Why I Don’t Recommend SERPA Holsters

4-Jul-11 – 11:24 by ToddG

Part of the email I send to students just prior to each class:

All else being equal, I’d prefer students NOT use SERPA holsters. You won’t get kicked out if you’ve got one, but I will take some time to explain why I recommend against them from both a safety and security standpoint.

Tex Grebner recently had an experience that demonstrates my reasoning behind this. To his tremendous credit, he posted the details and even a video of the accident on his YouTube page. The video has some strong language and shows the result of the accident and as such may not be appropriate for young or squeamish viewers:

YouTube Preview Image

Mr. Grebner specifically says that he doesn’t blame the gear, and that is commendable. Nonetheless, the SERPA retention mechanism certainly lends itself to such accidents more than most other holsters. Instead of keeping your trigger finger well clear of the gun during the initial part of the drawstroke, the SERPA and its clones require you to press your trigger finger toward the trigger as you draw.

Best wishes for a speedy and completely recovery go out to Mr. Grebner along with a sincere thank-you for sharing this very serious experience with the world.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(and thanks to orionz06 for posting the video on pistol-forum)

  1. 114 Responses to “Why I Don’t Recommend SERPA Holsters”

  2. Thank you for saying this. The more people warn against these things, the better.

    Another concern with these holsters is that if the mechanism gets dirt or pebbles in it, it jams, and you can’t draw. Your options are then reduced to removing your holster from your belt and throwing your gun at whatever it is you’d rather be shooting at.

    By jellydonut on Jul 4, 2011

  3. Very kind of him to not blame the gear, and I suppose he is mostly correct in his assessment. The idea, the concept of having a retention device that is disengaged as part of the natural draw stroke makes sense. But in the SERPA design, it still comes up wanting. I am not a big fan of small springs and pins that like to get dust, dirt, mud, and even sticks and twigs stuck in the mechanism that while they will not likely cause an AD/ND, can render the holster useless by not allowing the pistol out of the holster.

    For those who carry a pistol as a secondary system, if you need to get it out, I would argue that you probably need to get it out and into action in the worst way. Realizing at that “moment of truth” that you cannot get the pistol out and into the fight is not a pleasant experience for those guys who have been unfortunate enough to experience it.

    By Sean on Jul 4, 2011

  4. Respect, for not blaming the gear!
    I´ve eye witnessed a similar ND a couple of years ago. The overall outcome was a bit more serious. It was just like a “deja vu”, watching this.

    By frank b on Jul 4, 2011

  5. I gotta give that guy credit because he didn’t blame the holster or the gun and he had the balls to post a video knowing that the internet arm chair commandos might ridicule him.

    By Jesse on Jul 4, 2011

  6. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t that a 511 thumb lock type holster?

    By gunshytourist on Jul 4, 2011

  7. 5.11 is what he was training with earlier in the day; Tex says stabbing his thumb down to release that retention mechanism had his thumb in place to sweep the safety off of his 1911 when he drew from the SERPA. What follows is why striker fired guns and SERPAs shouldn’t mix: you’re waggling around the same digit that fires the gun as that releases the retention mechanism, making foulups a matter of millimeters.

    By Buz on Jul 4, 2011

  8. I watched the video again. You are correct…it was a SERPA. I have always heard that SERPA+Glock=ND. Now we have a new one with a 1911. Interesting.

    By gunshytourist on Jul 4, 2011

  9. That’s how easy it is for a careful and experienced shooter to cap themselves. It only takes once. A sobering reminder for us all.

    By Paul on Jul 4, 2011

  10. You are one stand up guy Tex. And pretty BA to keep your shit tight after taking that hit too. Well done.

    By JoeC on Jul 4, 2011

  11. sobering and well done to Tex.

    By Rob Engh on Jul 4, 2011

  12. Another reason to always have a GSW kit in your range bag.

    By F-Trooper05 on Jul 4, 2011

  13. Very sobering… and yet the huour is still there, captain obvious… “I just shot myself” :-)

    By Wesley Eugene Belland M.B. on Jul 4, 2011

  14. Pretty impressive. I think I heard him reengage the safety right after shooting himself, and before putting the gun on the deck.

    I don’t think the SERPA is a good design, but beyond that, this also shows the importance of sticking with one holster and not jumping around.

    By SLG on Jul 4, 2011

  15. My guess is that MANY people will be arguing with me… I’ve done thousands of draw drills with this holster, and I NEVER touched my trigger… Our unlucky friend did a serious mistake: unholster first, THEN put your safety OFF… My opinion? BH SERPA hosters are among the best, but you need to practice, practice and practice… Just for the record, I’ve used this holster for three years, with my HK45, and never had “issues” –even after a previous “bad” night out, with drinks etc… If you keep a straight line, when drawing, your finger stays on the pistol frame, not the trigger!!! Sometimes it’s not a matter of how much you train, it’s a matter of how much you train properly!!! My best wishes to my friend… Man, you were lucky!!!!

    By VASSILIS on Jul 5, 2011

  16. …Sorry for my English,they are getting rusty… :-)

    By VASSILIS on Jul 5, 2011

  17. VASSILIS — I think that misses the point on two levels.

    First, not everyone has a safety lever on his pistol. Drawing a Glock with a ~5# trigger isn’t much different than drawing a 1911 with the safety disengaged.

    Second and more importantly, any piece of gear is safe if you run it perfectly every time. The question isn’t whether it’s possible to draw safely with the SERPA. The question is whether the SERPA is more prone to these kinds of accidents. Given that this is just one of many similar incidents, I’d say the jury is in and the verdict is “guilty.”

    There’s just nothing the SERPA does that other safer, more durable and reliable holsters can’t do better.

    By ToddG on Jul 5, 2011

  18. You’re supposed to draw the serpa with your finger strsight using the pad of your finger to disengage the mechanism. The only people that ever have this problem are the ones that curl their finger and disengage the mechanism with their finger tip. My finger has never come even close to the trigger guard on my draw stroke. It’s straight and stiff along the frame every time.

    By Norman on Jul 5, 2011

  19. Norman…Throw in an adrenaline dump in a heat of the moment situation and your finger will likely slam that release pretty hard… thus finding its way down to the trigger prematurely.
    I think the video makes another good point…train with the same platform in both your holsters and weapon choice consistently.

    By Dan on Jul 5, 2011

  20. Dan hit the nail on the head: train with the same platform in both your holsters and weapon choice consistenly. Each type of holster has its pros and cons, but when you start mixing things up, stuff like this happens. I started out my law enforcement career with a 1911, changed agencies a year later, and switched to a Glock. Despite only carrying a 1911 for one year and a Glock for 10, and putting 10x as many rounds and drawstrokes with the Glock, my thumb still goes up to disengage the imaginary thumb safety every time I draw. I’ve also noticed a similar thing with people who transition from Sigs to Glocks when they try to decock the Glock. Muscle memory does strange things.

    By Damon on Jul 5, 2011

  21. Bravo for bringing this up and making a stand. I’ve pointed out the problems with Serpas in the past only to be pounced on and maligned. Claiming it’s merely a ‘training issue’ is like a local intersection (cited as the most dangerous in our area) where two people were killed turning on a yellow light. Yes, they failed to yield, but the fact that there are countless accidents every month there with a number of people who were very experienced indicates that training isn’t sufficient, the design of the intersection is poor. I feel the same way about the retention on the Serpas (and now need to take a look at the 5.11 thumb drive as well…never considered that motion deactivating the safety).

    By cj on Jul 5, 2011

  22. Just to be clear, he practiced with the 5.11 but the ND happened with the SERPA?

    By Thadeuce on Jul 5, 2011

  23. +1 on Dan’s point, Consistency is key. Most of us will utilise multiple systems of both weapon and holster…it’s nice to be able to change favorite flavours every now and again. But switching up mid-session with fundamentally different rigs is just asking for dissaster.

    As for the Serpa in general, I’ve used both level 2 and 3 for a few years now (generally running glock) and have never had any issues with it. As was stated, muscle memory is a funny creature and kicks in even during the adrenaline dump/loss of fine motor/etc. If you’re swiping your finger to release, you’ll do it even under stress which will allow your finger to flow onto the frame. If you’re ‘pushing’ the button though….
    Let the flaming begin :)

    By MikeMan on Jul 5, 2011

  24. glad he was ok though, it’s a brutal reminder that ND’s can ruin even a seasoned shooters day. Speedy recovery

    By MikeMan on Jul 5, 2011

  25. HMMMM!!!, Always thought of the SERPA as a purely recreational holster cheap as it is. NEVER considered it as a duty or carry rig holster. I am a Safariland Snob and insist on carry rigs from that manufacturer no matter the cost.

    Previously I have been ambivalent on the whole finger making it’s way into the trigger guard argument. Felt that it was a training issue that upon release the finger goes straight and doesn’t cheat it’s way into the trigger guard until the gun is at least level with the intended target. I can see arguments both ways.

