Recently released, the 6304RDS (RDS standing for Red Dot Sight) and the 7304RDS Drop-Rig holsters by Safariland are among the newest of the Automatic Locking System (ALS) series of holsters. While each features some of the same fundamental aspects that lend themselves to the Safariland legacy, each is slightly tailored to a different end user. Knowing the differences can help you decide which is best.
The 6304RDS uses a thermoformed plastic material called Boltaron for its body, with an interior suede lining to help protect a firearm’s finish, and optional cordura outer covering, on top of the Boltaron. If the outer cordura covering is not chosen, the outer body will be the Boltaron material itself, commonly known as an STX Tactical finish.
The 7304 holsters is made from a proprietary blend of injection-molded, nylon polymer called SafariSeven™. The SafariSeven™ material is a DuPont product that makes the holster and mounting system very durable and highly resistant to moisture, oil, or resins. In addition, SafariSeven™ can withstand extreme temperatures between 300 degrees to -50. It also features an open-top design with multiple interior risers that give ample distance, or an “air barrier” between the holster and all firearm surfaces.
The top of both the 6304 and 7304 include a removable hood guard to help prevent firearm takeaways or close contact with the ALS Lever when drawing/holstering a firearm.
Both holsters feature Safariland’s ALS design. This feature ensures a solid locking mechanism when the firearm is holstered. De-activated by a thumb-pressure lever, the ALS locking mechanism is released, and the firearm can be easily drawn straight up. As noted, small risers inside the 7304RDS holster also help maintain that “air barrier” so that any water or debris inside the holster can easily fall through and not obstruct function.
Like many other Safariland holsters, both the 6304RDS and 7304RDS come with a thigh mounting platform, with a single or double leg strap (user specifies based on model), and quick-release buckle off the belt is also an option (but changes the model designation from the 6304RDS to a 6305RDS, or a 7304RDS to a 7305RDS). The thigh platform also includes front and rear mounting holes for magazine holders or other accessories.
Likewise both holsters are configurable at the time of purchase for a variety of popular weapon lights, such as the Streamlight TLR-1 HL (featured). Note from Safariland: When ordering a holster for a handgun with a compensated barrel, you should order the next size up. For example if using a G19 with a Zev Tec Comp, you should order for a G34.
Where They Differ
Perhaps the biggest area where the 6304 and 7304 holster differ (other than the materials used and manufacturing process) is in the protective hood design of the Self Locking System (SLS) that safeguards the RDS. While they both feature the SLS, the 6304RDS features a more inclusive red dot shroud design, wrapping around the sides of the RDS. In contrast, the 7304RDS is a more paddle/tab design that rotates on a hinge-type axis. Regardless, the SLS and protective red dot dust cover design in both holsters can still accommodate; Leupold Deltapoint, Trijicon RMR and SRO (model dependent), Vortex Viper/Fastfire, and Holosun 407/507/508 style red dot pistol optics.
Otherwise the 6304 features a Cordura® nylon wrap finish that is intended to reduce its IR signature, with a suede liner to further protect the handgun’s finish. But both the 6304RDS and 7304RDS have dual silicone strips on the leg strap for enhanced traction and slip resistance.
Whereas the 7304RDS is an entire SafariSeven™ shell without a liner that gives the holster a lower profile and more streamlined design.
The 6304RDS is available for Glock, Sig, S&W, FN, and Staccato (formerly STI) patterned handguns and is available in Multicam (featured), Black, Coyote, and Khaki, and Ranger Green in cordura, and all STX Tactical finishes.
