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- Category: Concealed Gear
The AIWB rig itself marries two popular platforms into one seamless holster design. The leather backing makes for a comfortable carry while the Kydex shell mounted on top delivers retention and safety. The Kydex, measuring .093-inches in thickness, is cut to specifications of each gun model. In my case, Hidden Hybrid sent over the AIWB claw molded for my Smith & Wesson Shield in 9mm.
The AIWB claw is an extension of Hidden Hybrid’s AIWB holster, offered as an $5 upgrade to its standard AIWB package. The claw itself is made from plastic and appears to be the same material as the belt clip that secures the holster to the pant line. Equipped with adjustable retention, the holster also allows users to customize how tight the firearm fits inside the Kydex shell.
Hidden Hybrid offers a variety of choices when it comes to selecting the AIWB rig. Users can opt for a mold that accepts lights/lasers, choose right or left handed draw and can also customize belt clip size choosing either the 1.5-inch or 1.75-inch option. In addition, the company supplies several color options from standard black to pink, purple and even lime green.
Form and Function
When my holster first arrived, I had to make some immediate adjustments to retention. After placing my Shield in the holster and turning it upside down, the Shield fell back out of the holster dumping itself onto my desk. I tightened the adjustable screws that alter retention and tried again. This time the Shield stayed in place but when I went to draw the holster, it held to the Shield’s frame too much. Another quick adjustment and finally, just like Goldilocks, I got it just right. The Kydex gripped the Shield, preventing it from moving out of the holster while upside down, but still allowed me to easily and efficiently draw.
When working with Kydex I always try to pinpoint areas of fracturing. Cheaply made, super thin Kydex might be great on the budget but it typically fractures easily. Not the case with the Hidden Hybrid. During my time testing the HHH AIWB I was unable to find any stress fractures or points of weakness in the actual Kydex shell. The company has taken the time to develop a Kydex shell that maintains concealment while also providing durability.
The leather backing also proved hearty in its construction, weathering the sweltering heat and humidity of a Southern summer. While I usually opt for an undershirt under my blouses and tees, I did try out the leather by itself a few times. I still ultimately prefer material between my shirt and holster, however, the leather did provide a comfortable template for my firearm to rest on.
As with any leather holster, time can alter the material causing it to bend and fold in certain places. The leather sweat-guard on the HHH AIWB certainly adds a layer of comfort between the user and the gun, but I could see how, over time, that leather could start to wear, folding forward. This could be a potential issue if it bent far enough forward that the trigger was accidentally dragged going into the holster. Again, is this a likely scenario, probably not, but it’s a good reminder to routinely check and maintain their gear.
Despite the sturdiness of the leather and Kydex combo, my main area of contention comes down to the plastic belt clips. Despite using a thick plastic material, the belt clip is the weakest point of the design. Plastic belt clips are notorious for breaking over time and in my experience always seem to do so at the worst possible moment.
I would have preferred to see a metal clip or belt loops used as they tend to be sturdier and longer lasting. That being said, there is a contingency of gun owners who prefers an all plastic design for the lightweight feel and Hidden Hybrid definitely caters to that sector. The plastic clip isn’t a deal breaker overall but should be an area that concealed carriers examine daily for stress fractures or signs of wear and tear before use.
In the market for a AIWB holster to accommodate my Smith & Wesson Shield, I’ve been on the hunt for a claw design that would allow me to conceal the pistol under t-shirts and tighter blouses. As a petite shooter, AIWB holsters can sometimes be a struggle. Routinely altering traditional AIWB holsters with a DIY wedge to accomplish better concealment, it’s always a nice change of pace to try out a design that inherently looks to accommodate smaller shooters with a wedge or claw design. In the case of the HHH AIWB, the claw works as intended.
When placed in the belt line, the claw pushes against the fabric of pants creating a slight angle in the holster. The muzzle points further away from the body, thus moving the grip closer to the body. This small addition to the holster makes a world of difference, providing immediate relief from a bulky looking mid-section or worse, printing. During the course of testing, I outfitted myself in tighter tees and shirts that normally hang in the back of my closet because they won’t work well with my usual Glock 19 EDC. The combination of the Shield and HHH AIWB with claw allowed me to knock the dust off some of my favorite fashionable pieces all while carrying the Shield. The Shield rested comfortably in the holster, almost melting into my body. At no point did I fear printing as the claw design pulled the Shield’s grip closer to my abdomen and away from any prying eyes.
The rig offers a natural grip on the gun, so my draw was not affected by the holster in any way. I was able to clear the rig efficiently and get my sights on target in my usual manner and time.