    In watching the video it doesn’t even look like he may have got his finger totally in the trigger guard when the muzzle flash appears. Would love to see a better resolution copy and slowwww it wayyy down. Also would love to see video of his draws with the 5.11 holster. Was he cheating his finger onto the trigger with that one as well? He may have been getting away with it with the Glock if there was more take-up in the trigger compared to his more sensitive 1911.

    I also ECHO those who posted regarding consistency of your equipment. All my holsters are carried in the same place and if they have retention they use the same type for all my holsters whether they are for auto’s or revolvers.

    Tex gets all the credit for having the intestinal fortitude to put forward the video and not taking the easy way out of keeping it quiet or blaming the equipment.

    By RSA-OTC on Jul 5, 2011

  26. Dear Todd, I can understand your concern about SERPA holsters, but we all have to go back to the basics: 1. All guns are always loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
    4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
    Now, you’ve mentioned Glocks with “custom” triggers… Well, Glocks do not have a normal safety because the trigger is designed to work as an added safety mechanism. Heavy, with a long travel, it’s designed to help avoiding “accidental discharges”… Especially when shooting under heavy stress. That’s why feather-light triggers are not recommended for “battle” use (CQB or whatever you want to call it)… You mess with your Glock factory set trigger, and you’re asking for trouble, no matter what holster you’re using, that’s my humble opinion… :-)

    By VASSILIS on Jul 5, 2011

  27. As a tactical instructor, shooter, and officer of a large tactical pistol club, I strongly recommend the SERPA to everyone I train and have made thousands of draws with a Glock from these rigs. The bottom line is this. Know your gear and know your weapon platform.

    People need to stick to one gun and one holster system and practice, practice, practice. You start out dry (no ammo) and work it several hundred times until you are comfortable with gear.

    For a catastrophe to occur you must violate two fo the four Cardinal rules of gun safety. This gentleman did both. Had he practiced with that rig with his 1911 dry, he would have seen the Thumb Drive snicking off his thumb safety.

    The 1911 is another issue all together. It’s an expert’s pistol which requires a lot of training and not for the newbie. I do not recommend them, nor will I train anyone on them (my very strong opinion).

    Most people need to quit reading those silly gun rags and taking the gun scribe’s words as gospel.

    The Glock pistol and the SERPA holsters are a great pair. Learn to use them both properly (dry at first) and they’ll give you years of service.

    By Peter J. Kolovos on Jul 5, 2011

  28. the holster didn’t do anything to the safety on his 1911, he did. as he mentioned. It was the muscle memory of using the 5.11 holster that caused him to hit the safety on his 1911 while it was still in the Serpa.

    By Rob Engh on Jul 5, 2011

  29. For those who are uncomfortable with their students using a Serpa I can understand their reasoning and will not take them to task for it. You don’t know what the student’s level of expertise is, if he’s practiced to perfection his draws and in a class such as Todd’s that stresses speed or advanced techniques, it might be prudent to dissuade your perspective student from showing up with a Serpa. I for one wouldn’t want to see any of my students injured on MY watch.

    If you use a system like the Safariland ALS or the 5.11 thumb drive that causes you to do an action that would/could take your 1911 style safety off, then you might want to rethink your holster selections. I’ve seen muscle memory bring back actions that the student or myself left behind years ago, but under the stress of FOF or the clock that muscle memory kicks in and those actions come to the fore. Muscle memory can be a bitch.

    Now something I didn’t consider before I wonder if this gentleman was taught to put his finger on the trigger with the safety in the on position, riding the safety with his thumb and once the gun was level moving towards the target sweep the safety off. While I don’t suggest this technique or teach it, in fact strongly discourage it, I have heard of some that do. It is an old and outdated technique. Using this technique he would naturally thru practice get his finger on the trigger during the initial stages of the draw and was suprised that the gun went off since he had inadvertantly swept off the safety when aquiring his grip.

    By RSA-OTC on Jul 5, 2011

  30. The SERPA is a piece of junk. It is junk in design, junk in materials, junk in execution. I’ve tried not to be snarky about this, but we’re not talking about baseball here. If you want to save some money on a cheap bat, go for it. If you think the SERPA is a good holster, that is proof to me that you either have never seen a high quality holster before, or you lack the ability to discriminate.

    By SLG on Jul 5, 2011

  31. CJ: “Claiming it’s merely a ‘training issue’ is like…”

    Especially when an accident occurs – as this one appears to have done, and as I suspect most accidents do – during training. How does one train against those accidents, I wonder? It’s not really that helpful saying gun/holster X is “among the best, but you need to practice, practice and practice”, if the problem is someone shooting themselves in the leg while they were trying to do all that practice. Dry-firing is great, but it’ll only get you so far.

    Peter: “For a catastrophe to occur you must violate two fo the four Cardinal rules of gun safety.”

    Well…obviously. But the important thing is not *whether* a violation occurred, but *why* it occurred. Trying to address gun safety by just telling people to follow the four rules is like road safety by just telling them they’ll be fine if they just follow the One Cardinal Rule of road safety: “don’t hit anything”. It’s true, but not very enlightening.

    Many people drive under the influence and without their seatbelt and never have an accident, but that doesn’t mean doing those things are a good idea. If a particular holster seems more prone to accidents than another (and I’m not saying this one does, I haven’t done any research on it) then that’s a valid concern, regardless of how many other people might have used them without any issues. If accidents are relatively rare, then you’d positively expect most people to not shoot themselves when using a particular type of gear, but that’s not going to be much consolation to the ones that do.

    By Paul on Jul 5, 2011

  32. I have run a Serpa for quite some time doing 2 intensive test and evaluations on the holster. Once when they first released the Serpa and another T&E about 1 year ago. I never experienced any locking of the mechanism by debris during my testing but I did intentionally set one up and I could clearly see this as a very valid concern and the potential for this happening was quite real. This also validated other claims by individuals (6 persons and counting) that I personally know who have experienced the problem during actual training.

    I have personally experienced and witnessed failures in the belt mechanisms during weapons retention drills where the holster very easily separated from the belt loop lock. Highly unacceptable in a duty or defensive situation in regards to weapons retention.

    As for the finger placement, I consider myself a pretty accomplished shooter and also teach at what might be considered some of the highest levels of combat shooters and even I experienced the “curling” effect. In reality the people who tend to start “curling” their index finger to hit the release are often people who are doing high stress or even speed drills where there is a high level of stress placed on the shooter. Despite the thousands of drawstrokes out of the serpa I have found myself missing the release under only the certain circumstances mentioned above. I also find myself doing a hard “press” with the tip of my finger on the release. While I have not done so, I can easily see how this hard press on the drawstroke can produce a finger inside the trigger and a possible discharge of the weapon.

    Due to all 3 of the above factors, primarily the fouling of the locking mechanism and the poor retention qualities of the holster ripping right off the belt, I cannot see how any professional trainer can suggest the Serpa as a Duty or Defensive type of holster. As a professional instructor, I certainly do not.

    Stay Safe,
    Surf

    By Surf on Jul 5, 2011

  33. I’m going to put this down to “rushing things” due to the holster swap.

    I have been using the Serpa level III holster for my H&K for around two years now, in a law enforcement/duty capacity, after a rather unimpressive start with Safariland’s ALS holster. The Safariland’s rotating bale kept popping forward, usually when running/chasing someone, due to the elbow on that side coming into contact with the top of the holster. This is about the worst possible time for it to disengage, as the motion of running can quite easily bounce the gun out of the holster. I’ve never dropped my own pistol, but I have scooped weapons off the ground and returnted them to other officers after their guns bounced out, more than once. Seatbelts in vehicles have also disengaged the safety on that holster, usually without the officer’s knowledge. The prudent do an equipment check every time they get out, yes, but this still added an extra step to remember on every vehicle stop, refueling break, end of the day, etc., and most folks won’t remember to check every time.
    Additionally, the ALS is prone to jamming due to -large- detritus. I had my own jam up twice due to sticks getting between the bale and pistol, effectively locking up the holster until the object was removed. Again, this is in a duty/law enforcement capacity, not concealed-carry.

    I went to the Serpa III specifically because it is NOT prone to these failures. Yes, small debris can lock up the holster by interfering with the trigger guard release button, and it’s harder to clear the jam, but it’s also much harder to get an object in there than it is with the ALS. And yes, inattentive/rushed drawing of the pistol can lead the trigger finger to “sweep” into the trigger guard, resulting in unwanted holes in innocent legs. I chose this holster knowing these, practice my draw and carry habits with them in mind, and switched my off-duty/concealed holster to another Serpa, to maintain commonality of draw motion and prevent this sort of “oops” with myself.

    My guess as to what occurred here was a combination of things, but ultimately a result of “rushing things.” Switching holsters changed up the draw enough that ToddG’s muscle memory became unsuitable for the holster he was using at the time of the negligent discharge. Exactly where the thumb safety on his 1911 disengaged isn’t clear to me; but his finger slipping into the trigger guard was plainly obvious. Switching holsters, trying to draw quickly (whether in practice or in self-defense), and a rush/fumble when the pistol did not release from the holster as expected, all contributed to the negligent discharge. (For what it’s worth, I’ve also heard of, and witnessed one, similar negligent discharges with other holsters, when the shooter was “rushing” to put that first round on-target. Thankfully, no one was injured in the case I saw.)

