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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Due to a discussion in another thread, I think a separate discussion on retention holsters is in order.

Perhaps the first thing to consider is if you need a retention holster in the first place. For the average person carrying concealed, I really don't see a need for it other then the peace of mind the retention provides. After all, if it is concealed, who is going to see it for a gun grab?

For those that open carry, perhaps a retention holster makes a little more sense.

As I have posted many times elsewhere, I am not a fan of the Blackhawk Serpa holster. It is my opinion that the design and placement of the retention release is prone to debris getting into it and jamming it. It also would be more prone to accidental release during a ground fight scenario than some of the other holsters I will discuss. I concede that I have not tested the above theories. They are simply based upon examination of the holster.

5.11 has introduced the Thumbdrive holster as a direct competitor to the Serpa. I recently obtained one of these holsters, but haven't tested it enough to make a truly valid comparison, but in theory I prefer this design to that of the Serpa.

One issue that concerns me about both of the above holsters is the screw attachments for the belt attachment devices. This seems to be a weak point in both designs.

In roughly the same price point of the previous holsters is the Galco M4X Matrix Auto Locking holster. I have no hands on experience with this holster, but I very much like other products in the Matrix series; so, I included this holster here.

Moving up only slightly in price point but infinitively in quality we get to the Safariland 6378. This holster is strong enough and secure enough to be a duty grade holster. In fact, I actually use one on duty on a regular basis when in uniform. There are several variations of this holster in the Safariland product design with different model numbers, but they all operate off the same premise, and there are models that will accept a pistol with an attached light.

I have several of the ALS design holsters. I have each equipped with the MLS attachment system that allows me to easily switch the holster from duty belt, to paddle, to a MOLLE system in a matter of seconds.

One thing to keep in mind with the ALS holsters is that they don't pull the butt of the pistol in as tight to the body as does a true concealment holster; so, choose your cover garment carefully if trying to conceal. The cant is adjustable depending upon attachment system; so, perhaps the pistol being canted somewhat would minimize this somewhat, but this isn't an issue for me most of the time.

The last holster that I will mention is the Safarland 0701. This holster is a variation of the venerable Safariland SSIII and 070 duty holsters. It is very secure and allows for a very fast draw. A drawback to this holster is that it is somewhat belt dependent on two levels. First, the belt slots may not accept some of the thicker pistol belts on the market. The other is that this holster is somewhat prone to rolling away from the body slightly, and this may cause some printing issues in a concealed carry situation. This holster was designed more around the plainclothes detective or administrator that would be openly carrying while providing a retention similar to that of the uniformed duty holster of similar design. A good cover garment would probably hide it, but a t-shirt worn over it may not work well. This is the most expensive of the holsters mentioned in this piece.
 

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Thanks for the info. Excellent right up as always. I'll be glad to test drive that 5.11 for you. :)
 

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Hey JL how you doing. Nice write up but I differ on one point. I carry with a blackhawk Serpa level 2 and like it very much. I cannot comment on the ground fight scenario as I have not yet had that happen. I have had it caught in my seat belt numerous times (Im a lefty and 200 lbs+) So far I have had nothing bad and everything good about the Serpa and will keep using it. As far as debris jamming that has not happend so far after 1 year. I pay attention to my firearm and all things associated and no problems so far. There is no concealed carry in Wisconsin only open carry so that is what I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey JL how you doing. Nice write up but I differ on one point. I carry with a blackhawk Serpa level 2 and like it very much. I cannot comment on the ground fight scenario as I have not yet had that happen. I have had it caught in my seat belt numerous times (Im a lefty and 200 lbs+) So far I have had nothing bad and everything good about the Serpa and will keep using it. As far as debris jamming that has not happend so far after 1 year. I pay attention to my firearm and all things associated and no problems so far. There is no concealed carry in Wisconsin only open carry so that is what I know.
I should clarify, by debris getting into the mechanism refer again to the ground fight scenario, which may very well be the case in a gun grab situation.
 

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I have several of the ALS design holsters. I have each equipped with the MLS attachment system that allows me to easily switch the holster from duty belt, to paddle, to a MOLLE system in a matter of seconds.
I don't own a single retention holster for the reason you mentioned ... I carry concealed as a civilian. I very rarely open carry and when I do I am uber alert to a potential pistol snatch. If I OC'd regularly I might look into a retention holster and it would probably be a Safariland ALS system. I have a Detective buddy that uses one for on-duty plain clothes work and have played with it some. Unfortunately, he's a lefty so I can't wear it and try it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't own a single retention holster for the reason you mentioned ... I carry concealed as a civilian. I very rarely open carry and when I do I am uber alert to a potential pistol snatch. If I OC'd regularly I might look into a retention holster and it would probably be a Safariland ALS system. I have a Detective buddy that uses one for on-duty plain clothes work and have played with it some. Unfortunately, he's a lefty so I can't wear it and try it out.
I'm a righty. You can try out one of mine at the range some time.
 

