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ShapeShift reducing holster buk and printing

Use a ShapeShift IWB Holster to Prevent Bulk

One of the criticisms some people have about IWB holsters is that of holster bulk meaning that the holster itself is larger than it seemingly should be in terms of width and depth to hold a pistol. It can definitely get annoying, as you become acutely aware of a goiter inside the waistband.

Printing with a concealed carry holster

Ironically, a lot of holsters get wider wings and thicker material to carry more comfortably, which ends up being less comfortable.

However, this attribute is part of what we designed the ShapeShift for. We put the typical IWB holster and AIWB holster on a diet.

Here's how:

Inside The Waistband Holster Size

The contributing factors to holster bulk is the footprint inside the waistband of the holster itself.

Now, one of the things you should bear in mind is holster design in and of itself. There are a few different types, of course, but one of the most popular IWB designs is the "winged" IWB holster. While there are leather and and other materials such a holster can be made from, it's most popular with hybrid holsters such as those made by us and other holster companies.

Cloak Tuck 3.0 vs ShapeShift 4.0

It's easy to see why; it's easy to make a functional hybrid holster this way.

That said, the reason WHY such a design is popular is that the "wings" spread the clips out and thus distribute weight a bit better than a tuckable pancake design, such as many leather or kydex pancake holsters, thus making it a bit easier to wear. Such holsters put all the gun's weight in one spot, whereas winged holsters spread it out a little more. However, it also means there's more space taken up inside the waistband.

Why don't more companies make them smaller, you ask?

Mostly because the width relates to the height. A very narrow holster for a compact to full-size pistol, you see, will wind up being very tall. A Government-frame 1911 will put upward of 4 inches below the top of the waistband. The carrier, therefore, will have exchanged lateral space for horizontal.

However, devising the ShapeShift Modular Holster System gave us the means to reduce the overall holster footprint.

How Does the ShapeShift Cut the Holster Bulk?

When we devised the ShapeShift, the shell design gave us the means to reduce overall holster bulk, putting the traditional IWB hybrid holster on a diet (does your holster even lift, bro?) so to speak.

The ShapeShift's ShiftShell incorporates full trigger guard coverage, fully wrapping around the pistol. What sets it apart from other IWB holsters is that the backer doesn't hold the pistol; the backer attaches the holster to the wearer. The holster shell itself is what holds the gun, which docks to the backing platform. The backer just holds the holster in place.

Full ShiftShell sitting on the backer

Full ShiftShell for the Glock 26 sitting on the ShapeShift 4.0 IWB backer

ShiftShell with Trigger Guard Cover attachment on IWB Backer

ShiftShell for the Glock 26 with Trigger Guard attachment on IWB 4.0 Backer

The upshot of this is that less backing material is needed. The overall footprint of the holster is significantly reduced.

By how much, though?

It partially depends; holster sizes vary by pistol size. However, here are some measurements that will give you an idea in the reduction:

A compact Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster base is 9 ⅝ inches wide by 7 inches tall by ¼-inch wide. Tightened to a normal retention setting, the holster shell is 1 ⅜ inches tall from the top of the backer, for a total overall height of 1 ⅝ inches. This is for the typical double-stack compact, such as a Glock 19, S&W M&P9c, SCCY CPX-2, Taurus PT111 G2 or similar gun.

Comparison of the ShapeShift vs the 3.0

The ShapeShift IWB backer for this size of pistol, however, measures 8 3/32 inches wide, 7 ⅛ inches tall, but also ¼" deep. However, the shell height is reduced by ¼ inch, for a total height (from the rear of the backer) of 1 ⅜ inches tall.

Appendix Carry Holster

The Alien Gear AIWB holster is likewise smaller in this respect than comparable holster models.

In case you haven't purchased or your gun isn't available in the ShapeShift yet, this is an aspect that many satisfied buyers have appreciated about the ShapeShift so far.

ShapeShift Gives You Balance Between Comfort And Function

The reason, of course, why many IWB holsters are considered "bulky" is that they're designed to be comfortable. There are other holsters out there that will take up less space, but not all of them offer much retention or don't offer adjustable retention.

The ShapeShift does, being custom-molded to the contours of the pistol you order it for and having fully adjustable passive retention.

the ShiftShell perfectly molded to your pistol

Ruthlessly minimalist holsters may take up a bit less room, this is true. However, it can come at a cost. Leather can get quite warm in the hotter months (and especially in areas known for getting very warm in the summertime) and will start soaking up sweat after so long. Unlike other materials, like neoprene, there's no washing the stink out of leather.

Neoprene backed holster

Other materials, such as hard plastics, aren't the most comfortable when worn against bare skin. Some people don't mind it, but there are plenty of people that have tried a smaller holster only to find they need to wear two or three shirts to live with it. The ShapeShift, with it's Cool Vent perforated neoprene, cushions but also wicks away moisture.

Less bulk, more comfort, and better retention. That's quite a selling point.

If you get the entire ShapeShift Core Carry Pack, you also get the appendix carry holster and a belt slide and paddle OWB holsters. That's a lot more than you get anywhere else, all with Alien Gear's Iron Clad Guarantee.


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Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.