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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.