BLUF (or TL/WR)?
Wear your Safariland ALS (or ALS/SLS combination) duty holster at 2 (or 10) o’clock, with a 15-degree muzzle forward orientation on a low ride belt attachment.
History, anecdotal research, and real data show it is both faster and better ergonomically.
The data is on the @the_theory_police Instagram page.
Caveat: I had this idea back in the fall, but a Canadian copper got to the end result well before I would have.
In December 2018, I took a red dot/pistol mounted optic class from Modern Samurai Project and shot next to an Orange Co SO Deputy Gabe Rivera. His SWAT rig had the holster at about 2 o’clock. He was called out, so I didn’t get the chance to discuss it with him.
After retiring, one of the first books I read was John Bianchi’s 1978 Blue Steel & Gunleather on the subject of holster design, construction, and the like. Other topics from it may be fodder for other posts later.
The most interesting, to me, was a series of thoughts and photos covering the popular combat shooting holsters from the 60s & 70s. Whether part of a full belt, like the old Hollywood cowboy rigs, or stand-alone holsters – these all had a muzzle forward cant. Bianchi describes them as being forward cant holsters. He said they were metal lined, which, coupled with the forward cant, would prevent shooters from being injured in the event of an accidental discharge - the phrase at the time.
I was intrigued given the contrast to current duty holsters – almost exclusively Safariland – which has a distinct muzzle rearward design. Safariland has claimed this is an effort to prevent shooters from being injured by a negligent discharge (ND), the current term. A recent conversation with Bill Rodgers confirmed the above.
One of the big positives was a faster draw. Hmmm.
While mentally digesting that, I recalled that several senior deputies in my old organization wore muzzle forward holsters when I started. These were all for 1911s – which were carried by just less than half of the 200+ deputy sheriffs back then. I recall they were Bianchi, not Safariland.
Why did they go away?
If I have historical questions about law enforcement equipment, firearms, and training, my first contacts are usually Darryl Bolke, Wayne Dobbs, and Chuck Haggard. Retired cops from California, Texas, and Kansas, respectively.
Bolke had a muzzle forward Gordon Davis holster done for a .45Long Colt revolver he carried working crime suppression. He also mentioned Safariland’s model 295 holster they built for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Dobbs thought the most significant benefit of the muzzle forward design was establishing the grip correctly from the beginning because of an already locked wrist. He added that while at the LAPD academy range during the PMO project, he saw muzzle forward holsters being worn by LAPD Lts in "immaculate" uniforms – pressed & shined. Holster companies founded by both Gordon Davis and Ted Blocker made, and still make, all leather holsters with muzzle forward cant.
Both thought they might have been perceptions about disarms and weapon retention issues.
Next call? Haggard, who teaches as much arrest & control material as he does shooting.
Haggard told me it was not a weapon retention issue. He saw how it might have been perceived that way. Also, there were negative perceptions about some who choose to wear their holsters this way.
In November, I audited a class taught by Sentinel Defense. One instructor had a holster with a muzzle forward cant. That instructor, Clint, had been an LAPD patrol officer, worked CRASH during the 90s, as well as being a divisional firearms instructor. As I got deeper into thinking about this, I called him. He pointed me to a G-Code belt holster mount that allowed one to adjust the mount for muzzle forward or back cant. I ordered two; however, neither were adjustable because G-Code had changed their design. (Clint is a close friend and we teach together elsewhere.)
In December, I ran into Ken Hackathorn at Gunsite. I asked him about the muzzle orientation issue. He was pretty sure that the reason this design went away was that they would inadvertently take the 1911s safety off.
I mentioned this to Darryl; however, he did not recall anything about the thumb safety issue.
New plan. After SHOT, I figured find someone bending thicker Kydex or Bolteron, in the 0.09 range, and have them make me a few prototypes.
At this year's SHOT Show, I went by the Safariland booth – trying to find duty holsters for pistols equipped with both PMO and WML takes effort. There, I talked with Bill Rodgers and asked him about the muzzle forward vs rearward cant issue. He said the sole reason Safariland went to muzzle rearward cant was that cops were shooting themselves in the leg, knee with anything other than a muzzle rearward cant holster. Specifically, Rodgers attributed this to open trigger guard design holsters and the introduction of Glocks in 1977.
