I have been using the Phlster Enigma every day for around 4 months now. I have been pleasantly surprised by how it solves many common barriers to carrying a handgun every day. I want to break down all the mystery behind the Enigma and tell you if I think it is worth the hype.
Who is Phlster?
Phlster is a company that has been churning out innovative concepts in how they make a holster. I am a big fan of the attention to detail that goes into their holster line-up. The “Floodlight” and the “Pro-Series” are probably two of their most popular holsters. The design of the Pro-Series has made it one of my favorite everyday carry (EDC) holsters.
Phlster released the Enigma shortly before Christmas. I wanted to get my hands on one of the Enigmas, but I didn't pull the trigger fast enough. All of the inventory was gone within minutes. Thankfully my wife bought me one as a Christmas gift.
What is the Enigma?
The Phlster Enigma is not a holster. However, the Enigma allows you to use your holster with any clothing and doesn't require you to clip to your belt or pants. Typically if you wanted to wear clothing without a belt, you needed to use a belly band or a magnetic holster like the JM4 Tactical QCC. The drawback is that if you like your kydex holster, you can't use it.
I initially thought this would be an excellent everyday carry method for my wife, who doesn't typically wear belts. So I figured I would test it for a couple of months, and if it was a good concept, I could hand it over to her. Well, it has been over 4 months now, and I still have it. Not because I am still on the fence about if it works, but because I have grown to love the design. So a second Enigma purchase is inevitable.
Will the Enigma Work With My Holster?
The Phlster Enigma will work with your Kydex holster as long as your current holster has a wing attachment with the standard 5⁄8 ″ hole spacing.
If your holster uses one of the following wings, the Enigma will work:
- Mod Wing
- Dark Wind
- RCS VG2
Phlster makes two varients of Enigma.
The standard version is compatible with standard, non-light-bearing holsters and guns without a weapon-mounted light (WML) installed.
The Enigma Floodlight version will work with your existing light-bearing holster, provided it has one of the wings listed above.
I note that holsters with sidecars (integrated magazine holders) might not work with either version.
Click here for my favorite Enigma-compatible holsters.
How To Assemble the Enigma:
You can set up both versions of the Enigma for left or right-handed users. There are quite a few pieces and screws that make up the Enigma. However, Phlster provides in-depth videos on how to assemble and adjust everything for maximum comfort and concealment. Adjustment of the Enigma, as with any holster, is critical. The Phlster Enigma provides a lot of adjustment points that significantly impact comfort and concealment.
I didn't know if wrapping a nylon belt around my waist would be comfortable. Some people have decided to wear a t-shirt under their cover shirt, so the belt is not in direct contact with their skin. I don't wear a shirt under my cover shirt and have not found comfort an issue. But I know some people might have more sensitive skin than me. Also, a magnetic, quick-release buckle on the belt portion makes putting it on and taking it off simple.
The thin, nylon leg leash connected to the holster wraps around the upper thigh. Again, getting the length and tightness adjusted correctly is essential. The leg leash keeps the holster from coming up with the gun as you draw. Before I found the proper adjustments, the leg leash would ride up on my thigh or pull down if I ran or worked out. However, once I found the correct fit, it was not an issue, and frankly, I don't even remember it is there.
Using the Enigma:
I started by using it with my Sig P365 and a Blackpoint Tactical holster. I found this to be incredibly comfortable and concealed exceptionally well. It may seem counterintuitive, but small guns/holsters tend to print even more than longer guns/holsters when mounted to the belt. The reason is that there is less length below the beltline on a shorter holster. The result is the top of the holster is forced out and away from the body. A longer holster counteracts this and conceals better.
The Enigma solved this issue because it works separately from the belt or pants. So if you carry a small self-defense handgun like a Sig P365, Glock 43, Springfield Hellcat, etc., and find you're still having issues with printing, you might want to give the Phlster Enigma a try.
Using the Enigma With my Type B:
Ever since I got my Archon Type B cut for an optic, it has become my EDC gun. I like the gun, but there aren't too many companies that make holsters for it; this includes Phlster. So I mounted my Tier One Concealed holster to the Enigma once I confirmed the P365 setup was a win.
For some reference, the Type B is slightly larger than a Glock 19. I didn't have any issue concealing the Type B in the Tier One holster. However, because the Enigma pulls the gun directly against my body, it conceals even better. It is also incredibly comfortable. My Tier One Holster does not allow me to tuck in my shirt. This issue won't affect everyone, but I need to from time to time. With the Enigma, I can tuck in my shirt. While most people who know me probably assume I am carrying a handgun, they can't see it.
So the fact that Phlster doesn't make a holster for the Type B isn't even a total deal-breaker. The Phlster Floodlight holster retains the gun inside the holster by bearing on a TLR-1. PL 350 or X300 weapon-mounted light.
A Second Enigma Review Coming Soon?
I haven't confirmed that the Archon Type B will work with the Floodlight holster, but I will likely test this configuration and report back on how the Floodlight works compared to the Tier One holster I currently use.
As of now, the Floodlight holster works with:
- 1911 and 2011 pistols
- Glock 19/17/34 (and .40 and .357 variants)
- Glock 20/21
- S&W M&P and SD series pistols
- HK VP9, VP40, and P30
- FN 509 and FNS
- CZ P10, P07, P09, 75 SP01
- Sig P226, 229, 220, and P320
- Walther PPQ (any gen)
- Polymer 80
- Beretta 92, M9, PX4, APX
- XD and XDM
So if you have one of the above-listed guns and a TLR-1 or X300 WML installed, pair up a Floodlight holster and light-bearing Enigma, and you're good to go.
Enigma for EDC or Just at Certain Times?
I initially thought the Phlster Enigma would be an excellent, occasional option when I wasn't wearing a belt. I found it is actually a fantastic everyday carry method. That said, it does take a bit of time to get used to using the Enigma. One immediate adjustment is that you can't throw your gun on after you get dressed. You need to undo your pants to get the Enigma around your waist and clip the leg leash. It only takes a second, but it is a consideration. Another consideration is that you have to get the belt adjusted correctly. If you don't, you may find, like I did, that the holster sits a little lower as the holster settles into the contours of your body. I recommend making the belt a little tighter than you would first think is necessary.
The final consideration is only an issue if you're not going to use the Enigma every day. Once you get the holster set up on the Enigma, you won't want to disassemble everything because you feel like using a different holster. So if the idea is to use the Enigma occasionally when you can't use your primary holster, you will want two holsters. However, as I mentioned above, the holster is surprisingly comfortable and suited for a full-time everyday carry holster.
How the Enigma Has Performed so Far:
I'll mention this in closing. I tested the holster in various conditions. I ran, worked out, and did yard work using the Enigma, Tier One holster, and Type B combination. I have found the holster stayed put in all these circumstances. I don't have any reason to think the holster would come apart during a fight, which would be a terrible thing. The Enigma is the best solution for anyone thinking about using a belly band-style holster. I know it is more expensive than most belly band solutions. However, using a hard-sided holster is preferable, and the Enigma offers adjustability that no other non-traditional carry option options.
One product I have been using lately for dry fire is this LaserDot Training Cartridge. If you pair this up with something like LASR X or Mantis Academy, you can do a lot of cool stuff with your dryfire.