My BlackHawk "SERPA" holster came in yesterday - 1st impressions...

My BlackHawk "SERPA" holster came in yesterday - 1st impressions...

This is a discussion on My BlackHawk "SERPA" holster came in yesterday - 1st impressions... within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The SERPA is for my G-17 which I'll carry for a while and then rotate to a Beretta PX4, Sig 226/9, XD Tactical for a ...

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  1. #1
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    My BlackHawk "SERPA" holster came in yesterday - 1st impressions...

    The SERPA is for my G-17 which I'll carry for a while and then rotate to a Beretta PX4, Sig 226/9, XD Tactical for a while - that's very frustrating BTW.

    Anyway, Rocky posted some pics of the SERPA here:

    http://www.combatcarry.com/vbulletin...ighlight=serpa

    I'm going to try to make some pics tonight with it on.

    In the mean time:

    I was very impressed with the construction of the holster. For a non-leather holster, it's well done and you can't tell from the pics, but the holster is completely enclosed on the front and rear. So many Kydex holsters are open on the "back" edge of the holster.

    One thing that I was disappointed with was the fit to the gun. The width is about perfect, but the front-to-back is a bit loose and allows the gun to rock a bit back and forth. All movement, micro-wears the gun's finish on the holster - not good!

    The holster is made of a carbon fiber and nylon mix and is very compact. Some holsters have a lot of extra material here and there and you can see from Rocky's pics, the SERPAs are tight.

    Every OWB adjustable cant holster I have ever seen, has too much stuff between the holster and the belt to really draw the gun in tight to the body. This one isn't too bad. It holds the gun in acceptably tight although I did notice a slight amount of wobble when I took Tangle walking yesterday evening.

    The cant system is good; it is of the "indexed" type. I.e. it can be changed in increments, not continuously. The cant seems to be straight, +/- 7.5, and +/- 15. The holster cant can not be adjusted while on the belt; three screws have to be removed, the belt or paddle oriented, and then the screws re-inserted.

    The belt loop widths are also adjustable with screws and it may be possible to get even more cant by being creative with the belt loop stops.

    The paddle attachment is included with the holster. To attach it the three "cant" screws are removed, the belt loop attachment is then replaced with the paddle attachment. The paddle has the same cant adjustment positions and ranges.

    I didn't try the paddle on the holster, but I did slide it over belt and pants to see how it fit, etc. The thing is more like a bear trap. It is stiff and has "claws" inside and out of the pants. I thought I was going to have to cut my pants and belt away from it to get it off! However, I think the outer "claw" can be ground down and it will be easier to get on and off. A contributing factor is the the "paddle" is kinda like a really strong clamp and the three "claws", well, if it doesn't break it'll never budge drawing the gun.

    I think the method (three screws in slots with widened indexes to set screw locations) used to attach the belt loop and paddle attachment is weak. Lou Alesis watched a demo where some guy brought in every kind of paddle holster he could get his hands on and proceeded to break every one of them in a gun retention drill and demo. Since Lou makes paddle holsters and didn't cry "foul", I think we can assume paddles are weak. I believe the attachment method on the SERPA falls in the same category; it just doesn't look that substantial to me.

    The SERPA has an ingenious release. Every time I work with a thumb break holster, I am disappointed - just way to many misses or jams. The SERPA's release is released by the trigger finger and has no strap to get in the way. I like it. However, with the little work I have done with it so far, it may be a bit risky. For one, if your timing is off just a little bit such that you get upward pressure on the gun before the release releases, it ain't gonna release. Second, I've found that while the release works easily, it's still easy to miss; I would think esp. so under stress. Third, I'm not sure how substantial the lock is. It's a rather small piece of plastic (or carbon fiber/nylon) that engages the front of the trigger guard. I'm not sure it would hold up to a bona fide gun snatch attempt.

    Over all I really like the holster. It is lightening fast, well, if you don't blow the release. When everything works right, it is really smooth and fast.

    There's a model without the security lock. I got the security version because, hmmm, why did I get that version? .......Oh yeah, a little brain drop-out there for a moment, I got it for a bit more security against in advertent de-holstering of any kind, including running, jumping, falling, struggling, and even a gun grab attempt.

    The SERPA release allows you to get a perfectly normal grip on the gun for the draw stroke and release the lock with your trigger finger as a part of the normal draw stroke. It's really easy, but you can certainly miss - more training I guess.

    The holster has a small raised ridge around the top of the holster and it appears that if I were to do a lot of drawing, that little ridge would make a raw, or at least tender, trigger finger.

    Another potential problem is the holster may come too high on the outside to permit a CT laser sight to be used. I don't know for sure about that.

