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Old October 16, 2011, 11:03 PM   #1
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Holsters - "safety straps" - your thoughts please . . .

I'm not trying to cause a controversy here so please let's not get all heated up over the topic . . .
I do custom leatherwork in the winter while I'm in AZ - I'm just curious as to your thoughts on "safety straps" . . .

First, I know a lot of you wear commercial CC holsters - either on the belt, in the pocket or in the waist band - most of which don't have any kind of a safety strap on them - many of these holsters are "formed" and the pistol fits snug

I am not comfortable with a in the wasitband holster for CC . . . I much prefer an "on the belt" style. In AZ, which allows "open carry" - it's not a problem. I also have a AZ CCW so fi I'm trying to carry concealed, I wear some type of long shirt with the tail out to cover.

At any rate - I'd like to hear some comments from you folks as to what you prefer - if you want a safety strap, do you prefer the "thumb release" or the "traditional strap" which goes over the pistol and snaps and unsnaps on the front of the "bucket"?

If I carry on the farm back in MI in the summer, I always have a safety strap of some type so the pistol can't slip out of the holster when I'm climbing up and down on equipment, etc. I like one also as it prevents the pistol from falling out by accident getting in and out of a car, riding a motorcycle, etc. I "wet fornm" my holsters to the pistol and even though they are snug, I just don't want to take the chance of having a problem.

I'd like some input from LE or former LE as well - for years, police holsters (revolver) had safety straps that went over the pistol and snapped on the front of the bucket. In my opinion, if a person is "used" to his holster, unsnapping a traditional safety strap is just as quick as a thumb release - it is like shooting though - you need to practice.

So your thoughts please. I'm getting ready to make a on the belt holster for my Ruger LCR and am leaning towards a traditional safety strap as it is what I'm used to - plus the revolver does not have a hammer that will snag as it is drawn. But, for years. LE used holsters with safety straps that went oveer the pistol and they had hammers - Colts OP, PP, S & W M & P. An LEO would have had more opportunity to draw his weapon than those of us who CC who (hopefully) will never have to unholster it. I'm sure that some will argue that the traditional safety strap takes more time to "unsnap" that a "thumb release" - I think that it is all in being used to your holster. As I said, I hope some LEOs and former LEOs will chime in and give me their thoughts based on actual expereinces and what worked best for them.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments on your "preferences".

As an added note - I'm pushing 60 and was brought up on holsters with traditional safety straps. Old habits die hard. I'm also curious if age groups seem to be a factor in the preferences. Thanks.
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Old October 16, 2011, 11:51 PM   #2
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I have one holster that has a safety strap designed to go between the hammer and the slide on a cocked and locked 1911. I dont mind it on this setup. That said i also love the serpa holster with the relase button where your trigger finger naturally falls on the holster. Come to think of it the only holster i dont like was the old "suicide flap" holsters we had for the m9 before they were phased out. I am currently issued a uncle mikes level 3 for the glock 22 which has a safety strap and also requires you to push down and twist twords your body to remove it. It took some getting use to but i feel very secure if i get in a scuffle with someone my weapon is very secure.
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Last edited by bacardisteve; October 16, 2011 at 11:57 PM.
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Old October 17, 2011, 12:37 AM   #3
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When I ride, a Safety strap is a must, too many problems could occur.

Triple K 196 at a 4:30 or 5:00

When I normally carry, (two legged) its at 6:00 with a canted holster with no strap. Triple K 430

BTW, cameras broke, these pics are from.

Where I buy my leather from...
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Old October 17, 2011, 12:58 AM   #4
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No strap on either of my holsters. My .38 is IWB in an uncle mikes holster and my G22 is in a Serpa CQC holster. The serpa has a retention feature, so it is similar to a strap I guess. I see no real problem with them, just train yourself to unsnap as you draw and all should be golden.
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Old October 17, 2011, 01:45 AM   #5
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I have basically two different styles of holsters.

One style is as you described, boned to fit the pistol. This style has no safety strap. For mostly urban carry, I find my posture is mostly upright and I'm not running or jumping over obstacles. So this style works as an OWB holster. And there is no safety strap to impede draw.

The other style has a safety strap. For the 1911, it goes across the grip safety so the pistol can be carried either Condition 1 or Condition 3. For the Ruger Super Blackhawk, it goes behind the hammer.

