I am publishing this from my Android phone, using the WordPress app. Please excuse any formatting issues until I am able to get home to my computer, and fix them.
I was turned on to the Safariland ALS holsters about a year ago, while looking for a level 1 retention holster to use in shooting 3-gun matches, where a holster without active retention could result in a dropped pistol.
I previously used the Blackhawk SERPA style holsters, but I found them to be poorly made, hard to draw from, and quite frankly, unsafe. That is all I’m going to get into with the SERPA holsters, as this topic has been beat to death all over the internet.
Back to the ALS. I first bought a Safariland 6377 for my Glock 17, which is the standard belt holster with the ALS mechanism. I found that the thumb button was very easy to deactivate, and it actually promotes a high thumb grip, which is how I prefer to grip pistols. The holster is suede (or fake suede) lined, which helps to keep the pistol from rattling inside the holster. I was concerned about the suede picking up some dirt, and holding it inside the holster, but I have rolled around on the ground in both dirt, and gravel with a holstered pistol, and have found it to be a non issue.
I particularly like that Safariland offers many different attachments for these holsters, while still using the same basic core holster. You can go from a relatively high riding duty type holster, all the way down to a sub-load holster with leg straps, all while using the same holster body.
I was so impressed with the standard ALS that I them purchased an ALS 6378 for my Glock 17 with the Streamlight TLR-1 attached. The light holster I have found to be great, however the paddle attachment found on the 6378 is terrible. I may be a little biased, as I do not like paddle holsters in general, but I have found the oddly shaped Safariland paddle to be the worst I have tried. Hard to install on the belt, hard to take off, and the holster would move all around while on the belt. I much prefer the Bladetech style paddle, which goes on and off easily, and holds the paddle nicely in place on the belt. I was happy to find that the 6378 ALS shipped with a regular belt attachment, which works great.
I am a huge fan of the Safariland belt attachment. It is made out of a soft plastic, or rubber, and stays where you leave it in the belt. It will not shift fore or aft unless you really muscle it to a different position. I was concerned about the material being delicate when I first began using these holsters, but, like the suede lining, it has proven to be a non issue, and a welcome addition to the holster.
I do have one gripe about these holsters, and it is one that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else, so it may be unique to me. On my Glock 17, I have installed Sevigny competition sights (which are taller than stock Glock sights), and I have found that upon repeated draws from the holster, the front sight has begun to take shavings out of the holster, which over time has created a little channel in the ALS mechanism, and appears that the front sight may begin to impact the threaded brass insert that the screw that holds the ALS mechanism to the holster threads into. As a preventative measure, I took my dremel, and removed some material from the holster to hopefully prevent this from happening.
Obviously Safariland cannot design their holsters to work with every aftermarket add on that someone may want to add to their pistol, I do feel that a slightly taller sight channel would benefit these holsters.
Lastly, I would like to address the Safariland MLS-15 MOLLE attachment for these holsters. The MLS-15 is a great little item that allows the holster to be securely attached to MOLLE webbing. I really like this little attachment, however I found that when attached to a MOLLE belt, such as the HSGI Suregrip belt, that the holster rides very high in relation to to where I usually carry a pistol. To fix this, I took a small scrap of Kydex, and made an adapter that drops the holster about 2″. I was also concerned that the MLS-15 would detach from the MOLLE webbing under hard use. I have also found this to be a non issue, but I have only been using the MLS-15 for a couple months. Rest assured, if it becomes an issue, I will document it here.
Overall, I would give these holsters a B+. Great holsters, at a good price. If Safariland would address the short sight channel, and the terrible paddle, they could easily have an A grade.