Retention Holsters

Retention Holsters

This is a discussion on Retention Holsters within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Does the idea of carrying a holster with a mechanical retention (SERPA, Bianchi paddle-lock, etc) scare anyone else? If something breaks or goes wrong, your ...

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Thread: Retention Holsters

  1. #1
    Member Array AgentX's Avatar
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    Retention Holsters

    Does the idea of carrying a holster with a mechanical retention (SERPA, Bianchi paddle-lock, etc) scare anyone else? If something breaks or goes wrong, your gun can be stuck in there. The SERPA, especially, can be prone to getting grit behind the release which can lock it up. Not that most CCWers are rolling around in the dirt, but if you're in a fight, that'd be the time you would be doing so...

    Personally, I'd stick with the basic thumb break if I wanted retention on my concealed holster.

    That said, I open carry in a Safariland 6004 drop rig with the retention bail, but I've never seen or heard of one of these failing even when encased in mud...plus, it's what I have to use regardless of my personal feelings.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Ragin Cajun's Avatar
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    I think a thumb break is good enough retention for CC if one desires it. Personally, I perfer a snug fitting open top concealed holster.

  3. #3
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    None of my concealment holsters have retention devices of any kind. I don't see the need.

    As long as the holster is of quality the gun is going to be retained in a way that only allows a drawing motion to release the gun, pulling from the side, back, front, whatever, is not going to work too well.. Yeah, eventually you'll get it out but not without you REALLY knowing it.

    Besides, if you are concealing well, you already have to get under concealment clothing, draw without getting your firearm caught up in the clothing and make a clean presentation. Having to undo some kind of retention strap would just add time to an already too lengthy process in my opinion.

    If I were an open carrier it might be different but I'd probably stick with the good old thumb break kind that break when you reach on to grab the gun. These holsters with buttons down by the triggers and straps that go around the back and this, that and the other thing just seem to be asking for me to miss something vital on them.

    As a concealed carrier, no, I won't have any retention devices on my holsters other than the strap on my shoulder holster that just keeps it from falling out.

    Personally, I've not seen what has been SO HUGE about the SERPA holsters. Is there something I'm missing? EVERYONE is asking about them in our store and I'm wondering what the big deal is. I've looked them over and don't see what's so great, but maybe I'm just missing something. I'd be happy to be enlightened. I haven't tried one yet because there's no way this side of paradise I would be able to conceal the thing, but maybe someone will lend me one so I can check it out and see what all the hype is about.

    Anyway, that's my view on retention holsters.

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    Does the idea of carrying a holster with a mechanical retention (SERPA, Bianchi paddle-lock, etc) scare anyone else? .
    Yes. I'd never trust those things. In fairness though, I've never heard of a problem with them.

  5. #5
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    I carry in a Serpa while camping, shooting and during the winter months. I have gotten my Serpa dirty enough before and not run into an issue. They seem to work well for me, especially out in the woods since losing the gun can be an issue.
    I don't use a retention device on all my holsters, but the Serpa and Paddlelok seem rather nice for added security.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragin Cajun View Post
    I think a thumb break is good enough retention for CC if one desires it. Personally, I perfer a snug fitting open top concealed holster.
    That's what I use, as well, but I'm conflicted.

    No matter how snug the holster, your gun can and will come free in a serious ground fight (try it with a weighted red gun or even your unloaded CCW), or if (in my line of work) you're knocked over by a blast of some sort. Plus, it's easier game to grab if it comes down to that. (As a LEO, it's pretty much assumed I'll be armed, whether visible or not...)

    Yet, I've definitely seen a drop in draw speed and ease with a thumb-break that I was forced to use a few months ago, and I see definite problems drawing with the off-hand from a retention holster.

    That said, I just don't like those button-style retentions, and was wondering if anyone else felt the same way.

    Perhaps I should look for a fuller-fitting Kydex model which holds tighter and doesn't break in like leather does. I've used the best leather holsters and they've always gotten easier to draw from after a few months of carry and training.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmhawth View Post
    Yes. I'd never trust those things. In fairness though, I've never heard of a problem with them.
    I've seen a SERPA jam with grit. I've also read many, many reports of NDs instigated by the finger positioning when actuating the release--yeah, ultimately operator error, but why use equipment that's inherently conducive to bad habits?

    Likewise, I look at the bianchi paddle lock and just imagine that little tab being broken off and me being unable to draw and/or having to cut my gun out of the holster while it's loaded...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by limatunes View Post
    None of my concealment holsters have retention devices of any kind. I don't see the need.
    That's the party line and what I've often said, but try going through a jui-justu or other groundfighting bout for a few minutes and watch what happens to your gun, esp. if someone's trying to grab it.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array tns0038's Avatar
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    Don't like them for CCL. I do have thumb breaks on all open carry hunting holsters.

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    I have a Safariland with a thumb-lever. I don't really use it for anything (in fact, I tried canceling the order as it was supposed to be out of stock, placed an order on a Blackhawk CQC---non-Serpa---elsewhere, then the first place 'suddenly' got it in stock and shipped the Safriland anyway ), but I have practiced with it. Took absolutely no changes to my draw to use it. So, as a retention device, I'd say it works pretty well. Wouldn't want to try and draw off-hand if something happened, though. I'd never use that holster for concealed carry, though. I like my MTAC and Regulator too much.

