A few people drink from the fountain of knowledge but most only gargle.
Gun Digest recently published an online article about holster retention systems. The article begins by referencing Safariland’s retention holster rating system as being the standard. Unfortunately, the author, Corey Graff, should have done a little research and contacted Safariland about their retention rating system before writing about it.
That system, devised by Bill Rogers, the inventor of the modern security holster, has nothing to do with the number of mechanisms that the holster has. Corey’s interpretation is a common misconception in the industry. Safariland’s system is based on a series of hands-on performance tests in which the holster is physically attacked and tested. The holster must pass, in sequential order, each test to achieve a given level of rating. A holster can have several mechanisms on it and still not achieve any rating at all if it doesn’t pass the hands-on (literally) tests.
In point of fact, the Blackhawk Serpa holster pictured in the article will not pass even a Level I rating test, regardless of the number of mechanisms it might possess. The reason is that the holster must remain attached to the belt while attacker is pulling on it with a given amount of force. Because of its relatively small mounting area where the screws attach to the belt plate, the entire Serpa holster will pull off the belt when subjected to a Level I test. Unless, of course, the holster itself breaks, which has also been known to happen, when subjected to a hands-on test.
I won’t go into the plethora other unsatisfactory aspects of the Serpa holster.
Unreinforced leather holsters, such as the Blackhawk leather slide holster pictured, will not pass a Level I test either. They lack rigidity in the strap holding the pistol in place and the pistol will simply pull out of the holster when subjected to a significant amount of force. This is why true security holsters must be made from a rigid synthetic material.
It’s interesting that the author used Blackhawk holsters as illustrations despite the fact that they don’t pass the Safariland rating system. What is up with that, I don’t know, but it’s certainly poor research and understanding of the topic. Since this article is an excerpt from a book about Concealed Carry Holsters, I certainly hope the rest of the book is better researched and based on factual information rather than common misconceptions.