I was at a competition pistol class last week in preparation for the FNH 3-Gun Championship (videos here) when something disturbing happened: the person next to me had a negligent discharge straight into the ground about three feet in front of him while drawing from the holster. He was lucky — Tex Grebner (IGOTD member and not helping the 2A crew) was less so. What caused this negligent discharge? A SERPA Holster.

Holsters with “active retention” use a mechanical device of some sort to restrain the gun and keep it from flopping out of the holster. The device can be as simple as a leather strap or as complex as a digital electromechanical device. No matter what it is, the point is that it needs to be removed (or “defeated”) before the gun can be drawn. This is especially appealing for people who need to carry a firearm and might do a lot of moving about, such as me and my fellow 3-gunners. I know at least four people were disqualified this weekend for pistols falling out of their holster and not using active retention. In our style of competition active retention isn’t politely suggested — it’s almost required equipment.

I figured out pretty quickly that the key to a good 3-gun holster is retention, and to me the SERPA holster made the most sense at the time. It used a retention device that locked the trigger guard in place when the gun was holstered and was easily defeated by pressing a button conveniently located where your finger would normally index along the side of the frame. It was a natural place for your finger to be, but not a natural movement. Putting pressure on the button and then quickly drawing the gun meant there was a possibility that your finger would slip into the trigger guard and accidentally pull the trigger, especially when the gun was a striker fired Glock like my classmate was using.

After the ND I immediately went to my trunk and swapped the SERPA holster I had been using for a Safariland ALS holster I purchased for the UOFA class I took a few months back (they didn’t allow SERPA holsters). ALS holsters have an active retention mechanism that slots into the ejection port of the pistol and uses a lever by your thumb to release the gun, requiring no trigger finger work. I had always assumed that SERPA NDs were caused by idiots not using the thing properly and that I would always be safe running full tilt down a course of fire, but the person next to me was no idiot. He was a former Secret Service agent and retired Special Forces soldier, a man with more experience than I could imagine. And he almost shot his foot using a SERPA.

After I swapped holsters not only did I feel more secure about my ability to keep my blood on the inside but the new holster also shaved about a second off my draw time. And after competing in the FNH 3-Gun Championship this weekend using the ALS holster instead of the SERPA I have no idea why anyone would use anything else. It’s faster, more secure, and doesn’t come with the increased possibility of a ND.

Guns, when handled improperly, are dangerous. But even more dangerous is safety gear that doesn’t live up to expectations or even encourages accidents. Like the SERPA holster. And like lawn darts before it, so should the SERPA holster go gentle into that good night.

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134 Responses to SERPA Holsters Should Be Discontinued

  1. Grebner is completely incompetent (“Tex” outed himself being from IL in his tosh.o segment). He caveats the video of him shooting himself with “i want to be a police officer.” Seems like you will fit right in .

  2. It’s might be time to reassess how we off handedly classify any “Un-intended” discharge.

    Because shooters are so safety conscience, our knee jerk reaction to any un-intended discharge, is to blame the shooter. In most cases, I believe this to be true.

    But we should still investigate. Because occasionally, their may be something more…like a bad accessory design or other malfunction inherent with a product or firearm. Something that should be addressed by a manufacturer.

  3. Banning Serpa holsters is insane. The holster isn’t the problem. It’s the people that just don’t practice and operate proper trigger control.

    I ask, if the holster is the problem, what fired the gun?

    “Putting pressure on the button and then quickly drawing the gun meant there was a possibility that your finger would slip into the trigger guard and accidentally pull the trigger, especially when the gun was a striker fired Glock like my classmate was using.”

    I’m going to call Bravo Sierra on this one as well. The finger doesn’t “slip”. Sounds nice and accidental like when worded in this manner. With proper draw, when you release the firearm from the holster, your finger will be right along the slide every time.

    I TRIED to make a negligent discharge with my Serpa holster. I couldn’t do it. Not without exaggerating poor handling of the firearm and putting my finger where it just didn’t belong.

    This is about as lame as the whole “don’t use a Serpa if you live in a snowy environment as snow can compact inside the locking mechanism and prevent the firearm from being released” argument. I don’t think people are going to dive head first into a snowbank and make snow angels before realizing “oh snap! I need my gun”.

    People need to spend time training with the not so exciting aspects of firearms use before blaming gear.

    • Bingo.

      Lack of training shouldn’t ever result in “banninate product NOW!!!). It doesn’t matter if you’re Secret Squirrel Orange ex-CIA hit squad on Presidential protective detail or if you just enjoy the shooting sports – if you train yourself to improperly use ANYTHING gun related you’re asking for a problem.

      Ugh, just when I thought this “get rid of yer SERPAs” craze was over…

      • I especially like how the author blames the holster and not the PERSON who pulled the trigger. then calling for a ban of such holsters is ludicrous. I almost feel as though I’m reading a Bloomberg “News” or L.A. Times article.

        I use an IMI ITAC retention holster that is basically a SERPA clone. Not once, in the countless draws I’ve done, has my index finger even touched the trigger guard of my G23 or G29.

    • Bingo.

      If either holstering or unholstering the firearm under controlled conditions and taking the human element out of it caused the firearm to discharge…THEN I would agree that there is something wrong with the holster.

      But, since that’s not the case, it’s a manufactured controversy that translates to nothing but clickbait on shooting blogs.

  4. The Serpa holsters have been banned from the two gun clubs I belong to.
    I am an IDPA Safety Officer at both clubs.
    I agree with the decision of the club to ban these as a possible safety hazard.

    Say what you want about operator error . . . but these sorts of things are NOT HAPPENING with any other holster.

    • …because it’s the only one that an IMPROPER AND UNSAFE action of the trigger finger during the draw stroke can result in an AD.

      I’m a certified (and working) instructor and USPSA competitor – since we’re tossing credentials around – and have never had a remotely unsafe experience with a SERPA holster.

      Do you need to train in its proper use? Yep. Can it hurt you if you fail to use it properly? Yep.

      …just like a gun.

    • “but these sorts of things are NOT HAPPENING with any other holster.”
      So you are stating that there has NEVER been a negligent discharge with any other brand or form of pistol holster other than the SERPA???

      • Of course I can’t prove that no one has had a ND with any other holster . . . but doesn’t it seem funny that all across the country this year, NDs are happening with SERPA holsters and many clubs are banning them?
        The SERPA idea was a marketing ploy that has possibly failed. Who actually needs that kind of retention?
        It will be interesting to see if Blackhawk has any kind of response to the many problems with this holster.

        • I remember when some people were having “stuck accelerator” issues with their Audi A5s. There were lawsuits against Audi, etc. Of course there was nothing mechanically wrong with the vehicles — just idiots driving them, with all the attorneys, opportunists and sheeple in the back seat.

    • Seen it with other holsters in IDPA. Tex’s ND was carelessness. Your finger on the trigger at the wrong time will cause an ND not matter what holster you are using.

  5. The hazards of the SERPA are so obvious that I can’t understand why they are so popular. Any holster that requires rapid manipulation of the trigger finger near the trigger during a dynamic situation is asking for trouble. The materials used are excellent, the quality is top shelf, but the concept was not thoroughly thought out.

    • …sure it was.
      It’s designed to work without requiring and additional actions by the shooter – index your trigger finger against the “frame” during the grip acquisition and out the gun comes.

      The problem comes when shooters use it like a push-button and jam their finger into the trigger guard after the guns out of the holster.

      It’s like arguing the inherent danger of an accelerator pedal or an ice cream scoop – misuse any of them and you’re bound for problems.

      • I understand what they meant to do, I just don’t think they did it well. I mean, an ice cream scoop with a razor’s edge, or an accelerator with velcro on its underside will both work well for their intended purpose, but the inherent flaw in those concepts make them less than optimal.

        Still, I don’t think the SERPA should be banned. It should just be understood that it requires a greater training period than other designs.

    • It’s not a rapid manipulation. Do you own one? have you trained with one? I see so many opinions of people that have NEVER owned one.

      The “manipulation” on my Serpa, for my Springfield XD is rather simple. My booger hooker never comes close to the bang switch. I depress with the pad of my finger SLIGHTLY and when I draw, my finger is right along the slide.

      Like I said above, if you are freakishly pushing the button like a five year old in a high rise elevator, then I can see how you can create a negligent discharge situation.

      Proper grabbing of the grip of the gun, the index finger naturally is fully extended, when I draw, it is still naturally fully extended.

      I never understood the nonsense of people pulling the trigger from this or any similar holster. Didn’t people try to say the same thing with some holsters that come bundled with some Sig’s?

      • Training with one is what made me decide on the ALS. Hey, if it works for you, great. God Bless you. I just don’t think that it’s a well thought out design. The ALS accomplishes the same thing without requiring the trigger finger to do anything other than press the trigger. I mean, I see your point, and I certainly wouldn’t want any product banned because some people don’t put in the work necessary to become proficient, but I just don’t think that the SERPA is a good design.

