Review: Safariland IncogX Holster for the Smith & Wesson Shield

How does the IncogX work with smaller-sized carry pistols?

posted on April 24, 2024
Safariland Incog X

A while back, I reviewed the Safariland IncogX holster for the Glock G17, which showcased its ability to conceal a full-frame firearm discreetly, comfortably and with minimal printing. But, most people don’t carry a full-size gun every day. So, how well does the IncogX handle a more typical concealed carry pistol? For science (of course), I picked up another one, this time for my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm pistol, and after a few weeks of carrying it daily, I feel I can give a thorough review of this quality concealed-carry holster. FYI, this holster, like other Shield holsters, also works with the Shield Plus, since the frames are identical.

The IncogX is part of Safariland’s line of inside-the-waistband (IWB) hybrid holsters. These holsters combine a rigid polymer shell with a softer textile backing. The design allows for a secure grip on the firearm while providing a comfortable backing that prevents the hard shell from digging into your side.

In terms of construction, the Kydex shell is made from a high-density polymer that will not bend or deform over time like thinner plastic or leather holsters sometimes can. It has a matte texture that aids in grip retention without being overly sticky against the gun or your clothing. The trigger guard is completely covered with a sweat-resistant polymer to prevent potential snags or safety issues. 

It's Got Your Back(ing)

The backing material is a soft-nylon fabric with a suede exterior that makes it quite comfortable against your body when carrying inside the waistband. A layer of soft, closed-cell foam between the nylon and Kydex prevents hot spots or printing through thinner cover garments. The two materials are securely riveted together to prevent separation over time.

What sets the IncogX apart is the excellent attention to fit and finish. The Kydex is precisely molded to fit the Shield’s contours, with a flared opening to aid in holstering and a high sweat guard to protect your pistol’s finish. All the edges are rounded and smoothed to prevent irritation or snagging when re-holstering. The nylon backing wraps fully around the body side to further increase comfort.

Even small details like the sight channel cut into the Kydex to protect your sights and the undercut trigger guard demonstrate that Safariland paid close attention when designing this holster for comfortable everyday carry. This was developed for real-world use rather than just looking intimidating (though it also looks quite sleek and tactical).

Back of holster

In terms of adjustability, the IncogX features Safariland’s GLS (Grip Locking System), which is essentially an internal retention detent. By tightening or loosening the tensioner screw, you can perfectly tailor the resistance needed to secure your pistol yet still provide a smooth, snag-free draw. Finding your preferred resistance setting takes some trial and error, but overall, it is an elegantly simple solution.

Shaped To Fit

The cant and ride height are not adjustable, as the IncogX is purposely designed for strong-side appendix inside-the-waistband to carry at a 15-degree-forward, FBI-style cant. However, the Kydex’s contoured shape and cut provide an extremely comfortable and discrete appendix carry experience once you find your optimal ride height and positioning on your belt line.

The IncogX is a premium concealed carry holster with an MSRP of $92.50. While that may seem a bit steep for a concealable holster, the quality of materials and engineering justify the price.

Overall, the Safariland IncogX hits all the marks regarding fit, finish, retention, and concealment for the Smith & Wesson Shield (including the Shield Plus) or any other compact handgun it is specifically molded for. It may be pricey compared to cheaper imported options, but you pay for quality American design and manufacturing. If you want a top-shelf IWB holster and are okay with the fixed cant/ride positioning, the IncogX should be on your shortlist.


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