When it comes to holsters, the goal is the perfect balance between retention and speed of draw. Many people who carry a gun for a living use a Safariland holster. They're often the first to the market with the new standard for law enforcement. The company's still popular SLS made its debut in the 1990s, the ALS system followed, and now the GLS, or Grip Locking System, is raising the bar yet again.
Now, I am picky when it comes to holsters. After all, they're charged with the security of the most important item on your duty (or off-duty) belt. If they've got a chink in the armor, I'll find it. The GLS received no preferential treatment from me. Before I even got to the business of practicing my draw from this holster, I spent quite a lot of effort trying to defeat it. I expect a holster to stay in the fight even longer than I can without coughing up my firearm, so the logical method of testing here was to do just that.
I volunteered two good friends (and SWAT defensive tactics instructors) to strap on the GLS using the included belt slide attachment and give it a thorough testing. In other words, I had them beat the snot out of each other in an effort to defeat the holster and snatch the other guy's gun. After several minutes of sweating and bleeding on the mat neither had been successful and the GLS came out unscathed. Both of them were impressed, as was I.
Seeing how secure the pistol was in the holster I was now concerned about my ability to get it out when I needed to. It turns out I needn't have worried. The concept is simple; to draw from the GLS all you need to do is get a good firing grip on your gun and the holster's design will do the rest.
The GLS features a single retention system involving a polymer lever, the inner portion of which controls a small rocking lock that engages the trigger guard, locking the gun into place. The outer half incorporates a small yet defined finger pad just behind where the trigger guard rests on the outside of the holster. When you obtain a good firing grip on the gun, your middle finger automatically applies pressure to the pad and releases tension on the retention device, setting the pistol free. The result is a super-intuitive system that is about as rock solid as it gets and lightning fast to the draw. It took me about 10 draws with this new system to become proficient and the GLS has since become my off-duty carry holster of choice.
What makes all of this even better? The GLS is available now in a variety of finishes and attachments for almost any pistol you can think of. Safariland has yet to release a duty model, but based on the company's track record I wouldn't be surprised to see one in the near future.
A.J. George is a patrol sergeant with the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department who also serves as the SWAT team’s crisis negotiation supervisor.
Safariland GLS Concealment Paddle Holster Specs:
- GLS (Grip Lock System) secures weapon once holstered; the retention device is de-activated by the middle finger upon a standard shooting grip
- SafariSuede lining helps remove dirt and oil and helps to protect the gun's finish
- Low-cut and compact design makes concealment easy while also allowing for a quick draw
- 3-Hole pattern on holster backing makes it compatible with all Safariland mounting accessories
- Available in all STX finishes
- Injection-molded paddle design is highly concealable and rides close to the body
- 567BL belt slide fits from 1.5" (38mm) to 1.75" (45mm) belt slots, included
- Available for belt slots of 1.5, 1.75, 2, and 2.25 inches