    • Any holster that requires rapid manipulation of the trigger finger near the trigger during a dynamic situation is asking for trouble.

      Really? I would submit that most people who are so utterly lax in control of a given firearm to mistake a holster release for a trigger are going to shoot themselves eventually, holster or no.

      I think an all together more effective concept would be to ban people with horrible motor skills from competitive shooting events, and any other situation one may be required to quickly differentiate a weapon release mechanism from a lead release mechanism.

  6. Here is a simple tip, slow down on your draw and make up the time with accuracy. Serpa Holsters are pretty safe, but if you place speed over safety and technique your going to hurt yourself.

  7. I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a parody on gun-grabbers, and how they call for bans on everything due to isolated incidents and blaming the gun (or gear in this case) rather than the operator.

    As iffy as the Serpa design is, some people do just fine with it, love it, and can go forever without a ND. I’m not a fan of it personally, but far be it from me to tell people what kind of holster they should have or what types of holsters should be allowed to be manufactured. Let’s leave the wanna-be tyranny to the gun-grabbers, shall we?

      • Any other product in the US, would at least undergo an investigation, should the numbers of injuries/deaths involving said product, be higher than comparable products, based on its market saturation.

        The knee jerk reaction from MANY manufacturers and fans of a product, is to blame the user/owner for improper maintenance and use. And in many cases, the problem is later found out to be a design flaw.

        We can ALL agree that proper training is critical. But should shooters be afforded any less safety from poor design, or given any less opportunity to see products improved then say, owners of Firestone tires, Baby Seats, or any host of other products?

        Identifying undesired trends in products and bringing it to the attention of manufacturers, is how they continue to evolve and deliver increased value to the consumer.

        • Where is this “trend”. I didn’t see a SERPA holster on that famous DEA video on YouTube.

          Didn’t see a SERPA on the Vegas LEO that almost shot her partner and the suspect (hers looked like a snap retention).

          Then, you have to go per capita basing amount of users to accidents ratio.

          This isn’t a “knee jerk” reaction by a manufacturer or a fan. This is a response based on someone with several years as a firearms instructor and learning to use a particular product.

          What about knee jerk reactions by those that don’t own or use the product, but criticizing them? Plenty of them on the interwebs these days.

          Bottom line, like anything else, it all boils down to proper training, period. I don’t blame the holster, I blame the user. This is based from at least a few thousand hours wearing one and training with one. Never once fearing for my safety with the product.

        • Trends concerning poor design in any product, should be reported to a consumer protection agency.

          Hard thing to do, when the first response is to blame the product owner.

          I am not saying there is anything wrong with Serpa holsters. I’m not saying their isn’t.What I am saying, is that sometimes, in a “negligent shooting”, the negligence isn’t on the part of the shooter.

          The guy involved in this incident was retired Secret Service, former special forces, and taking a competition pistol class. If this is not enough training, to give this shooter benefit of the doubt, along with the assessment of our fine contributor “Leghorn”, then what is?

    • I like your style. There are entirely too many people in this country that wants to tell someone else what they can or cannot say and what they can or cannot do. It is way past time when we go back to the earlier years and have everybody mind their own business.

  8. “What caused this negligent discharge? A SERPA Holster.”

    No, pulling the trigger caused the negligent discharge. If you are willing to blame the holster, why not blame the gun?

  9. It seems to me that if you have a holster that is involved in a number of similar NDs, one might question the design of the rig.

    Watching the Gruber video, and listening to his description, it seems the act of releasing the mechanism with his trigger finger put his finger in the very plane where a light 1911 trigger could be hit unintentionally. This would not ended badly had he not released the thumb safety unintentionally.

    No product is unsafe if used perfectly, I suppose, and making products too safe introduces dangerous complacency (there is a name for this effect that escapes me) but this really looks to me like a holster design that deserves a pass.

  10. First, I’m not in favor of banning the holster. Second, I think that the AD in this case was caused by operator error. But here’s the big thing for me: a holster is a piece of safety equipment. It’s supposed to make the user safer. No user should have to “train around” a holster in order to be able to use it without blowing off an appendage.

    • There’s no need to train “around the holster” with a Serpa. Your training should involve never putting your finger on the trigger until the target is in sight. Ever. If your finger is reaching for the trigger as soon as your barrel clears the holster, you have deficiencies in your training.

  11. I have not seen any other style of holster connected to the same exact M.O. of a fast draw and putting a round south of the waist. It’s been floor, thigh, indoubitably feet and that is just what I’ve seen in passing articles. It stretches across any number of professionals and novices alike. I would say blame the shooter, I always do. I don’t believe in cop outs but something is up.

    A trend is a trend. Once ADs start looking uniform I start questioning equipment. Find the common factor. The fact that this guy is the poster boy for professional and there are people who are not who have this same issue says something. Pros and idiots do not share the same habits generally. To me that says something is up.

    My first duty rig was a SERPA from BlackHawk. Two coworkers I respected carried them as well. One moved to the SafariLand and I tried it on. Since then I like the SERPA less and less. Not because of the risk of an AD. Just because the rig is inferior to the Safariland in my eyes.

    I’ve never come close to an AD with my holster. A lot of us have not. ADs are like strokes, you never want to have one, it only needs to happen once to injure you permanently or kill you and it can be hard to figure out why they happen because no circumstances are the same.

    Except the ones in this article.

  12. Yeah, I’m not sure what all the fuss is over. Perhaps it’s my anatomy or the way my brain wants to do things, but unholstering my XD from the Serpa would not easily result in a ND. I push down and out. My finger naturally goes the opposite way of the trigger guard.

  13. Before I retired, we were looking for new duty holsters for the agency since our SSIII’s were getting a little long in the tooth. We tested SERPA, ALS and several others. We ultimately went to the ALS because it is a clearly superior product. Now, as an instructor at the academy, all of our recruits and instructors use the ALS even though others may have been cheaper as a bulk purchase. Again, this was because there really wasn’t any competition.

  14. First off I’m glad everyone is ok.

    It looks like you left out some critical elements from your story, like your police report. You DID report this negligent & reckless act to the police didn’t you?

    What was ‘the person next to you’ charged with?

    I’d like to know how the Serpa holster managed to pull the trigger on that Glock while it was being drawn. That’s the only way the Serpa could have caused this discharge.

    Certainly the pattern I can see with the 3 ND’s discussed in this thread;

    A short, light, single action trigger pull, and in the case of of the DEA “I am the only one PROFESSIONAL ENOUGH…” agent, pulling the trigger as part of the disassembly process. Come to think of it there’s another pattern: So called “professional law enforcement”. Plenty of material here to start a “let’s ban this or that” discussion before we need to ever think about banning a holster.

  15. I have nearly no professional training; I’ve never shot myself using a SERPA. I suspect a lot of other casual users are in my situation. Are we just lucky? It would seem that despite the ‘flawed design’ a lot of people are successfully using this holster.

    The moral of the story: bad shit happens sometimes.

    It’s the reason we carry, it’s the reason we practice, and no amount off preparation will ever change that.

  16. I have to completely disagree with the author of this article. I have a SERPA holster and just took it hunting with me, I had to draw the weapon from the holster 4 or 5 times over the course of the hunt. One time was to make sure the animal was dead, and the other times was to take off the weapon prior to entering the lodge where hunters just don’t walk around with loaded guns. I have practiced with this holster and have never had a problem with it. I push the button to release the weapon and keep my finger off the trigger, and keep it off the trigger when you put it back into the holster. I would agree that bad stuff sometimes happens, and we all should do our best to engage in proper gun handling procedures and always remember the safety rules. I am sorry to tell you this Mr. Leghorn, but you are overreacting to what you witnessed. Let us have a little more logical rational thinking before you tell all of us that a product many of us use should be banned. Thank you.

    • Those evil black SERPA holsters shoot people. Surprised Mr. Leghorn didn’t just get in his car and leave instead of switching holster. That SERPA holster from hell could have been in his trunk plotting to shoot him at the end of the day. By the way, if anyone wants to get rid these evil holsters, send them to me. Or I can send you instructions on how to keep you trigger finger indexed along the frame near the slide (oh wait, SERPA holsters actually helps you do that), how not to sweep any part of you body during your draw, and when to actually place your trigger finger on the trigger. Though I can’t tell how to keep the SERPA holsters from pushing down the thumb safety on a 1911 like what obviously happened to Mr. Kimber Pro Carry II 1911 in the video. Evil, evil holsters.

  17. I’ve never liked the serpa holsters, but a few of my friends love their holsters and would never get rid of them. The owner of the gun is responsible for all ND’s and I believe that the owner is the root cause of a ND in 99.9% of all incidents.

  18. Get your bugger finger off the bang switch. Like you said you did not do this simple safety measure. So yes it is completely your fault. Glad to see you made it though. Be safer next time.

