Off the top of your head, in how many types of shooting do you participate? If it’s any more than one, you’re going to need more gear. The unfortunate nature of firearms is that each discipline requires its own set of tools. If you want to run your favorite Glock 19 in both a concealed carry class and a competition, you’d need two holsters. Or would you? Alien Gear’s newest holster is more than a concealment holster; it’s three. This is the electromagnetic Photon Holster.
The Photon Holster: Specifications
The Photon’s body is made from injection-molded polymer. Despite the holster’s sub $50 price-tag, the material used is the same as what’s used to create Alien Gear’s duty holsters. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, mine is the light-bearing version, but you can also get one that works without a light. Mine is made for my custom third generation Glock 19. I’ve equipped this pistol with a Holosun 508T red dot and a Nightstick TCM-550XL weapon light.
As is typical from Alien Gear, the Photon is available for a sizable number of handguns. These include full-size firearms from Glock, Zev, Shadow Systems, and more, as well as micro nines like the Sig Sauer P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro. If you shoot with the wrong hand, there is no left-handed option. That’s because the holster is ambidextrous, and can switch sides with a simple hardware flip. It also comes with a cover to plug the unused holes.
Also included is the concealment claw. The Alien Gear website says this is an optional piece, but I’d say it’s necessary if you really take your concealment seriously. A claw is the easiest way to enhance your ability to carry without printing. You do you, though.
More concealed carry from Alien Gear
Riding Behind the Belt
The first of the three configurations is the Photon in its IWB configuration. The clip that came on the holster is designed for 1.5” belts, but there was also a 1.75” clip in the box. In this configuration, the holster is at its most versatile. I primarily carry in the appendix position, meaning the holster rides in the crease between my groin and right hip bone. However, there are times when I might carry at the 3 o’clock position. For example, shooting IDPA competition means AIWB is off the table. Also, when I’m hiking and carrying concealed, I typically move my gun to my hip to allow for more mobility.
A quick note on the Nightstick TCM-550XL. Obviously, there are other lights that are great for concealed carry, but the TCM-550XL keeps the package tight, while not compromising on power or features. They’re not the first to do it, but I love the lockout feature. Twist the bezel (the ring around the lens) to lock the light, preventing accidental activation and loss of battery life.
Riding Behind the Belt (With Benefits)
I carry near 100 percent of my days in the appendix position and I’ve had the best luck with dedicated AIWB holsters. That’s why I consider this an additional holster and not just an accessory. The sidecar is optional, but if you carry up front, I consider it mandatory. I’m not going to spend the time explaining why the stereotypical “problems” with AIWB are mostly fabrications. One that I will address is comfort. I’ve been told that it’s an uncomfortable position when it comes to being seated. This was true at first, but what I found is that ride height is the secret. If the height is right, the holster will sit in the crease between your legs and lower torso. Fortunately, the Photon’s ride height is adjustable, as are cant and retention.
The sidecar is more than a magazine carrier. Having a second point of contact on your belt gives you a much more secure rig. Objectively, that’s a second clip that needs to be removed or destroyed for your firearm to fall off or be taken. Subjectively, it just feels really locked in. This also spreads the weight of your pistol and magazine out along yor belt, making it feel less like its pulling on your belt. Lastly, reloads from the appendix position are like lightning compared to pulling your spare from a pocket.
We’ve all heard it, and I’ve even wrote a couple articles about it. “If you carry appendix, you’ll shoot your junk off.” Not true. If you race to reholster and get clothing caught in your triggerguard, or use a subpar holster, you’ll shoot your junk off. The Photon, being made of such a rigid material, always stays open. This makes reholstering quick and easy, though only one of those traits is something you should be concerned with.
Out of This World…and My Waistband
Outside-the-waistband carry, like all other things in this world, has pros and cons. I’m not here to talk about open carry. I’m afraid of the enenies I’d make if I shared my opinion on that specific…issue. However, plenty of people carry concealed with their defensive firearm on the outsde of their pants. Its only requirement is a cover garment like a shirt or jacket. I don’t typically carry this way, but everyone has different needs. Age, fitness level, medical considerations, and plain ol’ comfort make OWB carry a great option for many people. One of the biggest benefits, aside from comfort, is speed. Drawing from the hip is so practiced, most of us can fall into carrying this way with ease. The Photon might come to you as an IWB holster, but it easily becomes an OWB holster with the turn of two screws. This turns it into a paddle holster.
I love this part of the Photon. This means that if you want to compete or take a course with your carry gun, you have the option of running it from outside the belt. Some classes require this. If you ever find yourself needing to use a gun to protect yourself, chances are it’ll be your carry gun. This OWB conversion makes training for that day much easier and safer. No more training with your full-size race gun but carrying your micro pistol. Train, train, train!
It’s Elementary: The Photon Holster
My time with the Photon has been a pleasure. It looks bulky, but melts into your carry system once it’s employed properly. I love that there are light-bearing options available. Lately, I’ve been pushing carrying with a light, and this holster makes that a more attainable standard for new and experienced shooters to reach. If you’re looking for one holster that can do everything, this is the one I’d recommend. In fact, I do! I’ve been recommending the Photon to all of my concealed carry students.
If you’re interested in any of the gear seen in this article, here you go!
About the Author: Nic Lenze has been training primarily in defensive pistol shooting for the past several years. He also teaches concealed handgun permit classes in his home state of Colorado. He maintains an unwavering belief in the natural right of all people to protect their lives.