Weapon Retention Levels Affect Safety and Speed

Posted by Nicholas Stark on

Wearing a gun on a tactical or duty holster has its advantages and disadvantages. While it is in plain view and readily available, the threat of the weapon being removed from the holster against the carrier's will is higher. There are three levels of weapon retention which correspond to the number of security features used for holstered gun protection. The higher the level, the more secure the weapon. The more secure it is, the longer it takes to disengage, draw and fire the gun.

Safety Options

Which retention level to use is either a matter of personal choice or employer mandate. With the additional number of safety devices added to weapons and holsters on today's market, secure gear is more reliable than in the past. Additional tactical training for law enforcement, security and military personnel has decreased the likelihood of loss of weapon control. The more the user practices the required actions, the more flexible and second nature the movement becomes.

Level I

The original retention device was a thumb strap with a snap. While still available in a more advanced form, it provides minimal protection from someone trying to obtain a gun from law enforcement or security personnel. The modern-day thumb guard must be manually disengaged before every use and reengaged afterwards.

Level II

Most police officers use this retention level. It is a compromise between speed and safety. It generally consists of an external and internal safety device. One example of Level II retention would include a thumb-break. Some versions have an auto-lock technology that engages the trigger guard when the gun is holstered and does not release it until the user draws the weapon.

Level III

This retention level requires at least three prohibitive items, whether inside or outside of the duty or tactical holster. Each manufacturer's models are unique and designed specifically for safety first, with as little effect on the swiftness of drawing the weapon as possible. Level three combinations include a trigger guard, pivot guard, thumb break or angled holster.


Different holsters are worn with the same gun in different situations. Those with more or higher retention levels are more secure, but less swift in weapon release. The important thing for the person wearing different types of holsters to remember is which model has which features. When they all have auto retention features, it gives the user peace of mind that the gun will be secure until it is ready to use, and will come out swiftly when needed.

Share this post

← Older Post