    • Wasn’t Nick who had the ND. And the point of the post is that the SERPA holster’s retention device encourages the unintentional finger/trigger violation. This should be evaluated for it’s potential unintended consequences and, in my opinion, discontinued as a design flaw. So, in this instance, “Be safer next time” is doing precisely what Nick did, get that holster off his hip before he had a more personal experience with it’s flaws…

      JSG

  19. Yes in the video it is clearly shown that the dumbass moved his finger off the button and put it directly into the trigger gard and then right onto the trigger. He is a moron and his biggest contribution to the gun world is highlighting what happens when your only focus is on being fast out of the holster and not maintaing form or technique. Slow down, do it right and don’t blame the equipment for your stupidity. The one drawback that I can see with IDPA and other defensive competitions is that it places to much of its focus on being fast out of the holster. I have seen people ND on the range using all kinds of holsters and grips becuase they were worried about shaving time rather than focusing on safety.

  20. Do I understand that the pistol involved in the ND was a Glock? There’s the problem. How did we get to the point where it’s OK to have a gun that absolutely CANNOT BE SAFED with a round in the chamber? It’s not a revolver. It’s got a very short trigger pull. I have a Glock, but the gun in my night stand is a USP because it HAS A SAFETY.

    The vast majority of the shooting community won’t acknowledge that there’s a very serious design flaw in the Glock in that it can’t be safed. It’s as simple as that. All the passive safeties in the world won’t save you from a careless finger, whereas a real safety needs (a little) time and thought to bring the gun to firing condition. This makes a huge philosophical and operational difference.

    It wasn’t the holster. It was the gun/user.

    • If you were paying attention you would have heard him say Kimber Pro Carry II and nothing about Glocks. The Serpa is dangerous and this incident definitely wasn’t the gun’s fault! But you got one thing right: it was 100% user error.

  21. Ahh yes, more of the “Get your finger off the trigger, dumbass!” crowd.

    I design products. You know what the number one rule of product design, from the iPhone all the way up to an Airbus is? You *need* to design around known parameters of human performance. Eyesight. Hearing. Body mechanics. Reaction times. Involuntary muscle reflexes. All of it.

    The fact of the matter is, over the course of hundreds of thousands of repetitions, even the most well trained and switched on user group will have a certain percentage of complete foul-ups. A 0.001% event, when measured out over 100,000 cycles has a statistical probability of of happening once. Imagine how many draws happen with Serpa holsters and it is easy to see why these events happen.

    Anyone here want to bet their life on their ability to execute a *perfect* draw, with 100% concentration, 100% of the time? Put simply; that is far beyond the raw capabilities of human performance.

    The SERPA fails for the simple reason that it is a product that relies on the wrong body mechanics to operate. You cannot expect the user base to be 100% perfect, and you can’t blame folks for not executing draws with a holster with 100% proficiency. There are other holsters on the market which offer very fast draws with retention security (i.e. Safariland) that do not rely on unreliable human body mechanics to operate.

    I’m all for blaming the user. At a certain point though, when an event happens so regularly across a population of users, it is time to re-think the product’s first design principles.

    • Thanks. Glad somebody’s paying attention to the product design question here. That’s the critical concern, in my mind.

    • Lets see now. I have a hammer and a nail. I am holding the nail and i am going to pound the nail into the board. Suddenly as I swing the hammer, I miss the nail and hit my knuckle with the hammer. Dam, never thought it could have been the bad design of the hammer or quite possibly the nail.
      Brilliant!!!!

  22. Isn’t saying the SERPA caused the ND kinda like saying “Guns kill people”? In both cases it’s actually the user who is to blame.

  23. I have a SERPA for an XD. I’ve never used it for competition draw so this has never been a concern to me. I can however see where an overexcited and unpracticed user could lead to issues with this holster. Your index finder applies pressure to the release while drawing the weapon. As the weapon is removed you draw your finder along a crease in the holder and your your finder makes contact with the frame of the weapon. You could find yourself applying the same pressure to the side of your weapon as you did to the release when performing this motion quickly. I’m not convinced this is an inherent design flaw with the holster. I personally would spend a fair amount of time practicing with this holder (unloaded) before I ever found myself in a training situation using live rounds. The same could be said for any holster you plan to strap to your person with a round in the chamber. As I recall the information card include with this holder warns of such possible outcomes.

  24. Holsters don’t fire guns!

    My entire platoon used SERPA holsters. Never close to a negligent discharge. It doesn’t matter how many clubs or ranges or professionals ban the holster. I watched a group of veteran LEOs and newbies use the holster with a perfect record of safety.

      • Absolutely. I prefer a sample size of 1 to base all my decisions (sarcasm). Don’t want to look at all the incidents out there of various people in various states with NG using this same holster.

        • Ahhhhhhhhhh yes, a member of the old “I’m much smarter than you so I’m going to be a smug douche about it” club.

  25. You *need* to design around known parameters of human performance.

    … to a point, yes. Airbuses still crash due to human error. People smash and brick their iPhones. Someone will always invent a better idiot, even if you design a padded safety product that nobody in their right mind could ever misuse.

    The suggestion that a particular style of holster is dangerous because someone with poor habits misuses its contents makes as much sense as blaming Starbucks when you spill coffee in your lap. Cooking off a round in the process of drawing a firearm is just as stupid and just as preventable with reasonable care and attention.

    If someone is letting their bang finger slap a trigger while drawing a pistol, even if they just pressed a button release of some sort, they quite simply and honestly have crappy finger control and coordination. That is something you fix with training, not something you necessarily try to design around.

    • I am far too well versed in product design (which is really about designing human interaction with objects) to agree that the user is always to blame; even in the situations you point out.

      If a product blatantly stacks the usability deck up AGAINST the user, there is a point where you just have to call foul and declare that the product’s design is defective.

      Part of the reason I feel so strongly about this is that the SERPA doesn’t bring anything to the table. Other holsters offer comparable retention and far better reliability while being just as fast as the SERPA. If the SERPA’s design provided some (any!) gain in speed or security versus other designs, I would absolutely be in your camp and vehemently defending the SERPA’s presence in the marketplace.

      As it stands, the SERPA offers no advantages that I can see, and a whole boatload of downside. Why defend it? Why do people insist on buying it?

      • Why defend it? Why buy it? Easy to answer both…because they work just fine and have proven themselves 1000 times over. You boast about being a designer and post arrogant replies while talking down to folks you know nothing about. Well Mr. Koenig I hate to be the barer of bad news but just because it looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to real life. I have over 20 years military service, deployed six times and NEVER has my SERPA failed me or my troops at any time especially under combat situations. Unlike you I have real life experience. Unlike you I don’t talk down to complete strangers with the exception of this case as you have brought it on yourself. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve had to go toe to toe with arrogant know it all engineers that have never applied what they think they know to the field. Most often when you can get the geek out from behind his/her CAD software and outside to try out their “ideas” they soon figure out just how far off reality they live and operate.

        Long story short, you should put yourself in the boots of the users before coming off as a pompous ass.

    • On a side note: He was shot at point blank range using a .45 and was able to place the gun on the ground and walk away.
      This is Supporting evidence that shot placement is key when using a handgun .

  26. My unit uses Serpa as do the Marines here. I’ve never noticed a problem with drawing and firing on target and no ND. I realize I’m one person on the internet saying this, but I feel like maybe if you took a few times to train just drawing your weapon from a holster before you go live on it you would be able to notice a problem in your draw. For instance ‘Hey i just drew my pistol and noticed that my finger is in the trigger guard before I’m on target. How can I prevent this? After everything that I have done to prevent this in a safe enviroment I still can’t get it right maybe this holster isn’t for me.’ There the end.

  27. I think the serpa holster idea could work if they just made it so you pushed the button with the flat pad of your finger rather then pushing into it with the tip of your finger. Also if they moved the button a little forward on the holster. Then as the gun came out your finger would be laying straight and flat along the side of the frame… kind of where it should be.

    -D

  28. Shame on you Foghorn. Way to play the Grabbers’ game for them. I am simply astonished that in this day and age an educated gun writer like yourself would jump right on the “outlaw lawn darts” bandwagon.

    For the record: Lawn darts do not hurt people. Gravity hurts people.

    1. Always treat your lawn dart as if it is sharp.
    2. Never point your lawn dart at anything you don’t want punctured.
    3. Know your target area and what’s underneath it.

    Follow these simple rules and you will avoid 99% of lawn dart-related accidents.

  29. Nick, which model Safariland do you use? I’d like to replace my SERPA with one that only has the thumb release, but on Safariland’s website I’m finding it difficult to tell which holsters have which features, even if I use their “Will Fit” search.

    Thanks!

  30. And never before in the history of firearms has an experienced shooter put a round in his leg or in the ground in front of himself with a thumb break holster. This is nothing more than someone not paying attention to what they are doing. Many people with years of experience in different endeavors screw up. Experience does not make one error proof.

