Safariland Tactical Holster Modified

The Safariland 3000 series holsters were standard issue in the Marine Security Forces Close Quarters Battle Teams when I served as a member back in the late ‘90s. Holster technology has come a long way since then but I have a twinge of nostalgia for this particular piece of kit.

When the opportunity availed itself to get my hands on one of these increasingly difficult to find holsters for my 1911, I jumped at it. I’ve been waiting for one to surface for years. This old holster was in rough shape but I was pleased to see one again.

Although ultimately superseded by the 6004 the 3000 series tactical drop leg holsters from Safariland are far from obsolete. These holsters feature a conventional thumb break and leg strap without a shroud. They remain highly functional and remain some of the best in class (my opinion.) Additionally they do have a few nominal (and subjective) advantages over the 6004 holsters in that they are simple to operate and maintain with no mechanical locking system. They also ride much closer to the thigh for a substantially lower offset and cross section than the 6004. Stuff like that matters to me and I miss the days of simpler holsters, not that thumb breaks didn’t come with their own set of problems.

Rebuilding this holster, I wanted to keep the best features of the old system that I liked: simple thumb break, low profile, but update it incorporating newer features for functionality.

First thing that had to go was the thumb break. The metal parts on the holster I acquired had the kind of corrosion you’d expect from either prolonged salt water immersion or substantial perspiration. The thumb break and strap system were plastic and not particularly ergonomic. I replaced the original with a more conventional nylon setup.

I had to get rid of the tensioning screw in order get my Dawson Rail to fit. After that, the gun went in like the holster was made for it.

Next I updated the belt hanger and hip extender assembly. I don’t run any PALS belt systems, but MALICE Clips set widely apart make stable, reliable belt loops particularly when run with Belt Stabilizers to lock solidly into place on the belt. I opted for a Duraflex Swivi-Lockster vice a more conventional side release buckle for the quick detach feature. The Swivi-Lockster allows the holster to pivot and swing naturally with leg movement, something that’s always been problematic with the single scuba webbing strap standard on Safariland drop holsters. My initial misgivings about Swivi-Lockster durability have been allayed after having seen many hundreds of these abused on BHI Serpa rigs. It’s not the most highly durable buckle, but in this role it should hold up nicely. That’s the thing with materials and hardware, durability is partly in how they are constructed but much more in how they are placed and used. The Swivi Lockster in this role is a good fit.

There was a lot of trial and error to make the hip extender work. It’s a piece of 2” scuba webbing tapered to support a piece of 1.5” webbing looped into the Swivi-Lockster buckle. I shortened it up to fit for a higher ride.

The leg strap was another major fault in the original design. The body of the holster rides on top of the scuba webbing attached with 3 screws. The original thigh strap was sewn into the scuba webbing which created a very narrow base for the holster, so it lacked for stability and was prone to shifting and swinging while worn on. Safariland remedied this with the leg shroud. While the benefits are obvious, the increased cross section of the holster and standoff from the wearer’s leg are not so desirable (says me.) I like all my gear to be tight and close in. I wrapped the strap over the top of the holster body and then secured it to the hip extender and it rides as solidly and is as stable as any variant with a leg shroud. This thing really hugs your leg and doesn’t move. Given the amount of abuse this holster had seen and it’s probable age, it’s amazing that the original leg strap retained it’s elasticity. It has a lot of life left to it and I opted to keep it rather than replace it with a different material or strap system.

As a quick aside, here’s a little known fact about life in the gear industry: I build a lot of gear for a lot of people but that leaves little time for my own kit. As the builder you’re always the last person to get the new stuff because you’re busy building it for everybody else. How do you justify refurbishing a holster to a customer who’s put money down and is waiting? The time I put into rebuilding this holster was gleaned in small 10-15 minute bites, after hours or between projects.

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6 comments
  1. Great project! That is the perfect application for a Swivi-Lockster. It is too bad that the 3000 series holsters were easier to find. The 6004 requires a lot of modification to get it to ride that high and it will never ride as close as the 3000.

  2. downrangegear said:

    I have a lot of time and many thousand repetitions on those old holsters. During the workup to CQB school, we practiced draws 8 hours a day. I love them and miss them. I wish they hadn’t discontinued them. I’ve been playing around with a 6004 to see if I can modify it to make it run the same way.

    The 6004 isn’t a bad piece of gear. I have one laying around. I could probably do most of the modifications to achieve most of the advantages:
    High Ride: Check
    Swivi-Lockster & belt attachment: Check
    Single strap without a shroud: Possibly.

    • I have a few 6004 holsters and have done some mods. The first thing I did was cut the shroud down to one strap so it could ride higher. I have also used the Eagle Industries MOLLE shrouds.

      I have one of the new lower profile single strap OEM shrouds on order along with a flex adapter. I am looking forward to trying it. It should ride just as high as the 3000 series but will still not ride as close to the leg.

      If you could do the mods that you listed to the 6004 holster, I bet you would sell them like hotcakes.

  3. downrangegear said:

    …I like hotcakes…

    I really hadn’t considered any commercial potential for this, it was just a personal project.

  4. Bagman said:

    Where can I get the Swivi Lockster? All I can find online are distributors, who won’t sell small quantities to individuals.

    • downrangegear said:

      Bagman,

      I bought mine in bulk so I’ve got plenty to spare. Shoot me an email at downrangegear@gmail.com with an inquiry and I’ll get you squared away.

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