Open Carry Holsters And Open Carriers
Open carriers — they're a proud and opinionated group. They know what they want out of an OWB paddle holster.
We've made a couple worth their time.
In April of 2016, Alien Gear Holsters released the Cloak Mod OWB Holster. A year later in July of 2017, the ShapeShift OWB Paddle Holster was released.
But, there are structural, functional and material differences between the two that are worth considering.
Physical differences between the ShapeShift and Cloak Mod OWB Paddle holsters
There are differences in materials, construction and dimensions in both the ShapeShift OWB Paddle Holster and the Cloak Mod OWB Holster.
The ShapeShift option is made (in America) out of proprietary, injection-molded polymer that's impact, heat and abrasion resistant.
This polymer blend is akin to the kind seen in many modern striker-fired semi-autos. The shell envelops the handgun's slide and trigger guard on both sides.
Note that this polymer shell is now on Cloak Mod holsters for the Glock 19, 23, 32 and 38, as well as the Shield 9 and .40, but otherwise a molded boltaron shell is installed on the Cloak Mod.
While the ShapeShift OWB Paddle Holster is almost completely made from injection-molded polymer blends, the Cloak Mod is not.
Under the shell, which can be swapped for different handgun models, the Cloak Mod has a thermo-elastomer retention membrane with a steel flex plate beneath.
They each use the same paddle clip and the same belt slide attachment, in either flexible or rigid options, made for 1.5 or 1.75-inch belt sizes.
The Cloak Mod sits closer to the body than the ShapeShift Paddle Holster, but the ShapeShift takes up less space across the waistline than the Cloak Mod.
Neither are explicitly made for concealed carry, but many will find the Cloak Mod to be the more concealable of the two.
The ShapeShift, however, functionally has the upper hand.
ShapeShift Paddle and Cloak Mod Paddle Holster Functional Differences
The ShapeShift Paddle Holster is part of an entire modular holster system, so it actually has the ability to transition into any of the other ShapeShift carry styles, which include IWB, AIWB, OWB belt slide, backpack, MOLLE and drop leg.
However, the Cloak Mod is also compatible with the ShapeShift MOLLE adapter and the drop leg system.
A notable difference between the ShapeShift and Cloak Mod paddle holsters is the retention system.
The Cloak Mod has four points where passive retention can be tightened or loosened with a hex key — two above the slide and two below the trigger guard.
The ShapeShift Paddle Holster similarly has a passive retention system, but the full shell configuration completely encloses the handgun with a polymer shell, whereas the Cloak Mod has a shell that presses one side of the firearm toward the retention membrane.
The ShapeShift's passive retention unit is tuned tighter or loose at a single point with one of the twist locks on the holster.
No need for a hex key.
The ShapeShift Paddle Holster also has an optional active retention thumb release, making it a level two holster. The Cloak Mod does not.
To add to that security, each paddle clip has a retention lip to ward against the holster being forcibly removed from the waistline.
The Cloak Mod can be canted forward and backward 15 degrees, but the ShapeShift Paddle Holster has 360 degrees of rotation in 12-degree increments.
Both the Clock Mod and the ShapeShift Paddle Holster have their own holster mounting systems to store the holster off the body on a secure surface like a desk or in a car.
The ShapeShift has the upper hand here, however, given that it is removed from the waistline and secured to the mount with the click of a button, a process that takes moments.
Though, the Cloak Mod is compatible with more handguns — over 500.
The Shape Shift Shell is part of an entirely new injection-molding system, so it has limited availability while a dedicated team works on the process of building new molds.
This process takes longer than molding boltaron or kydex shells because the machinery is much more technically advanced.
This translates to the quality of the holster.
The release schedule on new Shape Shift Shells can be reviewed here.
The decision between the ShapeShift and Cloak Mod is really up to your situational needs and preferences. They're both built to last.
Choosing Between The Paddle Holsters: Final Considerations
The price point on each of these paddle holsters is a difference of $2.
But, the ShapeShift OWB Paddle Holster has a higher value when its functionality is factored into the equation. The ability to be reconfigured into multiple different carry styles in moments gives it a bit more latitude than its predecessor.
There is a lifetime warranty on each and a 30-day test drive. The Cloak Mod includes free shell trades for life, but the ShapeShift does not, due to the shells' construction.
Either way, each holster is built to withstand rigorous conditions and secure your last line of defense.