    Remember that the first thing to go in an adrenaline-type situation is fine motor control. If you’re not in the habit of making the -same- motions -every- time, you -will- get fumble-fingered; this sort of failure then becomes more likely, both the initial failure to draw the pistol, and the subsequent “sweep” of the trigger finger onto the trigger.

    I offer this, not as condoning or condemning of pistol or holster, but as a commentary that, like the 1911 or several other pistols, the Serpa level III holster is an “exclusive” type of equipment, taking much practice to master. If you use it, use it exclusively. If you have several different “systems,” stay away from it. Used properly, with proper training, it is a very safe, very secure holster. Used as “one of many,” it can easily become a liability. Both those people who recommend “everyone should have one,” and those who say “it’s junk; no one should ever have this crap” do the Serpa a dis-service. It’s a specialized holster, requiring specialized practice, and within that specialization, performs its role admirably. Outside that specification… well, buyer beware.

    Kermit.

    By Kermit on Jul 5, 2011

  34. Reply to Surf:

    Your comment posted while I was writing mine. I’m unsure of the exact nature of the “belt lock” failure you reference; could you provide details? Are you speaking of the screws holding the holster to the belt slide coming undone?

    Again, with regards to the debris and “finger curling,” I’m in general agreement; choose this holster only if you’re going to use it exclusively, and be very aware of its downsides. It works for me, but it will NOT work for everyone.

    By Kermit on Jul 5, 2011

  35. Surf: “I never experienced any locking of the mechanism by debris during my testing but I did intentionally set one up and I could clearly see this as a very valid concern and the potential for this happening was quite real.”

    I have a SERPA but I used it maybe three or four times and stopped for this very reason, although it technically wasn’t “debris”. I was on my way to my home range out back in winter, and happened to fall over in the snow. Maybe five or ten minutes later when I came to draw my 1911 the locking mechanism was completely frozen up. It took almost a minute to get the weapon out of there, with a round in the chute and the hammer back the whole time. That right there was enough for me to write it off permanently as a fatal design flaw, for anyone living in northerly latitudes, at least.

    By Paul on Jul 5, 2011

  36. I’m not a fan of the Serpa, but I don’t malign it, either. I must admit that my viewing of this video was tainted by the fact that I saw this shooter for the first time recently in a video where he declared that the best way to carry concealed was to stuff his 1911 down the front of his pants, pointed at his crotch, without a holster of any sort.

    That makes me take anything else he says or does with an (un)healthy dose of salt.

    By Doug on Jul 5, 2011

  37. Hmm that isn’t Todd in the video.

    By Rob E on Jul 5, 2011

  38. Interestingly enough. His finger straightened right out after he dumped the round into his leg. The jury is still out on the SERPA for me. Any system requires THOUSANDS of repetitions dry before even attempting a specific “tactical” skill with live ammunition. Consistency of equipment/training.. or INconsistency in this case was likely the true cause of this ND. I hope his recovery is swift, and I imagine that this is something he’ll hold in his mind the next time he’s training.

    By CJK on Jul 5, 2011

  39. RSA-OTC,

    I also ECHO those who posted regarding consistency of your equipment.

    This.

    I am dumb. My hands are even dumber than the rest of me. This is why I carry the same gun in the same holster in the same place. I just simply don’t trust myself to not screw up and let one fly if I go introducing variables under stress…

    By Tam on Jul 5, 2011

  40. (Incidentally, other than the aviation and motorcycling communities, the firearms training community is the only one I’ve experienced that has such a rigid code of blame acceptance and incident deconstruction to inculcate community learning and avoidance of a repetition of the same accident…)

    By Tam on Jul 5, 2011

  41. I have got to add my own humble disagreement on the anti-SERPA commentary, based on my own humble in-field experience with these holsters. I have been running SERPA Duty Level 2 & Level 3 Holsters with my Glock duty pistol for over 4 years in the marine LE environment, and have never had any debris problems, corrosion or other function/quality issues with them.

    Kudos to Mr Grebner for sharing this video and helping to raise safety awareness, I salute you sir. Many AD’s are the result of a safety issue(s) that the shooter is unaware of, which just needs the right circumstances to result in a tragedy. Thanks to Mr Grebner, I am even more aware of the need to closely monitor students for this error.

    In my opinion, the primary cause of the accident was the holster/weapon swap; this most probably resulted in the early disengagement of the 1911 thumb safety, and coupled with the additional error of the finger entering the trigger guard before the rock / lock / push / sight index.

    The trigger finger should be kept absolutely straight during the drawstroke, which with the SERPA design places the trigger finger in a safe index position on the frame above the trigger guard, no need to curl the trigger finger to release the auto-lock. In any event, regardless of the type of holster used, it would seem like a good idea to stick with one type of holster and master it – particularly if we are going to practice and develop close-quarter / high speed manipulation skills.

    Sorry guys, I just don’t support comments like “the Serpa is junk”. Stay safe, and let’s hope others take the right message from this.

    Best regards from Jamaica, yours aye!

    Al Stewart

    By Al Stewart JM on Jul 5, 2011

  42. Learning from your own mistakes is experience. Learning from someone else’s is wisdom.

    By ToddG on Jul 5, 2011

  43. Thanks for the heads up! Mr. Grebner’s willingness of to show this as a warning to others deserves our appreciation.

    By 2WarAbnVet on Jul 5, 2011

  44. Ok, so a few points that people seem to have missed from watching this video,

    Its not Todd (or me, to all my Facebook friends who thought it was when I linked to it the other night, yes that’s right my name suddenly changed to Tex, I got a funny accent and lost the fangs)
    He hit the safety due to his using a different holster earlier in the day, he says this, its not something we are guessing at
    He pressed the trigger after he drew the gun, pretty obvious to most of us, but a few people (not necessarily here on PT) think the holster fired the gun, it didn’t, he did.
    Serpas DO suck, there have been more ADs with this holster use than any other, on top of that they will with only a small amount of debris, seize up making it so your gun can’t go Bang, or they’ll just break off at the belt.
    So you pick, a holster that locks your gun in rendering it useless, or comes off your belt, or encourages you to put your finger too close to the trigger under stress resulting in you shooting yourself?
    I can’t think of any other consumer product that more people would defend when it failed repeatedly. .maybe consumer reports should do a test?

    By Rob E on Jul 6, 2011

  45. In response to Rob E – let me rewrite this, and see if it sounds like a different “pointless internet argument,” or merely the same tired old saw with the names changed around.

    “Glocks DO suck. There have been more Accidental / Negligent Discharges with Glocks than with any other; on top of that, they have no safeties and will go bang when you don’t want them too, or they’ll just blow up when you do.
    So you pick a pistol that is unforgiving of mistakes, encourages you to put your hand in front of the muzzle when cleaning it, or blows up because of the polygonal rifling?
    I can’t think of any other consumer product that more people would defend when it failed repeatedly. Maybe Consumer Reports should do a test?”

    There, see? We’ve taken another product, specialized in its application, much-maligned by those who hate it, and frankly much mis-used and misunderstood by those who defend it. It’s another tool, unforgiving of mistakes, with the rare defect; it’s a tool that is very good within its own specific niche and absolutely horrible outside said niche.

    Not once have I, or most of the others on this thread, declared the Serpa as the “best-evar holstar,” and defended it against all comers. It’s imperfect. We all admit it. It works for a specific set of situations. It can be dangerous in the hands of someone who does not understand its limitations or is unwilling to practice with it, and anyone who “defends” the Serpa will stress this. If you’re not going to practice with it, and proper practice at that, don’t use it.

    I’ve never had debris catch in mine. I try not to roll around in dirt, and if I am rolling around, it means I’m laying on the gun, and my hands are more focused with keeping the other guy’s hands off my throat, wrenching the knife/weapon/etc away from him, or wrestling him off me and hopefully into submission. It means I’m hands-on with the dude who’s attacking me, and I do NOT want that gun coming into play, as a gun in-hand is more easily fought over and swapped back-and-forth than a gun in-holster. Frankly, this is something of a made-up problem in my eyes; in the environment I live/work, it’s a non-issue. We don’t get snow/freezes, and sand falls right out.

    I’ve never shot myself while drawing the gun. I’m aware of the limitation, and I practice specifically to -avoid- such trigger-sweep. This is an issue, specifically related to practice, and sticking to one method of carry and type of holster.

    I’ve never had the gun rip off my hip. I’ve never seen it happen, or heard of it happening. I -have- heard of guys who failed to check/maintain their equipment allowing the screws holding the holster to the belt mount to back out, thus allowing the holster to fall off. This is a user failure, not an equipment failure; I wear a Serpa unconcealed daily, bang it into things, whack it, drop it, clobber it, etc. I have had to tighten the screws on it a few times – about two to three times a year. Check it daily, tighten occasionally. This is a maintenence issue, and thus a user issue.