  31. According to Grossman, the author of “On Killing”, a natural reaction under stress such as combat is to tense and contract muscles. Since holsters are supposed to be used at least sometimes under stress, a design that ignores the shooter’s tendency to reflexively close his hand by making the shooter position his finger over the trigger area is, in my book, a defect. I returned my Serpa holster and will be buying a thumb-release, probably a 5.11.

  32. This is ALL user error. I have a SERPA and every time, pushing the release properly (flat finger) and drawing the weapon results in my finger resting comfortably on the trigger guard, about 1/2 inch past the front edge. It never touches the trigger until I move it there.

    If the holster is too “dangerous” then the operator clearly needs more training.

    • The authors concern is laughable. The problems are
      (1) Finger discipline
      (2) It’s a Glock
      I’ve open carried a Springer 1911 .45acp everyday for the past 10 years and have a pair of Serpa’s on different gunbelts in the crossdraw position. I use different holsters from time to time (military type) but the finger stays pointed along the guard until I present. You wanna-be Secret Squirrel yahoo’s get in a hurry and shoot yourselves, then blame the equipment.

  33. I have trusted my life and the lives of my loved ones with a serpa holster for almost 10 years now (most of that being with a 1911a1 and now with a g17g4) and I will continue to do so for a long time comin. What needs to happen here is you need to look at the man and the method of use he was doing. My years in the military taught me to train with what you shoot and carry, the minute you start changing guns and holsters on yourself and expect to perform the same way with two drastically different guns there will be some adjusting. Judging by the video everything would suggest that he is not a safe gun owner despite what he says, of course the man is supposedly from IL and calls himself tex….enough said i think

  34. Great article but tex grebner was using a 511 thumbdrive and flipped the safety off of his 1911. Then pulled the trigger like a bonehead. He clames he was practicing with his Glock just before that and if you’ve ever fired those 2 guns , you know the triggers are completely different. Always practice one gun at a time

  35. I’m way late to this party, but I am forced to agree with Jonathan. I was worried about trying a SERPA after reading this story, having never handled one- but once I tried one on (with my new Five-SeveN in it) I found the draw to be a perfectly natural, perfectly comfortable, and above all perfectly SAFE motion. With the gun holstered, my finger rests straight out on the ridge just above the retention release switch. Pressing (NOT poking) the switch releases the weapon and a natural drawstroke results in my finger resting straight out alongside the frame, well above the trigger- with the FN my finger lands right on the safety. This works whether I’m wearing the holster at 4 o’clock, on my hip, in front of my hip, or crossdraw. It worked so well that I invested in a SERPA for my SIG P229 as well.

    Like Jonathan, I cannot replicate the ND from this holster without intentionally trying to make my finger land on the trigger. To do this, I have to deliberately disregard the owner’s manual and mash the release catch with the tip of my finger like a kid with the trigger on his Xbox controller. This results in a completely unnatural motion- which, by the way, I can replicate with ANY holster- all I have to do is curl my trigger finger while drawing. I just simulated a reckless discharge (‘negligent’ doesn’t do it justice) from my Fobus paddle holster, using an unloaded P239. Saying that the SERPA somehow uniquely causes this problem more than any other holster is like saying that Fords cause more accidents than any other make, because their gas and brake pedals are uniquely closer together than any other manufacturers’.

    I am forced to wonder how much some of the high-speed shooters in these horror stories had trained with the SERPA (with an UNLOADED gun) to understand their function, or even read the owner’s manual, versus just strapping one on and assuming it had a magic button on the side that handed you the pistol when you pushed it. Unfamiliarity seems like the only viable excuse for “a former Secret Service agent and retired Special Forces soldier” to almost shoot himself in the foot- and even that is pretty damn flimsy. I’m more inclined to say there is NO excuse for allowing your trigger finger to contact the trigger before you have engaged the target, no matter what holster you are using. And considering that the SERPA design is engineered to MAKE you keep your trigger finger straight and indexed down the side of the holster to properly engage the release, you pretty much have to be deliberately trying to perform an unsafe action to contact the trigger when you draw.

    If you own a handgun, you need to train yourself to use it safely. That includes training in how to use it from the holster you wear, because if you carry outside your home you WILL be using a holster. Treat the holster as part of your gun, and train with it as such. In a life-or-death scenario, the proper holster is step 1 in keeping you alive- no matter what gun you are carrying, it can’t save your life if it’s still in the holster. I suggest that the SERPA is the equal of any holster on the market when used correctly.

  36. Scene from : “Blackhawk Down”.

    Ranger Captain to “D”: “Sergeant, why is the safety not ON on your weapon? (M4, patrol sling, muzzle safe, chow line).

    “D” to Captain: (Holding up his trigger finger.) “THIS is my safety. SIR!”

    Train right. Know what you’re doing. Calm down. Everything will be fine. You newby guys with excess testosterone who start frothing at the mouth when you approach the firing line, take a pill. Victory goes to the guy in control of himself, not to the whirling dervish who sprays the most bullets, intentionally or not.

    It’s NOT the equipment, men. It’s YOU. How do I know that? Experience. Plus, I watched a newby shoot a “friendly” dead in fear induced panic during an attack. There was nothing wrong with his weapon or his holster. HE was a fool who knew better than everyone else. Stop blaming the equipment. Take a closer look at yourself.

    It is almost ALWAYS the human factor that is to blame.

  37. Pause the video at 27 seconds, you will see that this is not due to a falure of the serpa system. This a failure in master finger control, as you will see his finger was on trigger before target was accrued.. A no no my friend…

  38. I give it 5 stars. I personally used the serpa holster in Afghanistan as a defense contractor. I’ve crawled with it jumped with it ect. And found it to be safe and secure. Every time I drew my pistol I found my index finger to be resting on the slide of the pistol.

  39. In my opinion, Serpa holsters are not the problem here. Improper training, however, is.

    It matters not whether the person utilizing a holster has a line of credentials arm length. CIA, FBI, SS, NSA, HLS or any other moniker does not a shooter make. Nor does being in any branch of the military.

    Proper training and proper practice b e f o r e “running & gunning” is the only sure way to keep Negligent Discharges from occurring. The ultimate safety is always the brain.

    As a range safety officer, LEO for 30+ years, competition shooter, US & International Firearms Instructor, yada-yada-yada, I have used many a holster from level 1 to level 3. The Level 3 Serpa I’m now carrying on duty containing a Glock 22 is my #1 choice for keeping my primary weapon secure. Rapid weapon acquisition is intuitive -for me- due to having trained many hours with this weapon system before utilization, ie, proper training.

    Knee jerk reactions are never good and a proven design, poorly employed, isn’t to be blamed for poor skills.

    Best Regards.

  40. I’m glad I found this article. I was just about to click submit on an order for the Serpa holster – I’ve been looking for a good retention holster.

    Granted, you can practice and keep safe but what about my wife or others who might use my gun/holster one day. The proper and safe use of a holster should not require specialized knowledge about that particular holster. The Safariland holster might be difficult to operate if you don’t know how it works but you won’t shoot yourself with it. That’s the difference.

    The safariland holster is 3 times the price… My leg is worth it. The lives of my family are worth it. I’m quite stunned that Blackhawk still makes this holster.

  41. by looking at the slow motion very carefully, I don’t think it’s the holster. it looks to me like you pull the trigger while pulling out the gun. you place your finger at the wrong place..

  42. Hard to believe that this “Serpa is unsafe” conspiracy has such a following and they foolishly continue to blame the holster. .

    Yes it is true, even above average shooters that have somehow gotten by for years with unsafe trigger finger habits are more likely to have negligent discharges with a Serpa holster.

    The “Serpa is unsafe” BS is identical to the “Glock is unsafe” BS that developed quite a following in law enforcement during the early 90’s. The Glock had a tendency to expose a tiny minority of LE shooters with bad trigger finger habits.

    Those shooters had skated by somehow with a revolver or a semi-auto with a heavy 11lb DA trigger pull (Sig P220), and they had a much higher propensity for negligent discharges when they transitioned to 4.5lb trigger pull Glock, and of course most of them swore up and down the ND was caused by the unsafe Glock trigger instead of the unsafe finger pulling the trigger.

    And of course, all the “Foreign plastic guns are junk and unmanly” crowd who had never fired a Glock jumped on “Glock is unsafe” bandwagon.

    As with all ND’s, they occur when some dumb@$$ pulls the trigger and the cause is either lack of proper training, or bad trigger finger habits by shooter in spite of proper training.

