Safariland Duty Holsters for Field and Concealment

In several different posts, I have spoken about some different holsters I use. Although I still have a number of the Blackhawk Serpa type holsters, I generally use the Safariland, hardshell types (ALS and SLS) when I use a mechanical holster. Anyone who has taken classes from me, knows I defer to the simplest types of holster being the best for harsh environments ( Bianchi UM-84 flap holster with a thumbbreak). That being said, I also know how fast a mechanical holster like the Safariland ALS can be.

The first Safariland holster I ever used for an automatic pistol, was an SLS for my issue M9. My SLS was on a drop leg rig, and it was the Safariland, 6280, SLS, Level 2 Retention Duty Holster. I used it more after I moved it up higher on my thigh and took the top strap off, but I found it was not optimal for operating from a vehicle, especially if you need to draw it from a seated position.

Method of releasing the pistol for the draw from an SLS is shown above.

The SLS holster has a hood over top of the rear of the slide, which will not allow the pistol to be drawn without first moving it out of the way. This is the only retention device on an SLS holster (not to be confused with the newer ALS/SLS versions, which incorporate both holster devices I will talk about).

An up close view of the ALS for a Glock 21 on the left, an SLS for an M9/FS92 in the center, and an ALS for a 1911 on the right.

The primary mechanical holster I personally use now is the Safariland 6378, ALS Holster. The ALS is secure enough for what I need, without the redundant ALS/SLS features of the last holster I used in Law Enforcement for a .40cal S&W M&P. Unlike a kydex friction fit holster, the best thing about the ALS is that it has positive retention, but no friction to slow down your draw once the lever is pulled back. Also, the lever is placed in a location that is intuitive to the draw stroke.

Method of releasing the pistol for the draw from an ALS.

The SLS and ALS holsters have a slightly different screw hole location on the back. This difference causes the height of the pistol to sit differently on the belt. It is not an issue for the mid-ride belt slot platform, you might notice a problem with the high-ride or paddle configurations.

ALS screw hole location on the left, SLS on the right.

Note the ride height difference between the ALS on the left and the SLS on the right.

An advantage of the Quick Locking system is the ability to switch these holsters between different types of rigs, such as my “Survival Rig, and a paddle holster. Below shows the same holster being switched from one to the other.

If you are going to plan to be able to conceal your Duty Holster by carrying a paddle in your ruck, don’t forget to get a paddle mag carrier. I’ve found the cheapest paddle carrier with decent retention is the Fobus Tactical 6910 Standard Paddle Magazine Pouch. I have these for four different magazine types, and have never had an issue with any of them.

Two different locations to comfortably carry your extra mags in a paddle carrier.

Concealing a full size, outside the waistband (OWB) holster is easy if you know what to wear. As an example, the “Safari” type vest will comfortably cover even your holster carrying a full sized pistol with mounted light.

By the way, an advantage of the holsters designed to take a pistol mounted light, is that they will also hold the pistol without the light mounted.  As it stands now, I have five ALS and one SLS holster. I have never had any problems with them, and would recommend them for serious use. What I’ve written here is what I’ve learned through experience.

Top row, left to right, Paddle attachment with QLS and a Glcock 30 in an ALS. Center row, Glock 21 with light in an ALS, M9 in an SLS and a 1911 in an ALS. Bottom row, Fobus paddle mag holders for the G21, the M9 and the 1911.

You should always strive to be as fast as is safely possible when presenting your pistol. Target ID and knowing what you backstop is, are the top priorities. Becoming fast takes time, and holsters like Safariland’s ALS are a huge help when mastering that learning curve. I have trusted my life to them in the past, and would do the same without hesitation in the future.

The Bushbastard

8 thoughts on “Safariland Duty Holsters for Field and Concealment

  1. I’ve become an enthusiastic convert after using SLS and ALS holsters. They’re expensive, yes, but I think the huge advantage they confer is the ability to reholster AND immediately secure the weapon one-handed. This could be crucial in several realistic scenarios.

    Sure, SERPA secures the weapon upon reholstering, but I could never get comfortable with that trigger-finger release paddle in the least safe place imaginable. There’s also an argument the SERPA release is too exposed to mud and grit, but that was never an issue for me.


  2. I am a fan of the ALS as well. 1 W/light 1W/O wml for different reqs. Only time I don’t use for EDC is when I need real low profile. Then its a Raven Vanguard IWB that allows me to tuck with the minimum added to the size of the gun.


  3. Agreed.
    They’re not cheap. But for everyday / duty use… they can’t be beat. (27 years of Safariland use) They’re a bit bulky for concealed carry.
    We’re fast approaching a time where “most” will be carrying at least a pistol regardless of law or location. (I would argue we are there at present)
    This is a holster you can leave to your grandkids…


  4. Great article, although I’m kind of left out in the cold here as I use A Steyr L9 MF-A2. I can’t seem to lay my hands on a holster setup like the one you’ve described here. Anyone here from the assembled multitude have any suggestions?


    • Chris. Safariland can take a long time to add models because it’s just financial sense to address the more popular models first.
      You can check with or even give them a call to see if they have a model you can use even if it’s a substitute.
      They’re the closest (somewhat less expensive) to Safariland that I’ve found


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