    I fail to see where the Serpa “sucks.” I’ve had a sucky holster, which was the Safariland ALS, which I’ve heard many Serpa-haters slobber over, yet is the absolute worst holster I’ve ever used. The Serpa is like a Glock, unforgiving. Respect what it can and cannot do, then go practice with it, carefully and often. If you won’t do that, choose something else – but stop maligning the product and those of us who DO choose to use it. You might as well blame the gun for going off when some kid gets hold of it and accidentally shoots his sibling with it.

    I’m done here, and apologies to the site owner for my rant; I just get ticked off when gun-owners play the liberal card of blaming the equipment instead of the user.

    By Kermit on Jul 6, 2011

  46. Don’t blame the holster. Blame the training. You see him draw with a flat finger and then hook it into the trigger guard. He was going to the trigger too quickly, and that is not a problem with the Serpa.

    I’ve run a Serpa for years, and have never found my finger on the trigger before I meant for it to be there.

    I know the argument – “but you have to push that button!” So? Where is that button located? Over the frame! Most of the people who argue that the button on a Serpa causes NDs are pinheads who’ve never used one or never actually paid attention to how they use. Or they’re incompetent trainers who’ve had a student shoot themselves (I’m looking at you, Tactical Response and Front Site.)

    Perhaps if more trainers would put more stock in basics, in the “crawl, walk, run” steps, we’d have fewer people ventilating themselves coming out of the holster.

    Blaming the gear is always where the incompetent go. This goes for trainers, too.

    By Mike on Jul 6, 2011

  47. Serpa holsters got popular with those that want a retention holster that auto-locks upon reholstering. Same reason the 5:11/Blade-Tech Thumb drive is increasing in popularity. Personally I never saw any problems with the Safariland 070/071 series myself for a retention holster and I never thought it much to re-snap… I’ve tried a few “retention” holsters over the years but have always gone back to Ted Blocker leather thumb snap holsters for duty and concealed holsters of the open top variety. I’ve always looked at retention as my skill and ability vs. theirs anyway; instead of depending on a mechanism. Good for Tex and he deserves some credit for putting this out there-but the blame does sit with him. I don’t see the Serpa disappearing but I do see the Thumb-Drive gaining some steam. Personally I’d go with this http://www.safariland.com/DutyGear/product.aspx?pid=0701 if I wanted a concealment holsters that offered some sort of special retention.

    By Matt on Jul 6, 2011

  48. Well,

    I do have two BH holster: passive and active (Serpa) retention. I must state that I am (as another reader mentioned) recreational shooter. The main reason I bought Serpa was I wanted a holster I could be sure I will never loose my pistol under any circumstances. And few years later that confidence is still with me. I always carry a gun concealed. I must. Newer had any issues with holster in any temperatures — -25/+35 (that’s in Celsius), that includes rain and snow too (though under upper cholthes). My main gun carry reason is outdoor trips and camping. Conditions are’t sterill. I will never shoot myself, because my country gun law do not allow me to carry loaded chamber pistol. My only issues are finding the pistol release button on the holster quicly enough thus never use it for competition shooting.
    Another issue is… As I am quite active airsoft player I tend to look at many real solders photoes. And almost all SF members have their pistols in the BH Serpas (not issued by the forses, I gues)… And there should be a good reason.

    By Ryklys on Jul 6, 2011

  49. I’ve always kinda felt the same way on the SERPA thing. I liked that they simple to reholster but never liked the deactivation. That’s why I’m pleased with the Safariland ASP series (Link: http://www.safariland.com/DutyGear/product.aspx?pid=6377) With the thumb deactivation, it’s much less of an safety issue.

    By PistoleroJesse on Jul 6, 2011

  50. Well it seems that the Serpa Discussions are as spirited as the “is the 1911 still a viable platform” or “9mm,40S&W, 45acp” discussions.

    Just a few observations:

    For those who say I’ve never or haven’t had XXXX problem, add the word yet. Painful and embarrassing experience (no I haven’t shot myself :-))has shown me that talking in absolutes can came back and bite you. Example, recently I stated on the sister forum of this blog I “NEVER” had a revolver go down in 30 years with something that would not have locked an auto up as well. That night at our IDPA match my revolver did just that. Karma is a bitch.

    Any platform/holster that relies on a mechanism to release can fail through broken/worn parts or debris. Be it an ALS, Thumb Drive, or Serpa. You need to keep them clear of dirt and watch out for wear and tear. The more complicated the mechanism the more likely it is to fail. Even the one way snaps on a thumb break holster come become lose and rotate so they will not release without concentrated effort.

    Personally I have not taken a close look at BH duty level 2 or 3 belt holsters and can offer no opinion on them. But after this discussion I closely examined the more popular Sporter version both paddle and belt variations,this is the one in the video. My thoughts:

    The release button is located over the frame and not the trigger guard. Even if you curl your finger, the finger tip should fall on the frame not in the trigger.

    The release mechanism is only strong enough to hold the gun in against falling out or casual tugging. Seriously this is not a “RETENTION” holster and the mechanism will fail during a serious grab attempt without your intervention.

    It would take a great deal of debris to lock up the versions I observed, there’s plenty of clearance, but rolling around on packable soil or snow could do it.

    The screws that hold the paddle or belt loops to the holster body do so through slots not holes. I believe this was to make the cant easily adjustable with out removing the screws entirely. Unfortunately the trade off is that the screws are only supported top and bottom not all the way around the screw circumference. This creates a weakness and I can see the screws pulling free of the paddle or belt loops during a serious tussle.

    For me the paddle version holds the holster to far off the body to be considered for concealed carry.

    Lastly – this holster was made to meet a price point and the construction shows. Understand it’s weakness and limitations and work with in those. It’s not a holster for me but for others on a limited budget with the proper mind set it may do.

    By RSA-OTC on Jul 6, 2011

  51. I’m rather surprised to see the argument evolving into the Serpa being called a high-speed piece of equipment that requires a bunch of practice to use properly. That’s certainly not how it is marketed by the manufacturer.

    “Blame the training” –

    With all due respect, that’s a non-answer. It’s as useful as telling a doctor it hurts when you do X and having him reply “Don’t do that!” A holster that requires someone to apply inward pressure with their trigger finger is a fundamentally flawed design. If prior to the introduction of the Serpa I had run around telling people they need to be pressing inward with their trigger finger while drawing a handgun I would have rightly been labeled a madman…and yet some dude who knows zip about using handguns designs a holster that requires exactly that and it’s good gear?

    Leaving samples of 1 and reluctance to objectively analyze our own purchases aside, from a pure logic standpoint:

    What logical argument is there for encouraging someone to apply inward pressure with their trigger finger while trying to draw a handgun?

    Answer: There is none. Standing on it’s own there’s absolutely no good reason to have someone performing this act because of the potential for getting the finger inside the trigger guard prematurely. Nobody with any reasonable reputation teaches this action as a part of the draw.

    Take the silly holster out of the equation and objectively examine the actions required of the shooter and it’s plainly demonstrable as a bad idea. Think really hard about this, folks: If you were instructing a new shooter, would you EVER instruct them to press inward with their trigger finger while they are attempting to draw a handgun from a holster?

    A piece of equipment designed around a practice that is objectively foolhardy should be a non-starter.

    By TCinVA on Jul 6, 2011

  52. TCinVA: “With all due respect, ['blame the training' is] a non-answer.”

    I agree. I think Todd nailed it quite early on with “any piece of gear is safe if you run it perfectly every time”, but people are human, and it doesn’t matter how much training you get, how good that training is, or how hard you try to be safe, the simple fact of reality is that some people are *not* going to “run it perfectly every time”.

    The occasional idiot who thinks it’s fun to “dry-fire” his “unloaded” weapon at his buddy’s head aside, most people don’t deliberately set out to violate the cardinal rules and shoot themselves, and harping on about the cardinal rules isn’t going to do a thing for those accidents which occur when people are not deliberately violating them. Training can help you actually apply the cardinal rules more consistently, but if training was all it took, we’d never see highly trained people having accidents, and we certainly do see that.

    The fact is that people are going to make mistakes, and they’re going to screw up, despite everybody’s best efforts. The next time it happens could be to anyone reading this blog now, me included. Therefore, as part of an overall approach to managing the risk of training with firearms, it’s worth looking at your gear and thinking about *if* you do make a mistake, what kind of mistake is that gear likely to cause to to make. And even if it lines up your finger with the frame, a holster that requires you to press your finger towards the trigger has the potential to cause you to make a pretty serious mistake, compared with a holster that does not require you to do that. Whether or not this actually does result in a greater accident rate or in more severe accidents is not something I’d want to speculate on without some actual data.

    Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity, as we’re often reminded, and risk has to be managed, not eliminated. It may be worth taking an additional bit of risk with a particular piece of gear *if* that gear confers a corresponding benefit which other products do not. As has been pointed out, I don’t think the SERPA does, without even getting to the possibility of the locking mechanism getting jammed.

    Yes, it *is* possible to use gear like the SERPA without incident, and the majority of people who use it probably do so without incident, but putting it down to training is completely missing the point. *Obviously* the guy in the video screwed up – he wouldn’t have shot himself in the leg if he didn’t. But putting it down to “training failure” or “operator screw-up” and then stopping there is a total non-explanation, about as helpful and enlightening as “pilot error”.

    It really doesn’t matter if you *can* use a piece of gear safely, and if the piece of gear did not *cause* the accident – if that piece of gear *actually did* contribute to the accident, or *actually did* contribute to the severity of its outcome, then that is relevant information, and it’s relevant information even if it the only reason it contributed is because the operator didn’t use it right, because reality consistently shows us that people do and will continue to occasionally fail to use gear correctly, however well-trained they are. To put it simply, training doesn’t magically prevent you from ever screwing up.

    If you have two pieces of gear which are identical in all respects except one is more forgiving of operator misuse than the other, then I’d think it should be an obvious choice. Whether or not that’s what we actually have here is another question, but in the absence of data I’m certainly inclined to agree that a holster which requires you to press your trigger finger towards the gun sounds like asking for trouble.

    By Paul on Jul 6, 2011

  53. Good video to show the value of sticking to one platform and that over confidence can reach out and bite anyone.

    By Riggs on Jul 6, 2011

  54. Serpa = good. Yes thats right. I think it does a good job of training newbies to keep the finger on the frame (as blackhawk states). However, I would not recommend the Serpa with retention for a cocked and locked heavy single action gun!

    What you have here is the combination of the heavy 1911 with a short and lighter trigger AND racing to take the safety off before you clear your body AND pressing the serpa button with the tip of your finger.

    1) This would be much harder to do with a DA/SA or even a long stroke DAO. Try to do that with the Sig P250–it would be very very hard. How many of these ND have been with a gun like that?

    2) the disengagement of the safety on the 1911 was crucial to this ND–it makes the sympathetic reflex harder to resist.

    3) I bet his trigger discipline was mediocre to begin with AND he probably has a stable of REVOLVERS in which he knows he has to STAGE the trigger to shoot quickly.

    4) the method of depressing the tab should be done with a STRAIGHT FINGER not a curled one. Why? A straight finger will resist sympathtic response and provide the safety margin should you have a reflex. This is why those israeli manuf itac holsters really are BAD; they require you to use the tip of your finger. Those deserve a bad rap not the SERPAs.

    “What logical argument is there for encouraging someone to apply inward pressure with their trigger finger while trying to draw a handgun?”

    To release the retention quickly while acquiring and maintaining continously a good high master grip and keep the finger straight and place it along the frame.

    Let me try another question and question the high priest John Moses Browning’s design of the 1911: What logical argument is there for encouraging someone to apply inward pressure with their thumb and cause a sympathetic response in their trigger finger while trying to draw a handgun?

    Kemit has it right with the SERPA and the I will add those comments to the 1911: “It’s a specialized holster [gun], requiring specialized practice, and within that specialization, performs its role admirably.” Indeed. Are there options with a higher margin of safety. You bet its called DA/SA with israeli carry (;-)).

    Let the israeli carry and JMB flames begin ;-).

    By p30man on Jul 6, 2011

  55. I am horrified by many of the comments I read on youtube, apparently from other gunnies, scolding Grebner for having had the ND at all, and especially for posting video of it.

    As a right to arms advocate myself, I read those comments as a claim that only the perfect should exercise their right to arms.

    I don’t know any perfect people. The arrogance of these commenters is so great, I have to believe that their overconfidence will betray them someday. I can only hope that when they commit their NDs, they don’t hurt anybody else.

    We are all human. None of us is perfect. Our right to arms cannot, must not be conditioned on being perfect.

    It is our “meet right and bounden duty” to reveal our errors to each other and to the world, so that we can all learn from each other’s mistakes. Tex’s confession was brave and necessary.

    Those castigating Tex for being an idiot with no muzzle control, unable to keep his booger hook off the bang switch, too clumsy to be trusted with something as simply as a SERPA holster, a traitor for revealing that liberty has its risks, think their righteousness makes them better than the rest of us, immune to misfortune.

    But when the grabbers come to their doors, they will lose their guns along with the rest of us mere mortals, because to the grabbers, only a badge makes you perfect enough to own a gun.

    By dmoore on Jul 6, 2011

  56. Follow up: “What logical argument is there for encouraging someone to apply inward pressure with their trigger finger while trying to TACTICAL RELOAD AN HK or WALTHER?”

    Same arguments being presented here against the Serpa could apply to those guns. Yet I dont think ToddG had one ND with his P30 or HK45; I know he was using that trigger finger to drop the mags not the thumb. It’s a training and practice issue. However, with poorly made bulky gloves it may be possible to ND those guns in SA during a tac reload. Any reports?

    I’ve had IDPA RO saying finger to me when I’m reloading with an HK. I’ve said to them thats how the gun is designed to be operated. Same with the SERPA.

    I dont blame Mr Greber. Its just that he was flying pretty fast and the margin for error is very very small with that combination of gear and with his earlier training with the thumb drive holster it set him up for failure.

    Perhaps the next set of NDs with be with thumb drive holsters and the 1911 (safety coming off too soon)?

    By p30man on Jul 6, 2011

  57. This isn’t a SERPA holster issue- this is a 1911 issue. When I draw my DA/SA Sig P220 from my SERPA

    By Bruce on Jul 6, 2011

  58. It surprises me to see how many people are dismissing this as “rushing things.” What, exactly, do these people think you are inclined to do in a situation where you *need* to deploy a weapon?

    Further, I’m puzzled by the inisitance that you just have to keep your finger straight; your index finger is going to naturally want to curl in a sympathetic manner when establishing a firm grip on the firearm. A design that *encourages* this natural physical response seems to bring potential problems in tow.

    By commandar on Jul 6, 2011

  59. This isn’t a SERPA holster issue- this is a 1911 issue. When I draw my DA/SA Sig P220 from my SERPA holster, and if I were to deviate from the intended use of the holster and drag the trigger with my index finger, I would have 7 lbs of DA trigger to keep me from shooting myself. “Cocked and locked” pretty much means that the stored energy of the hammer can go at the smallest mistake. The gun carried that way is inherently unsafe. That’s why it has a manual safety and the DA/SA triggers typically don’t.

    I have also never rolled in pea gravel before drawing the gun either, but I can’t imagine that pebbles really could get locked in the holster and cause a problem. Maybe mulch, maybe ants, but not pebbles.

    By Bruce on Jul 6, 2011

  60. There is a subcategory of “hindsight bias” called “self-justification bias”.

    It could make for some fascinating hours of googling. I’m just sayin’.

    By Tam on Jul 6, 2011

  61. ok then. Excellent article, informative video and enlightening comments, but lets take this to a more practical level.

    For those of us who already own two or three Serpas and who while never experiencing an ND have always considered the Serpa a particularly viable candidate for one, what do you guys suggest as a reasonable alternative for OWB carry?

    By Billy Shears on Jul 7, 2011

  62. “This isn’t a SERPA holster issue- this is a 1911 issue. When I draw my DA/SA Sig P220 from my SERPA holster, and if I were to deviate from the intended use of the holster and drag the trigger with my index finger, I would have 7 lbs of DA trigger to keep me from shooting myself. “Cocked and locked” pretty much means that the stored energy of the hammer can go at the smallest mistake. The gun carried that way is inherently unsafe. That’s why it has a manual safety and the DA/SA triggers typically don’t.”

    Bruce, so you find it acceptable he had his finger on the safety, just with the wrong gun? The tendency to put the finger in the wrong spot and deviate from what we know is a safe draw is the issue, not the gun. If the trigger had a 30 pound pull it would still be wrong to have your finger there.

    By Tom on Jul 7, 2011

  63. Hmmm…
    Me again. I have to support SERPA haters side. After this article I did kinda experiment: tried to draw many times in a high speed. As fast as I only could grap the pistol, and… my pointing finger always found itself on or near the trigger (I do not mean pressing it, but anyway…). Haaa. Bad news really. Newer noticed that cause allways tried to grap the gun confortably and only then draw. This slowed my motions quite mutch, I gues. So newer found my finger on the trigger. will still use it to carry my gun thougt, as I can not carry it chambered, but the news really dissappointed me.

    By Ryklys on Jul 7, 2011

  64. This weeks Tosh.0 video breakdown and web redemption.

    By Riggs on Jul 7, 2011

  65. And the Serpa stories keep racking up. I threw my Serpas in a burn barrel a couple years ago. I’ve been a firearms instructor for a dozen years or so and I don’t recommend them to anyone after seeing the increasing number of issues. In addition, I’ve seen a few rendered useless by a tiny piece of debris that keeps the locking mechanism from releasing.

