Long-known for its engineering prowess in laser targeting, illumination and noise suppression products, Surefire is now blending those technologies by serving its customers with a clever holster that accommodates those devices. It's called the MasterFire Rapid Deploy Holster (RDH).
The RDH has been tested and refined in shooting events put on by organizations such as 3-Gun and USPSA. The holster is a cross between a Level 3 retention holster used by law enforcement and a full-blown, open-top competition rig. (Or you could think of the RDH as a competition rig that's been made battle ready.)
Competition holsters tend to provide limited or no retention to allow shooters fast action in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of movement necessary to engage. Typically, the angle of draw is raked slightly reward (i.e., reverse cant) and there is often no "top" to the holster. This combination allows a pistol to travel from the competitor's hip to full extension in a straight line as if it was riding an escalator.
The typical retention holster created for a police officer is the opposite of efficient because its designed to retain the firearm until there is a conscious effort to remove it. Therefore, the officer has to draw the sidearm straight up to sternum level before pressing the gun out towards the target. This movement resembles the shape of an "L" rotated clockwise.
Surefire cultivated its approach to the RDH from the quick-twitch traits of the reverse cant and open top of a competition rig and adapted security features required from a service rig including three levels of retention that need to be defeated before a pistol can be drawn.
Engineers broke convention by developing the retention system around a number of lights mounted on the pistol. It's the light bezel that interfaces with the holster not the firearm. This clever idea means that the RDH can be used with any rail-equipped handgun fitted with a Surefire light. Currently, the MasterFire's retention system is compatible with four Surefire lights including the XH15, X300UH, X400UH and XH35.
How it works is simple. A proprietary lug and cam system locks the firearm with light using both primary and secondary locking mechanisms. The primary is released by pressing downward on an large button positioned underneath the thumb of your firing hand. The secondary locking mechanism is a rotary ball-and-detent lever that's defeated by your firing-hand's middle finger as your hand wraps around the grip. (Unlike the primary locking button, the rotating lever is an optional level of retention that does not reset itself when the pistol is holstered.)
A unique light-activation slider-switch was incorporated to the side of the holster. It can be set to automatically turn on H-series lights when the handgun is drawn and then turn off when reholstered. This feature is particularly beneficial for officers required to operate pistols with one hand such as a K-9 handler, shield man on a SWAT team or others needing to save valuable time drawing and operating a pistol one-handed. This means that access to light is instant and accomplished without any switches or pressure pads to activate. Further, this feature can be easily deactivated when automatic light is not needed.
A small cut-out on the underside of the holster allows access to a small rotary switch of the X400UH light/laser for selecting light, laser or a combination of the two while the pistol is holstered.
The MasterFire RDH is completely customizable and comes with two additional height release-button extensions to accommodate different hand sizes. The belt mount is adjustable and accepts duty belts up to 2½ inches wide. Guns & Ammo found that the belt-mount bolt pattern is compatible with Safariland's popular duty holsters such as the 6280/6354, allowing the use of their popular QLS forks, drop platforms and other accessories to work with the MasterFire RDH.
Because of its open-top design, the MasterFire RDH alsoworks with all slide-mounted mini red dot sights and suppressor-height sights. Due to the open-muzzle design, there is no need to remove compensators or sound suppressors either.
The rearward rake of Surefire's MasterFire RDH and its unique draw made for a very fast draw, which would be ideal when needing to employ a pistol from a seated position in a vehicle. Reholstering was simple, intuitive and safe, with far less chance of an accidental discharge (AD) striking the user even in confined spaces.
I also discovered the draw wasn't complicated by a seat belt or bulky outerwear, making the RDH a great option for inclement weather use. Range of motion is not a concern as it is with other duty holsters since there is no need to draw the pistol upward. The slightly dropped, offset orientation makes the RDH comfortable for long-term wear, and it does not dig into your thigh (even if seated for a prolonged period).
The muzzle of the handgun is exposed when holstered in the RDH. However, it is protected from most frontal impacts. Personally, I like that the lens housing is completely covered to prevent unintentional light activation.
In my opinion, the draw could be made smoother. If the pistol is not seated rearward in the draw, the shooter cannot overcome the retention without first rocking the grip rearward. Myself and other G&A staff found that inconsistencies could occur if one attempted to snatch the pistol.
The fastest draw was attained by obtaining a full firing grip while simultaneously extending my thumb and pressing the thumb-drive button to release.
For LE retention, the system is dependent on firearm dust cover strength not the ejection port, triggerguard or rear of the slide. At this time, I'm unsure whether this could be a potential issue, as I didn't want to risk a personal firearm to test it. However, flex was observed with some handguns including those made by Glock.
If I were going to use Surefire's Masterfire RDH professionally, I'd attach it to a Safariland QLS fork and use it when the mission dictated such as with a sound suppressor or times when I knew my support hand would be occupied. Still, the MasterFire RDH is the fastest Level 3 retention holster G&A has evaluated to date and it offers several thoughtful features not found on any other duty or open-carry holster.