In 2009 I was looking for a light compatible retention duty holster for work. Prior to this I was using a SERPA (didn’t ever shoot myself but had other issues with it) as I liked how it was one button to release the gun and it automatically was secured upon reholstering.
At the time for light compatible holsters, I was only aware of the Safariland SLS (hood) duty holster. Watching even well trained officers struggle to get the hood off and a good grip into a presentation quickly discouraged me from wanting to go the SLS route.
About the fall of that year I saw that Safariland had a new retention system called the ALS or Automatic Locking system on their holsters. It was billed as a Level 2 retention (same as the SLS) only much faster without a hood that had to be moved out of the way and put back on when your gun is reholstered.
I bought one for my G22/X300 duty combo and started playing with it. I noticed out of the box that the quality of the Safariland holster was far better than the quality of the SERPA. The ALS locking system locks into the ejection port on the pistol where the SERPA locked into the trigger guard (one of its many issues). The light compatible version of the ALS also friction locks around the light. The friction lock with the button is what makes the ALS a level 2 holster. *Safariland has since reclassified the ALS as a Level 1 holster unless you use the “hood guard” but in my opinion it’s a level 2.* The ALS also uses a nub that sticks in the barrel of the pistol that’s about ½ inch long to help stabelize the pistol while its holstered. This is something you have to account for when using red/blue training guns as most of them do not have an open barrel. I drilled mine out to allow its use.
I found that I was as fast with the ALS as I was with a open top Raven Concealment Phantom holster do to the ALS button release being activated as part of your attaining a firing grip. I practice my firing grip/presentation throughout the day as I’m working and constantly grip the gun while releasing the activation button and so far its worked %100 of the time.
I was involved in an incident where I had to go from gun out to gun away and hands on in a split second. The ALS retention immediately locked the gun in place and I didn’t have to worry about it falling out like I would have with the SLS as it doesn’t retain the gun unless you have the hood over the gun. This incident sold me on the ALS as a duty holster not just a speed range holster.
Currently I have 3 various ALS holsters for different uses where I need a retention holster. I’m a big believer in the “train as you fight” mantra and as over half my time awake is spent uniform with the ALS holster I spend most of my training presenting from the ALS and about 25% of the time from a Raven Phantom. If I was CCW only, I wouldn’t have a need for the ALS style as having your gun concealed in a quality concealment holster is what I consider a level 2 retention as is. (1 being friction of the holster and 2 being the fact your gun is concealed).
I’m happy to try and answer any more questions I can if I didn’t clarify things about the holster and how it works from an end users point of view.
In the pictures, the 6320/6390 is the brown one on my Blue Force Gear SOC-C Belt and the same holster body with the Drop Flex adapter on my duty belt. The paddle holster is the 6378 only a light compatible version.
Here are photos of the ALS Holsters I own and use.