September 24, 2010
Well-designed, quality equipment for the cost-conscious.
Safariland's ALS rig offers combines good weapon retention and speed. It is shown here with the author's Kimber Aegis.
Safariland is one of the most recognized brands in law enforcement. And with good reason; it has been an innovator in the retention holster and accessory business for as long as I can remember. The firm was recently among a number of brands purchased by defense conglomerate BAE Systems, but that hasn't stopped Safariland's commitment to providing quality holsters and accessories you can count on and afford.
Duty rigs present an interesting problem: They need to be readily accessible but secure at the same time. Safariland has long been an innovator in that department. Its SLS system--a hood that flips out of the way--is one of the firm's more popular systems because it is faster and easier to manipulate and more secure than a conventional thumb break. This year, Safariland added the ALS or Automatic Locking System to the line.
The ALS consists of an internal device that engages the ejection port. It requires nothing more than a straight push into the holster to secure it. However, it requires a push of a small button to disengage. The release is positioned between the holster body and the holster's Hood Guard, where it is protected from gun grabbers or unintentional activation, yet it's easily depressed by the thumb during the draw.
The new ALS line can be ordered with the SLS and the ALS device, or with just the ALS. Holsters with both are classified as Level II Plus thanks to the rotating hood (SLS), the Hood Guard and the ALS.
The holster I received for testing, the Model 6325, is equipped with just the Hood Guard and ALS, so it does not qualify as a Level II holster. I ordered the standard ALS because I've never been a big fan of ultra-high-retention holsters. Though they work well for certain high-risk assignments, they also make for a slow draw. Still, weapon security is essential, so the ALS intrigued me because its design seemed to offer speed and ample weapon retention.
To test it, I wore the new Safariland rig around the house and office for the better part of a week. The only duty belt I had on hand was a relic from my academy days. It seemed to have shrunken a bit over the years. Fortunately, the ALS slid on it more easily than that belt fit around me. I started by holstering and drawing a Kimber Aegis repeatedly for a solid half-hour. I was impressed with the ease of re-holstering and the speed of the draw after such a short training period.
I ordered the ALS because I expected it to be fast, but I wasn't sure how it would hold up during my retention evaluation. To test it, I had my training partner try repeatedly to rip my blue training gun out of the rig.
On duty, he wears a Safariland rig, but his lacks the ALS. He had a little more knowledge than the average scumbag, but it didn't help. I really felt it as he pulled and yanked on the butt of my blue gun, but he couldn't get it out.
Next, I showed him how to work the holster and challenged him to get my training pistol. I wasn't going to escalate it into a fight, but I warned him that I wasn't going to just stand there and let him take it either.
Depressing the ALS's release button, which is located between the holster body and the Hood Guard, frees the gun.
With no resistance and the knowledge to get it open, he could draw my pistol, but only if he could get both hands on the holster--a much more difficult task than it sounds like. With minimal resistance, he didn't have a chance. No matter what he did, as long as I kept moving, my buddy couldn't come close to activating the ALS.
My testing was far from scientific, but all holster tests are pretty subjective. Still, I came away from my test impressed with the retention and comfort of the ALS rig. Some users might opt for a Level II rig that incorporates the SLS, but the Hood Guard and ALS combine to make Safariland's new rig darn secure.
Rapid Light System
Weapon-mounted lights are all the rage these days, but the cost--for the light, a pouch, batteries to run it--can be high. Safariland's new Rapid Light System was designed to alleviate both problems.
The RLS is a sleek LED light with a one-inch, aluminum body. It comes with a polymer weapon mount and belt clip. The RLS's LED has a 65 lumen output, which is the amount most experts say is required to temporarily incapacitate someone.
The LED provides bright, even light and is easy on the trio of AAA batteries required to run it. A prism reflector helps propel its beam to a claimed 350 feet.
Safariland's RLS comes with a weapon mount and a belt clip. It is a rugged, affordable unit that should see wide acceptance in the law enforcement community.
The RLS's mount is a rugged unit that wraps around the light's body and fastens with a single screw. It mounts on any standard light rail. Once attached to the gun, it may be swiveled to three or nine o'clock to accommodate right- or left-handed shooters.
Swiveling the light into position also engages a rotating lug that locks the light into place on the pistol's accessory rail. The light may be moved forward or back in the mount to make depressing the tailcap-mounted switch, which has both momentary and on-off positions, an easy task. Once the light is fitted, you can secure the clip to the light and use it to carry the RLS on a duty belt.
For testing, I mounted the RLS on a 10-8 Professional Model from the Springfield Custom Shop. The light mounted quickly and easily, and required nothing more than a firm grip to rotate the light to the nine o'clock position so I could activate it with my left thumb while maintaining a strong firing grip. It was bright enough to illuminate my entire living room, and my sights lined up nicely in the center of the beam at hallway distances. In a 150-round live-fire drill, the light stayed put and kept on running, though the lens was in need of a good cleaning when I finished.
Safariland's new RLS is a good piece of gear. At a retail price of only $125, it's reasonably priced and even cheaper to keep up and running thanks to its efficient LED and inexpensive AAA batteries. I highly recommend it.