“Whether you’re a police officer, a military policeman, or a security guard, when you’re setting up your patrol belt, there are a few things you need to be aware of,” says Keith Garcia, Team Safariland member. With decades of experience as a law enforcement officer, SWAT team member, firearms instructor and winner of two USPSA Multi-Gun National Championships, he’s got some great tips on how to achieve a quick, smooth draw, and keep yourself safe for a long career in public safety.


When you’re setting up your patrol belt, ask yourself two questions:

What are the things you need most in an emergency?

What do I need quickly?

Once you’ve got your holster set, think about where to place the rest of your gear—like sets of handcuffs, magazines, OC, flashlight and radio.

After 27 years of experience, Garcia advises to keep the back of your belt free. “When you get in a scuffle, it never goes the way you want. It’s never perfect. A lot of times you wind up on the ground.” It’s important not to have a piece of equipment jamming into your lower back or your spine while you’re wrestling around, or while getting in and out of your patrol car. Over time, this kind of wear and tear takes its toll on the body. “Keep the back of the belt clean, so you can have a long career and not wind up with a bad back. If you need more space for attachments, Safariland has lots of leg rigs for tasers and handguns to get gear off the back, especially if you’re a smaller person.”


First things first. Safety. Anytime you’re working on patrol belt and holster adjustments with your firearm, be sure your gun is clear and empty.

“What I see a lot of times when people set up their patrol belt for the first time, they take and put the holster too far to the rear,” says Garcia.

To get a clean, fast, efficient draw stroke, your holster should be right to the front of the point of the hip. That way your shoulder doesn’t flex back or up, and you can also access your gun with your non-dominant hand if needed.


“Now when you get your magazine pouch on your belt you want it close to the center line so you can access it with both hands,” says Garcia. Why? So you can get a quick, smooth draw of the magazine with either hand.

Second, when you do draw the magazine from the pouch, you want to have it seated effectively in the palm of your hand, with the bullets facing the center line. Then you can slide it effortlessly and fluidly right into the gun. You don’t want to have to turn or twist the magazine, or have it fall back out again.


The QLS (Quick Locking System) allows you to rearrange gear quickly and easily without the use of tools. Remove, change and attach your holster rapidly when you need to. For example, Garcia takes advantage of the QLS system when he has to go into a jail or court and needs to place his firearm in a locker.

“Or, if I go into the police station and I’ve got to write a report and they’ve got chairs that are too small for me,” adds Garcia, “it’s just a real easy way to take the gun off, have it secure still in the holster. I can also take it off and change holsters if I’m going to do training, or I have a different duty assignment I need to do, this can go on another belt. I could change it real easily, real rapidly to put it on a different system.”

If you’re a new police officer, security guard, or military policeman and you’re setting up your belt, there’s an easy way to get set up with the gear you need.
Visit your local law enforcement dealer and check out the Safariland® line of products there, or go to and click on the Holster Finder tab. Look for your firearm, and all the different configurations it comes in. Choose from different types of finishes, whether you want to add a light to your gun, use a red dot sight or QLS, of find a holster with ALS® or SLS retention.