Enigma Express vs Standard Enigma – Which is Better?

Short answer, if we make an Express for your gun, you should probably get the Express. While the Express and the Standard have similar performance, the Express is easier to use and more streamlined. Most people will have a much better overall experience with the Express. The main reason to choose the Standard Enigma is because we don’t make the Express for all guns, and you want to use a gun that is not supported by the Express. For more details and special considerations, watch the video, or scroll down to read more.


Enigma Express:

The Enigma Express is our only enigma that comes to you fully assembled with a holster. It has a smaller, more streamlined faceplate, and the belt attaches directly to the faceplate for the slimmest, most minimal silhouette. The Express is not available for all pistols, only the specific guns listed on the product page.

The Express also comes with our angled EMOD wing inserts already installed.  If we do not currently offer a holster for the Express that is compatible with the gun you wish to carry then you’ll want to look into our Standard Enigma. Even though your Enigma Express will come to you fully assembled, you can still make custom adjustments by switching out the smaller wing insert for the larger wing insert that comes with your order, changing the buckle placement, or by adding a wedge.


Standard Enigma:

The Standard Enigma comes to you completely disassembled.

It does not come with a holster, and it is therefore up to the customer to select a compatible non light or laser bearing holster of their choosing. See our holster Fit Guide in the bottom left pop up window for more information on holster compatibility. Unlike the Enigma Express, the Standard Enigma comes with 12 adjustment holes on the faceplate. These adjustments are necessary when using holsters made by other manufacturers, which may have variation in dimensions. It also comes with a full size magnetic fidlock buckle for easy on and off. Note that the Standard does not come with our EMOD wing inserts, but they can be added during the checkout process. 

Let’s Review!

Standard Enigma:

  • Comes disassembled
  • Holster NOT included
  • EMOD (angled) wing inserts NOT included
  • Comes with Fidlock buckle, or add the optional reduced size buckle
  • Use the Standard Enigma if we don’t make an Express for your gun

Enigma Express:

Is the Standard Enigma OS better because it’s more adjustable?

Not really, no. The Enigma Express has a more advanced, more minimalist design. Most users will have a better experience with the Express, all things being equal.

The adjustment holes on the Standard Enigma OS are there for adjusting to the differences between gun sizes and holster manufacturers. While they do have an effect on concealment, you can get as good (or better!) results using the adjustment range of the Express. The Enigma OS adds complexity, but the added complexity is not generally a benefit to the user. 

The main reason to choose the Standard Enigma OS is because you want to carry a gun that isn’t supported with an Express model. The Standard Enigma OS can be configured to conceal just as well as the Express, with some tinkering. And if we don’t make an Express for your gun, it’s the only option! The wide compatibility range of the Standard Enigma allows you to carry a wider variety of guns, using holster shells from different manufacturers.

The second reason to choose the Standard Enigma over the Express is because you want to use a holster shell from a different manufacturer — for example, a holster shell with a higher sweat guard, or one with extra muzzle length (why). If that’s the case, the Standard Enigma OS is necessary to use other manufacturer’s holsters.

Which one should YOU get?

If you wish to carry a gun that we make an Enigma Express for then we would highly encourage you to go with the Express. This will allow you to cut down on set up time, and get right to the best part. If we do not offer an Express model for the gun you wish to carry, and you DON’T have a weapon light or laser on your gun, then you’ll want to go with the Standard Enigma, but note that this will take some setup time, customization, and holster selection. See the fit guide for holster recommendations.

If you need special holster features, such as extra muzzle length (why) or a molded-in wedge, you will need the Standard Enigma, plus a compatible shell with the features you need from the Fit Guide.

Each of our Enigma models have their own instructions pages on our website. Please consider browsing the instructions and tips before buying so that you can get a full grasp on the product.

Note that if your gun has a WML or laser you’ll want to look into our Light Bearing Enigma. You can find the holster fit guide for that HERE.

Do you need extra holster length?*

*If you’re carrying a longer-muzzled gun or a revolver, adding extra holster length may not be necessary for you, but for short semiautomatic guns, it’s often helpful.

Guns with short muzzles can be top-heavy and difficult to conceal comfortably. To solve this, some holsters have extra length added to the muzzle end. Like the keel on a boat, the extra muzzle length helps balance the holster, making it more comfortable and easier to conceal. This is especially true if you have a bit of a belly, which tends to push the grip out more and make the muzzle dig in.

Note that while extra muzzle length reduces grip printing, it can increase muzzle printing, which can be a concern with lower carry positions and tight fitting pants such as leggings or yoga pants. 

Learn more about the Keel Principle here.