holster retention adjustments for everyday carry

Personal Holster Preference Matters

They guide the way Alien Gear Holsters functions and impacts the very functionality of the products we feverishly work countless, immeasurable hours to craft.

And results of those real conversations are questions that unfold in customer service, a buzzing room I pass through every morning where verbally dextrous folks give concealed carry tips at the drop of a hat.

One question they often get from new gun owners or everyday carriers new to our equipment: How do you personalize a holster straight out of the box to improve its hold on the firearm for a comfortable draw and safe retention?

The answer is simple.

Customized Holster Adjustments For Your Alien Gear Holster

The Cloak Mod, Cloak Tuck 3.0, Classic Cloak Tuck and Cloak Slide all have distinct traits that allow them to serve different purposes, but there's a key attribute prevalent throughout each system: custom holster improvements.

If the question is: how do I get my holster to fit my firearm right out of the box? Then there are a few bits of information you need to know.

The shell on these holsters is a heat-activated synthetic material called boltaron — highly durable, insanely true-to-form over its lifespan.

This thick substance, when heated for a specific amount of time at a high enough temperature, is pressed to fit the exact dimensions of individual handgun makes and models.

It's a fairly lengthy process to make that possible.

From that point, the shell is deemed "swappable" (which means it's compatible across those four holster platforms, but each shell is made for each specific order placed, not in advance) and it's bolted to the backers, be them leather or a hybrid combination of neoprene, spring steel, ballistic nylon and thermoplastic elastomer.

Medium retention adjustment on an Alien Gear Holster

The places where it's fixed to the backers are more than just screws: they're individual points to dial in retention, which is the degree to which a holster shell grips a handgun.

There are four of these on each of those holsters. They can be individually tightened or loosened to raise or lower the shell closer and further from the backer at that specific point.

What's the point of that?

Why Holster Adjustments Are Necessary

Glock 19 with personalized retention

Well, based on the design of those specific holsters, the shell is clamped to the gun that it's fitted to and by altering passive retention, the gun owner can personalize how the gun fits.

Out of the box, sure it will absolutely fit the gun, but it won't be tuned to your personal preferences.

It might feel too loose for some people. A decocker lever may be pressing inside on the backer in a particular way.

That's the thing about gun ownership that you're well aware of at this point: there's variability in handguns and even more variability in gun owners' tastes.

A holster is designed to be as versatile as possible, while simultaneously as honed to each individual handgun as is within our very capable holster designers' abilities.

They are the most analytically thoughtful gun owners that I've ever come across — each day is spent thinking about improving open and concealed carry techniques, something furthered by the customer service team.

"What we recommend is when you first get your holster, loosen up all of the screws. All of the screws all the way out, and then just tighten them down maybe a half turn each," Wayne from our customer service team said, an idea that originated with Jim who sits in front of him.

Adjusting Alien Gear Holsters hardware

"This will give you a neutral area to look at in order to personalize each retention point. This will be the best way to figure where you need to tighten."

He said because of that reason, your preferred retention level on each screw will differ from others', which is built into the design of the holster.

Starting adjustments on a Cloak Mod Paddle Holster

"With the Cloak Mod, it's easier because you don't have to place this on your side to make those adjustments. The Cloak Tuck series, though, you need to make those adjustments and be sure not to cinch them down all the way because once you place it on your body, you're creating more retention that's going to press up against the firearm from the inside," Wayne explained.

"When you go to unholster, the body's presence against the backer is going to double the retention. You need to find a middle point where it's a little loose when it's off your body and once you place it on, you need to see where that retention level is. Then make your retention adjustments from there."

Soft, but resilient, spacers beneath the screws will react to that pressure. There are different sized spacers included with the holster to make it even more personalized.

Small holster spacer
Medium holster spacer
large holster spacer

Why is this necessary out of the box? Shouldn't that be solved before you buy it?

As much as we want to say that we live, breathe and identify with most of the same lifestyle habits as you all, we are not you.

You have different preferences on how tight or loose the firearm is. By tightening the screws near the trigger guard, it can better hug against it and reduce what Wayne calls "trigger rock," which is a byproduct of a loose passive retention wherein although the shell is fitted to the handgun's specific trigger guard, loose passive retention raises the shell away from the handgun's placement in the holster.

Tightening each passive retention point will improve the level at which the boltaron shell clamps down on the handgun.

It's a design characteristic that shifts a fundamental element of gun ownership back to you: control over how and what you carry.

gun blog writer jake smith

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.