Frontline Holsters By SWATG

| 2 February 2010

Full disclosure

I would just like to publically state that SWATG are the agents for Front Line holsters and accessories, we have direct financial gains in the selling of Front Line products, and this article/ review could be seen as biased by some, so be it. We would also like to state that we are one of few, or any agents/distributers that will actually test our products and give you an honest opinion on the working and quality of our products that we represent, by saying this we are most probably one of very few that actually have the authority and expertise to do so!

Front Line introduction as per catalogue

Life in Israel is lived on the front line. This inescapable reality combined with ongoing operational experience inspired the FRONT LINE series Ever since it was established back in 1961, the company has manufactured a premier range of products, continually upgraded on the basis of combat experience, to meet the stringent requirements of Special Operations Units, The Secret Service and the Israeli Defense Forces.

These long years of commitment and experience are expressed in the wide and detailed selection of products, manufactured from a variety of materials like Kydex, Cordura, Nylon and Leather, and their combinations. Among our customers are the Israel national Police and the Israeli Defense Forces, the national Prison Service and other security and law enforcement agencies, as well as similar customers worldwide.

The equipment and accessories that are presented in this catalog include innovations and upgraded products as well as the well-established line of FRONT LINE products. We believe that you will find here what you have been looking for, whether you need a Tactical holster, Duty or concealment model – we offer them all – as an on-belt/BFL wearing, Low-Ride or on a Tactical Plate, while you control the location and angle to meet your needs.

Choose the new HDL™ system, the SR™, PDS™ lock or any other model from our line.This is the best home you can choose for your weapon. FRONT LINE, the name says it all! We are at the front line, the cutting edge of our industry. Our products were born in action, designed for users living on the FRONT LINE.

Background

The search for good quality holsters that we can actually supply has been a long and arduous one to say the least. Our initial search for good quality holsters was actually driven by Law Enforcement requirements, one of the craziest things that we have noticed is the new drive by Law Enforcement to purchase some top end Pistols, but in the same breath purchase the cheapest and sometimes crappiest holsters available on the market, I always use the following example “it is like going out and buying an expensive new vehicle, but insisting that they take of the new tires and fitting the cheapest retreads available” This makes no sense, but there are a couple of driving forces behind this, firstly you will find that a lack of knowledge especially form the top brass(pencil pushers) that has never been on the “beat” so to say, they will try and prescribe as what should be purchased, combine this effect of very little knowledge, the tender system and unscrupulous private institutions that just wants to make a quick sale, put all of this together and you end up with disaster.

On the other hand there has always been a shortage of good quality holsters available to the South African market, most of the current local manufacturers totally lost track or interest on what developments there has been over the last couple of decades, and still turn out the same old sub standard products year after year. We as South Africans love to be brand conscious but penny foolish, what we don’t realize is that you generally get what you pay for, if you are going to be paying R80-R250 a holster, then chances are pretty good that you will end up with an R80-R250 holster.

A holster can not just be seen as a holster, it has to be seen as possibly a part of your equipment that can save your life, luckily some local manufacturers have realized this and came up with some seriously good quality holsters, the name Geoff Carter comes to mind when looking for good quality local manufactured Kydex Holsters.

Now as stated we have very brand conscious shooters in this country, we always hear brand names like, Safariland, Bianchi etc. when it comes to holsters, and I receive many requests for especially the Safariland, now hear me well, why should we even bother with certain brands that has no interest in supplying our markets. Many Brands including the above-mentioned where owned by Armor Holdings a couple of years ago, now they had no problems in supplying products to us, needless to say we spend a lot of time and money on acquiring and marketing some of these products, when we finally got to the point that we could start generating some serious sales, the door got shut in our faces, BAE systems basically took over or bought out Armor Holdings, they sent me a very unfriendly letter stating that we have to stop selling and marketing certain products, and if we want to proceed in selling these products, I will have to fly to them and go see their lawyers. Now in no uncertain terms I notified them that they could shove it firmly up their a..s..e.s, to have such an audacity is absolutely ridiculous, they even have offices based in South Africa, but we are not allowed to sell their overpriced holster, with no compensation offered for all the money lost on marketing their products.

At this stage it looked like the future of new quality holsters in our country was doomed, the only other brand that was available around every corner was the Fobus brand, and this in all honesty should bring a smile to your face, although they make some good products, the bottom-line is that they are fairly cheap holsters that sits on the bottom part of the list when it comes to serious holsters, you don’t have to take my word for it, you can contact many a well known instructors around the world and ask their opinion about it, hell we have a very well known and much respected forum member with great international standing that will tell you he thinks that “Fobus are crap” not my words. It is very funny how our local market works, if you tell them a product comes from Israel they automatically think that it is a great product (Front Line by the way also comes from Israel) and I have no idea where this notion comes from.

