While it is very likely one would never forget to clean and maintain their EDC firearm, it is important to extend similar care and attention to ones holster to ensure continued optimal performance and retention. Due to the close relationship between ones pistol and it's holster regular holster upkeep can aid in keeping your pistol in top performance shape as well. This article will cover the cleaning and maintenance of Alien Gear Holsters.
The vast majority of our holsters are "hybrid" holsters, which use two or more materials as opposed to full leather holsters or Kydex wrap holsters. We'll also cover the Roswell, Rapid Force and Grip Tuck Holsters as well as the care of the different materials that make up our holsters.
It is important to inspect your equipment regularly to ensure functionality; this should be done as often as the firearm is cleaned as a general guideline but a good visual health check of the holster once a week can catch and mitigate any issues preemptively. Check screws to ensure they are in place and reapplying a medium retention thread lock, such as blue Loctite or even clear nail polish if loose. Ensure belt clips are in good condition, along with any moving parts such as retention devices. Check for any cracks, chips, frays or potential failure points. With our Shells, stress fractures will almost always appear long before the point of failure if regular maintenance is performed. Flexing the shell will show small fractures or cracks.
Cleaning the Shell:
Whether the Cloak Series or the ShapeShift Series is used, the shell should be removed from the base and cleaned with a sanitizing wipe, damp soft cloth or otherwise dusted inside and out. Cotton swabs may be helpful in cleaning out small crevices.
Removing dust, dirt and dead skin cells from the inside of the holster can mitigate holster burn or general wear and tear on the firearm. If these contaminants are present they can create spots of micro-abrasions where the pistol and shell come into contact with each other. These spots usually manifest as a shiny or buffed spot on the pistol. Dust and debris act as a sanding agent and can create the above mentioned "holster burn". While the materials used on our holsters is softer than the materials used for firearms, embedded grit or sand particles will absolutely scratch finishes over time if not cleaned and removed.
The gun side of the base can be wiped off with that same sanitizing wipe or soft damp cloth. The thermoplastic elastomer used is resistant to wear and tear over time. Dust will accumulate around the spacers of our Cloak Tuck IWB holsters and can be pulled off and wiped down. If the edge binding is frayed, it can be touched up with a lighter to prevent further fraying.
NOTE: Fraying edge binding is generally not covered under our Forever warranty as it is a cosmetic issue and should not affect the over all performance of the holster.
Neoprene composite backers, which ride against the body, should be periodically cleaned to prevent smell. It is recommended to wipe the neoprene with a damp cloth and use a mild detergent to work into the neoprene, such as dish soap. The holster can then be rinsed or wiped off until there is no soap residue. Let air dry. Due to the steel core, the neoprene composite backer is not machine or dishwasher safe.
Over time, leather breaks in around your body and firearm taking on a "custom" shape to where it is worn and the specific firearm. The leather can be cleaned with saddle soap or leather cleaner, and followed up with a leather conditioner if desired. Some conditioners can darken the leather so it is recommended to test in an inconspicuous area of the holster, though natural leather will darken over time regardless.
The above example is a warranty replacement that was initiated due to the leather breaking in too much on the "combat cut" or "ear" area that covers the slide of the firearm. It is a good representation of a holster that has been used every day for many years.
With our leather holsters and early versions of our neoprene composites, the back of the holster has exposed hardware that may need to be replaced if the hardware coating is worn off. Replacement parts are included with the holster.
Rapid Force/Roswell (Full Wrap Holsters):
The injection molded shells used for both our Rapid Force Holsters (Duty and Lvl 2 Slim), as well as our Roswell Holsters are a premium engineered polymer that stands up against the harshest conditions. The below video covers the cleaning and maintenance of our Rapid Force Duty Holster, but applies to any of our full wrap and injection molded shells and holsters.
As covered in the video, the holsters can be cleaned with soap and water with a soft brush to clear any debris in the nooks and crannies and then air dried.
Holster screws should be inspected and tightened if needed. Medium retention thread locker should be reapplied as needed. Rapid force and Level 2 Slim holsters are not recommended to be fully disassembled.
NOTE: Moisture is not a friend to firearms! If liquid is used to clean the holster, it is imperative that all holster parts are thoroughly dry before re-holstering to avoid corrosion. Use an air compressor or canned air to blow any moisture out of hard to reach areas. The holster base should be air dried and never put into a clothes drier, microwave, convection oven etc.
Grip Tuck Universal Holsters:
Grip Tuck IWB Holsters and the Grip Tuck Mag Carrier features a grippy, textured outer material and is lined with thermoplastic elastomer. These holsters can be washed on a delicate cycle and dried on a low heat setting or hand washed and air dried if preferred.
Maintenance is relatively straight forward; inspect the holster to ensure the stitching is intact and the belt clip and its insert is in good condition.
This is a guide to holster maintenance best practices from our perspective and hopefully serves to answer any questions. While these are what we recommend we do realize that there are many ways to keep clean equipment. If there are questions with upkeep and maintenance not covered in this article please feel free to reach out to our customer service team for assistance.