Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Stuff: Safariland ELS kit and belt

Holy cow, an actual new blog post! Bet both my readers didn't think I knew how to do this anymore. I finally have something worth taking the time to write about rather than do something less important...I mean...more important. Everything I do, of course, is crucially important.

I wish.

So I got some gear almost a year ago, and it took quite a while to get it all squared away. Turns out that flexibility costs. LOL! That's the point of this system: it allows you to swap out magazine pouches and holsters on one common platform, just by changing the pouches or holster. One one belt, I can swap between 1911, Glock (19, 17, and 34 in my case) and carbine just by changing out the individual pieces. Once you start doing that, it become clear how flexible the system is.

There's a couple parts to this kit: at its core, its the belt and the ELS (Equipment Locking System) components. The belt is...pre-punched, or pre-drilled...let's say "pre-holed" for descriptive simplicity, to accept the ELS Receiver Plates. The ELS consists of two parts: the receiver plate and the fork. It works on the same principle that a side release buckle does, if the female part of the buckle didn't have full top to it. The receiver plates screw to the belt by way of a domed head Allen screw through the back of the belt, and a blind nut on the receiver plate. You can put 'em wherever you want 'em, and you can cant them if you wish, too.
What's really cool about this system is that it can be adapted to other rigs, too. I have receiver plates attached to Safariland clamshell clips (745 BL, I think, but I may be crazy, too)
to use the ELS system on my Bianchi Border Patrol belt, which is a 2" duty belt with a Cobra-style buckle. It works like a Cobra, but its not AustriAlpin. The AA buckles are the best there are and this one isn't one of them, just to be clear. It is, however, entirely up to the job its being used for. Anyway, I have receiver plates screwed to them so I can use the same magazine pouches that I use on the ELS with that belt...and I have a few, particularly the model 77 rifle magazine pouches, that are set up directly on the 745 BL's. More on that in a moment, I think. I'm getting too far off the trail.

The photo of my belt is one of the few I have of this rig so far, and it doesn't show exactly how I've got it rigged now. Even though I've dropped something over 30 pounds so far this year (believe me, I have PLENTY left to get rid of; I'll be at this for a while!) I still have issues with the forward-most plate when magazines are installed there. If you scroll down a bit on my blog, you'll see my sling set up. With the front end of the sling so far forward, it tends to get hooked on that forward mag pouch. I solved that by rotating pouches to the left, essentially moving them a spot rearward. Solved that problem, but I'd still like to run a mag pouch there for different set ups. Perhaps a horizontal pouch, like the Safariland Competition versions, will do that. I'll get one and check.

I also run the Safariland M774 single M4 mag pouches with ELS forks on 'em, so I have a couple of the dual mag pouches shown in the photo, and a couple M774's. For doing stuff like rifle to pistol transitions, it's outstanding; I don't have to run any other gear unless I need more magazines or if I just want to. There's really nothing that I'm aware of that Safariland makes that holds magazines that can't be used with this system. I even have a 7.62 version of the M774 should I choose to run the belt while shooting my LRT OBR. To quote  Cadet Captain David Shawn from TAPS: "It's beautiful, man!" How's that for an old school reference.

You may have noticed the holster being Multicam in the above photo. That's the not-really-secret-but-very-cool 6354-DO, the DO standing for Docter Optic. I wish I had one, but that'll be for a later date. This version is for the Glock 17/X300.

One of my home boys calls it The Jump Holster, because when you release the ALS lock on it, it jumps into your hand. The springs in this one are mechanical coil springs; much smoother and faster than the older ALS flat spring.

It's on the belt using the Mid Ride UBL (Universal Belt Loop) and the QLS (Quick Locking System) components. The QLS is the father of the ELS, it's bigger, slightly older, stronger parent. The UBL drops the holster off the belt a bit, and the QLS pushes it out some, too. It's roughly duty-holster height and offset, which I have to remind myself of when using it. It's not in the same place my Safariland 529 is.LOL!

Suggestions: you'll probably want a liner belt with this rig. I use the Bianchi 7205, which is run through the belt loops of your pants, and gives a stable platform for the ELS belt to anchor to. I have an idea for an improvement that I plan to try to get done with ATS, but I have no idea how long that'll take to get done; its a question of available production time. Liner belts are only about $20 and worth the investment to hold the belt still. It also means you don't have to be uncomfortable with the ELS belt cranked down around you.

All in all, I'm a huge fan of this system. I keep finding ways to use it and new stuff to use with it. I think Safariland has really nailed the modular concept and now all they have to do is get the marketing department on the same page as the users and advertise it!