As a small shooting industry we also try and make ourselves feel better about our products, purely because there no other alternative products available, we try and make it as one of the best, I can just imagine the description a gun shop owner must have given his first “Fobus” client, “now these holsters are used by the Israeli Special Forces” and I could just see the jaws dropping and the sales going through the roof. For the record, I own and have owned various Fobus holsters, some of it I found reasonable, and some not so good, but have to be honest I have “posed” with some of them recently, but haven’t carried one for years. But once again our local market might want to argue that you should look at their popularity in the States, yes well they did the same type of thing that Glock did in the States, you now have Glock inc. that is the leg for Glock in the States, and then you get Fobus USA that is their leg in the States. Bottom-line we have, they work but we need “new blood” in the market, I mean come on, really how do you make the jump from a Fobus all the way up to a Safariland, Bianchi, Comp Tac, or even a CKSC holster(yes Geoff I still think your holsters are cool and may you sell tons of them)

The Findings

Needless to say the search for a new holster took us more years than what I care to remember, to be honest we all but gave up on the idea, until I saw the Glock safety holsters being purchased my some units, now this to me personally was just wrong, and in my personal opinion just another fast money making exercise by some scrupulous people, I just felt compelled to do something about this issue.

After running one search after the other on the internet, my eye caught something, on something like page 20 of 2 million, and I saw the name Front Line Holsters and the country Israel, and I thought to myself what the heck, let me contact them. What I immediately liked about them, and this had nothing to with the holster itself, was that they did not seem to be to big into this whole website thingy, same like me, we are always trying to upgrade but never really getting there. I started looking at the pictures and immediately felt that there is some serious potential on what I am seeing. I was kind of disappointed when I looked at their world wide distributers and saw that they have someone in South Africa, but this puzzled me as I have never seen them around.
I phoned the then local agents and spoke to a very friendly gentleman, that from the beginning started praising these holsters, I also immediately realized that this gentleman does not really seem “to be in” the trade, he had only one negative point, and that was according to him the price, I asked him about the price, but to me it sounded very reasonable, he then told me to contact the factory and speak to them as apparently they are very friendly and will assist in any way they can.

To keep a long story short, I contacted the factory, and was immediately taken back by the good service and assistance that I received from them, not even once did they try and indicate that our small market is a problem for them, and repeating themselves many times that if a customer has a specific request that I should not hesitate to contact them. I felt like I was in a twilight zone, here I am speaking to an international manufacturer whose only goal was to assist me in any way possible, now this was a huge change from some of the counterparts that I have dealt with. Right a couple of more phone calls and emails and we where all set to receive our first samples, one funny story about one of the gentleman that I dealt with over there, does not like the idea of sending emails as this according to him takes to much time, and we can finish and confirm deals quicker on the phone, I have actually lost count on how many times they phoned me, now let me tell you this, in the world of international dealers you do not get many calls from them directly, only problem is for us here in SA it is a bit expensive to call overseas.

Open-Top Kydex Holster (BFL) system

The Open-Top BFL holster is a belt slide version ideal for carrying your sidearm in conjunction with a concealment vest, the open top allows for a very smooth and fast draw stroke, and allows for a safer action when re-holstering your pistol. There are two adjustable tension screws to keep your pistol firmly in place, the BFL belt system offers a security strap system, which allows you to attach the holster to the belt via either normal fashion, or you can undo the security strap and be able to attach the holster to your belt without taking of the belt, almost in the similar way that you will attach a paddle holster, with the added strength advantage that only a belt slide system can provide you with, these holsters also come with two different inserts to accommodate for different belt widths!

The holster conceals well especially when wearing a concealment vest, on belt system holsters I have found to gain extra stability is imperative to have a proper belt, once you have a good belt, the holster and pistol will ride firmly on you hip without any swaying or movement, the other plus point on this holster is that it rides high on the body, which makes the task of retention much easier when required, depending on what guard stance you use, you will fid it very easy to be able to make contact with your elbow on the pistol, for added retention!

Performance

As time was a bit of a factor on the testing side, we really had to push it as quickly as possible, and luckily I had a good Samaritan that came out the range with me to take the pictures and record the times.

Testing was conducted in the following manner, I allowed myself five “dry runs” five unconcealed live fire and five concealed live fire runs, no there is no ways that you should think that a mere 15 draws will be enough to be proficient with any new holster, but as stated we where pushed for time and I always say that something must work from the word go, the times that I achieved was in no ways world record times, but will give you a good indication on what you can achieve with these holsters, target was placed at about 5 meters and only “A” hits counted: Shots where only fired when pistol was at eye level and sight picture could be attained, no speed cheating drills where allowed.