The 7304RDS is only currently available for Glock and Sig patterned handguns and is available in Coyote (featured), and Black. The 7304RDS can also be configured for TLR-7 weapon lights, as well as TLR-1/X300U.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Fair (2/5): Both the 6304RDS and the 7304RDS have a variety of options (draw hand, finish, color, etc.) available as well as recommended add-ons that effect the overall cost, but the 6304 holster has a start price of $249.50 while the 7304 starts at $263.50. This price reflects the size, materials and (most importantly) the design/fit of Safariland’s specific holsters. Both the 6304 and 7304 are full-coverage holsters, to include optic shroud, that protect the firearm while still keeping it within easy and immediate access. Other market alternatives to this similar holster design include the Thigh Holster ($110) from Ares Tactical, the SERPA Level 3 Thigh Holster ($149) from Blackhawk!, and the Leg-Drop Holster ($169) from Stealthgear USA. However, in all of these alternatives, they lack the comprehensive design, safety features, and materials as what Safariland does. And while the 6304 and 7304 are indeed some of the most expensive holsters on the market—that price is fair for the features and materials included in the purchase.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): Overall the fit of the thigh platform to both the 6304 and 7304 was more comfortable than other manufacturers experienced. The crescent shape of the 6304 and 7304 contoured to the mid-thigh, whereas other vendors have used a complete half-circle. While body dimensions often differ, the 6304 and 7304 platform took that into account by having a wider/broader contour and felt more comfortable against the leg. Otherwise from a comfort aspect, disengaging the ALS locking mechanism was simple and the draw felt smooth. The interior rails that contact the slide to provide retention did not bind nor lock the gun or WML, nor resist when re-holstering. The SLS design and RDS dust cover options, although different in both holsters, did not inhibit the draw. Overall both holsters felt smooth in function and there was no observable hard-angle or unfinished edges.
- Durability – Good (4/5): As with most of its holsters, the 7304 was made from a proprietary DuPont polymer blend called SafariSeven™. Safariland maintains this makes the holster tougher, and more wear and oil resistant. The 6304RDS, as mentioned earlier, used a heat formed plastic material called Boltaron. The additional difference here was that the 6304 had a Cordura nylon wrap contoured around the exterior, which made it more resistant to abrasion and contact with hard surfaces. That said, continual drawing/holstering and strong arm racking off the holster did eventually leave some surface marring on the interior and exterior surfaces of the holster (most likely from the front sight post or optic) but none on the firearm’s slide or RDS. Extensive attempts were made as drawing/removing the firearm while keeping the ALS engaged, even to the point of two individuals attempting to pull the holster and pistol apart, however none of them were successful and the holster/hardware was not compromised. The only noted negative was that as abrasion increased, some fraying of the 6304 Cordura material along the edges was noted (but nothing a lighter didn’t resolve). Surface blemishes to the 7304 could were resolved similar to other SafariSeven™ holsters by using a lot-grit pad to buff out the marring.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally the biggest difference between the 6304RDS and 7304RDS was the RDS dust cover feature. With its more enclosed design, the 6304 felt more appropriate for duty and field work with its protective enclosure completely around the RDS. However, the RDS hood/enclosure still allowed for total clearance of the RDS (in this case a Holosun 507v2, regardless if the iron sights were forward of the optic or behind it. When released, the SLS provided quick mechanical movement to clear the weapon retention strap and allowed for free movement of the hood during the draw. Where the 7304 differed was the dust cover design protecting the RDS was more a paddle, and felt more appropriate for competition use given that it facilitated in a slightly faster draw and provided a little more in range of motion coming out of the holster. The paddle was very reminiscent of the “break away” feature in some hardware that, when unlocked, there was absolutely no restriction in movement of the firearm as the paddle fell freely away. Like the 6304, the 7304 had sufficient room at the top of the holster for the RDS (again a Holosun 507v2) and iron sight, regardless of the iron sight’s position. Elsewhere, the ALS to both holsters provided a consistently secure hold on the firearm despite multiple attempts to dislodge the weapon, and the mechanical mechanism to the weapon retention release functioned smoothly throughout. With the overall SLS and ALS locking mechanisms on both holsters, it felt a little tight to reach down and depress the release button between all the hardware just because the shooter had to thread their thumb between the various elements for a small push-button. One suggestion to Safariland would perhaps think about making the actual button larger so it would be more tactile and easily found (especially when not looking).
- Weight – Average (3/5): The weight difference of both holsters was miniscule with the 6304RDS coming in at 1.6 pounds (with thigh platform and leg straps) and the 7304RDS at 1.5 pounds (with thigh platform and leg straps). The difference being directly attributable to the Cordura nylon wrap of the 6304, but in both cases the overall holster was still light enough so as not to be burdensome on the outer thigh nor fatigue the hip. In comparison, the Thigh Holster (1 pound) from Ares Tactical, the SERPA Level 3 Thigh Holster (1 pound) from Blackhawk!, and the Leg-Drop Holster (15.2 ounces) from Stealthgear USA all show that while slightly heavier, both the 6304 and 7304 are right around the appropriate (or average) weight for holster of this style and material.
Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)
Product Link: https://safariland.com
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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