As much as a lot of the gear I’ve reviewed has already been tested by people whose lives depend on it, very few are used in such a critical role as the Safariland holster I’m writing about today.
I’ll be looking at my own particular experience with this holster, which is around 6 months of occasional use Airsoft use and regular “range” time within my own property, but if you’re wanting a review to tell you if you should buy this for a real Glock and you’re trusting your life to it, I’d strongly suggest you seek another reviewer out before entrusting your life to the word of a mere Airsofter. But in my defence, I do have a number of years experience when it comes to holsters, but you should be aware of my limited knowledge when it comes to the requirements of certain military units or law enforcement officers.
So what’s the big deal with this particular model of holster? How the hell can a holster justify such a relatively large price tag? To answer this, lets have a bit of background on the manufacturer.
Safariland have been around for a long long time, in fact their website proudly states that they’ve been in business for over 55 years! In tactical gear terms, that’s literally forever. It’s a fantastic achievement, certainly when you consider that they’ve remained a world leading player in an incredibly diverse and evolving market, putting themselves in a position to tender for, and win, some incredibly lucrative contracts worldwide as well as continually setting the upper standards in the world of firearm retention.
One of the key areas that makes Safariland such a key player in the holster world is their use of cutting edge materials, modern polymers wherever it offers a benefit over traditional materials and those older traditional materials where there simply isn’t a better modern alternative.
The their product design is also constantly evolving, from the methods of manufacture and materials used to the retention of the pistol itself. Safariland appear to keep themselves well appraised of modern firearms developments, and generally look to offer a “best in market” solution, based upon the needs of their customers.
I’ve always liked Safariland, my first Safariland holster was purchased for a mere £20 on eBay (ironically cheaper than the Chinese clone of the same model that also turned up on the search results. It was their iconic 6004 model for my Tokyo Marui Beretta M9 pistol (Pistol Reviewed Here), a great alternative to the previously USGI supplied Bianchi M12 fabric holster. One thing i did learn from doing my research for this review is that Safariland is a sister company of Bianchi, since Armor Holdings (Safariland’s former parent company) took over the latter business in 2004. With the 6004, its SLS hood and general quality of the holster have made it an essential part of gear when I choose to shoot my M9 pistol, and I will get around to reviewing it at some stage!
This holster has been seen used notably with United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) units such as the SAS and SBS alongside their American DEVGRU and CAG counterparts. One of the most noticeable pictures of the light bearing model being the Obi Wan Nairobi (full kit breakdown on The Reptile House blog HERE) pictures from the Kenyan terrorist attack in January 2019.
The 6354DO has a number of features that have made it one of the top choices for Glock equipped units around the world, I’ll summarise it in three specific areas.
The 6354DO is incredibly adaptable, coming in most cases with the excellent Safariland QLS (Quick Locking System) it allows the holster to be completely removed from the mount or belt when situations require the holster be removed such as when putting your gear on or having a dump (no one wants their Glock on the floor of a public toilet).
The adaptability isn’t just within the mounting system, it extends to the holster’s retention. The primary retention on this model is via the ALS (Automatic Locking System) which retains the pistol via an injection moulded plastic sprung latch, which engages on the ejection port and is released by pressing the thumb against a release button.
The secondary retention which keeps the pistol from rattling around is via a tension adjustment bolt on the body side of the holster, adjusting this will adjust the position of the inner fold of Safari-Laminate, which on the light bearing model (as reviewed here) clamps down on the light unit and prevents unnecessary movement whilst allowing for a number of models of weapon light to be used.
In another aspect of it’s adaptable nature, the sight channel is made tall enough to fit suppressor height sights, the body of the holster will also accommodate a fair amount of aftermarket slides, frames and barrels, but you’ll potentially need to remove or modify the barrel and/or light plug when fitting something thats outside the specification of the intended pistol’s design.