I like the fit of the second style to be snug, so I can carry with the safety strap tucked behind the holster. This provides a draw similar to the style of holster without a safety strap. This works with an OWB holster as well as the "tanker" style shoulder holsters.

However, I can snap down the safety strap during vigorous activity. Like hopping boulders down a talus slope.

I have yet to find a holster designed to secure the safety strap in a slot or loop behind the holster. For an OWB holster worn with a tight belt, the friction of the belt/clothing usually retains it. For the tanker holster, I've had to use tape.

So, that's my two cents. For urban carry, no safety strap. For field carry, I like to have a safety strap available, but not dangling in the way.
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Old October 17, 2011, 01:49 AM   #6
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I started civil policing in the mid 1970s (Air Force SP in 1972), initially with dump boxes and the old traditional snapstrap with the snap on the holster body.

Just as soon as I could after GOOD thumbbreaks became available, I got my first one & never looked back.
The old-timers (even older'n me) could break the snap with a trigger finger starting out the draw pretty quick, but it took a bit of extra movement to get a good drawing grip following the snap break and I never found anything that offered as good a combination of retention, rapid grip acquisition, speed out, and quick one-handed re-holstering as the thumbbreak does.

In the late 70's to the early 80's I can recall more than one magazine article debating which was best for positive retention- the thumbbreak LE-style or what was called the "field holster" design, it was a hot topic for a while.

The absolute best, in my opinion, was & is the thumbbreak with a secondary retention tension screw. That's what I wore the last decade or so of my career, revolver and auto, and I still use a couple of those for open belt carry in the bush.

Last edited by DPris; October 17, 2011 at 01:55 AM.
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Old October 17, 2011, 05:22 AM   #7
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I almost always want some kind of retention on any carry holster. I'm not a fan of quick draw, so The little time it takes to off whatever device is well worth the extra security in my book.
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Old October 17, 2011, 05:23 AM   #8
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I like a thumbreak from ny holsters. Its nice to be able to unsnap and draw in the same motion. Not all of my holsters have a snap though and unless I'm doing something strenous I don't worry about it.
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Old October 17, 2011, 05:58 AM   #9
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I am not a fan of straps, with concealment holsters. If I were carrying openly, I'd want some kind of retention system. For a hunting sidearm, if it might be used in bad weather, I actually like a flap holster.

But if I were to put a strap on a concealment holster, I'd go with the thumb break, and I'd practice with it a lot. (I used to have a couple holsters with straps, and a decent percentage of the time they will interfere with the draw, if you don't practice A LOT.)
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Old October 17, 2011, 07:33 AM   #10
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Any strap or other retention device is a non starter for me.
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Old October 17, 2011, 07:52 AM   #11
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When I worked for a government agency, all issued duty holsters came with a retention strap.

For personal carry, I prefer no strap of any kind unless I am riding a motorcycle or doing other things where the gun could become dislodged from its holster. Then I utilize a holster with a retention strap.
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Old October 17, 2011, 08:30 AM   #12
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No less an authority than Bill Jordan wasn't in favor of retention straps for routine carry...Using a M-19 S&W, his design of the old Tom Threepersons open top holster had a strap, but allowed it to pivot down in front of the bucket. For day to day carry, he recommended that the strap be left hanging in the front, allowing for an unexpected confrontation that demanded quick response. He pointed out that the strap could be quickly re-engaged should strenuous activity require it. Too, he pointed out that all of the above was tempered by an officer's dept. policy.

I've built Tom Threepersons holsters for the last 30 years or so and never found that a strap or thong was necessary, assuming good heavy skirting/tooling leather (almost 3/16" thick) was used in construction. When wet-molded to the gun, it kept its shape and offered good retention. Short of being thrown from horseback, or end over end gymnastics, they held the gun tightly yet still offered a good platform for the draw and presentation.

I've tightly fitted all of my guns for that type of holster, individually patterning each model for the gun in question. The welt is cut to fit the underside of the piece, then sewn in, allowing a snug fit when wet-molded.

Of nearly equal importance is the fit of the belt's got to be tight, allowing little if any fore and aft movement...a holster that fits a dedicated 2"+ gun belt is way too loose on a jeans style 1-1/2" belt. A good fit locks the holster/gun combination to the hip, and stays put when the draw is Jordan would put it, you don't end up with a handful of everything, when the gun was drawn!