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Excellent writeup, jl!

Always nice to have someone share there real world experience...
 

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Nice job on the write up. I only own two retention holsters....a Serpa which I use only for outdoor training and a Bianchi CarryLok for riding the motorcycle. I too only carry concealed unless I'm training or riding so I won't be buying any more retention holsters.

The Serpa has served me well in 5 or 6 outdoor two day classes while rolling around in the Georgia clay and has never failed or even hinted at jamming and has never had an accidental release. Come to think of it, I've had it for years and have never even cleaned it! The CarryLok is a very nice holster and works fairly well for riding.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Bulldawg,

I tried out a Carrylock once and should have included it in this write up. Perhaps it is all of the years carrying in a 070, but the rear button on the Carrylock just didn't work well for me. The holster was offered to me for free, but I declined figuring someone else might like it use, which I knew I never would.
 

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yeah i dont have much to offer information wise as ive only ever used the serpa holsters but let me add that the serpa holster is to some of high enough quality to be a carry holster. the border patrol recently switched over to the level 3 retention serpa holster as there issued carry holster.
 

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I don't carry active retention holsters, period. When open carrying I have the holster right around the 3:00 area, gun grabs NOT a concern of mine. Also as some of the more prominent OCers in my state have said, open carrying a pistol is like riding a motorcycle. You have to be 'ON' at all times and completely aware of everything around you. No time for condition white...

If I did have to use an AR holster, it would be a Safariland. Seen three Serpas lock up first hand, and also an ND with one first hand. Then all the reports I hear online...no thanks. I'll stick to something that doesn't suck.
 

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I don't carry active retention holsters, period. When open carrying I have the holster right around the 3:00 area, gun grabs NOT a concern of mine. Also as some of the more prominent OCers in my state have said, open carrying a pistol is like riding a motorcycle. You have to be 'ON' at all times and completely aware of everything around you. No time for condition white...

If I did have to use an AR holster, it would be a Safariland. Seen three Serpas lock up first hand, and also an ND with one first hand. Then all the reports I hear online...no thanks. I'll stick to something that doesn't suck.
my reason for using a button holster or as your calling it AR holster is so if i run or dive i dont lose my gun. no other reason. with a pressure retention type holster i feel the need to hold the pistol in the holster any time i jog or do anything fast. and with a primary weapon in my hands thats not an option.
 

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my reason for using a button holster or as your calling it AR holster is so if i run or dive i dont lose my gun. no other reason. with a pressure retention type holster i feel the need to hold the pistol in the holster any time i jog or do anything fast. and with a primary weapon in my hands thats not an option.
I have NEVER used an AR (active retention) holster of any kind and have been very active. I have taken approx 100 hrs of professional training doing all sorts of movements. I also have a young, active child and a dog. I run, jump, roll around on the floor, swing from monkey bars, hang upside down, etc. and have NEVER had an issue with a gun coming loose. Carry in a quality holster with a quality belt and you won't have an issue.
 

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I have NEVER used an AR (active retention) holster of any kind and have been very active. I have taken approx 100 hrs of professional training doing all sorts of movements. I also have a young, active child and a dog. I run, jump, roll around on the floor, swing from monkey bars, hang upside down, etc. and have NEVER had an issue with a gun coming loose. Carry in a quality holster with a quality belt and you won't have an issue.
yeah i see alot of guys use pressure retention holsters with zero issues but its purely mental for me. im kinda OCD on it. ill always check to see if its seated all the way in. plus on my belt for open carry when i run the gun bounces when in full sprint so the last thing i need to be thinking when im sprinting is "is my gun still in the holster?" id probably end up running with one hand on the gun and eat crap lol. the way i see it. it dosent slow my draw down at all and its peace of mind. so assuming the holster dosent jamm and not allow me to take it out im golden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
yeah i dont have much to offer information wise as ive only ever used the serpa holsters but let me add that the serpa holster is to some of high enough quality to be a carry holster. the border patrol recently switched over to the level 3 retention serpa holster as there issued carry holster.
There are also agencies that have adopted the S&W Sigma as a duty pistol and Uncle Mikes retention holsters. That doesn't make the best choices.
 

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Thanks for the post and redirecting the subject to a new thread. I always wondered when and who should call it when we're starting to stray off the original poster's topic.
 
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