    After all the ND’s associated with these, it’s amazing to see the apologists try to blame everything except the holster design. A Serpa story gets posted and the “experts” fly out of the woodwork. Step back and take an objective look rather than using your emotions. Leave that to the moonbats.

    On a side note, the target he’s using is an MLEOTC qualification target. The pic is that of my old police academy director/instructor.

    By sgtlmj on Jul 7, 2011

  66. Is it my reading or did Todd recommend against buying a serpa holster? I can remember Blackhawk portraying it as king of the hill 4-5 years ago. But who was selling it back then?.. so, I’m confused. Or do we know more about the Serpa Holster after years of field training and useage about a design that has / had hidden faults only now comming to light. A lot of the trainers in the US are banning this rig for training / use for this very reason. (ND) So watch the commericals on the “networks” with a grain of salt and do some of your own prouduct investigation before you buy. ( don’t get cought up in the hype)
    G Bussard

    By Grant Bussard on Jul 7, 2011

  67. At a police equipment trade show a couple of years ago, the Serpa guys were trying to sell me on how good their holster was. I mentioned a nearby local LE agency had outlawed their holsters due to the trigger finger being used to defeat the locking mechanism and some negligent discharges that occured due to the design.

    The salesman poo poo’d that and proceded to show me and a couple of other guys that was not possible. “there is no way the trigger finger can accidentally go to the trigger” he said. On his third draw guess where his finger was at when he cleared the holster with his red gun…… right on the trigger. I and the other guys saw it and called him on it. He was very embarrased and insisted it was a fluke and would not happen again…. He began drawing again to show us just how safe the holster was and just 4 draws later, back on the trigger was his finger.

    The other guys walked away shaking their heads. We had seen enough.

    This was the company saleman, self promoted as a gun expert and certainly proficient with his product. While I cannot say with certainty that his finger on a real gun’s trigger would have caused a discharge….I can say that just the possibility of a finger going to the trigger before the gun has cleared the holster and being pointed towards a threat, was enough for me to say that was not safe.

    By kennyt on Jul 7, 2011

  68. p30man, if you’ve watched much of Tex’s video clips he’s not likely to have many revolvers much less know how to stage the triggers.

    By George on Jul 7, 2011

  69. p30man,

    …he has to STAGE the trigger to shoot quickly.

    Huh. I’ve been shooting my revolvers wrong all along. Shows what I get for reading that Miculek guy’s advice… :(

    By Tam on Jul 7, 2011

  70. “…he has to STAGE the trigger to shoot quickly.”

    You and me both TAM.

    By RSA-OTC on Jul 8, 2011

  71. “What logical argument is there for encouraging someone to apply inward pressure with their trigger finger while trying to TACTICAL RELOAD AN HK or WALTHER?”

    The magazine release on an H&K or a Walther must be pressed down to release the magazine, and it is located behind the trigger. It’s quite impossible to release the magazine *and* pull the trigger at the same time with the trigger finger on either of those weapons.

    That could be why there isn’t a single documented instance of anyone doing so and no level of concern among knowledgeable shooters or instructors about the magazine release on either weapon. The same cannot be said about the Serpa.

    It’s an apples to zebras comparison.

    An acquaintance of mine is a hardcore woodworker who has spent the better part of 20 years working with a particular power tool. Recently (about 6 months ago) he had an incident with a table saw he had used literally thousands of times before that resulted in thankfully minor injuries. One day he forgot to do one of those things you’re always supposed to do when you use a tablesaw. It had never been a problem before. It was just fine until it **wasn’t**.

    …and that’s the issue, here. “Always” isn’t always when human beings are involved. There isn’t a human being alive who ALWAYS does things exactly the right way. That’s why there are checklists for flight crews that have to be gone through by every person involved in flying, servicing, and fueling the plane. That’s why patients are asked to write on their own body to indicate the area they are supposed to have surgery on. In every endeavor that matters you see layered safety procedures built around the assumption that any one will fail because human beings frequently fail.

    Since it’s been demonstrated that people ranging from relatively inexperienced newbies to professional shooters and firearms instructors can translate the action of releasing a handgun in a Serpa holster into getting their finger on the trigger at an inappropriate time it seems perfectly logical to assert that all of us are sufficiently human to make the same mistake.

    Those who assume they won’t make the mistake because they are depending on “always” are treading on thin ice. You layer safety by assuming your “always” won’t be and then having a backup plan. I always try to reholster in my AIWB holster carefully, but I assume that in tens of thousands of repetitions of a reholster I’m going to mess that up sooner or later. So I changed to a weapon that has a longer, heavier trigger and a hammer that I can block with my thumb. When my “always” fails (notice I said “when” and not “if”) I have taken measures to increase my margin of error which will hopefully prevent a hole in my anatomy.

    Strive for always, but *never* have absolute faith in it.

    By TCinVA on Jul 8, 2011

  72. I also advice against serpas when I train people. I use the safariland ALS holsters. Due to the way you release them with your thumb, it orients your hand to a propper firing grip everytime. No having to fire a shot or two with a somewhat lower grip then have to re-adjust. Also had a couple of deputies serpas shatter when bumped during cold weather leaving glocks on the ground. Considering they were both responding to a hostage situation not the best time to have to stop and pick a pistol up because a crappy holster failed.

    By ammotroop on Jul 8, 2011

  73. Billy Shears: I think SERPAs are lousy for OWB concealed carry. I think they are more of a range holster since they stand off the body too much. The problem I see is that in my area no one stocks any decent kydex holsters and recently the wait times have been crazy for some of the better kydex and leather holsters. The other problem is that one likes interchangability of parts and options for cant, ride height, and paddle/belt. The SERPA has that covered. Most other manufacturers do not. Bladetech is decent and has some options but I think they are overrated and overpriced (double the cost of the SERPA); they also do not have retention options in the modular systems. Safariland is another choice with retention but not as many mount options or modularity. See their 6377 for OWB with retention example. If you dont want modularity or retention then there are a lot of options: Raven Concealment (Phantom), Ntac, Sharktac, FIST. Leather is a another animal.

    By p30man on Jul 8, 2011

  74. What I took from the video were several simple concepts.

    1. Do not mix and match multiple holster and pistol systems.

    2. Do not attempt to speed shoot after training on multiple holster and or pistol systems.

    3. Train on similar equipment only. If you must diversify your collection of boomers and boomer holders then do not mix and match on the range.

    4. Did I mention not to mix and match? :)

    I will add that I got rid of my last 1911 because I train so much on the DAO style guns I carry for work and personal defense. The 1911 was more a memento from my army service than an everyday carry piece. Since I would pack it about on occasion I found the occasional practice and competitions I attempted were not up to speed with the different manual of arms. As such I decided to let it go and stayed with the DAO guns I use so much.

    By Tom in Orlando on Jul 8, 2011

  75. I use a Serpa holster with a Glock 35. When I draw the weapon, I press the release with my index finger and when I draw the weapon my finger is indexed along the receiver…the perfect placement for safe weapon handling until your up on target! If you release the lock with a hooked finger you could obviously have an ND. Even more obvious (and I’m surprised no one has said it) is that you need to DRY FIRE practice with your gear before you go hot. I’d be willing to bet, this clown didn’t dry fire and practice his draw with his new holster before shooting himself.
    As for having problems with the Serpa locking mechanism, I’m sure it’s happened before, but I roll around on my holster when I’m running courses (every week) and have never had a problem. I also PMS (take care of) my gear every day. He didn’t blame the gear…why are you?

    By Chris on Jul 9, 2011

  76. I have heard of the Serpa having more failures the Safariland ALS. I have been used a Serpa for five years. I have been using the ALS at work for about four years. I was going to start using the level 3 Serpa at work last year. When I got my level 3 Serpa I put it on my belt and didn’t really feel comfortable with it. I can’t really explain it. It kind of turned me off. Maybe I felt the level 3 wasn’t built sturdy enough, or it just didn’t feel right. Either way I stayed with the ALS. I felt more comfortable with my ALS Holster for duty use. Plus, I get to use the light I want to use :) Training is key with any holster. I liked my Serpa off duty holsters. I do have to train with it. I can tell you I have not used it for a while (I have been carrying IWB more) and I forgot to press the button to release my Glock all the way and I could not get my Glock out. Training is key.

    By Dave S on Jul 9, 2011

  77. Chris, he has used that SERPA in many of his videos. You seem to be missing everyone saying the design contributed not caused the ND.

    I’m really not sure why so many people have this it hasn’t happened to me so it never will attitude.

    By George on Jul 10, 2011

  78. The SERPA holster is just fine if you draw with a locked straight finger. His problem was that he curled his finger and put on the trigger and pulled it. It wasn’t the holsters fault. Sorry dude, watch it again in slow mode.

    By Justin on Jul 10, 2011

  79. Justin: “The SERPA holster is just fine if you draw with a locked straight finger.”

    *If* you draw with a locked straight finger, yes. Running around with your finger on the trigger the whole time is just fine, too, *if* you never actually press it until you want to fire, but nobody recommends doing this.