Five timed draws with open top BFL holster unconcealed :
  1. 0.84
  2. 0.82
  3. O.80
  4. 1.03  (yes I know)
  5. 0.79
Average time of five unconcealed draws: 0.85 seconds
Concealed Drills with Concealment Vest:
  1. 0.96
  2. 0.89
  3. 0.95
  4. 0.95
  5. 0.92
Average time of five concealed draws: 0.93 seconds

All considered, I have to be honest on this one, this is by far the quickest off the shelf, no time to get used to , non competition holster that I have ever tested or owned in my life, I can honestly not wait to go out and really push the times a bit on this holster to see where we can get, I honestly believe with a bit of training and hard work you can easily shave off another 10% on the times, but all consider a mighty good performance by an “unknown” holster, is this holster worth it, well I think it is obvious, but you be the judge!

The Tri Layer Holster, Leather,Kydex, and Suede lining

SR – Holsters (Safety)


Now this was a holster that immediately caught our attention, considering that we set out to find good quality “safety” holsters for Law Enforcement personnel. Gun grabs is a fact of life, whether you like it or not, a lot of Law Enforcement firearms gets stolen while the pistol is on the hip of the officer, and by carrying in an open fashion increase the risk of this occurrence, and in some worst cases some officers gets shot and killed with their duty firearms. Now if heard this statement thrown around that these weapons get “snatched” due to bad training etc. bad or insufficient training will definitely have an influence on the number of pistols taken in this fashion, but let us be honest and stop kidding ourselves, even if you have the best training, no officer or person can be on top of his game and totally aware of his surroundings during his or her shift, it is just ridiculous to think that anybody for that matter can achieve this.

One has to be careful not to substitute a lack of training with technology, and think that any type of holster or retention device can stop “snatching” from ever occurring, a balance has to be struck between proper training and a well made retention/safety holster. Hence we decided to get one of these SR holsters, coincidently Front Line will be bringing out another very well made and designed safety holster within the next month or so, they also have available the Push Draw system holsters.

Obviously I was a bit hesitant on performing test with a safety holster, as I have never had to deal with these type of holsters, and really thought that I will be struggling to get to the releasing mechanism, which I though will reduce my drawing speed dramatically, boy was I wrong.

The system works very easy and very effective, you merely go for your normal deep grip on the pistol, you will then find the bump in the holster will kind of force or remind you to use your middle finger to push the paddle to release your pistol, I was amazed to see how many “gun” people failed to figure out initially how to perform this correctly, which is a good thing, because then the bad guys will also struggle to figure it out.

Performance

Needless to point out at this moment, that this is still a very new concept to me and I will have to work on this system a little longer to get the times further under one second, but I am glad to say that from the word go, I had no fumbles on the fifteen draws that I performed with this holster, and things can only get much better from here, but look at the results and judge for yourself!

Unconcealed Draws:
  1. 1.03
  2. 0.91
  3. 0.90
  4. 0.88
  5. 1.12
Average times for five unconcealed draws: 0.97 seconds
Concealed draws
  1. 1.11
  2. 1.15
  3. 1.14
  4. 0.93
  5. 0.99
Average times for concealed Draws: 1.06 seconds

All considered I think you will be very hard pressed to argue with these types of results, on average these times are most probably better than the average IDPA shooter with his favorite rig and holster, as you might have noted the last two draws the times did start coming down considering that was draw fourteen and fifteen, I could only Imagine what the times would be from about draw fifty plus. I do not believe that there really exists something like a total snatch proof holster that will still provide smooth and fast draws, but have to admit that this is definitely one of the better models I have seen on the market, especially if you want to compare this to some other branded holsters that has the release mechanism placed at your trigger finger, now without being funny what where they thinking, that just screams “accident waiting to happen” o well what do we know, as long as it is branded then it must be good, yeah right!

Inside the waistband (hidden tuckable) Kydex or Leather


This is one of the holsters that we where very exited about, in South Africa we have long and hot summers, where the average dress code consists normally of trousers and un tucked shirt, or sometimes for formal office workers a tucked in shirt, now the idea of a tuck able holster is nothing new, only problem was in finding one, well problem is now solved.

We have received numerous requests from many clients for ankle type holsters, as this is seen many times as the only good way that you can carry your weapon in a formal office environment, we all can agree that the ankle holster has its place. Albeit very, very limited and not to mention almost impossible in certain scenarios to draw your weapon.

