December 1, 2021

Grab-Proof IWB Holster? The Safariland 575 GLS


What’s that you say? You want a really concealable inside the waistband holster? It has to be for a high-tech carry pistol like the Springfield Hellcat 9mm, and one topped off with an optical red dot sight (RDS)? And you want it to be snatch-resistant against a disarming attempt?

That’s a pretty tall order. Many would say it could not be done.

Springfield Armory Hellcat in Safariland 575 GLS IWB holster
A Springfield Armory Hellcat in the Safariland 575 GLS IWB holster.

Au contraire. We offer you the RDS-compatible 575 IWB GLS Pro-Fit holster from Safariland.

A Brief History

Team Safariland wins a helluva lot of major practical pistol matches. They owe that to the combined genius of World Champions like Rob Leatham, great shooters like Tom “Tommy Gun” Campbell, and above all Bill Rogers, one of the great modern champions in his own right and much, much more.

Man carrying Hellcat in a Safariland IWB carry rig
The Springfield Hellcat is secured solidly in place with the Safariland holster. Shown with the over-the-belt loop.

Bill Rogers is the FBI agent who became a holster-maker and created the series of snatch-resistant security holsters that have dominated law enforcement for generations now. We will never know how many law enforcement officers are alive today because Rogers-designed holsters defeated would-be cop-killers who tried to get the gun out of the law enforcer’s holster … and couldn’t.

Back in the late 1970s, when I was a young patrolman mandated to carry the department issue .357 Magnum revolver when working in uniform, I wore it in a Rogers Boss Holster. It was simply the most snatch-resistant holster of its time, and with the practice Bill recommended, was fast enough for reactive work.

Time went on. In the early 1980s, I participated in a test demonstration of Bill’s SS-III holster, a Level III security rig. The number meant it took three movements to release the gun before it could be drawn – two of those movements simultaneous (middle finger and thumb) – with a rock-back movement to clear the pistol, and all those movements intuitive. It became my favorite security holster over the years, and the one I wore on duty for most of the 1990s.

Safariland holster with pistol with red dot optic
The Safariland 575 GLS holster is fully compatible with slide-mounted optics like this HEX Wasp.

By then Bill had joined Safariland. The SS-III had become the Model 070, and Bill was working on new designs such as the SLS (Self-Locking System) and ALS (Automatic Locking System). These were more compatible with the weapon-mounted lights that have now become virtually standard for police work. When carry optic sights came into vogue, Rogers-designed security holsters were among the first to adapt to those, too.

The 575 Series

Bill Rogers is a strong Second Amendment supporter. His Rogers Shooting School in Ellijay, Georgia is famous for teaching SEAL teams and SWAT cops but is also “open enrollment” with armed citizens welcome. If you want the Ph.D. in what my old friend Andy Stanford calls “surgical speed shooting,” you want to take the Rogers Shooting School Advanced Course. I did it with a Springfield Armory XD-M 9mm from the Springfield Armory Custom Shop and am here to tell you that winning Expert certification there was the toughest shooting course I’ve been to in a nearly 50-year career of attending such.

Release lever on Safariland holster
The release lever is located where the wearer’s middle finger naturally hits at the beginning of the draw.

You can see that Rogers supports armed citizens and concealed carry, having designed a great many holsters for the latter purpose. And this brings us to the 575 inside the waistband holster.

Also available in outside the belt and paddle configurations, the inside the waistband (IWB) version of Rogers’ 575 is unique: it has a retention device that is not readily visible or palpable to anyone who wants to grab your gun. The release lever is located where your middle finger will strike the holstered pistol naturally when your hand reaches it in a proper high-hand grasp to begin the draw. That middle finger trips the release paddle forward (toward the top of the holstered gun, which of course is worn with the muzzle pointed downward). It’s natural and intuitive: if you are drawing with a solid hold, it will release easily with a proper grip.

