My problem: the Serpa holster’s release button places your finger across the slide, parallel to the slide, upon release. I’m a high register kinda guy; I want my finger as high up on the slide as humanly possible to avoid a negligent discharge. Working from the rabbi’s principle that you will perform half as well in combat as you do in training (at best), if you’re training for high register, you’re finger may go as low as parallel in the stress of combat. If you start at parallel, you may end up with a Suarez situation. Besides, why do civilians need retention holsters?

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16 Responses to In Defense of: Serpa Holsters

  1. I have a ban against Serpa holsters for my training classes. While some folks’ fingers are long enough to extent beyond the trigger guard, for most people the Serpa places their trigger finger on the edge of the frame, far too close to the trigger guard.

    Under stress it is easy for the hand to tighten and the finger slip off the slide to the trigger. Many more NDs have been reported with Serpa holsters than any other type of holster.

    If you want a security holster, the Safariland ALS belt holster is far superior.

    Proper finger placement when not on the trigger is for the trigger finger to be high on the slide. I teach that it should be as high as the natural extension of the finger will allow. Perfect placement would be the edge of the ejection port where the felt index will tell you that it is placed properly.

  2. Besides, why do civilians need retention holsters?

    They might not, but that’s not really anyone’s call but the end user. (Maybe bail bondsmen would have some use for them?) I’m definitely with you on eliminating any opportunity for negligent discharge, Robert, but that line of reasoning only leads to trouble.

  3. To answer the question, I would consider a retention holster if I were to ever open carry. With the weapon exposed to the world, I would feel better if there were some sort of way to slow down someone from taking the weapon.

  4. Concealed Carry does not require a retention holster, but that does not mean that there is no benifit. If you are suddenly or un avoidably grappled by some a-hole it would certainly make it easier to keep him from getting your gun away from you. Generally you might sacrifice a tiny bit of speed in the draw.

    Open Carry is a No-brainer. I’m keeping an eye out for a good deal on a Safariland 070 to train with and use when I need to open carry. There are a couple of other really cool ones I might consider as well, but the 070 is a classic.

  5. I have a Serpa for my SR9, I bought it because I was able to get it for a song ($15 open box, go figure) and I needed a holster.

    Now granted, I don’t plan on using this gun or this holster in a stressful situation, but even with my average hands I have no problem with getting my finger any where near the trigger when drawing, in fact I can’t even force my finger to end up near the trigger. My finger ends up on the frame covering the words “Before using gun…” to actually get my finger into the guard and onto the trigger from that position takes concious thought and bending. I think that has to do with the compact nature of the firearm.

    The very next weekend I was traipsing through the desert carrying a target and bit it hard on a patch of mud. After tripping, rolling and finally sliding down a short hill and getting covered in dirt, mud and very small rocks, I still had my gun. Three of us did spend a few minutes looking the magazines that had fallen out pouch though.

  6. Depends on the gun, some are better than others, but in the vast majority of the cases the finger is poorly located Can you email me a pic of where your finger lands?

    • Referring to me? Certainly. Where do I send it?

      I was curious so I made a bunch of practice draws with my SR9 out of the Serpa, if I force the issue and consciously think about skewing it in favor of wrong finger placement, then I can get my finger placed in such a way that it could slip on to the trigger, but I had to draw with a pretty weak hold, not my normal death-grip.

      With my normal grip I could, rather painfully and with weird index finger contorting, get my finger to the trigger. The natural fall of my finger was down the side of the trigger guard. The frame of the pistol gets about thicker right after where the pad of my index finger lands, that design flourish guides my finger away from the trigger and down the side of the trigger guard.

      I’m no gun and/or holster expert, nor do I pretend to play one on the Internet, for me, with the SR9, I can’t make it happen, my experience could very well be a corner case, someone else could pick it up and have problems.

      I tried putting my finger on the frame in a similar manner with other guns I own, and could easily slip my finger on to the trigger by accident, so it’s an issue to keep in mind. And I’ll readily agree that holding one’s finger up on the slide is a great way to keep it off of the trigger.

  7. I was listening to a podcast awhile back ( ProArms, I think), and an instructor from one of the well know schools mentioned the ban on the Serpas. He also said that until last year all (10) NDs were by LEOs?

  8. A lady LEO here got killed supposedly because she fumbled her draw from a Serpa holster. I did a CCW training session with a Serpa and my Glock 27. Most of the time it was fine for me but I fumbled a couple of draws. Our trainer suggested that folks like me (amateurs) probably are better off with non retention CCW holsters.

  9. I’ve carried in a Serpa since starting to open carry, and I have never had a problem with coming close to fingering the trigger when drawing. Both on my XD and my Sig 226, the finger ends up neatly along the slide. This question seems to have a bit of an inflammatory bent to it, implying that only the military needs retention holsters. Unless, of course, the original poster was unaware that LEOs are civilians as well. Beyond just open carry, the retention is nice when jogging or doing outdoor activities where I may be bouncing around or even hanging upside down. While many non-retention concealment holsters will not have a problem in those cases, some will. The Serpa solves this problem, at a great price.

  10. I have to respectfully, but strongly object to criticism of the SERPA as well as the questioning of civilian necessity for a retention holster.

    As a civilian who occasionally open carries or carries concealed on the outside of my waistband, a basic retention holster offers extra security from a gun grab attempt. While working full-time as an instructor I would often carry a 1911 in Condition 1 in my SERPA and have never an issue with safety or the release mechanism.

    As for the intrinsic safety of the SERPA system, it requires training and practice, as do any of the firearm skills we work on. SERPA retention devices are designed to release automatically when the shooter’s finger is indexed along the frame; it is not designed to be poked or punched into – this is improper use of the holster, not a design flaw.

    I’ve had students complain about the same thing and, when they wouldn’t train to the equipment I’d simply advise they buy something else, knowing the problem was in the shooter, not the hardware. Invariably, those would almost always be the same new shooters who’d complain about fixed sights being “off” – patterning low and left.

  11. I respectfully disagree, Robert. First of all, I have wide palms with short fingers. My “pointer” finger naturally presses the release and ends up along the trigger guard in proper index every time, for years, with the many serpas that I have. Sure, I have MANY holsters-even some custom Blade tech, Galco’s,Desantis,Bianchi etc.-but use my serpas the most. I need the retention as I also practice martial arts and would go hands on first if needed. Also, like many of my custom knives, I practice my draw repeatedly. I won’t use a holster out and about until I’ve spent a day carrying about the house and practice drawing an empty weapon. This I do just the same as testing a new handgun at the range before I I trust it to save my life,potentially, on the street.

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