AR-15 Holster by Stratus: A Good Idea?

You may be wondering what the heck an AR-15 holster is, and if you’re like me, you’re picturing some giant atrocity. When the Stratus Systems AR-15 holster was pointed out to me at SHOT Show 2024, I had to have a look. Based out of Huntsville, Texas, this American company makes weapon accessories for law enforcement and the military. It only took me a few minutes of playing with the Stratus Gen 2 holster to decide I needed to try one out for a while and see if it worked as well as it looked.

Attaching a rifle, PCC, or shotgun to your vest or belt is something I haven’t seen before. I’ve always said the sling is the holster for our rifle, and that hasn’t changed. But this system is designed to work with or without a sling and it brings some benefits with it. The most obvious one is the ability to distribute the weight of the rifle to your vest or belt, even with a sling on. A sling is great for mobility and keeping your gun connected to you. But if you have ever stood around for long periods of time, the sling starts to wear on you, too.

With this system, you can place the Gen 2 holster wherever you want, so you can use it even while wearing the sling. When both the sling and holster are placed correctly, the sling will help hold the weight of the rifle while the holster keeps the gun from moving around.

Stratus Gen 2 Holster with QD Pin Combo

The “holster” is a patented device that works on your belt or MOLLE gear. Stratus makes several different quick-detach pins that work with the holster. Some connect to a Picatinny rail, but the one I’m trying out is for an AR-15. Stratus made a receiver back plate that has their QD pin on it. This does require removing the buffer tube and switching out the plate, but that’s not a big deal. I decided to install mine on an AR-15 pistol for now.

Stratus Support Systems AR-15 holster.
The Stratus Systems Gen II holster for the AR-15 and QD pin. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Stratus offers two levels of retention for their holster. The first allows the QD pin to slide into the holster and be easily pulled back off. With level 2 retention, you must push in on a release before the rifle will come back off the holster. It takes up very little room and is just a hair smaller than a handcuff case. If you’re wondering how strong the holster is, Stratus states that they will replace anything that breaks. I like companies that stand behind their product with guarantees like this.

Installing the Receiver End Plate

The process of installing the receiver plate is not hard. But if you haven’t done it before, I recommend doing some research before you start. I won’t get into too much detail in this article because I’ve covered it several times in past articles. First, you will need to pull the stock or arm brace off the buffer tube. Remove the upper from the lower using the two takedown pins. Next, remove the buffer spring, and you will be ready to remove the back plate.

An AR-15 armorer’s wrench is needed to remove the castle nut on the buffer tube. This is what holds the back plate against the back of the receiver. As you loosen the back plate, watch for the rear detent spring that will come out of the back of the receiver. Once the back plate is loose and pulled to the rear, make sure you can turn the buffer tube. As you do this, keep your thumb over the top of the buffer spring detent because it will have some pressure on it from the spring under it.

Installing the QD pin/ AR-15 back plate.
The QD pin is attached to the receiver back plate of the AR-15. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Once you clear the buffer tube detent, take it out and continue to unscrew the buffer tube. With the tube, all the way off, pull the old back plate off the buffer tube and install the new one. Screw the buffer tube back in until it rests over the top of the buffer spring detent, which holds it in place. There should still be just enough room to re-install the rear detent spring. Once the rear detent spring is lined up, push the back plate against the rear of the lower receiver. Then, tighten the castle nut to hold it in place.

Using the Stratus Gen 2 Holster and QD Pin

With the QD pen installed on your AR-15, you are now ready to try it out. I decided to put my holster on my vest instead of using it on my belt. A pistol grip shotgun or even smaller AR would work great on the belt. But my AR pistol is not the smallest, so I figured my vest would provide more support. I weaved the Molle on like any other pouch and placed the holster on the right side. I’m right-handed, so I wanted the holster to have easy access.

Stratus Support Systems AR-15 holster.
The Gen II holster held my AR-15 on even while running and jumping. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The vest I’m using today does not have MOLLE on the sides, so I mounted it on the far right of the front. If you have MOLLE webbing on the sides of your vest, you could mount it closer to your side to keep the AR even more out of the way. I usually use a GrovTec sling, but I wanted to test the holster out by itself, so I took the sling off for today. It only took me a few minutes to decide I liked the Stratus Gen 2 holster. My holster is next to my AR-15 mag pouch, but it didn’t get in the way at all.

Using the Stratus Support Systems holster.
It was easy to press the release lever while drawing the AR-15 with one hand. [Photo: Jason Mosher
It was easy to drop the QD pin into the holster, where it was locked in place. I could unlock the holster and draw with one hand, which was easier than I thought it would be. Stratus claims the holster is strong, so I decided to go for a little job to see if I could get it to come out.

Note: my AR-15 was empty during this test. I ran, jumped, and even pulled on the rifle, but it wouldn’t come off. With enough force from another person, it could probably be pulled off, but just about any gear could at that point.

Is it a good idea?

Yes, it’s a great idea. I’m not advocating for using it in place of a sling, but it provides another option for holding your AR with a sling. This is a great way to attach it to your vest or belt for those who don’t like to bother with a sling on their rifle. I work in law enforcement, and this could be a great tool when you’re standing around with your AR for long periods of time.

It could be a great option on the range and while hunting as well. Stratus makes the QD pin for the Remington 870 and Mossberg 590, and I think this would be a great product to combine with a pistol grip shotgun. I will continue using the Stratus holster and see how well it holds up over time. But for now, I’m liking it.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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