(Bianchi published his book in '78 and Glocks didn't even begin appearing until well into the 80s.)
The book showed an awful lot of open trigger guard designs. It also frequently showed fingers on triggers - except for the segment on safely drawing a pistol.
He said Safariland has seen fewer officers shooting themselves in the leg with the newer holster designs. That leads to a reduced liability for them. It was why they were comfortable with moving from solely rearward cant models. An example of this was a couple of modified Universal Belt Loops (UBLs) out on the table. Rather than the standard triangular three circular hole pattern, these had three curved, semi-circle slots that would allow the holster to rotate some when mounted to this UBL. It is called the CUBL and, while not available for purchase as of this writing. They list it on the website (https://www.safariland.com/pro...loop-model_CUBL.html).
Meanwhile, I found an Instagram page run by a Canadian police officer, who goes by the nom de net of @the_theory_police. It appeared he was as into actual data and research as many of my friends in the field are.
He was posting photos and data from his study of four issues relating to duty holster wear in L/E and with some extrapolation to elements of the military. Those four issues are:
Height, in relation to the duty belt;
Angle, the direction of muzzle cant and how much;
Position, with regards to the buckle – 3 (or 9) o'clock? Or is there something better, faster;
After working the various factors on shot timers himself, he got data from other cops. Using the timer, he tracked the data on all of these variables, put it into photos for most of us to understand, wrote up the results as well, and then shared all of it.
Height wise, he looked at the mount and how it raised or lowered the grip compared to the belt, as a high, mid, or low ride design. High ride holsters averaged out to a 1.57-second draw; mid-ride averaged 1.41 seconds; the low ride UBL came in at 1.33 seconds. Just shy of a quarter second difference.
Regarding the holster's angle, he uses the terms differently from how Bianchi did. If the muzzle is oriented rearward, then that is a positive angle. If the muzzle is forward, that is a negative angle.
He designed an adjustable fixture that would let him move the muzzle from 20 degrees forward through 0 degrees (straight drop) to 10 degrees rearward for the testing.
The best angle was 15 degrees muzzle forward. He made a relatively thin plate as proof of concept, though he specifically cautioned that it was not for duty use.
Additionally, going to a 15-degree muzzle forward angle keeps the wrist from breaking out of a natural, neutral angle. Think back to Dobb’s thought on the benefit of a muzzle forward design.
To determine the best position on a belt, he started at 12 o'clock, the centerline (0 deg), and worked back to behind the hip, 4 o'clock or 120 deg, in 10-degree increments. Rather than confirming the traditional 3 o'clock (90 deg) position was best, the data showed that 2 o'clock (60 degrees) provided the best performance.
Safariland has three different retention systems that he tested. 1st, the Automatic Locking System / Self-Locking System (ALS/SLS) combination; 2nd, ALS-only; 3rd, the combined ALS w/guard (which he notes seems to be rare in North America but common elsewhere). There was a negligible 0.05-second average difference in the draw to shot times between an ALS/SLS combination and an ALS only holster.
Additionally, and something I was glad to see, he tied in the draw to shot times with data from Force Science. Given that ForceScience has been able to make inroads into L/E in terms of human factors, this is "a" way to push the idea with traction that already exists.
With all of that, @the_theory_police reached out to a manufacturing company – Black Box Customs – and had them produce two mounts. One is an adapter that mounts between the Safariland holsters and their Universal Belt Loop to get the correct angle. The second mount does that and allows one to attach an 1110 Gear tourniquet holder at the front of the holster – removing it from the belt while keeping it accessible by either hand. One benefit, by moving the TQ holder to the holster, I gain space on the belt.
You can find these mounts here: https://shop.blackboxcustoms.com/products/black-box-customs-negative-cant-plate-for-safariland-holsters-equipment-mount.
I've ordered two of these mounts out of my pocket and am looking forward to getting them. I’ll report back when I get them
If this is something you are interested in, go to @the_theory_police IG account. Look at his research and the data sets he developed. Comment or ask questions. Thank him for his work. If you think it's worthwhile, give it a like or two.
Last night, I saw @the_theory_police had also looked at the ALS Nub from Oregon Trail Defense. He posted the data on its benefit. I already have them on my holsters because they made it more consistent for me. It is nice to know there is a demonstrable benefit for using them.
I hope this is beneficial.