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Phlster Enigma Holster System Explained thumbnail image

Phlster Enigma Holster System Explained

80 Percent Arms   |   Apr 12th 2023

Sarah & Jon Hauptman began Phlster as a Kydex holster craft DIY tutorial Youtube channel in 2010. Phlster eventually began to produce holsters for sale and would branch out towards knife sheaths and tourniquet holders.

Through connecting with like-minded peers such as Andrew Henry of Henry Holster and Activity Group, Phlster was able to scale up production and logistics by outsourcing. They’ve since then brought their focus to concealed carry education and their flagship holster chassis, the Phlster Enigma which we'll be doing a deep dive into today.

What Is Printing?Example of Printing while Concealed Carrying

Photo Source:  Recoil Web Magazine

Printing as a term in concealed carry practice refers to the occurrence of your firearm forming a visible outline with your clothes, alerting those around you that you have a firearm present as well as where your firearm is. While not necessarily illegal in most cases, there are many people who associate non-government armed individuals to crime and can cause trouble by assuming you to be malicious at worst or ignorant at best.

For some states, repeated calls to your issuing sheriff’s department about peace disturbance can be detrimental to your concealed carry permit status as well. Counties in California for example, where it can take over two years to be issued a permit, are where sheriff’s departments can revoke concealed carry permits as they see fit.

Trying not to print especially for individuals of smaller stature is difficult. I remember trying out my first TRex sidecar with all of the trousers and shirts I had for the first time. The trousers only had to be rigid enough to support the weight of the holster clipped onto the waistband.

However, the only shirt I had that vaguely prevented printing was one that had a splotchy camo-like pattern that broke up the general shape. I looked for tops that were less form-fitting, and it was when I looked at the mirror that the early 90s hip hop clothing aesthetic suddenly made sense in my head. Unless you bulk with layers on the top, it is difficult to prevent a firearm from printing without a slightly oversized layer.

How Does the Phlster Enigma Work and How Does It Prevent Printing?What the Enigma System looks like while being worn

Photo Source:  Armed and Styled

The Phlster Enigma is a chassis for the holster so that you can wear a holster without having to wear a belt. It’s a simple nylon belt with a Tegris plate held together with plastic hardware. Rather than latching your holster onto a waistband, the Tegris plate gives you a place to mount your holster onto underneath your clothes.

This means that the user won’t have to wear trousers or shorts with a waistband rigid enough to support a holster’s claw and the combined weight of the holster and firearm. Gym shorts, sweatpants, and all other comfortable non-form fitting bottom halves can now be worn without concerns of load bearing.

A leg leash comes with the Enigma to prevent the holster from riding out as you draw your concealed firearm. However, the leg leash is rather uncomfortable. It’s not expected of you to be removing your trousers, every time you want to sit down, to adjust the leg leash length. The optimal length for sitting is different from the ideal length for a standing and walking position.

While the Enigma is not a perfect replacement for all other inner waistband holster setups, it is a good tool for its intended use.

Imperceptible Carry

Also known as deep carry, imperceptible carry follows the principles of prioritizing concealment above all other factors and having zero printing regardless of the size of gun size. The Enigma Phlster furthers this principle by adjusting for the height of where the grip sits when holstered independently of the waistband.

Especially for obese individuals, adjusting the ride height of an inner waistband holster can mean a night and day difference. Wearing high waisted trousers can help but that's where the Enigma really shines - is that it allows for more wardrobe options and activities so that concealed carriers don't need to settle for less safety, like with a standard belly band, for the sake of concealability.

Enigma Phlster Low Profile

This is the standard Phlster line with as little Tegris plate as possible for a lower profile.

Enigma Phlster Open Source

This has a faceplate with more real estate to accommodate most holsters currently available.

What Holsters Are Compatible With Phlster Enigma?

Phlster Enigma compatible holsters must have two screw holes vertically ⅝” or 1.59 cm length apart to allow the holster shell to mount to the Phlster’s Tegris faceplate. These two holes should be on a flat area below the trigger guard of the holster.

Make sure your holster is compatible!

Photo Source: 80 Percent Arms

An example of attempting to mount a Vedder holster shell to the Enigma faceplate. The holes do not line up.

If your holster does not have the appropriate length spaced holes, it is ill-advised to drill holes to allow mounting. Phlster specifically outlines in their warranty policy that any sanding, drilling, cutting to the Enigma faceplate degrades the material’s structural integrity.

