Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's seen quite a bit in the firearm industry, where a plethora of manufacturers clone their own variants of highly popular guns, such as the Colt Single Action Army, 1911 and the Winchester Model '94. Yet, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it shouldn't overshadow product development and innovation. Case in point: most clones contain subtle tweaks and design changes in an effort to make good guns even better.
Ironically, despite the hand-and-hand relationship of handgun and holster, the ladder market doesn't possess the same degree of innovation or evolve at the same pace, especially that of shoulder holsters. Thankfully, in a realm so heavily influenced by predecessors, such as the Bianchi X15 and Galco Miami Classic, one glance at an Alessi Bodyguard will confirm some holster makers still strive to think outside the box.
While the Alessi Bodyguard is far from new, it offers some features that were cutting edge back then and continue to set it apart today. Although surprisingly thin, the straps that form the harness are extremely durable—and without a doubt the most supple I've encountered on a holster to date. In addition, the harness is constructed from two pieces of what I estimate to be 5-ounce leather that flares to a width of 2.5 inches across the shoulders and joins at the base of the neck instead of farther down between the shoulder blades, which offers unsurpassed support, and does a terrific job of distributing the weight between the holster and the off-side magazine pouch.
In keeping with the company's dedication to custom work, Alessi offers the pouch in either a single or dual configuration, which hangs from the harness in a highly popular vertical fashion. While dozens of many holster makers offer the same sort of design, the Bodyguard's pouch is unique in that it is constructed from a single piece of leather that is "folded" into the shape of a pouch—and held together by four grommets—as opposed to conventional stitching.
But perhaps the most innovative feature of the Alessi Bodyguard concerns one of two types of releases found on the holster. In addition to a traditional thumb break design, in which the pistol is held in place by a strap that encompasses the rear of the slide, the company also offers an innovative "speed break" system. The pistol is retained by a snap located within the trigger-guard area of the holster. To draw the pistol, simply grab the grip, and yank the handgun out. Since the design features no elastic, springs or straps to circumnavigate, the end result is a very natural and fast draw. More importantly, because it's impossible to seat the pistol too deep in the holster, there's no chance of the snap inadvertently contacting the trigger.
As a fan of Jerry Ahern's "The Survivalist" series of novels, in which the main character (John Thomas Rourke) used the same holster, to carry a braced pair of Detonics Combat Masters; being a Detonics collector myself, when the time came to choose a test sample, for me, the choice was easy. During the one-week period when I wore the shoulder holster with one of my Combat Masters on a daily basis, the lightweight-leather harness provided unparalleled support and comfort. It didn't take long to get the hang of the speed break system, and more importantly it would become second nature through dedicated practice sessions.
My gripes regarding the Alessi Bodyguard are few. An additional tiedown beneath the holster would anchor the pistol, thereby limiting unwanted movement. Although, I'm sure the company's accommodating staff would add the second tiedown upon request. Similarly, a second leather strap and D-ring mounted perpendicularly to the magazine pouch's outer-most retention strap would enable the pouch to be mounted horizontally thereby offering greater versatility. The staff at Alessi is committed to customer satisfaction. How much? You can receive a 50-percent discount in the cost of shipping, simply by mentioning this article.
Sporting a unique design, the Alessi Bodyguard offers an innovative means to conceal and access your concealed-carry handgun rapidly. MSRP: $215; (716) 932-7497, alessigunholsters.com