    Oops - too long again.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array madmike's Avatar
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    My G23 with the CT laser fits perfectly in my Blackhawk SERPA holster. No problem at all.

    Just one day of wearing it around the house, practice-drawing every once in a while, and I've had NO problems making the draw, since.

    My decision to go for the SERPA system was more oriented towards just keeping the thing IN the holster during "awkward" situations, not so much to keep a "BG" from taking it. Since, I've learned that a well-designed and well-built leather holster will keep the gun in place on it's own, far better than I first thought.

    Retention drills are important, but the LEO that's stuck with open carry will more likely be putting that training to use than I will. I've my own version of the retention drill to keep the weapon in my hands. But the main thought is, they can't grab what they don't see. (I know, anything can happen, but the perfect retention system that also allows a "quick" draw hasn't been invented, IMHO.)

    As for the "loose fit," there is an adjustment to tighten/loosen screw, just below the trigger guard area. The little booklet that came with the holster tells you how to set it up to suit your taste.

    I really like my Blackhawk carbon fiber holster! But I do have a Laredo Defender and gun belt on order from K&D. Part of it is for "ego," part for the appreciation of good leather craftsmanship, and a side-order of "tradition," as well.

    If I find myself headed "out in the bush," I'll probably go with the Blackhawk. But for day-to-day carry, I'm looking forward to that Laredo Defender.

    Try tightening up that adjustment screw, a half-turn at a time. You'll probably find the fit improving, just don't over-do it.

    mm
    Political Correctness has now "evolved" into Political Cowardice.

  3. #3
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    The tension screw's purpose is to adust retention, i.e. to keep the gun from coming out of the holster. Holster fit is how well the holster actually fits the gun. On my SERPA, the side-to-side fit is good; the front-to-back is pretty loose.

    The tension screw simply applies "pinch" force to the trigger guard to keep the gun from coming out of the holster. My Blade-Tech holster fits so snugly that the gun doesn't move even with the lightest of tension.

  4. #4
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    comments seem about on par with my experience. I have found getting a firm grip on the gun, as I hit the release seems to help presentation alot. Also , keeping the trigger finger placement exactly the same , so as to keep the finger out of the trigger guard is a good idea.
    Once I got used to draw practice, I have had no problems with this holster. Not sure if I would trust it out in the bush, but I will for CC As for the paddle , it definitely gets a good solid grip, I have to unbutton my pants to remove it.
    Last edited by rocky; February 14th, 2006 at 05:42 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky
    ...Once I got used to draw practice, I have had no problems with this holster...
    My only concern is that stress causes strange responses. The slightest bit of timing between pulling the gun and releasing the release could make the difference in drawing and not being able to. But that could be also said for any retention system.

    Quote Originally Posted by rocky
    ...As for the paddle , it definitely gets a good solid grip, I have to unbotton my pants to remove it.
    LOL! I know what you mean! It really clamps down. I thought I was gonna have to take my pants off to get it off. It's kinda strange; it seems to defeat the purpose of the paddle as a quick on quick off.

    I'm workin' up the nerve to grind that outside "tooth" off; I think that'd help some.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle
    My only concern is that stress causes strange responses. The slightest bit of timing between pulling the gun and releasing the release could make the difference in drawing and not being able to. But that could be also said for any retention system.
    Try practicing hitting the release while pushing into the grip. This is the best way I have found to not "fumble" the draw.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky
    Try practicing hitting the release while pushing into the grip. This is the best way I have found to not "fumble" the draw.
    Yeah, I discovered that too. But, I can imagine under very stressful conditions yanking and pulling on the gun to no avail.

    I was at Gunsite and had a 686 2-1/2" rev. in a DeSantis thumb break. I was all practiced up and could get that thing into action. The drill was when the robot turns toward you (yep, robot, that thing will chase you all over the range it you do it wrong). It turned toward me and I never did get my gun out. The RM advised against thumb breaks for CC. Soooo, I'm kinda paranoid about "releases", but I still like the idea. As someone pointed out to me once, if you get into a "struggle" and the BG discovers your gun...

  8. #8
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    Look fwd to a pic or two Ron - and further use experience. Does sound like a good rig tho I am not sure now I'll ever ''convert'' back from leather!!

    I know my first and only (Fobus) paddle, also required undoing belt and pants to remove, most times - but the security of it was good. Never tried to test it to break but does seem paddles carry that rep'.
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  9. #9
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    I can remove the fobus without the extra work, and it seems to stay put. But still like the serpa MUCH better.

