How to Draw From a Safariland SLS Holster

The Safariland 6004 is likely the most popular holster for modern law enforcement professionals.

With the prevalence of the Safariland 6004/6280 duty holster in modern law enforcement applications, it still shocks me that there are so many LE folks that still draw from an SLS equipped holster in the most inefficient manner. The Self Locking System (SLS) is the commonly seen rotating hood system that largely eliminated traditional snap holsters in modern holster systems. Technically classified as a Level II retention system (meaning it requires two actions to defeat the retention device), the SLS has pretty good security and can be disengaged with a single motion. Unfortunately, I still commonly see officers whåo draw from an SLS using two or more motions to disengage the hood before ever lifting the gun out of the holster.

This is how many people draw disengage the SLS system. This is not only slow, but leaves the service pistol uncontrolled for a period of time, while all retention devices have been defeated.

First, let’s take a look at how I see far too many officers draw from the SLS Rig. Typically, the officer puts their entire palm on the rotating hood, and then pushes down and forward to get it out of the way. The officer then removes their hand from the hood, acquires a grip on the pistol, and then proceeds with the draw stroke. This is wrong on several levels. First of all, it is an inefficient draw that adds excessive motion and increases the time needed to present the pistol. In addition, there is a period of time where the retention system is defeated, yet the officer does not have positive control of the gun. This could be disastrous in a fight, during some kind of high angle operation, presentation on the move, or any dynamic situation that could result in loss of the duty pistol.

An efficient way to disengage the SLS system: Attack from 45 degrees above and behind the holster. As the hand attacks the pistol, feel for front corner of the pistol to get reference for where the rear of the release ledge is located. These do not change in relation to each other. Keeping thumb extended, attack the ledge pushing down and forward as you acquire grip on the pistol.


Here is the way I was taught, and can be done pretty quickly. First, attack the pistol from above the gun and slightly behind so that you can hit it at a forward angle. Some folks like to drop straight down on the pistol, but this leaves very little room for error. Remember that especially on a thigh rig, the holster can shift and any error could result in a botched draw. As I move down and forward toward the pistol, my fingers index on the butt of the gun. Once I obtain this reference point, from practice and experience, I can locate the ledge for the SLS release as this never moves in relation to the butt of the pistol. As I slide forward down onto the pistol to acquire my grip, my thumb stays extended, makes contact with the  rear corner of the ledge of the SLS system, and pushes forward and down at a 45 degree angle. This will rotate the hood forward and clear it from the pistol. Now the pistol can be lifted out of the holster.

This corner is where you want to attack with your thumb. Press down and forward in one smooth motion.

If you’re not already doing this, try this. Do it slow a bunch of times until the proper steps are burned into neural pathways. Then gradually increase speed while focusing on smoothness.

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About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.

One thought on “How to Draw From a Safariland SLS Holster

  1. I think the two-step method may be a result of lazy range practices in which officers are allowed to keep the hood down or snap unsnapped during qualifications in order to ease the draw and allow for more time to get on target. I know I’ve seen it on the range and seen a few instructors who let it slide.

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