Of late, I'm reconsidering my long adherence to an open exposed trigger above the welt...while this design allows easy access during the draw, I've come to find that my trigger finger is getting on the trigger far to early, ie. before I'm pointing at the target. Front Sight, the NV based training institute, religiously trains to keep the trigger finger on a reference point above the trigger itself during the draw..until the piece is aligned with the target...I agree wholeheartedly and feel now that a covered trigger as a part of the holster will help in that regard. Be that as it may, the pic below is of my version of the old design (with exposed trigger) bottomed to allow duff, snow, or rain to fall through, and in my estimation, a better, tighter fit.

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Old October 17, 2011, 08:40 AM   #13
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When I first started carrying, all of my holsters had straps. Now, I do not prefer straps on my carry rigs. When I am carrying concealed, they are IWB and don't need a strap. When I am open carrying, I use a Fobus pancake holster with all my pistols and you have to really quick tug them in the right direction to get them out. I do have one shoulder rig that I wear on rare occasions that has a strap though, and that is a thumb break design.
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Old October 17, 2011, 09:01 AM   #14
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A properly boned holster does not require a strap...

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Old October 17, 2011, 09:15 AM   #15
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I also live in Arizona, and although I do conceal (I also have a permit, although it's no longer needed in most places one would CCW), I also carry openly at times.

My primary CCW holster is a pancake style Galco, and it doesn't have a strap. I've been using this holster for 9 years, pretty much every day, and I've never had my revolver come loose from it when I didn't want it to.

I've climbed on and off of heavy equipment, crawled through brush, and done sll sorts of things generally known to unseat an unsecured handgun, and have never had a problem.

Now, that all said, if I had it to do all over again, I'd get something with a thumb break retention with it. Like you, I grew up using the traditional strap that snaps on the front face of the holster. For me, a thumb break is faster, and generally gives just a little more coverage to protect the firearm from scratches and bumps.

The ONLY reason I'd choose a retention strap over a holster without it is for times when I open carry. Open carry is legal in Az, and readily accepted in most areas...especially in the more rural areas along the border that I frequent.

The pancake holster I use pulls the gun in close to my side, and as I've said, I've never had a problem with retention in the 9 years I've used it. I'm wearing it now, in fact, with no concerns about ever losing my gun from it.

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Old October 17, 2011, 10:37 AM   #16
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I am fortunate to have personally known two legends of the custom holster business, Milt Sparks and Bruce Nelson, both now deceased. They both agreed that a properly designed holster did not require safety straps, snaps or flaps. I concur for both open and concealed carry.

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Old October 17, 2011, 11:00 AM   #17
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On my belt holsters I prefer a retention strap and the "thumb break" style is what I used for years. I believe that everyone needs to use the equipment they believe will work best for them.
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Old October 17, 2011, 11:22 AM   #18
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I've used a thumb break since day one of shooting a hand gun and it's second nature to release it. It's all one motion when drawing.
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Old October 17, 2011, 12:36 PM   #19
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I've disagreed with Jordan's recommendations on the strap for over 35 years, ever since I first read his book.
His experiences down on the border apparently differed from mine in the city quite a bunch.

His recommendation of routinely carrying the gun with strap snapped AROUND the holster body instead of over the gun to allow for a quick draw, and only snapping the strap over the gun if you were about to engage in strenuous activity, I thought was horse puckey then & still do.

When I was a working man, I never knew from moment to moment when I'd be getting into a fight with somebody, when getting out of the car on a traffic stop would lead to a foot pursuit three steps out the door, or when a seatbelt would grab my gun if I was bailing out in a hurry. Nor did I want to make it any easier for somebody to get their hands on my gun & just lift it out of the leather, despite my best efforts.

I did not want to have the distraction of trying to decide when the strap needed to be on the gun & when it didn't, or trying to remember whether it was or wasn't. My primary emphasis was on having the gun there with me as opposed to a blinding fast draw, and I rejected his thoughts on the matter as soon as I read 'em.
Lot to be learned from Jordan, and I respect him for his accomplishments, but he lived in a very different time & place from where I was & what I was doing.

I'll also add from personal experience that losing your gun from its holster is a very sickening feeling, and I saw one fellow officer lose his as he was bending over to get a resistant prisoner situated in the back seat of a cop car.

