Could someone PLEASE help me understand Holster "Retention Level" numbers?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member DarthPaul's Avatar
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    Unhappy Could someone PLEASE help me understand Holster "Retention Level" numbers?

    Ever had one of those topics where you just KNOW you're going to get blazed for your ignorance, but there's no other real way to learn but to go through the fire? Because even though I've been handgunning and concealed-carrying for almost 20 years now on and off, I had let my license expire and then got it renewed, and a lot of technical jargon passed me by.

    So at the risk of seeming stupid, here's the problem I'm having:

    Every time I *think* I understand what holster retention levels are, I read something else that throws me for a loop again.

    Here's the things I *think* I know, and then you all can tell me where I'm right and where I'm wrong, if you're so inclined.

    "No retention" is a holster where the only thing holding the gun into the holster is gravity; your basic $10 holster.

    "Passive Retention" is a holster made of mostly-rigid material which grabs on to the pistol, usually with part of the holster clamped on the trigger guard, until sufficient force is exerted pulling against it that the sides of the holster are forced apart and it lets go (as with Fobus, Blade-Tech, and most non-mechanical synthetic holsters). This is also known as Level 1 retention *unless it is a Safariland holster*, right? Because there is only 1 step- you just have to pull hard enough to overcome the retention lock.

    Level 2 Retention for everything except Safariland involves a mechanical release of some kind instead of a passive retention, ie. something must be disengaged, then the pistol drawn- 2 steps, hence Level 2 Retention.

    Level 3 would involve a hood or lock being disengaged, THEN a mechanical release, THEN drawing the pistol- 3 steps. Am I right so far?

    And then comes the part that blew me totally out of the water- most LEOs don't use these descriptions, they use the descriptions as supplied by the Safariland company, where each level is a separate mechanical release and passive retention doesn't count as "retention", or it counts as a sort of "Level 0". Is that right?

    I guess what I want to know is- Is there an industry standard? What is it? Who set it? And am I meant to feel inferior if I am using a holster that falls outside that system? Because I've been using mostly passive retention holsters since 1995 when I bought my first Fobus (for a SIG P239). And I love them. But lately I've become a SERPAholic, and I love those for the uses to which they are appropriate (carrying while wearing a heavy coat which lets the holster be concealed, with the hammer down on an empty chamber so there is not even a possibility of a negligent discharge- I read the horror stories).

    And where does a thumb-break fit on this scale? Level 1 or 2? Or is that on yet another scale?

    HELP PLEASE- I'm all confused.........
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  2. #2
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    I have holsters for 1911's and 4506's that the top strap is between the hammer and the firing pin. Hammer is cocked. What level of holster do you consider those?

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    Senior Member IKEWarrior04's Avatar
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    You've still got it. Thumb breaks are level 2.
    "Why should I or the NRA go sit down with a group of people who have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment?"- Wayne LaPierre

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    Senior Member DarthPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xslice View Post
    I have holsters for 1911's and 4506's that the top strap is between the hammer and the firing pin. Hammer is cocked. What level of holster do you consider those?
    That's what I'm trying to find out.

    @ SgtStryker- your original post got deleted so all I saw was your quote, but- WHAT THE HELL DID I SAY?!!!!!!!!??!!!!!!!!!!
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    Senior Member djv38's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarthPaul View Post
    @ SgtStryker- your original post got deleted so all I saw was your quote, but- WHAT THE HELL DID I SAY?!!!!!!!!??!!!!!!!!!!
    That's in xslice's signature line (i.e. in every post he makes, it appears there and it was in no way a reference to you)

    Moving on, it was my understanding that a level 2 holster had some sort of retention device that needs to be activated/moved to allow the firearm to leave the holster (hood, or in the case of the Serpa, trigger guard block thingy with their button).

    Level 3 holsters have two retention devices that prevent them from being removed, so just taking one of (like a hood on a holster), the firearm would still be retained in the holster by an additional retention device. The one good example of this I know of is the Blackhawk Serpa Level 3 holster. There are other's, but I'm not very familiar with those.

    If I want a retention holster, a level 2 is plenty for me (I personally prefer Safariland's hooded holster's)
    -Dan

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