    A guy who took the LFI-1 course with me used an IWB with thumb-break, but he rode a motorcycle. His take was that the leaned forward posture (sport-touring bike) just made an open-top IWB a little too precarious for his taste. Seems like that was a particular situation where concealment and retention were both arguably necessary. If I find myself riding and carrying, I am inclined to go with a shoulder rig, though.
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    VIP Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    I do not think a thumb break is needed unless one is a LEO, and would be likely to get in hand to hand fights.
    All my holsters are tight, and the gun will not fall out if held upside down and shaken slightly.

    I do not plan to get into a ground fight, and there is essentially zero chance of that.

    If you do go to a thumb break then get that on all your carry holsters. I had one given me by a good friend for a Makarov. When I wear it I always forget to unsnap it. I have also found that thumb breaks on a revolver holster that has a hammer does not work well as the hammer tends to catch on the thumb break when drawn.

    For an average CHL holder I think they are a mistake. Get a good holster, and it will be too tight when new and you will have to loosen it somewhat. It should remain tight when broken in.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryM View Post
    I do not plan to get into a ground fight, and there is essentially zero chance of that.
    I don't plan on getting in a gunfight, either. In fact, I look at ways to get out the possibility in every possible situation (and I am a LEO, but a LEO whose job it often is to avoid conflict). But I carry a gun and train for the contingency.

    You're definitely right that one can avoid most confrontations of whatever force level by being humble and smart (excepting LEOs whose job is to confront). But if forced to fight, one can't always choose the circumstances, and these might include being in a close fight and unable to get to your gun, taken to the ground, whatever.

    Ed: You're also right about a commonality of training. Luckily, I don't have too many guns or too many holsters at once.

    Ed II: My intent wasn't to discuss the necessity of retention anyhow--just to talk about the specific styles of holsters which seem popular, but to me, not particularly well-designed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    That's the party line and what I've often said, but try going through a jui-justu or other groundfighting bout for a few minutes and watch what happens to your gun, esp. if someone's trying to grab it.
    I have.. Not the jui-justu part, but other ground fighting stuff.

    I've never had my gun knocked out of any of my quality holsters because I was knocked down or rolling around on the ground or wrestling.

    Also, the only time my gun was ever "fought" over and taken away from me was because I tried to draw when my "attacker" went directly for my gun. My gun wasn't even half way out of the holster before we started wrestling and the encounter ended with the gun getting taken away from me and me getting "shot." I learned a valuable lesson.. when someone is going for your gun, keep the thing in the holster and use something else, your fists if necessary, but DON'T DRAW when you are already fighting for retention (that's what the learning process is all about, huh? ).

    Anyway, like I said, with my quality open top holsters, I've not once had my gun fall out in that kind of "practice." Maybe I haven't done handstands and jumped up and down simultaneously yet, but from what I've seen there is sufficient retention to keep my gun where it should be WITH A QUALITY holster.

    Now, with a poor quality holster (say, a nylon Uncle Mike's or DeSatis), yeah, I've see them fall out in rough retention practice, but never with any of my quality holsters.

    This is why I hype so much on buying QUALITY holsters. They can retain but still allow you a little more speed.

    Now, I'm not saying retention will be as good as with a retention device (obviously) but it certainly shouldn't allow your gun to go flying if you fall down, trip, get hit or are forced to roll on the ground a little bit.

  14. #14
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    I only own quality holsters. All leather, none mass-produced. It appears we've had different experiences on the mat.

    Ed: Again, though, wasn't looking to start the old retention/no-retention debate. All I was wondering was if anyone else thought the SERPA type designs were flawed, or if it was just paranoid old me.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    I only own quality holsters. All leather, none mass-produced. It appears we've had different experiences on the mat.

    Ed: Again, though, wasn't looking to start the old retention/no-retention debate. All I was wondering was if anyone else thought the SERPA type designs were flawed, or if it was just paranoid old me.
    Like I said, I haven't done everything yet..lol I'm sure there is CERTAINLY a circumstance wherein I could find myself on the ground, ten feet from where I started, with my gun elsewhere, but I've not had to deal with that.

    Point is, yes, I've practiced ground fighting and gun retention and not lost my gun due to the fact it didn't have a retention strap.

    We plan and train for the worst and while the chances of me having to roll around on the ground and fight for my gun are slim I HAVE considered them and made sure I had decent equipment should I have to do such.

    I, personally, don't think a holster with a specific retention device is necessary for your average concealed carry. Sure, if I was even an undercover LEO I might think differently because even then the likelihood of my having to grapple with an assailant goes up, but in my daily world it's even less likely than me having to use my firearm in defense to begin with and even then the odds are EXTREMELY low, therefore, my concealed carry holsters will be retention-device-less.

    Edited to add: Oops. I must have hit reply just as you were adding your last comment. I didn't realize that was your thrust of the thread, apologies.

    No, I haven't heard anything bad about the types of holsters mentioned, and as I've said they've been asked for a lot but something about them (other than the fact that they are bulky) doesn't sit right with me. I don't like where the retention device is. Like I said before, it's just begging me to make a mistake with them. I, personally, won't be getting one, probably ever, but I'll certainly borrow one and try it to see what the fuss is about.

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