all these holsters is pushed to the point of failure over and over and over again to discover weaknesses early and eliminate them from the design and/or choose new materials.

The process is ruthless.

Nothing escapes scrutiny.

Despite how intensive and time-consuming the process is, the outcome is a holster that rivals the technical engineering of the very handgun it's designed to carry.

About The Author

Jake Smith gun blog writer