  43. so I was doing some research on three gun gear, watching matches, etc. and I stumbled across this thread. read all the pros and cons to the argument and there is a lot but I figured I would put in mine. after reading this I stood up out of my chair and pulled my glock 19 from serpa holster and didn’t shoot myself or anyone else. mystical I know. I offloaded my gun and checked to make sure it was cleared, cuz I wouldn’t want my serpa to shoot someone. then proceeded to pullmy glock as fast and hard as possible. I never even came close to touching my trigger unless I tried to shoot my tv with my nonexistent bullet after I acquired my target and put my finger in the guard on said trigger. ive trained with this holster and gun for years, and my serpa never shot anyone, and nobody should ever be able to do this unless they are trying to put their finger on the trigger before acquiring a target. this whole scenario of the serpa shot someone is nothing but bad training and not using the fundamentals of gun control weather in combat or not. sounds to me like a bunch of pros need to go back relearn their basics before they shoot theirselves in the leg or somebody else. as we get better and faster and look for ways to become so we sacrifice proper gun control for unsafe habits, and everyone at every level should go back and practice drawing slow and correct every so often to keep from building a new bad habit. I cant think of one instructor anywhere that doesn’t preach that. what you do in slow motion repeatedly becomes instinct in faster movements. same with lifting or hand to hand combat, and should be practiced by everyone in the use of a weapon. all holsters have their drawbacks and cause problems. think about what happens when that better than a serpa thumb holster causes you drop a magazine in a life threatening situation. train right, train hard, or stay home, and no matter what you use youll be safe.

  44. My problem with the bashing of the serpa lock is you are constantly talking negligent discharge. . That’s operator error people. . Not accidental.. like something mechanical. I have serpa holsters and wouldn’t trade them for anything. If you are going to be stupid enough to carry your pistol without a safety engaged or are training yourself to disengage that safety before clearing your gun from your holster… you are being negligent and in my opinion stupid. Don’t blame it on the serpa system. . Blame it on the dummy who’s being negligent of his safety and everyone else’s around him. Is it the serpa system that’s making these people prematurely release their safeties and prematurely wrap their finger around a hot trigger in mid draw? I don’t think so. Pure negligent operator error. I think it’s all in how you are training yourself to draw that gun and the steps you are taking before acquiring your target. If you are on your trigger in mid draw you’re in the wrong and you know it if you’ve done or seen any sort of pistol training. Don’t blame it on the system. . It’s purely operator stupidity.

  45. Where do I start? Background of myself will be limited to avoid exposing who I am.
    age 14 to 15 national JR competition 11th and 8th place in the USA
    Shot competition for over 40 years.
    Worked the streets in a inner city called Detroit, some may not know of how this is gun related, but guns being drawn is almost a daily task.
    Trained countless people over 25 years in combat handgun tactics, and some were law enforcement.

    I am retired and still carry everywhere and use a Serpa since it came out for my Glock 21SF and others I previously carried.
    I also used and still sometimes the safariland Leg drop with thumb break that allows me to carry the glock with streamlight attached.

    I much prefer the Serpa and never had any ND, nor has it come close to such. The Thumb break is a little slower to get a weapon into action even with substantial training and use on duty and off. I like the way the Serpa carries and allows rapid and “controlled” drawing of the firearm.

    Many many years I carried a Colt 70 series and never had a ND or anything close yet many scream cry, piss and moan about how dangerous they are.

    It is very simple. I spent thousands of hours in practice and carry, thus my possibility to ND is minimal due to very exacting muscle memory.

    In the years I have seen countless L.E. make huge errors with weapons and some could have been fatal for themselves or others.

    It is all about practice practice practice, and do it again practice more. Muscle memory does NOT exist in the majority of Law Enforcement and I saw this daily. Imagine cops carrying guns that are so rusted they literally will not function? Yes it has happened more times that your imagination could comprehend, and it I did not see it and experience it myself I would call this untrue. Due to my experience I have been asked hundreds of times to check out a weapon that when I had it in my hands discovered it was literally incapable of functioning. WTF?!?

    Most often it is not design, it is stupidity and laziness that causes ND’s. This is why they are called “NEGLIGENT” discharges. I wish it was the other way around, but it isn’t. All too often complacency kills.

  46. While I am warming to the idea that Serpas are not ideal for new shooters and may potentially be more dangerous to employ (namely to the range safety officers who are at risk and choose to ban them), I cannot fathom why everyone treats the Serpa as if it doing the shooting itself.

    “What caused this negligent discharge? A SERPA Holster.”

    Incorrect. Otherwise I would keep my Serpas far away from my pistols.

    So besides for this article getting off to a terrible start, I have concluded that they may not be ideal in all situations. I will continue to wear mine and train with it as the product was intended.

  47. Great discussion, but as things usually go, they get off course, and opinions rather than facts tend to take over. There are numerous “flaws” that contribute to the Negligent Discharge (no Accidents here!). The #1 key is HUMAN responsibility, the #2 flaw is UNFAMILIARITY with equipment & technique, the distant #3 flaw is INCOMPATIBILITY. Beyond these three, all other factors are contributors.

    #1
    The shooters made choices on the weapon, the holster, the training, the practice, and the execution of the previous. The shooter is responsible for all his/her own choices at this level of shooting. The shooter chose to buy the (in this case) the weapon and Serpa holster; the shooter chose to go to the range, training class, practice course, or competition with the equipment and level of (#2) FAMILIARITY.

    • Good point Warren. There is possibly another factor involved which I have no name for so I will make one up “hand to weapon geometry” .
      After reading this posting early on, I have spent many hundreds of draws and not one time did my finger enter, or get near the trigger, every time it rested on the frame just above the trigger guard opening just beyond the frame to slide take down button with my finger resting just past the where the SF logo is, 100% of the time. This happens I assume is because I have practiced this on every weapon I have handled and now it is a muscle memory thing. Either that or my excessively wide hands also play a role?
      Point is it is all about repeated practice literally thousands of times and a conscious thought process that still happens every time I pull the weapon out of the serpa few times a day due to my returning home and wanting to be unburdened by the weight of the weapon while I am at home. The later having to leave again. It is all about safety for me after once as a teenager having a 1900’s colt .25 cook off a magazine into the ground when a part failure caused it to full auto on me. Even then I was safety minded and didn’t cause any harm or endanger anyone of anything when that old weapon cooked off a magazine in 3 seconds time (or less).

      To me safety is mandatory, not an option.

  48. Ah! Case in point! I had an equipment flaw that caused my post to be submitted unintentionally. I only blame myself – even though the touchpad on my laptop is way too sensitive. I “chose” to forego adjusting it for over 2 years!

    Back to topic . . .

    As stated (ad nauseum, in both sides of the “opinions”) in earlier posts, the Shooters ultimately allowed their trigger fingers to enter into the trigger-guard and pull the trigger, discharging the weapon.

    Hold on, this is where I agree, in principle, with Mr. Koenig, that statistically, a Negilgent Discharge, and quite possibly (although rarely) an Accidental Discharge will occur. However to blame just the holster is ludicrous & irresponsible. It would never hold up on any court (except King Obama’s).

    Again, the HUMAN factor (the Shooter) is the most influential factor in something going amiss (to say the least). Now add in the type of weapons (in these cases): Glock & 1911 with short, single-action trigger travel. One has no safety, the other had one or more of the safeties defeated. This still is in no way the fault of the weapons, but their trigger configurations contributed.

    Now on to #2 – UNFAMILIARITY

    It is unstated, but explicitly implied, that none of the ND shooters were completely familiar with their equipment and levels of training (remember, they were participating in classes). Whether they are experienced shooters, law enforcement, military, etc., the operation of new/different equipment has to be made familiar to the point of instinct.

    Let’s use automobiles as an example. I have been driving for nearly 40 years, but I have to be familiar with my vehicle, the terrain, weather & traffic conditions as well as intangibles (i.e. other drivers, good or bad). I cannot get into a different vehicle and be completely “comfortable” nor competent in every driving situation. Driving in mid-sized cities or suburbs is much different from driving the interstate at 75-80 MPH with hundreds of other cars, weather conditions, and driving an unfamiliar vehicle puts me at a much greater risk of something going amiss. There is no difference with shooting equipment.

    In the cases of ND, were the shooters FAMILIAR with their respective weapons, or trying something new – gun AND/or holster. I have taken two 4-day courses at a well-known shooting school in Nevada, and both times the instructors told the participants about ND’s their causes & effects. Both times ND’s happened on one of the ranges. The second one was a seasoned law enforcement officer who made the decision to go to a high-intensity training course with an UNFAMILIAR weapon. In this case (I state this because the brand is my primary carry weapon), the officer CHOSE to shoot a SIG Sauer P22x – double/single action, no safety, decocking lever. Short story shorter, the officer holstered the SIG with the hammer still in battery (cocked) on a live chamber. Through his UNFAMILIARITY with the SIG, he forgot to decock the hammer. In addition, and unlike the posted ND’s, he had part or all of his trigger finger inside the guard while HOLSTERING the weapon, causing it to discharge. The Range Officer/trainer on my range was one of the EMT’s to administer to the officer on another range. The shooter had a .40 slug penetrate his leg very much like the picture at the top of this post. Bottom line: An experienced shooter (HUMAN) with an UNFAMILIAR weapon, employing UNFAMILIAR techniques in UNFAMILIAR circumstances & environments all contributed to the ND.

