I recently received a couple of concealment holsters to test and evaluate, both from one of the most well-known holster manufacturers in the world—Safariland. Safariland has been making law enforcement duty and concealed-carry holsters for decades.
The two holsters I received were both manufactured for the Glock 9mm and .40-caliber full, subcompact and compact models, so my models 35, 22C, 23C, and 27 all fit. They were composed of a plain-finish black outer shell similar to kydex. Scott Carnahan, a representative from Safariland, told me the outer shell is actually a thermal-formed acrylic PVC proprietary to Safariland holsters. Carnahan said the Safariland process of manufacturing is superior to kydex because it creates greater resistance to heat and cold extremes as well as impact resistance.
The outer appearance looked like soft leather rather than plastic. The benefits of the outer shell composition include its light weight, exceptional durability and imperviousness to most chemicals. Unlike leather, it’s also easily washable in the event the material comes into contact with blood-borne pathogens or other liquids.
Both holsters also sported a black suede-leather liner, which served to protect the handgun’s finish.
The first of the two holsters I looked at is model #5187, a standard belt-loop holster. It’s a simple, open-top, straight-draw holster without any type of covering over the rear of the slide or back strap. Retention is accomplished via an adjustable tension screw (an allen wrench comes in the packaging) below the front of the trigger guard. You can position the muzzle cant via three allen screws at three different angles: forward, straight down or rearward.
This holster comes ready to be worn on a standard 1.5” pants belt. If you want to wear it on a 1.75” belt, you must cut two plastic tabs. Though this is easily accomplished, it will dedicate the holster to only 1.75” belts; it will slide too loosely on smaller belts.
This holster held the weapon close to my body and provided for excellent concealment beneath a t-shirt. Although close to the body, I didn’t find it uncomfortable, even in a seated position. I made several adjustments to the tension screw, trying to find a good balance between good retention while not overly binding the weapon draw. I was ultimately able to achieve a balance.
I also tested model #6378, a paddle holster. I must confess I’m not a huge fan of paddle holsters because I generally don’t find them to be the most comfortable for extended wear. I do appreciate the ability to quickly don and doff a holster regardless of whether I’m wearing a belt or not.
That said, this holster has become one of my favorite concealment holsters due to its retention system, ease of draw, extended-wear comfort and obvious durability. The Automatic Locking System paddle holster had, simply put, the best retention system I’ve ever encountered. It’s a passive system, meaning that as long as the sidearm is fully seated into the holster (causing an audible “click”), you can’t remove it unless you draw it correctly. Even with the holster turned upside down and violently shaken, the gun remained locked in the holster. Conversely, I could draw the weapon rapidly and present it in a very efficient, smooth manner.
To release the locking mechanism, the thumb of the master grip hand must press lightly backwards on an unobtrusive (yet easily reachable) release lever. The release method is intuitive and actually aids in attaining a proper grip on the handgun.
Due to spring tension, if you don’t press the lever rearward or draw the handgun before you release the lever, the retention is reset. In other words, in a fight for retention of the gun in the holster, it’s highly unlikely a suspect would be able to remove the officer’s weapon from this holster, yet the officer can rapidly draw from it.
Like the belt holster, the paddle holster was quite comfortable for all-day wear, even while seated at a desk or driving. It was also simple to draw from, regardless of whether I was standing, seated, kneeling or prone, and it was easily concealed. The paddle portion of the holster (the large portion that is inserted between the wearer’s outer and under wear) is appropriately rigid yet flexible enough to conform to the body of the person wearing it. This important feature makes this holster comfortable for daily wear regardless of whether you’re walking or sitting.
Safariland Models 5187 & 6378
• Comfortable for extended wear;
• Good concealability;
• Secure retention features;
• Lightweight; and
• Suede inner lining protects bluing/finish.
• None noted.
3120 E. Mission Blvd
Ontario, CA 91761