U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- When I first learned that Alien Gear was jumping into the duty holster game, I was intrigued. While their hybrid holsters have a massive presence in the concealed carry market, my experiences had not been terribly impressive to this point. That being said, I’m always open to new ideas and thought I’d give the Alien Gear Rapid Force a fair shot to see how it compares to the competition. How does it stack up after several months of testing?
Setting the Stage
My perspective on this review is not that of law enforcement or an open carrier, who needs a duty-grade holster. For something like that, you would need a larger sample size and a more consistent testing methodology. Instead, I am viewing this as someone who competes and trains with OWB holsters from time to time. Someone who prefers the features in a duty-style holster, and finds themselves in venues where that is sometimes required. How does the Rapid Force line up with my expectations?
Construction and Design of the Alien Gear Rapid Force
The Alien Gear Rapid Force is a fairly conventional duty style holster. Visually speaking, it gives off similar vibes to the Safariland 7XXX series, commonly referred to as “buckets”. I opted for a light-bearing, optic ready version for the Glock 17 model. One of the interesting design features is the significant number of screws holding the two sides of the holster together. Prior to testing, I witness marked all screws to alert me to any movement, though all screws have remained firmly in place as of this review. Even though these screws have not posed issue, I would highly suggest witness marking all screws on every piece of gear and regularly checking them for movement.
I selected a light bearing holster for review, which is an additional fee. Alien Gear touts compatibility with a wide range of weapon lights, such as the Surefire X300U, Streamlight TLR-1, Inforce APL, and more. As with most light bearing holsters, there is a bit of a gap near the trigger guard. Due to this, I could get my finger on the trigger at very specific angles, but I also have fairly thin fingers which helps. This is something to be aware of, but I don’t think it is a significant issue thanks to the very limited access to the trigger with the Rapid Force.
The Rapid Force uses Alien Gear’s Patented Gross Motor Response (GMR™) retention control system for level 2 retention. This active retention locks via the ejection port, and is deactived by swiping downward on a lever with your thumb. Those familiar with the Safariland ALS system will notice similarities in the placement and motion between the ALS and GMR, making for an easy transition between the two. While the GMR has a significant range of motion, the large lever helps to make this a simple operation for those with smaller hands. Retention is automatically activated upon holstering the pistol.
In addition to the GMR, Alien Gear offers a level 3 hood for the Rapid Force for an additional cost, though I opted out of that for my holster. There is also a small range of adjustments for the passive retention of the holster. Near the muzzle end of the holster you’ll find a set screw which will tighten or loosen the passive retention as desired. Along the sight channel of the Rapid Force is a small slider which indicates the strength of this retention. I kept mine on the lowest setting for the duration of this review.
Retention is solid, even without using a weapon light, with no additional rattling or movement. While I did not do any force-on-force training with the Rapid Force, I did attempt gun grabs with a partner. To help protect the pistol during such an encounter, Alien Gear includes a guard to block access from the front of the holster. This guard seems a bit flimsy, but it held up in our limited practice. We were unable to defeat retention, despite twisting the gun in every direction, using both hands, and more.
Belt Mounts with the Alien Gear Rapid Force
The belt mount I received for the Alien Gear Rapid Force is fantastic. It offers nearly unparalled adjustments for belt sizing, cant, and compatibility with MOLLE in the same mount. This definitely impressed me compared to the standard UBL and similar mounts I see with other duty style holsters. The mount stayed firmly locked in place along my belt, and held up well to gun grabs with a partner. I opted for the mid-ride option, though high and low ride are also available.
Shooters can also pick from a simple paddle attachment, along with drop leg rigs. There are also quick-detach options, though I did not select that for my example.
Alien Gear offers a few variations for those using optics. Mine arrived without a protective hood, though that can be added on for a small fee. The optics hood claims to be compatibly with a wide range of optics, though I was unable to test this, due to mine shipping without the hood. That being said, I did test several optics for fit. Compatible optics include the Trijicon RMR, Steiner MPS, Holosun 509T and 507C. Unfortunately the Trijicon SRO did not fit, as the lower lip of the SRO interferes with the holster.
I highly recommend opting for the hood, as your optic will be completely exposed without it.
Real World Use of the Alien Gear Rapid Force
Upon receipt of the Alien Gear Rapid Force, I began spending roughly 20 minutes a day dry practicing with the holster over the course of several weeks. This included attempted gun grabs, familiarization with the limits of the release lever, and more.
Part of my reasoning was to see if I could cause any excessive wear from a significant amount of drawing and reholstering of my pistol. Any potential wear would likely be enhanced, as the main pistol I used for this features an optics ready slide from Brownells, which is slightly larger, with harsher edges than a factory Glock. Despite my efforts, the holster performed flawlessly in dry practice, no worse for wear than any other duty holster in my inventory.
Use at Gunsite Academy
With confidence inspired by my dry work, I decided to mount the Alien Gear Rapid Force to my range belt as my primary holster for the week-long 250 Pistol course at Gunsite Academy. The one change I made was choosing to bring my Glock 19 to class, to get some rounds towards a few other reviews as my test-bed gun. Unfortunately, this is where problems began.
At first, things were going smoothly, with the Rapid Force performing without a hitch. Roughly halfway through the first day of training, my Glock 19 began to drop down slightly further into the Glock 17 length holster. Somehow this locks the pistol into the holster, requiring significant force to remove the gun. This substantially slows the draw, often requiring multiple attempts to draw the Glock 19. To make matters worse, my backup gun was my EDC Glock 34, which is too large to fit the Rapid Force. This forced me to abandon the Rapid Force after the first day of 250 Pistol, replacing it with my old Safariland 6354DO. On one hand, I’d like to see G34 support from the Rapid Force, but with the problems I encountered during testing, I’m not sure how beneficial that would be in the long run.
I find it strange that I encountered no problems using my G19 in dry practice, only to have issues arise in class. This was disappointing, as the Rapid Force was doing well aside from this specific issue. It seems that shooters truly are limited to the make/model of their selected pistol when using the Rapid Force. Additionally, the locking problem seems to be unique to the Rapid Force when compared to other duty style holsters such as the Blackhawk T-Series or Safariland 6000 series. While not a deal killer for me, it’s certainly a limitation to be cognizant of.
Final Thoughts on the Alien Gear Rapid Force
Overall I am reasonably pleased with the performance of the Alien Gear Rapid Force holster. It offers a few stand-out features such as the belt mount, plus compatibility with a wide range of optics and weapon lights. There are a few places that I find a little lacking, such as the inability to use shorter-barreled pistols in the same holster, and the complete lack of optic protection without a full hood.
So far, the Alien Gear Rapid Force has exceeded my expectations in most ways, especially considering my prior experiences with their concealment holsters. I plan on keeping this in my roster and continuing to use it for further evaluation, though it won’t be replacing my Safariland 6354DO anytime soon. If you are in the market for a competition or training holster, and don’t plan on using shorter than intended guns with yours, consider giving the Alien Gear Rapid Force a look.
The Alien Gear Rapid Force duty holster starts at $115, and is available in a variety of configurations. You can find yours >>HERE<< on the Alien Gear website.
Author’s Note: I was sent the Rapid Force duty holster directly from Alien Gear for purposes of review. No expectations of a positive review were provided by either party.
About Dan Reedy
Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.
Dan’s work has been published by Primer Peak, and The Kommando Blog, and he has been featured as a guest on Primary & Secondary.