    Add in #3, INCOMPATIBILITY

    Yes, perhaps the Glock & 1911 are incompatible with the Blackhawk Serpa holster, due to the intended nature of the short trigger pulls. However, the SHOOTER CHOSE to purchase & USE the equipment – weapon AND holster, making INCOMPATIBILITY a much larger contributor to the ND than it should be.

    A holster that requires trigger-finger manipulation to draw the weapon ups the ante (risk) that something may (no way am I saying WILL) happen. This is especially true with the Glock, 1911 or cocked SIG (or whatever). The HOLSTER, itself, plays no part, but can be a contributor to the bigger-picture mishap.

    The only way a shooter can absolutely minimize a ND is to never pick up a weapon – PERIOD. Like playing the lottery (or not): You cannot win unless you play. As soon as he/she pcks up a weapon, the probability/risk of an ND goes from zero and starts to ratchet up. In the vast majority of cases (thankfully) the risk rarely “triggers” (pun intended) an ND. Note that the SHOOTER is the common denominator in EVERY ND, whether holster-related, or something else. Add in UNFAMILIARITY and INCOMPATIBILITY, then the risk elevates at an accelerated pace.

    Hopefully, you get the gist of what I am saying here. I am going to share some personal experiences (keeping them short):

    I have had more than one ND in my 50 years of shooting. One put a .22 LR slug through my lower leg (flesh wound) and living/bedroom walls. Every one of my ND’s were rightly contributed to HUMAN negligence. I call it STUPIDITY because it was ME. I thank God that that one and the others did not hit, injure or kill anyone.

    Lastly, I found this posting because I purchased a Blackhawk Serpa to ultimately replace the Uncle Mikes paddle Kydex holster that I have been carrying my SIG’s in for over 15 years. The Serpa is very much more comfortable, the weapons easier to access & draw, and has adjustability for different situations.

    However, in my

  49. Did it again!

    However, in my decision to purchase the Serpa, I consciously knew MY FAMILIARITY with the weapon I am going to be carrying & deploying in and from the holster, as well as my capabilities & limitations. I also know that I must become FAMILIAR with the release button of the Serpa as opposed to the active, friction retention of the Uncle Mikes.

    Most importantly, before I made my decision, I did research to determine if the Serpa fits me well, is compatible with my weapon, functions according to my (obvious, perceived and/or unexpected) needs, has high quality & reliability, and is the right price. The one feature unique to the Sera is the push-button release. This was a concern of mine, so I made absolutely sure that, other than having to press the button, it had no effect on my natural drawing motions, including the position of my trigger finger as the weapon leaves the holster and the trigger is exposed. The Serpa meets this non-negotiable requirement, and my trigger finger remains high on the frame, well above the trigger guard/trigger, as it does with the Uncle Mike’s holster.

    My first dry-practice sessions pointed out how much repetitive practice is going to be necessary to employ the Serpa holster full-time. The first couple of dry-practice sessions began with a sharp pull on my SIG, and the right-side of my pants being lifted toward my armpit because I NEGLECTED to push the release button. Old habits with a new piece of equipment equals “oops!”. In this case, the “oops” did not create an unsafe condition, but did remind me that I need to develop new skills/techniques/ habits with the new holster. Fortunately, I can go back to the Uncle Mike’s holster if need requires.

    In summary, is the Blackhawk Serpa defective or the “cause” of the posted Negligent Discharges? A resounding “NO!”. Was it a contributor – PERHAPS, but only through the shooter, HUMAN, decisions & errors, UNFAMILIARITY, and resulting (overall) INCOMPATIBILITY (collectively created by the shooter, weapons’ trigger mechanisms, holster retention design, technique, and resulting elevated risk-factors).

    I hope this reminds us that we alone are responsible for the safe carrying, deployment & use of our weapon systems. We must be mindful that they are complex systems that require disciplined consciousness, diligence, training, and practice. We need to look at the BIG PICTURE to evaluate the individual components that make up the “systems”, and that WE, as HUMANS, are the most significant AND WEAKEST link.

    Safe shooting – EVERYONE!!

  50. @Nick Leghorn You’re assumptions are completely wrong. You take advice from “gun experts” who may or may not have an axe to grind. SERPAs are completely safe as long as you’re not an idiot. That former agent you mentioned didn’t know how to properly use his equipment, simple and plain. Just because he did some time in a federal branch or the armed services doesn’t make him an expert; I know this first hand. Stop spouting bullshit opinions as if they were facts. If you shoot yourself with a SERPA, you’ll very likely shoot yourself with any other holster because you simply don’t understand that finger off the trigger = safe. I can backup everything I say with video evidence so your anecdotal opinion, based on words from those may be limited in knowledge, means very little.

    • David hit on a valid point, just because someone has a job where a gun is carried means nothing and can mean complacency is the rule of law for them. I started to train people in Combat handgun back in 1979 and I could write a 300 page book about how Law Enforcement has some of the absolute worst people when it comes to gun safety and maintenance. Once a veteran Detective asked a question about his side arm and when he tried to hand it over to be looked at the cylinder would not open, after looking at it I discovered it was frozen shut due to rust. He admitted he had not opened it in over a years time, and never cleaned it. Another incident a officer in a special unit which sees far more gun play than most asked about a glock he had and looking at it I discovered it would not fire. The gun literally was so jammed up with lint, oil, human skin and who knows what, it had to be broken down and completely gone over by the Gun Smith, this officer also noted he hadn’t taken the gun apart since he had it and forgot how to. I could go one with a few dozen more who carried non functional firearms but it would belabor the point. In my shop a veteran officer was looking over a smith and wesson and while doing so just for second the sales person was distracted by a question from someone else and that officer placed a live magazine from his duty weapon in the hand gun he was looking to buy and it went off putting hole in the wall behind my head. No joking, and I wasn’t happy. I had 3 other incidents where highly trained officers got a serious case of complacency, and messed up bad.

      I have been in Police ranges and seen bullet holes where there should never have been any, and it’s not rocket science to figure out how they got in walls and or ceilings where they should have not been. Even the most highly decorated and trained officer can get complacency syndrome and if anyone would it will be the more experienced officers as it become mundane sometimes to do the same thing day in day out for decades. Hands down I have seen and heard of more Police officers leaving a live forearms next to a toilet they just used than any civilians.

      Complacency kills.

      • James you just regurgitated a laundry list of lame and tired old anti law enforcement BS rumors and lies we’ve all heard before that date all the way back to the 60’s. You obviously have some troubling police hating issues which compel you to repeat BS you likely heard down at the pawn shop, outlaw bar, or simply just made up.

        It is a fact that the SERPA holster does not cause negligent discharges, with that I agree.

        I would remind you that Tex Grebner, the imbecile who inspired this discussion is a civilian, not a law enforcement officer.

        I hope I have made it abundantly clear that I believe you are a f–king liar.

        • Thomas I just retired in recent years, and after well over 20 years as a Detective, nice try, it didn’t work. You know that training is a problem in every dept. Problems with funding to complacency has added to the problem. The facts I told are not from the 1960’s and in fact I have well over 90% of my family and friends as Law Enforcement I doubt that I have issues with Law Enforcement. As a matter of fact I am still involved with law Enforcement activities in retirement. But I don’t need to defend myself from someone who shoots off his mouth not knowing me and my history. I also owned a gun shop as it was my passion from shooting to L.E. it made sense to.
          If you are law enforcement as you seems to imply then you are sloppy at your investigative skills in the very least.
          My issue is with lazy people and every job in this country has it’s lazy people and if you were/are L.E. you know this from officers who won’t leave a patrol unit to investigate anything to other behaviors the rest of us have to take up the slack from.
          I won’t belabor the point as it will only feed your fantasy that everyone hates cops self pity you wallow in.
          You are obviously of the new breed of wanna be’s who manage to get a position in Law Enforcement and then whine the whole careers time how unfair things are.

          I am well known and my credentials are not in question except by you.

          Face it laziness happens, not matter the profession, and it isn’t a 1960’s problem it is worse today and guess what some officers (old timers) still insist on a revolver carry, well in fact I do as a backup still today.

          Okay I am done feeding your hate and discontent have a fine life and see a shrink soon, the world isn’t conspiring against you.

  51. Well Jimbo, I have less than zero respect for you if you really spent that much time on the job and still would regurgitate all that lame and tired old BS rumors and lies. If you left the job with that much hate and venom for your fellow officers you must have either been a f–k up with a badge, worked for a really $#itty half @$$ed agency, or are one of those arrogant egotistical know it all jerks who is a legend in his own mind and gets some type of weird gratification by feigning superiority.

    I also recently retired as a Sgt from one of the largest and most respected state agencies in the U.S. During my 33 year career I spent 24 as an active firearms instructor and took part in training well over a thousand shooters ranging from recruits to advanced skills.

    The number of ND’s I personally witnessed was certainly less than one percent and all that occurred on the firing line were recruits. A total of two were by veteran officers and those took place in the parking lot at the range, the number on the firing line during hundreds of qualifications I conducted for my agency or many small local agencies was zero. The same goes for green bullets and rusty duty weapons, only a tiny fraction of well over a thousand weapons I have observed or inspected over the years.

