Let me share with you a brutal truth that is going to hurt the feelings of a lot of people: the BlackHawk! SERPA holster is one of the worst holster designs currently manufactured.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Field Training Directorate (FTD) launched an investigation of the design after “four incidents.” The resulting research discovered that the user’s trigger finger ended up proximal to the trigger on 25-percent of the draw strokes, and that 13-percent of attempted draw strokes began out of sequence. They concluded (PDF) that the basic design of the holster was likely to greatly increase the likelihood of an “inadvertent discharge,” and concluded that it should not be used in any of their training.
Here’s Guns & Ammo TV trying to argue that Serpa’s are “perfectly safe.” Watch what happens with the expert’s finger.
They are far from alone. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have banned SERPAs from use by officers, as have many sheriffs and police departments.
IDPA has banned them from competition.
Gunsite Academy recommends against SERPA use, and if you bring one, they’ll force you to disable the locking mechanism, while I’ve watched them do firsthand. Many other shooting schools, instructors, and ranges also require the locking mechanism to be disabled, including Kyle Defoor.
Larry Vickers bans them outright, as does EAG Tactical (unless you’re military and are forced to use it), John “Shrek” McPhee, Travis Haley, and the late Todd Green, along with many more ranges and instructors.
The vast majority of these agencies and instructors ban the SERPA primarily banned it because of negligent discharge concerns, but that’s not the only significant issue.
There have also been multiple instances of the SERPA’s locking mechanism locking up when it encounters dirt, grit and mud, as we see here in video featuring Craig “Southnarc” Douglas and Paul Gomez. They and a student who steps in to help end up destroying the holster, and were still unable to free the gun from the jammed locking mechanism. For the record, this was a Simunitions training gun; they would have chosen another avenue if it had been a real firearm with real bullets in the gun.
The fact that the the holster can be ripped free of its mount is yet another failure of the design, beyond the failures of a draw stroke that tends to contribute to negligent discharges, and the locking mechanism that can fail from encountering moderate levels of debris, leaving users unable to draw the gun. Put simply, the holsters are dangerous junk.
The officer from this department (below) notes that five of the seven SERPAs issued were shredded during routine retention training.
Put bluntly, they greatly increase the probability of a negligent discharge, greatly increase the possibility of a malfunction that levels the gun locked and inaccessible in the holster when you need it most, and if that wasn’t bad enough, all it takes is one quick yank by a bad guy to rip it away from you.
So I have a simple question for you: Why on earth would you bet your life on a poorly-made, poorly designed holster that has been banned by many law enforcement agencies, top tier instructors, shooting schools and ranges, when there are so many better options on the market?