If aliens are as organized as Alien Gear Holsters, then perhaps an interstellar introduction should be made. Seriously though, I recently had the opportunity to meet Thomas Tedder, the owner and CEO of Tedder Industries and Alien Gear Holsters, who was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the Alien Gear manufacturing facility so I could learn how things are done there.
Humble Origins of Alien Gear
In 2013, Tedder began crafting rigs out of his kitchen in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He started selling his “Old Faithful” holsters as kits on Craigslist and a few other websites before he came up with the idea for Alien Gear Holsters. As they say, the rest is history.
Today, Alien Gear boasts one of the largest injection-molding facilities in the Northwest. Operating out of Post Falls, Idaho, almost everything the company offers is proudly “Made in the U.S.A.,” and 43 veterans are on staff, including Tedder himself.
Tedder also strives to take great care of his family of employees. Alien Gear is open for business seven days a week, 363 days a year, and he wants all of his personnel to be comfortable while at work. After all, happy, healthy and comfortable employees keep morale and productivity up and booming. And I don’t think I saw an unhappy face during my tour. Every station on the manufacturing side of the house had those thick, padded floor mats in front of every single machine and assembly line. Those who work at desks only have to say the word and some obliging handyman will gladly assemble an expensive Varidesk so they can sit or stand while working. A state-of-the-art gym is also in the works for every employee to use.
Need a break? No problem. Just head to the huge employee break room and play a game of pool, foosball or ping pong; or enjoy your lunch at one of the many nice tables. Every conference room has a funny space-themed name on a placard posted just outside its door, and I noticed posters with quotes like “Mediocracy is the enemy” all over the place.
Tedder takes great care of his employees because they fuel the company’s innovation. Also, they’re consistently making improvements based on customer input. It’s hard to sum it all up, but the facility is truly a neat experience.
Nothing is wasted at Alien Gear. Excess materials are recycled and put back to use in manufacturing or other innovative endeavors. For example, when one team was having issues with holster nuts and bolts getting strewn about at the end of a machine, they used some old materials to construct a device that would catch the pieces and individually bag them as well.
Finished holsters aren’t simply boxed and stored, as pretty much everything is made to order. They’re hot and ready fast, too. I got to watch a customer’s order come together on one of the neatest assembly lines ever. The boxed holster traveled on a conveyor belt to a scale, where it was precisely weighed to ensure nothing is wasted and the customer gets everything he or she ordered. The scale is linked to a computer that will stop the line dead in its tracks if the order is off by even a nut, a bolt or a small polymer belt clip. The line won’t start up again until an employee visually inspects that specific box and verifies its contents for the computer. The computer’s software was even developed in-house. This is the definition of efficiency.
Alien Gear On the Cutting Edge
Tedder showed me some of Alien Gear’s new and innovative products. This includes the ShapeShift Core Carry Pack, which retails for just under $100. For what some companies might charge for a single holster, Alien Gear will give you a whole slew of products to accommodate your concealed-carry needs.
With this modular kit, you can quickly transform your ShapeShift holster; shooters can bounce between OWB carry with belt loops or a paddle, or IWB and appendix carry. All you need to do is swap the holster over to the desired carry method. There’s even a thumb- release “Adjustable Retention Unit” for a little added security. Alien Gear also includes a mount so you can hook the ShapeShift holster under the dashboard of your vehicle, on your nightstand or wherever else you might need quick access to a handgun. In short, the ShapeShift Core Carry Pack offers a whole lot of bang for your buck!
Alien Gear also offers a few other ShapeShift holster mounting options, including ankle and shoulder rigs. After seeing it in action, I can safely say that the ShapeShift shoulder holster is a real game-changer. I remember some of the old-timers in my law enforcement agency complaining about how certain shoulder rigs hurt their necks or gave them headaches. The new Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster was designed for comfort, so there’s finally an option for those who have bad lower backs or hips.
But what if you acquire a new pistol? Simply send the holster shell back, and the company will give you a new one for the new gun. Another nice perk is the peace of mind that comes with Alien Gear’s 30-day “Test Drive” and “Forever Warranty” — all to back up products made to last a lifetime.
Finally, if you don’t need the whole kit, you can just buy an individual holster for your preferred carry method. Starting at $50, every holster carries Alien Gear’s Forever Warranty. So if you want an OWB, IWB, MOLLE-ready, drop-leg holster or more, check out the company’s website. The possibilities are truly endless here.
I’ve been playing with these products for a couple months now, and I couldn’t be happier. Paired with a sturdy, reliable leather belt from Bigfoot Gun Belts — Alien Gear’s sister company — my heater is always secure and easy to access. I find myself adjusting my pants less and less these days. Also, with the belt costing less than $60, I can’t imagine a single complaint from users. Another nice touch is that these belts are available in both a very dressy brown and a flat black for those of us who may wear plain clothes for a living.
In the end, both companies offer several quality options to suit every carry need. After speaking with many of the employees at Alien Gear itself, it’s evident that the company’s leadership deeply cares for each and every worker and customer. They consistently ask themselves, “What’s best for the customer? What would they want?”
This is all part of Alien Gear’s never-ending quest to make the best, most innovative products to keep law-abiding Americans armed and ready to defend themselves and all that they hold dear. Everyone can get behind this mission, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next. For more information, visit aliengearholsters.com.
This article was originally published in Combat Handguns July/August 2019. To order a copy, please visit outdoorgroupstore.com.