Buyers Guide: Top 3 Duty and Combat Holsters

Just about anyone who owns a full-size duty weapon wants a duty or combat holster for it. Even though the name implies they are for duty or combat, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great holsters for anyone who wants to carry a full-size weapon with an outside-the-waistband holster. Duty holsters are made to attach to wider belts like duty and combat size, which is about 2.25 inches. Some belts are a little smaller, but most holsters will still work with them.

Further, duty holsters often have three or more levels of retention, making it easy for the user to draw their weapon while also keeping the gun secure and harder to reach by the bad guys. There are tons of companies out there that design and manufacture quality duty/combat holsters, but I’ve decided to cover three of my favorites. I’ve worked in law enforcement for a long time and used a few different holsters over the years. Some have impressed me, and others I tossed away because they don’t work very well.

That said, let’s dive in.

1.  Safariland 6360RDS-ALS SLS

Not an easy model name to remember, but the Safariland 6360RDS-ALS SLS holster is a duty holster that has all the bells and whistles. First, it has the ALS system, which is an automatic locking system. This means you can drop your gun into the holster, and it’s locked in. An additional retention device is the rotating hood that locks in place over the gun.

Second, it has a suede lining to protect the gun from scratches, dings, and other damages while wearing the holster. This isn’t something people think of when buying a holster until their gun starts getting wear marks on it.

Safarliland Duty holster.
The Safariland RDS duty holster can work on any platform with the use of the QLS system. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
What makes this one top the list, however, isn’t its durability, retention, or even its lining.

It’s the fact that the holster is designed to accept optics-ready handguns. These days, it’s fairly common to see optics on handguns and, thankfully, Safariland recognized that fact. This duty/combat holster also has a rotating hood that closes over the optic to keep it protected while carrying it. When you draw the gun, the hood pops open so it’s not in the way. If you don’t want the hood on the holster, it’s easily removed by the user.

But wait, that’s not all! This holster also accommodates a variety of weapon light models. You can also attach the holster to just about any type of duty/combat belt, making it great for everyday use. When you purchase this holster, you can select the model of gun and brand of lights. It works with standard Trijicon RMR and Holosun 507-style optics. There are a ton of compatible lights to select from, including Surefire, Streamlight, Olight, Enforce, and Nightstick.

2.  Blackhawk T-Series Light Bearing Red Dot Sight Holster

Just like the Safariland holster mentioned above, the Blackhawk T-Series Light Bearing Red Dot Sight Holster will accommodate the light and red dot on your gun. This holster also features a rotating hood, three retention levels, and an optic cover to protect your mounted red dot. I carried one of these holsters for a while and liked it. My agency ended up buying me a Safariland holster, so I switched and liked the Safariland a little more. But I know a lot of police who use the Blackhawk T-Series holster and swear by it.

Blackhawk duty holster.
Blackhawk T-Series Light Bearing Red Dot Sight Holster. [Photo: Blackhawk.com]
It also has a soft lining to protect the gun as it moves in and out of the holster. The soft lining eliminates noise for a quieter draw, while also offering a layer of protection against marring, scratches, and other premature wear.

Plus, this holster will work with several Surefire and Streamlight weapon light models and multiple optics. This holster is a good choice as well and retails for a little less than the Safariland. On the downside, however, it has fewer options for light compatibility.

3.  Alien Gear Rapid Force Duty Level III OWB Holster

Last, but not least, is the Alien Gear Rapid Force duty holster. One thing Alien Gear brags about with this holster is its ruggedness. The company claims the holster can withstand up to 800 pounds of pull strength, which means your gun is not coming out of the holster unless the locking system is released intentionally by you, the user.

The lightweight minimalist design is rather attractive as it’s small and compact, at least for a duty holster, making it easier and more comfortable to carry for patrol officers. A QDS (quick detach system) allows the user to attach it to whatever platform is needed, which is helpful because you do not remove the belt attachment to use the holster on a different setup.

Alien Gear duty holster.
Alien Gear Rapid Force Duty Level III Holster. [Photo: AlienGearHolsters.com]
Safariland offers a quick detach system for their duty holsters, too. Just like the Safariland holster and the Blackhawk holster, the Alien Gear Rapid Force has an optics cutout for a complete duty-weapon setup.

Plus, Alien Gear offers a lifetime warranty for this holster, which is a major selling point for a holster with a $100+ price tag. This holster works with several popular Glock models but is rather limited in its compatibility with weapon lights.

Summary

Any of these holsters would be a great choice for a duty/combat holster. You can set up a duty or combat belt with all the attachments you desire. Having a good holster is extremely important when carrying one that is visible and sticks out more than other holsters. Once you have one set up on a belt, they are all comfortable and easy to use. All three are level three retention holsters and all three work with a light and red dot. If you wish to find one without a red dot or light, you can find each holster without those options.

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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