    The reality is that the number of ND’s by law enforcement officers is negligible when you consider time spent on a firing range and the frequent daily handling of weapons, there is no comparison to the much higher rate of ND’s by civilians. During my career, the f–k ups with a badge I encountered were few and far between.

    I still believe that SERPA holsters do not cause ND’s and that you are a f–king liar.

  52. If the guy next to you knew how to draw a weapon, this would never have happened. Period. Also, 3 gun is chalk full of wannabe operators who never got real trigger time. There is no halo effect for SF and SS CVs. Those communities have their jackass 10% who down’t know how to handle a weapon too. Stick to airsoft you crybaby gear queer.

  53. Watching the “Tex” video, it’s very clear to see his trigger finger is curling to the trigger as he is drawing from the holster. If he practice safe draw, his finger would be straight. A straight finger cannot pull the trigger, even if it slips toward the trigger guard. Tex is an idiot that was trying to look cool.

  54. I have to agree with “James” comments. I retired a year and 1/2 ago after 28 years in L.E. I Grew up hunting and shooting and handled firearms since I was about 8 years old.

    Through my L.E. career, I was always amazed how inept fellow officers were at the range. We had department policy and had mandatory range every quarter. For about 80 percent of the officers this was the only time their sidearm ever left their holster. Most (not all) officers just simply did not practice to an level that I would consider being “proficient”, they were meeting minimum qualification requirements. It’s totally different qualifying four times a year and being proficent.

    Each state, County, Municipal L.E. juristictions have different minumum qualification requirements. Many are lacking and this only comes to light in post shooting investigations and reviews, which dictates changes in policy.

    I have used Blackhawk brand Serpa Model holster(s) for a Glock 17 and then a G27 and drew the weapons thousands of times without any incident or ND. I just can’t blame this holster. In most instances it’s the operator, not the equipment. My point is, just because someone has been driving for 30 years does not make them a good driver. Just passing the DMV driver test does not make you a GOOD driver, it just means you passed the minimum requirement to operate a piece of equipment, same for firearm safety. Just my opinion.

  55. Just came across this article. Great video of user error. Bad video if you are going to use it to try claim compensation from a company for manufacturing an alleged faulty product. Seems the product is still available. I guess not enough people jumped aboard the ‘blame the product’ band wagon.

  56. I fire about 20k rounds a year as a full-time firearms instructor, most while drawing from a Serpa. The ND argument made against the Serpa is based on mass population statistics (that are largely based on urban legend) and have absolutely no relevance with regard to the individual. As with anything remotely dangerous, training equals mitigation.

    If dealing with either a professional or a citizen that believes in the “obligation to carry” I wouldn’t consider them ready to be armed with a firearm if they didn’t trust themselves enough to carry in a Serpa without the fear of shooting themselves. I’m not saying that they should have to choose the Serpa, only they should trust that their own competency outweighed the risk of breaking the 2nd cardinal safety rule.

    Here is the Serpa argument to end all Serpa arguments:

    The training lesson that mitigates any issue with the Serpa (finger STRAIGHT and off the trigger) is so rudimentary that it should be mastered well before worrying about actually carrying a loaded weapon on your body. I would compare it to worrying about off-torque time during sloppy double clutching when you don’t even know how to drive a stick yet.

    Fortunately and unfortunately, skill is rarely a requirement in exercising your 2nd Ammendment rights. Ergo, it’s on the individual to acquire and maintain competency.

    If anyone could actually produce (I’m not holding my breath) real scientific evidence that Serpa holsters have resulted in more NGs than other styles of holsters when properly trained for, that edge would be due to individual complacency in tactic application and refresher training. Aka: a failure of those individuals to acquire and maintain rudimentary competency in the most basic rules governing the safe utilization of firearms.

  57. I need to pick a level-3 duty holster, and someone lent me the Safariland ALS and the Serpa to compare. *Note I am talking level-3, not the normal one.* I had read all positive reviews of the Safariland, and mixed of the Serpa, and so expected to like the Safariland best.

    First I tried the Safariland. To draw, you first use your thumb, and press down on the left side of the strap, then flip it forward. Then you also use your thumb and press the ALS back. Seems easy enough. I could memorize that proprietary muscle motion and hopefully remember it under stress if being shot at.

    Then I tried the Serpa. You release it by just drawing normally, and the pistol comes out! How is this possible? Well, when you normally draw a pistol, you already have your thumb pressed into the left side of the pistol (and they have the hood-release button there), and you (should) happen to have your index finger pressed against the edge of the frame above the trigger guard so that when you are drawn your finger is not on the trigger. So the normal draw motion that I have always used with any holster unlocks both locks! Genius.

    I conclude that people who say “The Safariland is clearly a superior product” don’t appreciate the Serpa because they are not properly drawing their pistols with correctly indexed fingers. Also same with people who have the ND – they must be trying to tilt their finger and press in on the release because they are not normally indexing their finger on the frame when they holster and unholster as they should. Those are the same dangerous people who stick their finger into the trigger guard of their pistol when they holster, have an ND, and say “The gun just went off when I holstered it.”

    What can I say? I really have no patience for people who don’t index their finger properly when they are not purposely pulling the trigger. Now is it true that a lot of shooters don’t index their frame correctly? Sure. Probably most people don’t. Well I do, and if someone banned me from having a Serpa because other people don’t know how to index their finger, I would think they are sort of like gun banners – blaming the tool for operator error.

    Also the Safariland looks too old-school with the fake leather strap on the top. The Serpa is a nicer looking design.

  58. Quite honestly I see where an ND can be caused by the placement of the retention button on the SERPA but I don’t agree that it’s the entire cause of the issue. Like with any other holster or any weapon at all, to be able to use it safely and effectively you have to train and practice. It even states in the SERPA instruction manual to press the retention button with your finger straight out as if indexed along the frame, instead of pushing it like you would a regular push button.

    • And there in lies the problem it is from simple lack of following instructions. People are trying to fast draw and putting finger to trigger BEFORE they have their weapon on target–bad for for any holster, dangerous for for the Sherpa. Not a design flaw. People are not following the simple instructions. If you try to fast draw and be a weekend Clint Eastwood and curl your finger you will have issues, but that is NEVER a good way to draw WITH ANY HOLSTER. So not a design issue–simply and lack of following instructions. If you draw with your finger extend and clear your weapon with you finger where it should be based on the draw (outside and above the trigger guard along the slide) no ND will happen. I defy you to follow those instructions with an unloaded weapon and activate your trigger and show it with clear close up video of the incident. As fire arms owners do we call for a weapon to be discontinued because someone does not follow instructions and had an ND while cleaning it?—NO. They why would we do that here. Were there a design flaw I’d agree but I don’t see one. I have used a Sherpa II for years and my finger always ends up outside and right above the trigger guard—as it does on all my weapons because that us how I always draw–with ANY holster. If your finger is flat and not curled I can’t see how you can have an issue.

    • Andrew, like most folks who make assumptions based on some anti Serpa propaganda they’ve read or heard, and have never actually used, closely examined, or even laid hands on a Serpa hoster, you’re incorrectly assuming that the release button is situated directly over the trigger where a hooked or curled finger would move directly inside the trigger guard and onto the trigger as the pistol clears the holster. That is not true, the release button is located above and in line with the frame of the pistol above the trigger which is the correct location where a straight finger should be positioned when drawing a pistol from any holster. There are no Blackhawk Serpa firearm holsters made with the release button positioned directly over and in line with the trigger. The only Serpa made with the release button directly over the trigger is the holster made for the Taser X26 which is a less lethal non firearm. The only way a negligent discharge of a firearm can occur with a Serpa holster is when the Negligent Shooter negligently realigns the negligent finger from the frame above the trigger and moves that negligent finger downward from where it should be straight along the frame and into the trigger guard and then negligently pulls the trigger with their negligent finger. This whole line of BS about the unsafe design of the Blackhawk Serpa holster is ridiculous, if you’ve ever tried to get someone who is convinced they are unsafe to demonstrate with an unloaded and safe weapon how these mysterious ND’s actually occur, they can’t do it without moving the trigger finger from where it should be positioned when safely drawing a handgun from any holster Serpa or not.

  59. I was an FI for the U.S. Border Patrol and later ICE. Never saw an ND from a SERPA. I did see two NDs in my career. One with a thumb snap holster and one with a Safariland. I never saw a case where a SERPA failed due to blockage of the locking mechanism and failure to release the weapon. I did however see this occur with a Safariland.
    For what it’s worth.
    Best wishes to all

  60. Try banning the Idiot that didn’t train with his equipment. When I bought my Blackhawk serpa, I heatd about all of thos curled trigger fonger ctap and negligent dischatges so I did countless hrs doing draw excercisrs. Racked the slide of my glock with an empty magazine to set the trigger. Not once did my finger curl inside the trigger guard

  61. It all comes down to personal choice. Why impose more regulation, we aren’t in a communist nation. People have the choice. If you are an informed buyer and are worried about your life, and well being, then you will make an informed choice before you buy something. But it is the consumers choice. If you find it unsafe, don’t buy it or use it, you have options, not like the SERPA holster has a monopoly on the market at we need to ban it so we can have other choices… if yoy don’t like it or can’t oporate it then don’t buy it… this is like the smart car argument. About when accidents happen that people will die, ban smart cars… no just dont buy it if that is how your personally feel.