When this series came out a few years ago, I visited Bill at his Safariland research center in Jacksonville, Florida. As perhaps the world’s leading expert in snatch-resistant holsters today, Bill has higher standards than most of us: he told me he doesn’t consider the 575 a “security” holster on the level of the ones he makes for uniformed police and military wear.

Safariland IWB Hellcat pistol in it
The body side of the holster is smooth and incorporates a sweat shield to protect your gun.

That said, though, the 575 has a definite “proprietary to the user” factor not found in regular open-top-holsters or even in thumb-breaks. The reason is the angle of attack by someone trying to disarm you. A right-handed man reaching straight for your right-handed holster from the front is likely to pop the thumb-break without even trying to with the heel of his snatching hand, but highly unlikely to trip the release of the 575. Grabbing from behind, he’s unlikely to get the straight-down-on-the-gun grasp that the legitimate user will, and will more likely than not in my experience miss the inconspicuous 575 release lever. I say that having been an instructor in weapon retention, the science of defeating a disarming attempt, since 1980 and a master instructor training other instructors in that discipline since 1990 and witnessing and experiencing thousands of gun grabs in training.

Safariland calls this feature “GLS” for Grip Lock System. Because the release lever is close to the juncture of triggerguard and frame, some users find they have to readjust their grip slightly as their hand is coming up on target during the draw. This doesn’t affect every shooter the same way: it’s subjective based on the thickness of a middle finger and the configuration of their given pistol. John found it an issue, but not a deal-breaker, with his hand and his Hellcat and this particular holster.

Safariland 575 GLS holster
The 575 is a solidly built concealment holster, with a lot of innovation built-in. Shown with under-the-belt loop.

Concealment & Security?

When you look at the comments which accompany this article, there’s a high likelihood someone will write, “I don’t need security in a concealment holster, ‘cause it’s concealed and no one will know to grab it.” That will tell you that person hasn’t read this whole article.

“Out of sight/out of mind” can apply to the user as well as the potential gun-grabber. Maybe the wind blew your coat back and revealed the gun. Maybe the incident began as a physical grapple, and when the bad guy’s arms went around your waist in a bear hug, he felt the pistol and the gun-grab is on. Or maybe the gun-grabber is someone who already knows that you carry a gun, and where you carry it.

Since our test Safariland holster was for a Springfield Hellcat, I turned it over to my friend and colleague John Strayer. John is a Five-Gun Master in IDPA competition, the winner of multiple state and regional championships in that “concealed carry sport,” and a certified weapon retention instructor himself.

More to the point, he has more time with the Hellcat than I do. While I certainly like that gun, I generally carry something larger: John, on the other hand, carries a Hellcat every day by choice. It should be noted that he owns a gun shop (Pro Arms Gun Shop in Live Oak, Florida), has owned practically every subcompact 9mm out there, and settled on the Hellcat for his personal protection.

Red dot cut on holster
The 575 GLS easily accommodates most, if not all, red dot optics on the Hellcat like this HEX Wasp.

I’ve seen John Strayer draw and fire from concealment in about one second including reaction time, and while I didn’t put a timer on him it looked to me as if he was drawing the Hellcat from the Safariland 575 and getting a shot off in about that time.

Strayer told The Armory Life, “It’s very fast. I didn’t have to change anything in terms of technique. My regular draw from an open-top hip holster worked perfectly for it from the beginning. Even though I was having some back issues at the time of the test, I found it very comfortable for inside the waistband carry, and totally concealable.”

John’s only complaint was that the belt clip was so tight he couldn’t just snap it over his preferred Wilderness Instructor belt, and had to thread the belt through the holster clip. And that wasn’t really a complaint, because John himself realizes that tightness helps to lock the holster in place and prevent undesirable shifting.

Conclusion

At $68 retail, the 575 is a bargain that might just save your life. Oh, and did we mention that it’s cut for an RDS already, and incorporates a sweat shield? Sounds like a great deal to me!

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