View Full Version : PLEASE HELP- Will someone help me finally understand "Holster Retention Levels"?

April 1, 2013, 10:11 AM
Ever had one of those topics where you just KNOW you're going to get blazed for your ignorance, but there's no other real way to learn but to go through the fire? Because even though I've been handgunning and concealed-carrying for almost 20 years now on and off, I had let my license expire and then got it renewed, and a lot of technical jargon passed me by.

So at the risk of seeming stupid, here's the problem I'm having:

Every time I *think* I understand what holster retention levels are, I read something else that throws me for a loop again.

Here's the things I *think* I know, and then you all can tell me where I'm right and where I'm wrong, if you're so inclined.

"No retention" is a holster where the only thing holding the gun into the holster is gravity; your basic $10 holster.

"Passive Retention" is a holster made of mostly-rigid material which grabs on to the pistol, usually with part of the holster clamped on the trigger guard, until sufficient force is exerted pulling against it that the sides of the holster are forced apart and it lets go (as with Fobus, Blade-Tech, and most non-mechanical synthetic holsters). This is also known as Level 1 retention *unless it is a Safariland holster*, right? Because there is only 1 step- you just have to pull hard enough to overcome the retention lock.

Level 2 Retention for everything except Safariland involves a mechanical release of some kind instead of a passive retention, ie. something must be disengaged, then the pistol drawn- 2 steps, hence Level 2 Retention.

Level 3 would involve a hood or lock being disengaged, THEN a mechanical release, THEN drawing the pistol- 3 steps. Am I right so far?

And then comes the part that blew me totally out of the water- most LEOs don't use these descriptions, they use the descriptions as supplied by the Safariland company, where each level is a separate mechanical release and passive retention doesn't count as "retention", or it counts as a sort of "Level 0". Is that right?

I guess what I want to know is- Is there an industry standard? What is it? Who set it? And am I meant to feel inferior if I am using a holster that falls outside that system? Because I've been using mostly passive retention holsters since 1995 when I bought my first Fobus (for a SIG P239). And I love them. But lately I've become a SERPAholic, and I love those for the uses to which they are appropriate (carrying while wearing a heavy coat which lets the holster be concealed, with the hammer down on an empty chamber so there is not even a possibility of a negligent discharge- I read the horror stories).

And where does a thumb-break fit on this scale? Level 1 or 2? Or is that on yet another scale?

HELP PLEASE- I'm all confused.........:o

April 1, 2013, 10:32 AM
Im pressed for time right now.
Check www.safariland.com . They explain it there.


April 1, 2013, 11:25 AM
But their explanation applies to their holsters only, what I'm trying to figure out is- is there any "universal" system that is NOT specific to each company but is generic? In fact it was their explanation that screwed me up, their holsters don't fit with everyone else's system, they seem to have tried to make themselves "the" standard- when their holsters don't really impress me that much judging by the ones I trained on at my workplace, I prefer SERPA synthetic but my dept insists on leather and Safariland for armed assignments. (Luckily I don't generally find myself running those, I carry as a civilian.)