    “His problem was that he curled his finger and put on the trigger and pulled it. It wasn’t the holsters fault.”

    If you fire 200 rounds each week from the draw, you only have to do what he did once every 416,000 draws to shoot yourself in the leg during 40 years of shooting. If there is no discernible benefit which would justify taking the additional risk, I’d personally rather choose gear that requires from me a level of perfection somewhat less than that. Sure, there’s no guarantee that you’re not going to stick your finger in there drawing from a different type of holster, either, but if the design makes it easier for you to screw up in a bad way, choosing a different design is something worth serious consideration.

    George: “I’m really not sure why so many people have this it hasn’t happened to me so it never will attitude.”

    Agreed – especially when there’s a video of it happening right at the top of this page. Not many people deliberately set out to shoot themselves – accidents are relatively rare, and everyone thinks they’re safe and that their gear is fine until the day it all goes wrong, so the fact that it hasn’t happened to someone before is not a particularly reliable indicator of how likely it is to happen to them in the future.

    By Paul on Jul 11, 2011

  80. Yes, guns are dangerous that’s why there are weapon safety rules. For example “keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.” He put his finger on the trigger so he must have been ready to fire. I’m just saying the cause of shooting himself was prematurely put his finger on the trigger not the holster. He could have shot himself not matter what holster he was using. Your argument is on the same logical scale as saying guns kill people. Holster don’t shoot you in the leg. Accidents happen.

    By Justin on Jul 12, 2011

  81. From years of use of the Serpa system, starting out an advocate of the system due to initial work with the holster and being friends with one of the guys involved in designing and marketing it, then years of daily use both on and off-duty, and then discovering the issues, I am no longer a Serpa advocate and do everything I can to steer people away from the system.

    I feel the retention release has some serious training issues involved, however, comma…. even if it did not then the design and execution of the holster is a real problem.

    I have seen these holsters literally fall off of people’s belts, broken paddles, multiple stuck retention tabs, and multiple cases where the little flat spring that powers the retention device has broken thus leaving the holster with less than zero retention due to a lack of molding you would find in other plastic or kydex holsters.

    Because others have thrown out the experience bit, I’m 24 years on the road, 18 years SWAT, 23 years as a firearm instructor and at one time running our firearms program for 325 shooters.

    By Chuck on Jul 12, 2011

  82. Justin: “Accidents happen.”

    Yes, and when they do, we take a look at them and try to find out *why* they happened, in an attempt to avoid the same mistakes happening over and over again.

    Justin: “I’m just saying the cause of shooting himself was prematurely put his finger on the trigger not the holster.”

    And other people are trying to find out what it was that caused him to prematurely put his finger on the trigger in the first place. He had an accident *with a system of equipment*, and you can’t divorce the equipment from the accident. Sure, people can and do have accidents for any reason, but eliminating the cause of even one type of accident is a step in the right direction.

    By Paul on Jul 12, 2011

  83. I still can’t get over the: “After I shot myself, my training took over and I called my parents…” part.

    By Billy Ng on Jul 12, 2011

  84. RSA-OTC stated: “If you use a system like the Safariland ALS or the 5.11 thumb drive that causes you to do an action that would/could take your 1911 style safety off, then you might want to rethink your holster selections. I’ve seen muscle memory bring back actions that the student or myself left behind years ago, but under the stress of FOF or the clock that muscle memory kicks in and those actions come to the fore. Muscle memory can be a bitch.”

    It boggles my mind that people can suggest that the Safariland ALS & the 5.11 “Thumb Drive” retention systems are a liability due to them requiring the shooters thumb to perform similar movement to disengage the retention as is needed to disengage the thumb safety on a 1911, but can’t comprehend that the SERPA’s retention system requires you to perform a similar movement with your trigger finger in close proximity to the trigger as is required to actually pull the trigger and fire the pistol. It is placing the trigger finger on the trigger and pulling the trigger that makes the pistol actually fire on every single modern pistol design, not the damned thumb safety!

    Another thing that I have been taught since the academy was the “Startle Response” and the “Sympathetic reflex” theories. It was explained to me that the most common human reaction to being startled was to clench your fists and lower your center of gravity amongst other reflexes. Add this into the mix of pushing in with your trigger finger to release the SERPA retention system while drawing the pistol while you are under attack and it shouldn’t be too difficult to see where the SERPA retention design is flawed.

    I have also seen multiple SERPA’s ripped off of belts during training, and others simply fall apart at the belt slide/screw attachment points.

    I have also seen first hand the SERPA retention button get fouled and locked up during training.

    For those of you that insist on defending the SERPA holster design, exactly what benefits does it offer over the Safariland ALS or any of the other quality retention holster systems on the market?

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 13, 2011

  85. “The Pinto is a perfectly safe car, as long as you don’t get rear-ended in it. All those people that got burned to death when the car caught on fire after it was rear-ended were just bad drivers that should have been paying more attention”.

    “Sure, there are other cars on the market that haven’t been associated with dozens of cases where the gas tank blew up and killed people – but my Pinto is paid for, and I’m such a great driver that it will never happen to me.”

    A product with a flawed design doesn’t have to hurt every user for it to be inherently unsafe.

    By KR on Jul 15, 2011

  86. Did I just read a Pinto example? It is truly a dark day. ;)

    By George on Jul 15, 2011

  87. I don’t blame the equipment! I blame TEX! He put HIS finger ON the trigger! I don’t like Surpa holsters, not for me…no other reason. I don’t know how to fire off a tank, but I bet it has a trigger, and it has to be pushed or pulled, either way…..finger off the trigger means…finger off the trigger no matter what.

    Give an idiot a weapon and something stupid will hapen.

    By Scott on Jul 16, 2011

  88. So much for knockdown power :-P

    By JRas on Jul 18, 2011

  89. Scott, you are missing the point. This holster
    is inherently unsafe due to the location of the release button which requires it to be defeated by use of trigger finger. Under stress the pressed trigger finger used to press the release follows the gun up out of the holster and can go right to the trigger without the shooter doing anything. I watched it happen with the salesman. I watched it happen with a couple of other “gun” experts and have no doubt this is what happened to Tex. I watched this video over and over and that is exactly what happened. Unless you know Tex personally, how can you say he is an idiot.

    By kennyt on Jul 20, 2011

  90. It was NOT the SERPAs fault. When used properly, the trigger finger ends up indexed on the frame of the gun and NOT on the trigger. The blame is on the user. Any holster you use, when you grip the handle of the gun, your trigger finger is indexed along the side of the holster which is where the SERPA LOCKING MECHANISM IS on the SERPA holster. That ND can be caused using ANY holster because the user jammed his booger hook on the bang switch. Also, I’ve put paperclips, buttons, twigs and pebbles into the mechanism and tried to jam it with very little success. Most of the time the item fell out of the back where there is a hole designed to let objects that could potentially jam the mechanism to fall out. I eventually got the mechanism to jam after forcing 5 paperclips under the button. People who are saying this holster is inherently unsafe are just plain ignorant.

    By Jeff on Jul 20, 2011

  91. kennyt, have you watched many of Tex’s youtube videos? If you watch them is some type of chronological order you find him making declarations about equipment, technique, that which is legal, that which is GTG, then only in the last year or so he takes his first class of any type and in the last 4 months or so does his first drill with more than one target. I used to watch his videos for comic relief. I did warn him over a year ago (and the comment was removed) to take a real class from a real professional teacher before he shot himself.

    By George on Jul 20, 2011

  92. Nick Drakulich, you are a liar.
    “I have also seen multiple SERPA’s ripped off of belts during training, and others simply fall apart at the belt slide/screw attachment points.”
    That is a flat out lie. The holsters are VERY durable and do not just break like a cheap toy.
    Also, you have never seen any serpa mechanisms get “fouled”.

    By Jeff on Jul 20, 2011

  93. I have a Serpa and a 1911 and have drawn from it a thousand times without shooting myself in the leg.

    Since purchasing the Serpa I picked up a Safariland ALS holster and found it to be much better made, makes the Serpa look like a piece of crap. No more crappy Serpas for me.

    By Kirk in Utah on Jul 20, 2011

  94. Jeff,

    Have we met? If not, how could you possibly form the opinion that I am lying about my experiences with the SERPA? I have personally ripped SERPA’s off of co-workers belts to prove the point. I would gladly demonstrate this for you on your personal SERPA. I have also personally seen two co-workers SERPA’s fall apart at the mounting screws.

    Not only have I personally seen a SERPA’s retention button get locked up by gravel, there are also multiple videos from well known and respected industry sources showing the SERPA retention device getting locked up from gravel and even snow.

    Anyone who believes that the SERPA CQC holsters are “VERY durable” must play very gently with their gear. SERPA’s are anything but durable.

