Holsters seem like a simple piece of equipment. Its a fancy pocket you hang from your belt to carry your sidearm. In fact, the Army M12 holster for the M9 Beretta was basically that. Today, however, there are so many options to choose from with different positions, forms of retention, modularity, etc.

For a long time I used Blackhawk holsters. They were used commonly when I was on active duty because they were a better option than aforementioned “Pistol Pocket” M12 holster. They offered a fast and natural draw, they secured nicely with the SERPA lock, and the tactical version used two straps which made it possible to still access the pocket of a pair of BDU pants. Why that matters I don’t know since we were never allowed to put our hands in our pockets anyway. The Blackhawk holsters had problems though. There were weak spots in the castings and with the right amount of force, they would easily break.

When I began working for my department I was issued some basic equipment, including a Safariland holster. I came to appreciate the Safariland ALS system rather quickly. It disabled easily with little pressure from my thumb, allowed an natural draw stroke and grip, and was also similar to the action of a thumb snap on a leather belt holster. Being kydex and moulded to the firearm it offers good retention. The holsters come with some weird thing attached to them that I believe is to keep clothing from getting in the way during a reholster. Or perhaps to guard the ALS lock. Either way, I removed it on my holster and replaced it with an actual ALS lock that snaps in place to keep the switch from being actuated. I also moved my holster down off my belt to a more natural position where my hand falls to the grip without effort. On top of that I used an adapter to remove the cant from the holster that is spec’d from the factory by the placement of the mounting holes. I also added an accessory mounting plate to which I mounted a tourniquet carrier. I wear this holster slightly forward on my hip. Not all the way forward so that it is on the front face of my thigh, but forward of the seam line where holsters have been traditionally carried. This keeps me from having to reach back to grab the grip of my gun and allows a more natural draw stroke. It also makes it far more comfortable to wear while driving around a patrol vehicle all day. I also wear the same setup on my personal kit.

The Safariland has become my go-to for duty-style holsters, but it is also what I keep my off-duty pistol in. I carry a Sig P365XL when I am off duty and it rides in a Safariland concealment Inside the Waist Band holster. I have other holsters, but at the time I am writing this, that has become my every day setup.

There are many holsters on the market to choose from. They vary in quality, materials, and features. It’s difficult to know what kind of holster will work for a specific application without testing and observing ones needs. I lucked out by having the Safariland thrust upon me. I did try a number of different things to improve it, but my current setup has proven to be the best for me. However, everyone has different needs. What works for me may not work for someone else. Do some research. Look to see what upgrades, improvements, modifications, and other accessories are available. Try one or two things. Train with them. See how well they work or if they don’t work at all. Then research options to improve the failure points. It is something of a rite of passage to accumulate a stockpile of failed gear. Yes, it will cost money. Yes, it will get expensive. Once the right combination of parts is found though, the recipe for a functional rig for the shooter is there.

Go out and try stuff. Shoot. Train. Test. Evaluate. Be hard to kill.

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