My buddy many years ago lost a very nice little Colt .22 Peacemaker among the sagebrush while we were rabbit hunting, TWICE, because he wasn't using the hammer thong. He recovered it once. Still out there, undoubtedly a rusted lump of steel today.
And that wasn't even doing any particularly wild cartwheels or handsprings.

I've used an opentop holster for concealed carry, always felt just a tad uneasy about it, gave it up.
My carry guns, open or concealed, all have straps or thongs that get used, and the only old-style field holster straps I use are in cases where I can't get a thumbbreak for a particular gun. I don't like those, I know that over three decades of thumbbreak useage will cause me to lose valuable time if I need to get the gun out in a hurry under stress, but on some I have no choice.

My accumulated life experiences cause me to believe strongly in a retention device, even on a well-boned holster.
Yours may lean you in other directions.
If you dislike straps, at the very least make damn sure you have a tight fit between your gun and your holster.
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Old October 17, 2011, 01:21 PM   #20
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A properly built form fitted holster without any safety strap should be capable of retaining the handgun in any and all events which would leave the wearer in the fight. It should require a firm grip and pull to remove the handgun from the holster.

About the only way a handgun could fall from a properly form fitted holster would be to have fall which would result in a force in the exact direction as someone gripping and pulling the handgun from the holster. In the case of a holster worn in the slightly canted or upright position at 3 or 4 o'clock, a fall would require the wearer to fall on their head and neck. That force which would be required to overcome the friction of the holster would likely be great enough to break the wearer's neck and the wearer would be either unconscious, paralyzed or dead.

For on duty carry as a sheriff's deputy my department required a holster with a safety strap. In that case a thumb break (v a strap) was faster to draw. A thumb break design could be utilized in a holster designed to have merely a safety strap or a retention holster with a thumb break.
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Old October 17, 2011, 02:55 PM   #21
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I'm sure I'll be the odd one out for preferring a holster with a flap when I'm in the woods. I actually find the style with the American-style wire hanger used with a regular web pistol belt to be the most comfortable and out-of-the way for those limited circumstances. However, it is by no means a speed rig.

I used to think that about thumb-snap holsters until I got a good one (which went with the gun when I traded for a newer model). I frankly can't imagine using a holster that claims to hold the gun in place with friction. I'm sure I would think it would result in a difficult draw. But on the other hand, you can't have it both ways. One thing I'm sure of, however, is I don't want leather that will turn brass green in two days.
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Old October 17, 2011, 03:22 PM   #22
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My leather holsters have either a thumbreak or safety strap on them. My field holsters have the safety strap because speed is not all that much of a concern. My concealment holsters and the majority of my old duty holsters have the thumb break. I do have an old style swivel holster that has the safety strap. I prefer some sort of strap or thumb break on leather holsters. If I carry my Colt Series 70 MK IV in a cocked and locked position I will absolutely have a thumb break holster. I know that the Colt was designed to be carried this way and that many holsters were designed for it but while I have become acustomed to carrying it this way I still have a healthy distrust of the mechanical safety. I do have a few no strap or thumb break holsters they are for pistols that don't require to be carried cocked in order to be "combat" ready. My duty holster for my Beretta 92 series is a Level II Blackhawk duty holster. It gives good retention and speed at the same time.
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Old October 17, 2011, 03:51 PM   #23
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When I was a kid, my cap gun holsters had little leather loops to hold the hammer.
I enjoyed that special feature, made it stay in place...and looked like the ones on Bonanza!

My duty holster had a thumb-break. I love 'em.

I've got a Serpa for my Glock 20-SF...I'm fond of it, as I do believe its the best retention system out there.
But I've not quite got the push-draw to be as fast as my other old-fashioned holsters.
Then again, I've only had the pistol for two months...takes time to get fast on things.
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Old October 17, 2011, 04:01 PM   #24
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Probbaly a good idea if you plan on getting into hand to hand action with folks who mean you harm.

Not needed so much for CCP folks.
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Old October 17, 2011, 04:20 PM   #25
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Probbaly a good idea if you plan on getting into hand to hand action with folks who mean you harm.

Not needed so much for CCP folks.
No way I'll ever go hand-to-hand with anyone while carrying a gun...or even a knife...and I'm always carrying a gun and at least a couple of knives.

Too much chance they'll find it and get it away from you.

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