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 21, 2011

  95. If people were paid minimum wage for the amount of time they spend on the internet defending their crappy choice in sub-$30 holsters, they could probably earn enough in an afternoon to buy a good piece of gear.

    ¡Blackhawk! makes and markets a lot of quality pieces of gear. The SERPA isn’t one of them.

    By Tam on Jul 21, 2011

  96. I can’t believe some of the ignorant posts on this site. First off, Tex DID say that he is not blaming the holster. This was purely from a lack of training. A novice trains until he gets it right, a professional trains until he cant screw it up.
    The locking button is perfectly placed above the trigger where you naturally place your finger on the weapon, safely, until you are ready to fire. Meaning, when you draw the weapon out, your finger is already straight and off the trigger. If you slow motion the video of him drawing his weapon, you’ll notice that his finger moves to the trigger as the weapon is STILL pointing down towards his leg.
    Don’t blame the gear for an operator error. Here’s 4 simple rules that the Marine Corps teaches, that I’ve fallowed, and have not shot myself in years. And yes I use a SERPA for an HK USP 45 full size.
    1)Treat every weapon as if it were loaded
    2)Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
    3)KEEP YOUR FINGER STRAIGHT AND OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL INTEND TO FIRE!!!
    4)Keep the weapon on safe until you are ready to fire.
    I am not trash talkin Tex, in fact he’s a good man for posting that video. It’s a great lesson on NDs.

    By Seriously? on Jul 21, 2011

  97. Awesome! Tex was just released from a hospital and was likely under the influence of pain relievers. From the slur in his voice during the video I would say that is highly likely. Tex’s opinion on not blaming the holster doesn’t mean that the serpa holster design played no active role in his ND happening. Enjoy your cheap holster for you expensive pistol.

    The growing list of world renowned professional instructors who do not allow serpa’s to be worn during their classes should be a clue.

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 21, 2011

  98. @Nick Drakulich,
    How rough do you have to be with the SERPA to prove it’s durable, beat the piss out of it with a sledge hammer??? Ya I’m gonna have to agree with Jeff on that argument.

    By Seriously? on Jul 21, 2011

  99. A LOT of cops wear the CQC SERPA for plainclothes duty holsters. “Retention” holsters are designed to retain your pistol during a struggle or gun grab. If a “retention” holster can be ripped from the belt attachment with a couple of solid tugs on the grip of the pistol, then it isn’t retaining anything now is it? If you can’t comprehend the seriousness of the issue I am describing then good luck in your ventures.

    Here’s a video link (cut/paste) showing the exact types of failures at the screw/attachment point as I have personally seen in my experience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOBEJvMZ_f4

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 21, 2011

  100. …….You know there’s also a belt loop system for holsters right? Not just the paddle. Everything is operator error

    By Seriously? on Jul 21, 2011

  101. And anything can be snapped and busted when your weapon is being tugged on hard enough. The holster does what its supposed to. Meh, it doesn’t matter. I have not shot myself using this holster and have had no problems with it. Its a way better holster than most. Deploying and seeing other holsters in actual use, I’ve seen A LOT worse

    By Seriously? on Jul 21, 2011

  102. “You know there’s also a belt loop system for holsters right? Not just the paddle.”

    Yep, and had you actually read my post and watched the video I linked to, you would have seen that it is the belt slide attachment that I was refering to and that is also the common failure point shown in the video I linked to.

    If multiple confirmed reports of failures of the SERPA holster on multiple levels from several well respected industry sources elicites the response of: “Meh, it doesn’t matter” from you, then it is pointless in debating this with you. Enjoy your SERPA.

    By Nick on Jul 21, 2011

  103. …and have not shot myself in years.

    I LOL’ed. :D

    By Tam on Jul 22, 2011

  104. Most people have a hard enough time keeping their finger of the trigger when they grip a gun. Simply due to the fact that it is not a natural human act to grip with only 3 fingers leaving one out. Yes we train specifically to do that, but is counter to our natural grip. The Serpa holster and others like it (which there are now plenty) encourage people to use their trigger finger to do something, in an area closely related to the trigger guard, this in my opinion is what sets people up for failure. The trigger finger should not being used for anything until its called upon to press the trigger. Sure you can say the Serpa when used properly puts your finger high on the slide on the draw. But as has been evidenced numerous times, when the draw doesn’t happen correctly, and people tense up (missed or forgot to press the release properly) they tend to tighten up their grip considerably, jam their finger in the release and yank on the gun. The increased tension grip allows for less refined control of the trigger finger, they are basically making a fist and as the gun comes out of the holster the fist is completed as per instinct and the gun goes bang.
    Someone else has probably explained the above much better. This is just my observation based on what I’ve seen happen at the range.

    By Rob E on Jul 22, 2011

  105. Nick
    I didnt watch your post because you first sounded like an idiot arguing with Jeff. But since you actually just made sense I DID just watch your link. Here’s the deal….This post was originally about NDs, not the durability of the product, SO, if you want to talk about durability, go some where else.

    The other thing is if you read my first post (above your post stating that Tex was under the influence), which Im sure you havent, you would also understand that stupid ass mistakes, including idiot cops that get caught off guard by a criminal trying to rip away his weapon, is completely the operators fault.

    ANY HOLSTER can be damaged. And if you shoot yourself, its your damn fault, not the gear. The locking button is placed where your finger naturally rests on the weapon ABOVE the trigger. I have drawn from my Serpa hundreds of times and NOT ONCE did my finger EVER land on the trigger.

    Enjoy learning how to shoot :)

    By Seriously? on Jul 22, 2011

  106. @Tam,
    ya dumb ass, as in years of handling a weapon. Whats your job, Wal Mart LMAO

    By Seriously? on Jul 22, 2011

  107. Seriously — If you cannot behave like a reasonable adult, your opinions are not wanted here. I was originally logging in to tell you that it’s not your place to tell Nick where he should and shouldn’t post things on my website. Then I saw your reply to Tam and candidly lost all patience with you.

    Effective immediately, I will feel free to delete any objectionable content from you.

    By ToddG on Jul 22, 2011

  108. @Todd
    haha go ahead buddy, I’m through arguing with a bunch of amateur idiots who have nothing better to do than to cry about a piece of gear they have no idea how to use.

    By Seriously? on Jul 22, 2011

  109. “Hundreds” of draws from a SERPA? Wow, You definitely do have it all figured out then brother. What in the hell was I thinking?

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 22, 2011

  110. Seriously?,

    FWIW, I got my SERPA for free from the guys at ¡Blackhawk! at their North Carolina HQ before riding their awesome rockstar bus down to Blackwater for a training class that they partially sponsored.

    It’s still sitting in the box in my attic three years later. It’s a lousy holster. However, I used the non-SERPA CQC for the class, and still use it as a competition/range holster.

    You shoulda spent your $29.99 on the next Call of Duty game.

    By Tam on Jul 22, 2011

  111. I’ve had my M&P9 right at a week. I’ve had my new to me Shaggy for the M&P about 3 days. I have hundreds of draws with the combination. I don’t begin to consider myself up to speed with the combination. The SERPA fails the basic safety tests. If I were to hand it to our ES&H (environment, safety, and health) guy he’d reject it out of hand (not a gun guy) because it puts the trigger finger in motion toward the trigger on the draw. It sets up failure if something goes wrong. Not some gun guy saying it’s bad, but, a guy who causes much grief because things we do “all the time” without accident are changed because it won’t work if something small happens wrong. WHY stick with something that leaves near zero margin for error when there are multiple holsters available that don’t cut the margin so close.

    By George on Jul 22, 2011

  112. I wanted to thank him for sharing this information and we can learn from others errors. May all be well and safe.

    By BrettMC7 on Jul 22, 2011

  113. I have not read all of the posts but am seeing the same thing that we all see in life. Muscle memory is a human trait and we develop it through repetition, if you change any part of this repetition you must start over and walk through it slowly then progress to faster speeds as you get the changes down. This is not just for weapons but for anything you do it is just more apparent when we do it with a weapon. Bottom line is to train with what you use, and only change it after you retrain. Or don’t change the way you are doing things this is were accidents happen

    By David Salerno on Nov 5, 2011

  114. The serpa draw leaves ones finger on the frame when properly used. This man needs more proper training.

    By brimstone13 on Mar 24, 2012

  115. I agree with brimstone13 and I will also say I love my serpa thigh holster. Being in the military along with being sent to active war zone there have been times when I needed to pull out my weapon. At first I used standard issue bale holsters which I found has always been a pain to release after some time and usage. One day we where training on clearing rooms and I couldn’t get my weapon free. I bought my serpa Blackhawk for the M9 service pistol and have never looked back. I love it, I have never had a problem getting my gun back or having it taken from me; which during training people try to do. I have even used it in the desert (fine sand of Africa/Kuwait), dirt and all else with no jamming. I would trust my life to that holster.
    Side note: I use this holster with my glock and still haven’t shot myself in the leg. Then again I don’t put my finger in the trigger guard till I have my gun down range.

    By Deployed, Man on Apr 7, 2012

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