Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Blackhawk SERPA CQC review

Written By: Bob - Dec• 05•11 was nice enough to provide me with a kydex Blackhawk! SERPA CQC holster for my 9mm service model Springfield Armory XD to review.

A Outside The Waistband (OWB) design, the SERPA CQC came with both paddle and belt slot adapters, which is a very thoughtful idea. I tend to prefer paddle holsters for both their stability (the large paddles tend to reduce wobble) and their easy on-off capabilities, but others much prefer the belt-slot route. It is a matter of personal convenience that Blackhawk! allowed for that helps the shooter adapt to different requirements.

In addition to providing two ways to mount your SERPA CQC holster, Blackhawk molded set screw positions on the back of the SERPA CQC that allows the user a five-point range of motion from forward to vertical to rear cants to match the individual shooter’s preference. All it takes to change the angle of the holster is a phillips head screwdriver, and the screws remained tight without any rattle through a dozen angle changes, which is probably more use than a typical SERPA CQC is likely to see, as most shooters tend towards a “set it and forget it” instead of constantly fiddling with their draw angle.

The most unique aspect of the SERPA line of holsters is their unique and patented SERPA lock, which the company claims, “automatically engages the trigger guard upon holstering your pistol and will not let go until you release it.”

The purpose of the lock is two-fold:

  • retain the handgun in the holster during movement
  • retain the handgun against attempts to remove weapon from the holster by a third party.

For most of us, the retention we’ll appreciate most is the one that prevents unnecessary excitement. It seems that every few months there is a news story about a shooter that inadvertently drops a weapon from a holster that didn’t grip the firearm tightly enough. Typically, the incidents we hear about are those in which the gun went off, but the vast majority of dropped weapons stories we hear about are those where modern guns don’t go off, and are instead scooped up with a considerable degree of embarrassment and alarm. A retention holster virtually eliminates the possibility of a dropping a weapon during any maneuver that inverts the weapon.

Theoretically, retention holsters should also prevent someone from snatching your weapon, which is why so many police forces have gone to requiring retention holsters of some design so that officers face a reduced risk of being disarmed and shot with their own weapons.

I’m certain that some lives have probably been saved because of retention holsters buying precious seconds to regain control of the suspect and denying them access to the officers weapon, but I have my doubts about the applicability of that aspect of the technology for which is, after all, supposed to be a holster for concealed carry. The concealed carrier’s greatest advantage over criminals is that criminals should be unaware that the concealed carrier is armed until they go to draw their weapon. If we’re honest with ourselves, the most practical use of the SERPA’s patented locking mechanism is to keep out weapon from dropping out of it’s holster on to the bathroom floor while we are, uh, otherwise occupied.

The release mechanism that is touted as being so intuitive by BlackHawk! is also my primary and overriding concern with the SERPA line of holsters.

The mechanism that automatically engages the trigger guard upon holstering your pistol, is released when you grip the butt of your sidearm and use your trigger finger(!?!?!) to depress a lever on the side of the holster.

Upon practicing to with an unloaded weapon repeatedly, I got the hand of drawing the weapon with relative speed. I still, however, found myself occasionally not depressing the lever far enough, or starting to draw the weapon before engaging the lever, which caused it to lock up and not release. Sometimes muscle memory from my normal, retention-free holsters took over and I didn’t press the lever at all, also resulting in a failed draw.

I think it very fair to recognize that both an inadequate, out of order, and forgotten press are probably fairly classified as “operator error” failures that may be rectified with repeated practice, but it would be dishonest to suggest that the design of the mechanism contributed to the failure.

For police officers or soldiers that use a similar holster for their duty sidearms, the SERPA CQC should be as easy to use properly.

That allowed, there seems to be a physiological tendency to curl the finger to assert more leverage on the SERPA’s release mechanism if you try to draw before pressing the mechanism and have to attempt a redraw. For me and other people with long fingers, curling the finger back to hit the mechanism is almost required.

In my opinion, this sets up the potential for a dangerous situation where your trigger finger is likely to slip inside the trigger guard as you are drawing your weapon, greatly increasing the possibility of a negligent discharge of the kind that Tex Grebner caught on film.

In my opinion, the SERPA design is inherently more dangerous than other retention holster designs due to the fact it is designed to use the index (trigger) finger for operation, which greatly raises the possibility of a negligent discharge.

I appreciate offering me the opportunity to review the SERPA CQC, but I can assure you that I do not have a great deal of confidence in the unforgiving nature of the design, and it will relegated to the back of my closet.

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One Comment

  1. Bob aka "Melensdad" says:

    Maybe I’m just old and set in my ways, but I find it logical to presume that people default to their most common/frequent training. That said I sold off all my guns that had S&W/Beretta/Walther style “up & away” safety levers and kept all my 1911/Browning/CZ “thumb down” guns. I got rid of all but one of my retention holsters which had all sorts of various locking mechanisms. My logic is pretty simple, if you practice with the SERPA and switch to a different type of retention holster you will, under a stress situation, default to the SERPA style to try (and fail) to remove your gun. Ditto with operating the gun. Carry a 1911 for 20 years and then slip a Walther PPK in your pocket and I’ll bet you can’t get that safety off in the heartbeat of time required under a stress situation.

    PICK ONE OPERATING SYSTEM, train with it extensively, become an expert with it. I don’t like the Serpa system, but if you train with it and become an expert with it, I believe it can be used safely. But as shown in the video, if you switch system, be it a holster or a gun, then you are asking for trouble.