Caution About Safariland GLS Holsters

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Articles

  • SumoMe

Safariland GLS with retention lock released by middle finger


I really like Safariland’s retention holsters.  I wear an ALS holster at work and occasionally even wear one off duty when I choose to carry behind the hip.  I refuse to open carry in any type of holster that doesn’t have a retention device, therefore the Safariland retention holsters are in a constant carry rotation with me.


While I prefer the ALS retention locking mechanism (activated with the thumb), many people think the GLS model (activated with the middle finger) is actually faster.  Both are quality designs and exponentially better in a fight than an open-top holster.


John Motil, general manager at The Tactical Defense Institute sent me some photos of a situation that a student at TDI experienced when using her GLS holster.  Take a look at the pictures below and see if you can see what the problem is:


Student's gun in the holster

Student’s gun in the holster

Normal gun placement in the holster

Normal gun placement in the holster









Do you see the problem?  The GLS retention lock was activated when the student threw the holster (without gun) into her range bag.  When she inserted the weapon, it wouldn’t properly seat in the holster.  Here is John’s description of the incident:


“We had a new shooter using a GLS Holster this weekend, and ended up in a situation where the gun could have fallen out of the holster. Can you tell that the gun isn’t seated properly in one photo? Somehow the latch mechanism moved to the retention position while the gun was out, possibly while in her range bag.  If something doesn’t feel right check, never force a gun into a holster.”

Shooters using the GLS should be aware that a problem like this is possible.  Two negative outcomes could occur using a holster that is malfunctioning like this.  The first is that the gun will remain loose in the holster and potentially fall out.  The second is that the user could attempt to force the gun farther down into the malfunctioning holster, thereby causing an accidental discharge.


If something feels wrong when reholstering, take the time to figure out what is causing the problem.  Don’t just ignore it or attempt to apply more force to “fix” it.




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9 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Cotter Sayre says:

    “The second is that the user could attempt to force the gun farther down into the malfunctioning holster, thereby causing an accidental discharge.”

    Is this true? Can the GLS really cause an AD if holstered with force while in retention mode? If so, then this holster should be pulled from the market ASAP…

    • Cotter Sayre says:

      Greg; Fantastic information, as usual, but my question above wasn’t really rhetorical: Can the GLS really cause an AD if holstered with force while in retention mode?

      • No it will not cause a discharge of the pistol. The GLS lock was tripped without the gun being holstered. When the GLS lock is activated without the gun holstered you will not be able to holster the gun but it will not discharge the firearm. Simply press the GLS release lever inward, insert your finger into the holster and press the GLS locking tab towards the inside of the holster to release it. The holster will now work properly when you holster the gun. It is necessary to understand how all of your equipment functions and the required maintenance for it.
        Tommy Campbell

    • The issue here is that the operator has tripped the GLS lock without the gun being holstered. Forcing the gun into the holster WILL NOT CAUSE IT TO DISCHARGE. The operator needs to simply compress the GLS release lever as if you were drawing the gun and insert your finger into the holster and push the GLS locking tab to toward the inside of the holster to unlock it. This is not a malfunction of the holster. Please learn the proper operation of all of your gear just as you do your firearm.

      Tommy Campbell

    • Cotter Sayre says:

      Thanks Tommy. I didn’t think that a Safariland retention holster would have such a glaring flaw, as they are the best on the market. I believe that they even invented the entire Retention Level (1,2,3) concept, which other companies and individuals have misunderstood.

  2. Brett Wilie says:

    Greg…is your duty holster a Level I or III retention and what would you recommend for civilian use?

    • Greg Ellifritz says:

      There is no standardization between the levels. Each manufacturer decides for itself how to label its holster. My duty holster is the straight up ALS lock. Safariland considers it a level 1, but it provides much better retention than its other level one holster (a thumb break strap).

      For concealed carry, I don’t worry too much. If the bad guy doesn’t know you are carrying, he isn’t likely to try and take your gun. If you are open carrying, I would like SOME kind of retention device to buy you enough time to use your weapon retention skills. I think level 1 or 2 is good enough for most people. Level 3 requires a lot of practice to be able to draw quickly and smoothly.

  3. Joe K. says:

    I think the point was that repeated attempts to re-holster when there is obviously a problem can result in an ND. All that pushing and pulling could cause fingers to go where they shouldn’t. I was taught at Tom Given’s CP1 that I recently took, that there is no such thing as a speed re-holster. Here’s a link that was just posted of a Quip by John Farnam on “Most Dangerous” that I believe is relevant to this topic.

    Thanks for everything.

    Joe K.

    • Cotter Sayre says:

      Thanks Joe; sounds sensible. (So true about the re-holstering; I’m like malassass (sp) in Winter when I re-holster my pistol!).