The Serpa comes in many configurations but the commonality between them means seamless transition. Photo Courtesy Blackhawk
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It’s an inarguable fact that your holster is just as important a choice as the selection of your firearm. You must have a holster that holds your firearm securely and helps you retain your firearm in a gun-grab attempt. At the same time, the holster must allow you to draw your firearm when needed without the slightest fumbling, even when your adrenaline shuts down everything but gross motor skills.
Some of the holsters available are very secure. But one night during a sudden startle, I couldn’t get the gun out of the level-three holster that I was wearing. Now before you say “more practice,” be aware that I did practice several times a week with this holster. I was very comfortable with it in “practice.” But in the real world under a spontaneous adrenaline dump, the required actions to clear it were a no-go. My assessment was confirmed when another officer told me he had experienced the same ordeal, with the exact same holster.
So what do I wear now? A Blackhawk Serpa in level three while wearing a duty belt and level two for concealment. The Serpa line of holsters is constructed with an injection molded, carbon fiber composite. Carbon fiber is incredibly strong while nominal in weight and used in applications where strength/weight ratios are absolutely critical. The U.S. Air Force’s premiere fighter plane, the F-22A Raptor—capable of speeds in excess of 1,900 feet per second—has its fuselage frame, as well as other body parts, made of a carbon fiber. Even more than the core materials of its construction, the design of the Serpa holster line is why I bet my life on it. The draw is so fast and natural, you’ll never look at a level-three holster the same again.
The level-three Serpa has a pivot guard that covers the pistol’s hammer, which is released by your thumb’s natural path as you acquire a shooting grip on the pistol. Once opened, the pivot guard is locked open until the pistol is reinserted. Thus, unlike some of the other currently marketed holsters, you can’t “bump” the cover closed and lock yourself out of the holster. Instantly and automatically upon reinserting the pistol, it’s locked in at a level two. Both these features can be lifesavers should you need to quickly re-holster and go hands-on with a subject.
The primary locking mechanism, the proprietary-designed and patented Serpa auto lock, is released when the trigger finger is placed parallel with the pistol’s frame when drawing. Once the pistol clears the holster, you’ll have indexed your finger outside of the trigger guard automatically. Although this may sound complicated in writing, the real-world function is as simple as this: Grab the pistol in a normal shooting grip and draw. Re-holster and it’s automatically locked in at level two. It doesn’t get any simpler, easier or more efficient.
The Serpa holster lineup also offers a wide variety of optional mounting platforms. Low-ride, high-ride, tactical-thigh or chest-mounted for a MOLLE tactical vest—these are the generic carry options. The level-two CQC Serpa holster that I wear for concealed carry is constructed of the same materials and uses the exact same drawing motion as the level three.
Which brings me to another point in the Serpa holster lineup: All of them use the exact same draw. So no matter if you carry a SERPA in level-three duty, a level-two duty or concealment, a tactical version on a thigh rig or chest mounted on a tactical vest, it’s all the same draw. I’ve never seen such a wide variety of holsters that will minimize the learning curve to this degree. As we all know, commonality in training decreases training time, and commonality in equipment, increases efficiency and speed during real world usage. It’s a win/win on both fronts.
All Serpa holsters also have an adjustable pressure detent. This allows the wearer to adjust the holster’s pressure on the gun. Thus, allowing further personalization of each holster.
Another thing to remember: Blackhawk’s gear is designed and tested by true American warriors, not wannabe’s. The founder of Blackhawk (himself a retired Navy SEAL) and the vast majority of their employees responsible for the development of their gear are highly trained and experienced end users. Several retired Navy SEALs and former law enforcement members spearhead the company. Everything they produce has the quality and functionality levels that they wish they would have had when they actively served.
Do I give the Serpa holster lineup a high rating and my personal endorsement? I bet my life on it. Can I give a stronger endorsement than that?
Click here to view video on the Serpa.