This fitment concern is particularly worth knowing when looking at slide mounted red dot sights, some may fit and others may not. Although the holster I bought was designed to work alongside red dot equipped pistols, my Nova RMR cut slide (with the RMR forward of the rear irons) doesn’t fit within the holster. Other users have modded their holsters to fit RMR cut slides that previously didn’t fit, and some red dot equipped pistols (certainly those with rear sight mounted RMRs) will fit without modification.
Onto durability, the holster is made from a thick sheet of thermo-moulded plastic, similar to Kydex but with the brand name of Safari-Laminate. Being rather thicker overall than most Kydex holsters on the market its incredibly tough, resistant to the rigours of most environments and keeps your pistol very well protected.
The holster’s manufacturing process is not very well publicised (probably to ensure replicating it isn’t straight forward), but its pretty easy to take an educated guess as to how it’s made. A sheet of Safari-Laminate is formed around a mould and wrapped around on itself, this is cut to a specific shape (probably before moulding) that allows for it to be wrapped in a relatively complex shape and achieve a degree of structural ridigity.
The holster is then seemingly trimmed to shape as needed and the edges smoothed down to eliminate any snagging parts. the ALS components are then fitted, alongside the injection moulded cup for the light and the muzzle protector (which also serves as a plug to prevent ingress of dirt and water into the muzzle).
This particular model is wrapped in a Multicam fabric material, I’ve long been an advocate for fabric wrapped holsters as they tend to prevent unwanted noise when against other objects and also provide a more subdued and less reflective finish.
The final finishing touches include the interior suede liner which helps prevent wear on your pistol whilst also giving a degree of heat resistance for those using this with real firearms and giving the holster a snug and quiet fit once properly adjusted.
A brand is then seared into the back of the holster, this provides the owner with a reference of what the holster is designed to hold along with other information such as batch number, date and place of manufacture (surprisingly Mexico) and a model number.
The final part of the holy trinity is speed, the ALS is an incredibly intuitive locking system and even after years of using the Safariland SLS, Blade Tech WRS Hood, and the Blackhawk! SERPA retention holsters, I quickly adapted to the draw of an ALS holster.
The ALS thumb release offers a very quick speed of draw for a level 2 retention holster, certainly when you factor in the obvious safety aspect of not using your trigger finger to release the pistol from its holster (as with the SERPA). This speed is one of the key reasons that you’ll see this holster being used by SF units, they might see a pistol as a weapon of last resort… But when they need their pistol, they need it immediately.
There is a clone of the Safariland 6354DO made by TMC and seemingly of a good quality for its price, however it is not the same holster at all… From the method of manufacture to durability, it fails in all areas except cost. The Geardo Crow actually did a very good comparison of the two in an article comparing the clone against the real deal.
If you can’t justify the cost of a real 6354DO then you don’t necessarily have to resort to something substandard or a Chinese clone, there are still more than a few well built holster choices for a secure and well made Glock holster, such as those made by T.Rex Arms (my review on the Ragnarok here) or even domestic U.K. suppliers in the UK such as HW Holsters. But if you’re looking to replicate that UKSF or SEAL Team CBS look, this is a must have.
So, negatives? Well, putting it’s relatively high cost aside (as cost and value are all relative to the person spending the money), I’d say that its very short on weaknesses, I’ve certainly struggled to find anything I don’t like about this holster, but the big question is, can I recommend it?
Well… If it’s good enough for the SAS then yeah, I’d say it’s good enough for you lot. This holster is often regarded as the Ferrari of Duty/Combat holsters, and I don’t mean it needs an oil change every other month.
Whilst it’s a far from ideal choice for concealed carry or even general police duty carry (a hooded holster is generally considered a safer option for law enforcement), this particular holster excels in the two main requirements we as airsofters, or those in a direct action role demand… Speed of draw whilst offering secure retention.
It boils down to the following question… How much are you willing to spend to look cool? The primary UK retailer for Safariland (and where I purchased this one) is Tactical Kit, they generally have a good selection of standard and light-bearing Safariland holsters in both right and left handed (thank god) options, with regular restocks so you never have to wait too long.