The holster should be able to mount an appendix wing to provide clearance between the holster and the Enigma for the user thumb to wrap around the firearm grip and draw. The Dark Star Wing, RCS Claw, ModWing are all appendix wings with screw holes ⅝” apart.

Determining whether any of the three wings is compatible with a holster of interest is a quick way of knowing whether or not it’ll fit the Phlster Enigma. Vedder Holsters, for example, uses its own proprietary spacing and will not be able to mount onto the Enigma faceplate.

Several non-Phlster holster brands are listed below that meet these two primary criteria.

JM Custom Kydex AIWB Wing Claw 2.5 Light-Bearing Holster

Did you also opt for a Surefire XSC with your P365? This is the holster shell that will fit many compact handguns with common lights that aren’t just the TLR-1 HL. JM Custom is one of the few compatible brands mentioned directly by Phlster that offers a variety of light-bearing inner waistband holsters for more than just the TLR-1 and Surefire X300.

Rounded Gear

Rounded Gear by Concealment Express makes quality Kydex holsters for less commonly carried handguns and often ships out within the week whereas many take several. However, keep in mind that Rounded Gear currently has no mounted light compatible holsters and a fixed retention kit must be used to mate their holsters with the Enigma faceplate.

What other brands?

Henry Holsters, Holsterco, KSG Holsters, Dark Star Gear, Eclipse Holsters, Concealment Express are other brands listed as having Phlster Enigma compatible holsters. Besides Henry Holsters and JM Custom, all other listed holster brands have adjustable retention and must be used with a fixed retention kit and an appendix wing.

Which Enigma Style Should I Choose?

Enigma Types

Say less, head straight to Phlster's website where they have not only a fit guide but also this chart above that details which model firearms work best for which setups in terms of full size, compacts and micro-compact pistols.

What If My Enigma Chafes?

The Enigma will be closest to your skin second only to underwear when worn. There is not a lot of fabric to protect against chafing if the Tegris and holster shell chafes against you. If you have sensitive skin, consider wrapping your Enigma setup with a Papoose, a stretchy nylon fabric cover that encapsulates the Enigma faceplate and belt. Custom order for the Papoose is available for individuals with certain skin allergies as well.

Additional sizes are the Lightbearing Papoose and Express Papoose to accommodate the various faceplate versions of the Enigma.

What if I Don’t Like the Phlster Enigma Leg Leash?EnigMOD Leg Lease

Photo Source: Rego Concepts

The factory leg leash is the Enigma’s most lacking feature as it is prone to slippage and can be exposed if the user is wearing shorts. The leash was designed to be as lightweight as possible and can be rethreaded through the Enigma to resist slipping. There are also aftermarket options for individuals that are still dissatisfied.

The EnigMod leg leash by Rego Concepts delivers semi-elasticity to mitigate the OEM leash’s tight feeling when sitting down. All Enigma leashes can also be supported by a Secondary Garter made by Levo Designs to ensure it stays put from slipping down. If a strong leg leash clasp is a priority, the Mule Tape Leg Leash is an excellent choice.

BumsterThe Grey Lease is the Bumster

Photo Source: Levo Design

Also brought to you as a Levo Design exclusive is their Bumster, a leash alternative that runs between your legs and cheeks. This is an option primarily for users of shorter stature or individuals with attire that would generally reveal the upper thigh region.

UltiClip 3+

Example of an Ulti Clip on a Kydex Holster

Photo Source: Ulti Clip

If you don’t like anything on your legs entirely and don’t want to turn your Enigma setup into a complicated thong with the Bumster, consider trying out the UltiClip 3+. It will keep the holster shell affixed to your waistband and ensure the holster doesn’t ride with the gun as you draw.

Can I Carry Accessories On The Enigma?

The Flatpack tourniquet carrier can fit the standard CAT Gen 7 tourniquet onto your Enigma setup. Ascent pistol pouches can be added as well for extra magazines to be carried on your person.

Concealed Carry With 80 Percent Arms

For more information on tips or tricks surrounding concealed carrying, there are educational resources that can be found through their Phlster's YouTube Channel and their Facebook Group Phlster Concealment Workshop.

If you’re confident in your own handiwork to build a handgun that you’d trust your life with - join the many who have already done so such as Tactical Rifleman or The Gun Writer. Check out our GST-9 build kits and jigs today!