The USMC has been issuing the venerable M-12 for decades. And for almost as long, Marines have shelled out their own money for something they like better. But the Marines have now decided to upgrade, recently designating the Blackhawk SERPA retention holster as standard issue equipment. And as Bob Curtis of Military Times’ Gearscout details, the decision isn’t meeting with universal shouts of “oorah!”
The SERPA is not without its critics and gripes revolve around two basic issues: safety and reliability. You probably remember Tex “I just fucking shot myself” Grebner’s excellent demonstration of the potential danger of locating a retention holster’s release in line with the gun’s trigger. While training could reduce the potential for an ND, it’s a serious design issue that could very well come into play in the heat of battle.
The second problem is the reliability of the retention release. There are any number of YouTube videos showing guns that have gotten stuck due to schmutz in the release mechanism. Not that Marines ever get down in the muck, right?
When a Marine has to grab for his sidearm, he’s very likely in a life or death CQB situation. Reaching down and being unable to yank his M-9 from it holster no matter how hard he pulls would be a bad thing.
The SERPA was up against a Safariland model for the Marines’ business.
SYSCOM told Marine Corps Times the Blackhawk SERPA was selected after a series of tests to include integration and interference evaluation, dry-fire drills and live-fire drills but they didn’t elaborate on the other competitors nor the program requirements.