Alien Gear Photon Holster Review: A Plethora of Options

By Mike Faw
Posted in #Gear
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Alien Gear Photon Holster Review: A Plethora of Options

May 21st, 2023

6 minute read

The Alien Gear Photon Holster is a new entry into the concealed carry market. The rig can be worn inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB,) as well as give you the ability to wear it ambidextrously on either side of the body. The company also offers a sidecar platform for carrying an additional magazine. In this review, Michael D. Faw shares his experiences with the Photon holster when paired with the Springfield Armory Hellcat.

alien gear holsters photon review
New for 2023 is the Photon from Alien Gear Holsters. The rig offers a wide range of configuration options. Image: Alien Gear Holsters

I’ve carried guns long enough to know that much like deciding which wine best goes with the meal sitting before you on the table, you must select the best holster for your needs to go with your chosen defensive pistol. In the case of the original Springfield Armory Hellcat, you may want to consider pairing it with the newly released Alien Gear Holsters Photon.

In my opinion, the new Photon holster sets new standards in holster versatility and features. There are many decisions that must be made about how to carry, and the Photon aims to make the decision as painless as possible. It offers the option to be placed inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB), as well as being ambidextrous: worn on the right or left side of your body. In my experience, this is a holster that can truly do it all regarding body positioning.

authors hellcat with photon holster
The author tested the Photon holster system with his Springfield Armory Hellcat. A spare magazine rode in the optional sidecar.

Next up in the decision process is how to carry any spare magazines you might have. As the Hellcat comes with two magazines — one flush-fit 11-rounder and one extended 13-rounder — you have the ability to carry back-up ammo. And don’t forget the recently released 15-round extended mags for the Hellcat. What about carrying that extra Hellcat magazine at the ready and easy to access (not in a pocket) so you are better prepared?

To address this the Photon holster also offers an option to include a magazine holder and attach it to the holster via a unique and highly flexible “sidecar” platform. Thus, where the pistol is located, a second loaded magazine is just ahead and at the ready. The optional sidecar uses an injection-molded process that offers compatibility with a wide range of magazines. 

photon holster with sidecar
In addition to the sidecar, shown attached on the right side of the holster, the rig also has a “claw” that helps to tuck the pistol close to the body. Image: Alien Gear Holsters

Per the folks at Post Falls, Idaho-based Alien Gear Holsters, the new Photon allows you to “Carry Without Limits.”

Holster Testing and Adjusting

I immediately found the Photon holster to be easy to adjust for the snug level of pistol retention I desire, and I hear a pronounced click/snap when the Hellcat pistol is firmly inserted into the holster. The Hellcat I have been carrying includes a rail-mounted Streamlight TLR-7 Sub light installed. (Ed. note: Be sure to read review of the Streamlight TLR-7 Sub for the Hellcat.) Did I forget to mention that Alien Gear offers the Photon in both standard and light-bearing versions? A very nice touch.

testing the photon holster during testing
The Photon holster is shown in the outside the waistband configuration. This can be ideal for people looking for ready access and not worried about maximizing concealability.

When switching from OWB to IWB, you will need to remove the logoed Photon cover with a screwdriver or small pry implement. Underneath this, you’ll find 10 adjustment holes. You will use a small Torx head wrench (provided in the holster package) to remove the two screws in the holster clip from their square-based T-nuts. This process was very easy and took me only a couple of minutes. I was able to reinsert the metal threaded T-nut retainers and the screws into the repositioned clip easily to convert the holster from outside- to inside-the-waistband.

Note, those 10 holes in the side of the holster are also the adjustments for cant and height for how deep you wish the holster to sit. After making your desired adjustments, reinstall the hole cover to provide a smooth, comfortable surface next to your skin. Several versions of these are also provided with the holster kit so you can customize to your preferences.

reviewing the photon holster with the hellcat pistol
The Alien Gear rig can also be used inside the waistband as shown here. With the sidecar, it spreads the weight across a wide area and has two solid anchor points.

I found it easy to re-holster the Hellcat once the Photon holster was in IWB mode and set to my preferred retention, and there was the pronounced click to indicate the Hellcat and attached Streamlight light were inserted properly — and securely. The included Photon User Guide gives easy to follow details on making the many adjustments and there are many additional parts so you can customize the holster.

The great news is that, like converting the holster from inside-the-waistband to outside-the-waistband — or the opposite, it’s just as easy to install the sidecar mounting hardware and the magazine holder. The Sidecar is flexible yet sturdy, and when you are wearing the holster it begins to fit like a glove or feel much like your everyday around-the-waist belt as it holds the extra magazine in an easy-to-reach location and position.

Much like the clip for IWB carry can be placed in three locations to adjust height at the pant’s line, the sidecar has three adjustment levels also for where the extra magazine will be located. The magazine holder also has a belt clip to ensure it and the pistol’s magazine are kept in a secure location.

A special note: this is a concealed carry rig and not a duty holster. If you are looking for Level 2 and Level 3 duty rigs, be sure to read our article on holster retention levels

Focus on the Photon Holster Features

For my needs, the Hellcat and the Photon holster are a great combination. Several features on the Hellcat OSP semi-auto pistol caught my attention when I opened the soft case on arrival, in particular, the removable optics plate so you can attach a red dot sight atop the slide. Both light-bearing and non-light-bearing versions of the Photon are designed to accept pistols with suppressor-height sights, optics and threaded barrels.

testing the photon holster on the range
Like any piece of gear you select for defensive use, you should test your holster thoroughly on the range to ensure it performs to your satisfaction. Image: Alien Gear Holsters

Much like the Hellcat, the Photon holster clearly received a lot of consideration and thought regarding the design and options. The numerous holes which permit positional changes to the holster show significant forethought. Unlike many holsters you buy that give a single placement position of the pistol on your waist and deliver the standard “this-is-it” placement option, the Photon offers numerous adjustments for true customization. You can adjust the tilt of the holster along with how high it rides.

Feature List

Here’s a quick rundown of the Alien Gear Holsters Photon features:

  • Adjustable tilt or cant
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Optional sidecar attachment for spare ammo
  • Can be worn outside the waistband or inside the waistband (IWB or OWB)
  • Compatible with suppressor height sights
  • Compatible with mounted lights
  • Optic cut for a red dot sight
  • Can be used with threaded barrels
  • Adjustable retention 
  • MSRP: $49.88 at time of testing

Final Thoughts on the Alien Gear Rig

Based on my testing, I believe the Photon holster from Alien Gear is a robust and versatile carry rig for Springfield Armory Hellcat owners. You can easily switch it between IWB and OWB carry and swap it from right- to left-side wear. The additional sidecar platform for an extra magazine further makes it even more valuable. For anyone considering concealed carry, the Alien Gear Photon holster is a compelling choice.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

Product prices mentioned in articles and videos are current as of the date of publication.

Mike Faw

Mike Faw

Mike is a professional outdoor writer, author, editor and award-winning photographer, and his written works and images have appeared in numerous hunting, archery, shooting and outdoors publications for nearly three decades. He has worked as an editor, columnist and blogger for many of the nation’s leading outdoors publications and websites.

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