One of the better solutions in my view would be one of these “hidden” holsters as they are called in the catalog, firstly you can easily carry your pistol with a lose shirt concealing the pistol, or you can tuck in your shirt and the pistol almost disappears, with only the smallest of black hooks that are visible, for extra concealment you can actually undo your shirt slightly and the hooks will not be noticeable. It is almost a given that your draw speed will be slightly slower than when your shirt is not tucked in, but will beet any ankle holster by literally miles.
One of the things that I enjoyed about this holster, is that it rides pretty high, which helps dramatically for retention, and also that is sits at a slight forward angle, that prevents the pistols grip to ride to close to the body hence preventing a proper grip on the gun when going for the draw.

Performance

Ok old SWATTIE has to admit that at this stage I was getting slightly confused on what holster I am carrying, and what requires the gun to come out smoothly, I must be getting old. I decided not to give myself a couple of dry runs, as I was already carrying this holsters for the last couple of days, but to be honest with way to little practice. I mixed up the draws from shirt tucked and un tucked, sorry I forgot to take note of which one was which, now in all honesty I did get slightly confused here as each draw required a bit of a different skill set, but the times was surprisingly good:

Draws from concealment:
  1. 1.14
  2. 1.09
  3. 1.17
  4. 1.18
  5. 1.07
  6. 2 body 1 head 1.65 seconds
Average times of Draws: 1.13 seconds

All considered still a brilliant performance, now I am pretty sure with another 50-100 draws I should be nailing them all under a second very comfortably. At this time I would like to point out that this has immediately become my carry holster for when I am dressed in this manner, in my mind this is the best IWB holster I have ever owned. Comfort is very good, but with any other new IWB holster it will take you a couple of days to get used to, but if you don’t like kydex against your skin then you can go for the Leather version.

Paddle Version

Unfortunately I had a customer insisting to buy my only Paddle version that I had available at the AIM show, but I did at least have the time to put it on a couple of times before it was sold. There has been a lot said about Paddle holsters, but bottom line is that most of  us own and carry one from time to time with great success. The Padlle version was very well made like all their other holsters, and sat nice and tight to the body as expected, one of the nicer features that they have on the Paddle is that the paddle has six different cant angles, which mean that you can adjust it up or down, or adjust your cant, especially when getting in and out of a vehicle frequently, otherwise the holster is exactly the same as the belt version with two retention screws, performance should be exactly the same, and I am definitely ordering myself one.

Other holsters, attachments and accessories

In almost all of their Kydex holsters you can have different methods of carry, although not totally modular and you will have to order holsters with specific attachment separately, firstly you have the choice of Paddle, BFL, Low Ride Device

You can also order your Kydex Holster with an extra Suede lining on the inside of your holster for extra protection, at about R150 extra!

Front Line also offers a wide variety of thigh rig systems as well as holsters for torch mounted pistols:

They also offer the KNG material holster for weapon with flashlight without the thumb strap!

Other accessories


And many more!

Conclusion

Yes you might come out and say that this article was purely written to market our products, and yes you will be right, why else would we do it? But by this time you should know me well enough, that we are very critical when it comes to issues like training and gear, and if say I carry or will carry something, then I do it, and I take my life very, very serious. Will any products ever be 100%, I doubt it, but from what I have seen, Front Line manufactures a great line of products that are designed to work.

In any case how many other suppliers locally have you seen that will actually first test their products before they go to the market, this just doesn’t happen, you walk in, see a product, they tell you it is good and you buy it, with us we test it first, before we sell it, notice the difference.

Currently these holster are only available per order, we are looking to place an order within the next two weeks, so contact us and get your order in as soon as possible. Please note that on all orders we will require full payment of all products, before we place your order, we have been through the song and dance to many times where people will order, and not pay. Also good news for left hander’s, we can get you what you require!

Currently these holsters will only be available through us, we would be looking at avenues to supply to various retailers, but unfortunately our buy in currency is in Euros, and then suggested retail price will be from about R550 for the Kydex Holsters(which is still a good price). We will be negotiating and looking at different shipping options to see what we can do.

Currently our opening order special will be on Kydex holsters starting at R450 each for the normal holsters, please supply us with full detail on what type of holster you require and we can get a price for you, currently we do not have pricing on the Leather and KNG material products but will have it early next week.

So call or email us with your enquiry as soon as possible. Delivery times will be in the region of 4-6 weeks.

Contact: Arno Barlow at arnoswatg@gmail.com

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Article by SWATG, a GunSite SA Forum Member.

Many thanks from GunSite SA Admin for this continbution.

Contact: Arno Barlow at arnoswatg@gmail.com

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