More SERPA = Bad

26-Sep-11 – 14:05 by ToddG

GearScout tests the SERPA.

At this point, pistol-training.com is going to follow the lead of other instructors such as Larry Vickers and ban the SERPA (and the various cheap knockoffs on the market) from classes beginning in 2012. I have been suggesting to students that they bring something else to classes up until now and will continue that for anyone who is already registered for a class in 2011.

This decision was not made lightly. There is no doubt this will upset some people, including both past and potential students. In fact, just this weekend I had a very competent student in class who used a SERPA with no safety concerns whatsoever. Nonetheless, for the reasons outlined in GearScout’s article as well as concerns I’ve voiced in the past, I believe that the overall training environment will be more suitable for the kind of activities at a typical pistol-training.com class without SERPA holsters.

The one exception will be law enforcement & military personnel who are issued or otherwise required by policy/regulation to use the SERPA. I do not feel someone should be denied training because of a gear choice made by a procurement department.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 15 Responses to “More SERPA = Bad”

  2. I like the SERPA system. I like it so much that I own 4 of them, for 4 firearms, that I train with and carry. I have read the articles and seen the youtube vids – I understand the concern. I consider the SERPA a tool that can be praised and it can be bashed when not used correctly. “Damnit, I totally screwed up putting that bolt in with the hammer.”

    Using a SERPA is not for everyone; and unfortunately because of the price-point I think it targets a large percentage of novice shooters who are prone to safety neglect.

    With that said, I will continue to use a SERPA until I find another system that I feel works better for me. Will I use a SERPA forever? Nope. They will eventually go into the holster box while a new tool goes on my belt.

    I had a good time at the class this weekend Todd.

    By Justin Axline on Sep 26, 2011

  3. Good call. Threw my 2 SERPAs in the burn barrel a few years ago.

    By LanceJ on Sep 26, 2011

  4. What about the Serpa’s without the button. I believe they are called the CQB holsters. Will they be allowed in classes?

    By Unknown on Sep 26, 2011

  5. The term “SERPA” refers solely to Blackhawk holsters with the trigger finger retention system.

    By Donovan on Sep 26, 2011

  6. I think GearScout’s point about the paddle becoming more difficult to operate as tension is applied to the pistol is crucial. My agency issues (and requires the use of) the SERPA for non-uniformed personnel and has reacted to concerns about the SERPA by repeating the line about not using the tip of the finger to activate the paddle and not putting your finger on the trigger until ready to fire. They advocate using the middle part of the trigger finger (between the last knuckle and the middle knuckle, depending on your hand size) to push the paddle. This is fine in practice when people make sure to get a perfect grip and release the paddle prior to applying tension to the pistol. When people start to hurry, however, they get the order a little off and start to pull on the pistol before the release has been hit; then they poke the release paddle hard with the tip of the finger to apply more pressure; then all of a sudden the pistol releases unexpectedly while their trigger finger is trying to curl. Then the gun goes bang. Hasn’t happened to us yet, but I won’t be surprised. SERPAs are popular with police because they are inexpensive and give the appearance of security.

    By BenBB on Sep 27, 2011

  7. As someone who doesn’t need a holster with retention (Civilian CCW carrier) – Why on earth would you choose a SERPA when the Safariland ALS is available? Buck up and spend a little more, seriously. I feel sorry for you guys that can’t choose their own gear, good luck.

    By JeffJ on Sep 27, 2011

  8. As long as people are drawing handguns from holsters there will always be a risk of a UD. I dont believe that one specific type is more dangerous than another. I use a Serpa type holster for competition use and never had an issue. My Police department tried the ALS, still had a fairly experienced member shoot themself in the calf.Just remember finger of trigger until you want it to go bang. I watched Tex’s video quite a few times, i believe the holster had nought to do with it. The poor fellas finger does the wrong thing at the wrong time, would have happened with any holster.

    By Robinator73 on Sep 28, 2011

  9. I can understand people not wanting to admit they effed up on a $500 firearms purchase (“No, really, the Judge is a manstopper! Haven’t you seen those ads?“) but the amount of effort people put into rationalizing their $29.99 plastic holster is just absolutely unbelievable.

    By Tam on Sep 28, 2011

  10. If you are going to remove SERPA from your classes you should probably also remove it from your FAST target.

    By luvjetz on Sep 28, 2011

  11. luvjetz — The penalty for the SERPA listed on the FAST target is based on the minimal impact the ‘retention’ device has. It’s just like the equally simple (but less dangerous) Safariland ALS, which gets the same penalty. Since many people use the FAST target (and the FAST itself) outside of pistol-training.com classes, I’d rather keep the penalty on there rather than have folks think their SERPA scores don’t get half a second added to them.

    By ToddG on Sep 28, 2011

  12. This ranks right up there with the dog ate my homework.

    Guns do not have a mind of their own. They will not “go off”. Someone has to pull the trigger. Those of us who enjoy shooting should not allow good quality functioning equipment to be blamed for poor quality use.

    There should be more attention given to helping users selest an appropriate holster. But not saying I want use X because it is bad because a dufus once did something stupid with X. If a retention holster is needed for the particular application, then I have found Blackhawk Serpas to be fine for that application. My entire MP platoon used them for our last deployment and not one issue occured. But we need retention holsters.

    I would hope that rather than saying “Serpa = Bad” we could get to the point of asking is a retention holster the proper choice.

    By Sid on Sep 29, 2011

  13. Sid,

    “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.”

    If that is the case, the question should be, “Is the SERPA holster a good quality, functioning equipment?”

    By Les on Sep 29, 2011

  14. If we want to use the “logic” of the serpa being more prone to ND, we should look at the weapons where this happens. It’s glocks and 1911s where this happens. Even w/o a serpa, more people shoot themselves with glocks and 1911s than DA/SA weapons. Whenever someone points that out, we hear all the fans rush out to say “if they’d just use the glock or 1911 right, it’d be no problem. Keep your finger off the trigger” How about some of the same for the Serpa? The SERPA is only a problem for guns with very light triggers and bad trigger finger discipline. It’s the user that’s the problem…..which is what we always hear when someone shoots themselves with a glock. I’ll not hold my breath for the time when people who blame the serpa also blame the glock and the 1911.

    By David on Sep 29, 2011

  15. David — I absolutely agree that light — and especially light and short — triggers are far less proof against an accident than something like a 12# Beretta DA trigger. Heck, it’s one of the very first things I ever wrote about here at PTC.

    However, the difference is that within reason, lighter triggers have an actual demonstrable impact on most people’s shooting performance. In other words, there is a tangible benefit to having that lighter trigger. So it’s a conscious trade-off people make. They give up some safety for better shootability.

    With the SERPA, there is no such trade-off. The SERPA does nothing that other holsters cannot do as well or better. So you’re getting greater risk for no greater reward.

    By ToddG on Sep 29, 2011

  16. The design of the SERPA does two things. First it works against the way the body wants to press buttons. Bend your finger just a little and your finger can easily enter the trigger guard, especially if you have shorter fingers.
    Second, the locking mechanism is prone to jamming with dirt or even snow. Not from lack of cleaning, but get into a scuffle that goes to ground, or hit the deck when bullets start flying your way and you could end up with a gun locked up tight in the holster.

    By ChessB on Feb 2, 2012

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