Safariland has been around for a long time and their retention holsters are, in my opinion, among the best. The automatic locking system (ALS) is a simple locking mechanism which locks onto the ejection port of the weapon. The weapon is released by putting pressure on a lever with your thumb during your natural draw sequence. When re-holstering the weapon, the ALS locks the firearm automatically upon re-holstering. It’s a very nifty system and builds upon the self-locking system (SLS). The SLS is a hood which when rotated up prevents the weapon from being drawn. To draw the thumb depresses the hood, then rotates it forward so that the gun may be drawn. Both of these systems have been used in many excellent holsters which have been used by special operations, law enforcement and shooting enthusiasts over the years.
The Safariland 7304 doesn’t reinvent the wheel. But what it does, is give Safariland holsters some improvements over previous generations of Safariland holster designs. Safariland has changed their holster material to a proprietary non-abrasive SafariSeven™ nylon. The material is noted to be strong, resilient, and of-course non-abrasive to your weapon. In my time using the 7304 I’ve found it to be extremely tough and resilient to tough training environments. In the case of mine, I’ve found it particularly hard to scratch or otherwise damage the body of the holster.
The 7304 uses both the ALS and the SLS systems. And while this isn’t new to Safariland holsters, I do feel like the designs have been improved. The SLS mechanism feels remarkably smoother in use than my other SLS equipped holsters ever did. The ALS, in the same vein of thought, performs much smoother than older Safariland holsters equipped with ALS retention systems. I believe it has to do with the SafariSeven™ nylon material that is used, in either case, the improvements are a welcome surprise.
I’ve found that my draw times with both the ALS and SLS systems engaged is faster than comparable but older Safariland holsters. If you don’t care for the SLS system, the hood can stay in the open position which allows you to use only the ALS system. Should you find yourself in a situation where the SLS system would prove advantageous, you can simply reengage the SLS system. The 7304 also come with a hood shield to keep the SLS from opening accidentally and also to make it harder for someone to try and snatch the weapon away should they be in front of you.
Because the ALS system is internal to the holster many have wondered about the reliability of the system. Should dirt or particulate matter enter in, would the mechanism jam and retain your weapon? Safariland anticipated this problem and added raised sections within the holster which contact and retain your weapon. The extra space around the weapon allows dirt and other matter to simply fall through the holster and out the open bottom. This will help prevent dirt from getting trapped between the gun and holster which could potential cause malfunctions.
My particular model came with a universal flex adapter drop leg platform. The wide body of the platform and single leg strap allows the weapon to be stabilized effectively when worn in a mid-ride type setup. The 7304 accepts normal Safariland accessories such as the excellent QLS system should you feel a need to change the mounting system.
In my time with the holster, I’ve come to appreciate the design improvements that Safariland has implemented. Everything feels better. The retention systems, the material, the raised sections. I feel that you would be hard pressed to do better than the 7304 should it fit your particular weapon. Safariland has been in the business for a long time and uses input from real life guys in real life situations. They’re serious about their holster designs and precious few designs are able to compete in the realm of retention holsters.