Why choose Safariland for your Competition Gear needs.
We all know that Safariland is synonymous with state-of-the-art Military and Duty gear, but their efforts are often unknown by new competition shooters just entering the marketplace. This esteemed manufacturer has been at the forefront of competition gear since the early days of IPSC, and long before IDPA and 3-Gun were even a thing. When I was a new shooter, just beginning my journey, it seemed like only small niche companies and opportunity-driven individuals manufactured most of the competition gear available to us. Then I found Safariland, where the genius and capability of a corner-stone company were applied to competition gear.
When you take the knowledge and experience gained from years of providing the world's best tactical duty gear and apply it to competition shooting, well, something magical happens. This is where Safariland's innovation begins to shine. Safariland competition gear is so practical and durable that it cannot only be found at a local USPSA match, but it is also used in everyday carry by law enforcement, military, and even high-speed SOCOM operators.
At the heart of Safariland's competition gear is the QLS and ELS systems. It's not just belts, holsters, and magazine pouches; it's a whole system that makes Safariland the only logical choice. The glue that makes this all work together is the QLS (Quick Locking) and ELS (Equipment Locking) systems. A plug and play set of attachments that work together like LEGO blocks, creating endless combinations.
Back in the days when IPSC was the new, cool thing, we were all using expensive, purpose-built belt rigs that were of little use outside of the matches. And once a shooter was well blooded, they often went looking for new shooting experiences to enrich their journey. Bianchi Cup, NRA Action Pistol, Steel Challenge, and a host of other outlaw tactical matches supplemented our diet of regular shooting events. Usually, each new venture caused us to buy additional gear. We spent hours modifying our belts or building entirely new ones. It wasn't uncommon to see three or four shooting rigs taking up space in that special area we've all staked out in our homes. One of the challenges I faced at the time was that this equipment had little use outside of the shooting sports arena. I've always considered myself a competition shooter with a tactical mindset, and it was difficult to spend hard-earned money on gear that had little practical value.
Now here comes the magic, the Safariland ELS system. When I'm teaching and competing, I get a lot of questions about my gear, and I spend an equal amount of time educating shooters on how to use the Safariland system to its full capability. But not all these shooters are from the competition world, many of them are Law Enforcement and Military, and they all find ways that the QLS and ELS systems make their gear better.
Like with all competition gear setups, it starts with a solid foundation. Enter Safariland's 032 ELS Competition Belt. This belt is a 1.75" stiff belt of premium construction, lined with two sets of holes punched laterally across its length. This belt is a Velcro-lined outer belt designed to be used with the 030 Velcro under belt. The ingenious little holes in the 032 allow you to bolt your equipment directly to the belt. At first, my thought was no more sliding magazine pouches, and that was correct, but it was only the beginning of understanding how radically innovative this system was. These holes are offset from top to bottom, and their positioning allows for angling of equipment pouches. It also allows for those same pouches to be mounted at two different heights.
A good example would be on my competition belt, where my first two mag pouches are placed at an angle. I mount them high on the belt toward the front for those super speedy, Instagram worthy reloads. Then drop the next ones down an inch and make them straight vertical from my hip bone looping to the backside of the belt. Here they are easier to reach and
take up less belt space. The model 771 Open Front mag pouches or the 773 pistol pouches are great for USPSA competition and work perfectly with the ELS system for speed reloads. Though primarily sold as a competition belt, I've set up many an officer with this system for his daily duty rig. It's that good.
Utilizing the ELS-35 Receiver plates, which can be mounted directly to the belt, gives you the ability to change out any equipment holders with an ELS-34 fork attached. This allows you to substitute any other type of pouch with an ELS-34 mounted into the receiver plate. Shooting 3-Gun competition, you often change out your pistol pouches to a 774 Rifle magazine pouch, or any of Safariland's incredible shotgun shell holders depending on the stage. The Model 086 shotshell holder is one of the fastest reloading platforms out there. Just check out Keith Garcia from team Safariland; he makes it look easy.
The ability to mount ELS or QLS receiver plates directly to the 032 Belt allows you to create an almost infinite number of configurations. Most Safariland equipment pouches can be used with the ELS-34 fork, including pistol, rifle, shotgun shell holders, and more. The equipment pouch can then be plugged into the ELS-35 plate bolted onto the belt and Voila! No more laborious sliding on and off mag pouches from the belt to change equipment. The ELS plates are approximately 3/8" or 1cm thick and have the added benefit of spacing the gear off our bodies, giving just the right amount of offset to make grabbing that magazine perfect. It also eliminates magazine pouch flop, holding the equipment tight and vertical, just how we want it.
Now, instead of spending minutes or even hours trying to convert my belt from one set of needs to another, it literally takes me seconds to change out those pouches. Whether it is for Glock, STI, Single Stack, AR15, AR10, or shotgun, equipment can be changed instantly and effortlessly. It is even possible to change the location and type at a match without ever taking your belt off. Going prone and want to get rid of those pouches in front, click- slide then throw them into your bag. Need to add an extra AR pouch and remove a pistol mag pouch for the next stage, easy, click-slide, and done. The possibilities are endless, and you don't even have to get undressed.
To expand on the concept, you can move specialized equipment from competition belts, battle belts, and also harnesses. Allowing you to add equipment to your body armor, MOLLE gear bags, the interior of your vehicle, or even the inside of your safe with a simple click-slide. Never has my equipment pouches been so versatile. Other manufacturers have picked up on this and are even making some of their products ELS compatible. I currently run a harness for some outlaw 2-Gun matches, and if I'm doing tactical training, I add a plate carrier on top of the harness layering my equipment. I find that the ability to move my holster and equipment to any location is invaluable. We'll expand on multi-gun setups in a future article.
The QLS (Quick Locking System) is essentially the same concept for holsters. But, we often use them for any heavy equipment, including multi-magazine pouches. It allows me to plug and unplug any Safariland holster into any of my rigs in seconds.
The most common holster mounts utilized with the ELS belt are the 567BL and the 567BL-DM drop belt slide kit along with the USPSA-Kit. The 567BL is a cant adjustable belt slide that will mount any Safariland T-pattern holster, and with the addition of a QLS22 receiver plate, you can now perform those quick holster changes. Want to go from shooting production with your favorite plastic pistol in a 7377 holster, to shooting single stack with your brand new 1911 in the new 7TS Slim 1911/2011 model, no problem. Five click-slides and thirty seconds later, your rig is ready to go. All the equipment is in the exact same spots, locked in tight.
The USPSA-Kit is the ultimate holster mount for competition, made of steel and polymer. It is infinitely adjustable and was designed originally for Open and Limited class holsters. It's a great option when paired with the 5197 Open Top Holster for USPSA for production, limited, or carry optics divisions. I've installed a QLS receiver plate on mine. Once again, with a single click- slide, I can change my holster for a new gun, new match, or duty setup.
We will talk more about specific holster and magazine pouches later, but this article was about the systems which we will use to mount them. There is nothing like the QLS and ELS out there. There are other systems, but none so versatile and cost-efficient. In military terms, they are a force multiplier, allowing you to use your equipment in new and more mission-specific ways.