The Alien Gear Cloak Shoulder Holster is compatible with over 500 guns, including many less popular models, but how does this upper body carry option stack up against other rigs?
Shoulder holsters can offer a lot of versatility with how one carries, but they’re not even an option unless you can get one that fits your gun. Holster compatibility is always something to consider when selecting a carry gun, but the choices are even more limited when looking for a shoulder rig. There’s no shortage of 1911 and Glock fits available, but those who carry slightly less popular handguns will likely face some difficulty in finding one that fits. Alien Gear has addressed this issue head-on with the Cloak Shoulder Holster, a shoulder harness system compatible with the company’s Cloak line of holsters that are available for over 500 different automatic handgun models and configurations. Depending on what you carry, the Cloak shoulder holster may be one of your only options available, but besides widescale compatibility what other qualities and quirks does this shoulder rig possess?
The primary appeal of the Cloak shoulder holster is its compatibility with so many different firearms, and this point can’t be understated. As more of a niche way to carry, shoulder rigs are often only available for a select number of models. If you carry a 5-inch 1911 or a bare-bones Glock 17, the options are nearly limitless, but for those who carry something a bit more unique or modified it can become a real challenge to even find a compatible shoulder rig.
This is where the Cloak shoulder holster has you covered. The system uses Alien Gear Cloak holster shells which are made of Kydex and custom molded to fit over 500 different models of automatic pistols and their various configurations. Everything from H&K to Hi-Point, Desert Eagles to Makarovs, Alien Gear has a Cloak for it. For this review, I requested a Browning Hi-Power model for toting around my FEG Hi-Power clone. The Hi-Power is, or at least was, extremely popular around the globe, making the lack of shoulder holster options for it frustrating. Now that Springfield has released their SA-35 clone, even more people will likely be searching for an up-top carry option that fits this nearly 90-year-old design.
The Cloak holsters are also made to accommodate modified or rarer versions of more common guns. Certain railed pistols can be ordered to fit specific accessories such as a Streamlight TLR-1 or Crimson Trace Defender. Alien Gear also went the extra mile to ensure the model you select is a true fit for your specific gun. While other holsters may leave the description at “Sig P220”, Alien Gear’s site differentiates between variants like the P220 Carry and P220r which have features that may make them incompatible with standard Kydex P220 holsters. With the Cloak shoulder holster, as long as you can find your gun’s exact model designation in the massive list of options, you know it will be a solid fit.
Cloak Shoulder Holster Features
As a modular system, when ordering the Cloak shoulder holster one has a few different options to choose from. The rig can be ordered either left or right-handed with the choice of either a holster or mag carrier on either side. It can also be ordered with two holsters or two mag carriers, but obviously this option is less practical than having one of each. The magazine carriers can be ordered to fit common sizes of both single and double-stack mags as well as for 5.7 to accommodate FN and Ruger models in that caliber. The carriers use tension to retain the mags and must be adjusted to securely fit your magazines’ specific thickness. Again, due to the modular nature of the design, my 9mm double stack mag carriers came adjusted for a .40 and had to be significantly tightened for proper retention.
Both the holster and mag carrier are adjustable for cant too, ensuring that the user can find the best angle for their draw as well as the rig’s concealment. The Cloak shoulder holster’s straps are also adjustable for size and each side of the rig includes detachable, optional belt hooks.
The Cloak shoulder holster is made using a combination of English bridle leather and CoolVent neoprene, and the rig is available in either brown or black.
The Cloak’s Qualities
It bears mentioning again that it’s the Cloak’s massive list of compatible guns that gives it its greatest appeal. I challenge you to find another off-the-shelf Kydex shoulder rig that has an option for the Ruger 57 with a red dot, or any other of the Cloak’s more obscure fits. But just because the holster fits your gun doesn’t make it one worth wearing, so what other qualities does the Cloak have to offer?
Firstly, the Kydex holster provides excellent retention once properly adjusted. Upon receiving the Cloak rig the holster was slightly too tight for my gun, but after some minor loosening it fit like a glove. It could be adjusted tight enough to solely rely on retention, but the holster also includes an optional thumb-break strap for those who may want it looser for an easier draw. The thumb strap also provides extra safety on SAO guns that are carried cocked and locked, which is what I did with my Hi-Power.
