I switched to appendix carry last year, and ever since then, I’ve been carrying in a Dark Star Gear Orion holster using a flat foam wedge. But I was fortunate enough to pickup a Phlster Enigma around the first of this year, and I finally got around to tweaking so it works for me. That may seem a bit unusual, as holsters are just plug and play, right?
Not the Enigma.
First, let’s review what a good concealed carry holster should do.
- Hold the gun securely
- Stay in one place on your body
- Covers trigger
- Provide a safe means for re-holstering
The Enigma doesn’t use a belt to hold it in place on your body. This sounds simple at first, but in reality, it changes everything. With a conventional holster, (AIWB, OWB, whatever), you figure out the optimal location for your gun on two axis: Where the holster should go on your belt, and how much it should cant in or out so you can grip the gun without printing too much.
The Enigma, however, adds a third axis: The placement of the holster up or down your torso. With a normal holster, that’s a given: It’s on your belt, and it will never not be on your belt. With an Enigma, that fact is up for grabs, and learning where to locate your holster vertically on your body is a big part of the learning curve.
For some, this curve is gentle and flat. These people tend to wear a lot of soft, loose clothing that interfaces but lightly with the Enigma. Their clothes place no pressure on the holster itself, and as a result, the Enigma works perfectly with their yoga pants or sweats or scrubs.
Which, if I’m honest, has been my experience with the Enigma as well. I’ve worn the holster while working out and doing chores around the house, and it works spectacularly well with a pair of gym shorts. Where the challenge was for me was getting it work with more formal clothes.
As I said, the good news with the Enigma is you can put almost anywhere you want on the front part of your torso. The bad news? The same. Working out how a holster that doesn’t require a belt was going to interface with my clothing when I wore a belt took a little effort. On top of that, it’s effort that I myself had to figure out. There is a Facebook group dedicated to Phlster holsters which guided my journey, but everyone’s body is unique, so the journey was mine, not theirs.
The Enigma really shows you how everyone’s body is different, but despite this, I was able to work things out. I found that if I moved the belt up to almost the small of my back, it provided the front of the chassis with the right angle to mesh with my belt. The gun rides a little bit higher on my body in an Enigma than it did when I was using my old holster, a Dark Star Gear Orion. This means that I get a slightly better grip on the gun during the draw, and it seemed like I was getting my sights on-target faster as well. I’m running about two tenths of a second faster on the draw in dry fire with the Enigma than I was with my old rig.
Is it worth it? Yes, especially if you’re the type of person who rarely wears clothing with belt loops. The holster is ridiculously comfortable and rides easy all day long. Is it for everyone? No. A good AIWB holster will work just fine if you have belt loops, or if you’re not concerned about the deep concealment options that an Enigma gives you. And that’s where the Enigma really shines: It opens up concealed carry to a segment of the population that have never really had a good choice in holsters prior to the arrival of the Enigma. The words “game changer” get tossed around a lot, but that’s what the Enigma is for a large part of the concealed carry market in America.