  10. #10
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    I used a Serpa in my last IDPA match , This was used with my normal 1911 that I usually use, I normally compete using a milt Sparks IWB holster, I can say that the holster did slow my draw & presentation down, I noticed my times where off by about .25 seconds from start buzzer to first shot. This is not alot of time.. but is enuff to get you killed. After this example i relegatted the Serpa holsters to my Holster Box.

    Just my 1/2 cent, as my opinions only really matter to me.

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  11. #11
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    I am not a fan of the Serpa design.

    Here's Why

  12. #12
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    I read and considered this before getting my Serpa. I feel with proper paractice and gun the problem would not affect me. Everyone has to decide for themselves what will work. I am not a fan of non manual safety guns and feel my use will be safe. Also weekly practice promotes good muscle memory.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array gddyup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Gomez
    I am not a fan of the Serpa design.

    Here's Why

    Funny, I was reading a review of the Serpa in "Special Weapons" magazien this afternoon and the author gave the holster a decent review. One of the issues he mentioned that could be a problem with the holster was of dirt or debris getting into the release catch causing the holster to lock up and not release the gun...
    Firefighter/EMT
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Array madmike's Avatar
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    It's deja vu, all over again!

    I did some looking around and I have been in this same conversation before. So, it isn't just a mind-trick. Rather than re-write it, here's a cut-and-paste of what I said before, and still hold to.

    Well, I read the stuff about discharges being blamed on the SERPA retention system and I am not as convinced that the system is bad, as the people who wrote about them.

    Until that link was posted, I'd not heard of any such incidents happening. But, they apparently have.

    I am no expert on such matters, but I simply do not agree with their analysis of what actually happened.

    Anyone who would "in a panic" or simply "in a hurry", "punch" the button on that holster and then while making the draw, let that finger slide inside the trigger guard and pull the trigger, would very likely have done the same thing, drawing the gun from any other type of holster.

    If you think about it, especially when talking about a Glock, we are told to keep the trigger finger out of the guard, and along side the frame, until the target has been acquired. And we are supposed to train ourselves to do just that, practicing it over and over, until it becomes a natural, reflexive action.

    For me, that "button" on the Blackhawk holster, serves to re-enforce that "acquired habit." That is exactly why I had no problem getting used to drawing from it, in the first place.

    Now, as to the destruction of the holster when the two guys tried to remove a "stuck weapon," that's hardly reason to condemn the holster for coming apart. It wasn't as if it had broken during a retention drill. It was, after all to men working in concert against the holster, not one guy breaking the holster while the other was trying to stop him.

    As for the gun being stuck in there in the first place, I just don't know. I've no idea if that holster was someones every-day carry, or if it belonged to a school that used in regularly in retention drills and was subjected to heavy abuse on a regular schedule, or what.

    I don't put much stock in the conclusion that the "lock-up" was due to a small piece of gravel in the mechanism, which I suppose they dissected after that rather lively wrestling match. A lot of what is found in a "post mortem exam," can be incidental.

    If a lock-up as described is all that easy, I'd have expected to hear of more than just this one. As much as I looked over this and the the Glock Talk forum, I'd have thought it would have be mentioned, somewhere.

    Although I've not read everything, every where, that thread was the first I'd seen that talked about these failures. And "many problems" looked like they all appeared right there. Maybe I just missed a lot.

    I would say that it is rather clear that their opinion of it wasn't very high.

    No, I am not ready to get rid of mine, based on that discussion.
    I like mine.

    As for an "active retention holster," what I was looking for was one that held the weapon in the holster during every day carry. I don't want the embarrassment of having it skitter across the floor at a restaurant, and having to post about it, here. (I've read those post.)

    Looks to me like most who carry concealed, tend to stay away from snaps and straps to keep the gun where it belongs. They, like I do, depend upon their own actions to keep the weapon out of the BG's hands.

    Like I said, I am happy with my Blackhawk holster and I do not agree with the assessment of others maintain that it is inherently dangerous. Just about anything can be "what if'ed to death, and it looks to me like a little bit of that, is what happened here.

    ------------ end cut-and-paste ----------

    (only changes made were to korect spelink erors!)

    Several others commented as well, some for, some against. And at least some spoke from hands-on experience. Here's a link to that thread: http://www.combatcarry.com/vbulletin...ead.php?t=6323

    mm
    Political Correctness has now "evolved" into Political Cowardice.

  15. #15
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    Doggone it, I didn't get pics made last night; tonight looks more promising.

    But, I did remove the "hook" on the paddle and it makes a world of difference. It's much easier to put the holster on and take it off and there is no way it will come off unintentionally. So that's much better for me.

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