After adjusting my preferred cant angle I found drawing the pistol from the Cloak to be extremely fast and easy. Not as fast as appendix carry can potentially be of course, as shoulder holsters are slower by nature due to their cross-draw design, but fast enough to eliminate concerned about speed during a defensive encounter.
Even with the holster’s retention set relatively tight, I found the belt hooks superfluous. On some shoulder holsters that lack them, attempting to draw can often pull the holster with the gun and blunder the process. On the Cloak shoulder holster, however, drawing was still very seamless without the straps installed. I prefer shoulder holsters that are usable without these straps to enable more casual carry without the need for a belt, so in this department Alien Gear nailed it.
The belt straps are as easily removable as adjusting the holster’s cant is, both use the same system. Asymmetrically shaped pegs secure the holster, mag carrier and belt straps to the rig, and they can be removed simply by rotating the pegs about 180 degrees and pulling them out of their respective holes. Reinstalling them is the same process in reverse.
Once the rig’s straps have been adjusted to your size, the Cloak shoulder holster is quite comfortable to wear. It has wide, padded straps that distribute the weight well, even with a full-size, all-steel pistol like the Hi-Power. I was able to wear it all day without getting too tired of it, and with the right kind of jacket it can conceal very well too.
The Cloak’s Quirks
No product is perfect, and there is a certain amount of subjectivity in worn items like shoulder holsters, but I do have some complaints with the Cloak that are worth mentioning.
One of the first things one must do upon purchasing a Cloak shoulder holster is adjust the straps to fit, and this is where I first encountered some frustration. The straps’ extra length is secured using hex screws that go through holes in the leather, meaning that for each of the four straps you want to adjust you will need to unscrew and reinstall two of these. This is something one will likely only have to do once, but it is a pain, especially when other shoulder rigs have simpler ways of retaining extra strap length.
The Cloak was also one of the loudest pieces of leather I’ve ever dealt with. The first time I put it on I was worried my neighbors were going to hear it squeaking with every breath I took. Even the slightest of movements released a cacophony of sounds from the holster’s thick leather hide. We all focus so much on the visual side of concealment that we often overlook the need for silence as well. I’m happy to report that after wearing the rig a decent amount in the three weeks since I received it, it has quietened up quite a bit. It’s still not silent, but I have faith that with continued use the stiff leather will eventually get tamed. Applying some oil would also likely expedite the process.
The least comfortable aspect of the Cloak shoulder holster is one that only surfaces while shooting with it on. The wide neck straps’ edges are lined with neoprene, the padding of which is comfortable on the body but less so directly on the skin. I found that aiming a pistol with a two-handed shooting grip while wearing the rig resulted in the edges of the straps digging into my neck. The discomfort would be tolerable for a brief emergency situation, but if you were planning on wearing your Cloak to the range to train in it you may find shooting to be quite annoying because of this.
My final observation may be unique to my specific Hi-Power, but because it could affect safety, I thought it was worth mentioning. When carrying cocked and locked with the manual safety engaged and the thumb strap installed, the action of breaking the thumb strap consistently also disengages the manual safety on my gun. While this technically does make drawing faster and simpler, for safety’s sake it would still be preferable if the safety stayed engaged until the gun was fully drawn and presented. Odds are this is unique to my old FEG, but if it happens to your cocked and locked pistol too it could be carried without the thumb strap installed to prevent this from happening. Or, if it doesn’t bother you, one could view it as a feature rather than a bug that has the potential to speed up your draw time.
The Cloak shoulder holster has an MSRP of $193.88, making it neither the most expensive nor cheapest shoulder rig available. For the money, you get a very modular and versatile setup that could be used with multiple different guns as long as you have the compatible Alien Gear holster shell for it. If you carry a weird gun and want a shoulder holster for it, the Cloak is definitely worth considering. One could otherwise order a custom rig made, and it will likely be a bit more comfortable to wear, but it will also be more expensive, less modular and almost certainly use leather for the holster portion. The potential speed of drawing from retention Kydex offers a big advantage over leather and will likely be this holster’s biggest appeal besides its numerous available fits. The Cloak shoulder holster can be a bit of a pain to initially set up and break in, but once that’s out of the way it offers a comfortable way to concealed carry some of the more unique guns in your collection.
For more on Alien Gear, please visit aliengearholsters.com.
More On Shoulder Holsters And CCW
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