  62. If holsters cause accidental discharges, then we can blame spelling errors on pencils, obesity on the silverware, and do everything else in our power to remove ourselves from responsibility.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own, nor have I ever owned, or attempted a draw from, a SERPA retention holster. I don’t have the long salad bar of decorations as military, law enforcement, and range officers that many of you here have, or at least claim to have. I’m just a casual shooter.

    Looking at the SERPA, the action to draw seems fairly straightforward to me, and I think that I’d have to really work at it to manage to hook my finger into the guard and onto the trigger in that manner.

    In the case of “Tex”, his explanation holds up to me. Assuming he is the rigorous practitioner of firearm safety that he claims to be, I could see how his situation came to be. Practicing with one pistol in one style of holster and then switching to another pistol in another style of holster has always struck me as a bad idea, and this serves as an excellent example of why. I personally believe in familiarity with equipment. I own ONE pistol and ONE holster for it. I have developed the muscle memory to draw that pistol from that holster 100% safely 100% of the time. That said, if I were to practice with it repeatedly, and then draw a different pistol with a different set of safety mechanisms from a holster with a different retention mechanism, I can definitely see the chances for an accidental discharge go up(although I can’t figure out why you’d try and hook your finger into the guard before you’d acquired a target).

    Regarding the incident that Nick describes – once again assuming that he’s not feeding us a bunch of BS and we are actually dealing with a former military and law enforcement professional, presumably a paragon of shooting safety – I would call this an unfortunate accident. It’s a shame that he doesn’t offer a little bit more detail into the situation, although I imagine standing in the lineup twiddling his thumbs probably doesn’t account for the most exciting part of his day. Maybe the guy responsible was practicing his draws and hadn’t gotten enough sleep, or had bickered with his wife before he left that morning, or didn’t have enough hands-on time with the holster and/or pistol in it, or any of the dozens of other completely reasonable explanations that I’m sure I could come up with.

    Either way, calling for a product ban is pretty damn harsh, and a member of the firearms community should know better. Every time the anti-gun community rears up after an incident to cry out for gun control, we always suggest that they look at the party responsible instead of the tool they selected. So rather than gather the torches and cry “ban” because of an accidental discharge, let’s let the consumer make their decision. If you aren’t comfortable with the retention mechanism of the SERPA, it turns out that there’s a whole market of other options. If you’ve already got a SERPA, and you’re perfectly happy and comfortable with it, then power to you. I have absolutely no doubt that if a user trains properly with it, they can safely utilize it. I can guarantee beyond any shadow of a doubt that I could run twenty miles, uphill, in the freezing rain, sick, naked and half-asleep with a gun-brandishing psycho screaming and chasing me, and still draw my pistol 100% safely from my holster at the end of it. I’m sure that there are guys that feel the same way about their SERPAs. That’s the beauty of the free market. If you don’t like it, buy something else.

    Primarily, I’m disappointed in the author for calling for a ban, because it sounds hauntingly similar to a bunch of politicians calling for AR-15 bans because some psycho shoots up a school or a movie theatre or a hospital. If I paid for a TTAG subscription(in which case I probably wouldn’t have been commenting three and a half years after publication), I’d seriously consider cancelling that subscription based on such hypocritical commentary, just as I’d cancel my membership at any range that tried to dictate the brand of holster that I wore, or pistol that I owned, or ammunition that I fired.

    Let’s dismiss the accidents as simply that, unfortunate accidents, and take some responsibility as individuals for the manner in which we handle our firearms.

  63. I have been reserved for quite some time to comment on this post, but for some reason today it is time. First off let me state I have been using the Serpa CQC since about the first day it was introduced. Currently own 3 and none have mysteriously failed or locked up like a lot of Internet myth would leave one to believe. Oh by the way, I live in the country in the Midwest where dirt flies on a regular basis yet my Serpa will just not fail. Secondly, how does a person like Tex Grebner gain so much traction and single handedly do so much damage to a fine product. If Tex makes a YouTube about Nike tennis shoes and breaks his ankle, is everyone going to jump on the Tex Grebner band wagon and say Nike tennis shoes are dangerous? How about Tex makes a YouTube video and holds up a head of lettuce and says, “This stuff made me fat”. I wonder how many of the Internet sheep will flock to that cause? I’m not going to rant on proper firearm usage here for the fact real firearm owners know how to properly use their equipment. One thing with this Serpa bashing over the years is nearly every single answer to a Serpa holster is “buy a Safariland”. Why ????? Aren’t their any other retention holsters out there or is it Safariland just pays the most to bash the hell out of Blackhawk. Turning 54 years old next month, there is one thing I learned way before the Internet was invented. That is, firearms are to be treated with respect. With the society of today, I have seen that go away and Ole Tex just reinforced that in his totally hilarious video. How can I say that ? It is easy, the stupid idiot admitted that the holster was new and yet he practices quick draw with a new holster with a loaded firearm. After 35 years of carrying a pistol, I have practiced quick draw probably 10,000 times and have NEVER done it with a live round. Why? There is no reason to. I go through my routine, acquire my target and go click. I will be ready if the need ever arises but until then I will continue to just go click. Oh what about competition ? I have never believed in competition shooting. I let those that want to renact the Tex Grebner incident do all that stuff. All of this competition shooting to me is just the latest rage of disrespect for firearms. Yep call me old, but I have no holes in my legs and I even carry a Glock…..imagine that. The most dangerous pistol in the world, according to the experts here on the Internet.

  64. Finally got one, had to try it. I love the holster. Don’t agree with any of the negative comments about the holster. Conceals the same as any other owb holster Ive ever used. Finger ends up right where it should be during draw. Anyone having an ND with this holster is a moron

  65. Truth about guns? Bollocks. MILLIONS of SERPA holsters in use with Brit and German Armed Forces , the USMC and you know what? A distinct lack of self inflicted gunshot wounds. In my agency, we have almost 150 officers, 95% of whom use a SERPA at one time or another as do most of the other agencies around here. No self inflicted GSW’s either. Solely a user error issue.

    Nick Leghorn? More like Foghorn Leghorn………

  66. You realize the holster you brag about is at the top of the page where someone shot them self right? Really hate to see you advertising plug on an usage product.

  67. Watch the video and you will see the shooter place their finger on the trigger before aiming down range; failure of weapon safety 101. The purpose of the Serpa is to prevent combatants from drawing your own weapon from the holster. Train as you fight and fight as you train; that’s the key.

  68. I have never seen the gun geek write a positive article….he is much more a typical liberal journalist than a gun geek. I think this is user error unless you can tell “why” the gun discharged…..basically you just said it discharged out of a Serpa holster. There are two geed active restraint holsters…..Searpa is one of the two. I like the draw on the other better….but keep your finger off the trigger and it doesn’t fire.

  69. Sorry you were hurt, but I have the Serpa holster for my Ruger SR40C and I love it. The holster has a indentation the starts at the release button, that guides your finger up the holster and onto the frame of the gun, it takes very little pressure to operate the release button, just a tap, no digging, with a curled finger. After reading this I made sure my gun was unloaded and the safety on and tried to reenact what you say happened, I had to make an effort to get my finger into the trigger guard and on the trigger. In your account, if you had a holster with no release button you would have shot yourself also, you had to curl your finger down or back in relation to the vertical position of the pistol to get your finger in the trigger guard. I’m all for gun safety, but I don’t think this holster contributed to your accident. I’ve had my Serpa holster for over two tears and I have never had an issue where my finger didn’t line up right on the frame between the slide and above the trigger guard.

  70. Issues that would cause an ND using the Serpa (or any holster):

    1. Drawing too fast (the danger of ND’s made worse using a holster like the Serpa), which may or may NOT have been preventable – see #2.

    2. Using correct mechanics & muscle memory – Straight index finger pointed down using the middle section or towards the palm of the finger to manipulate the release mechanism (NEVER USE THE TIP OF THE FINGER), incrementally increasing speed, knowing you’re safe as you progress should all but eliminate risk of ND’s.

    The Serpa should be drawn with your index finger stiff, pointed straight down to the ground & pressure applied with the whole finger or better yet, the pad of your finger just after your palm, NOT the tip of the finger when straight or (worse) bent. If following this method, the worst that should happen (depending on length of your finger & size of trigger guard opening) is that your finger firmly rest on the edge of the trigger (with short fingers & large trigger guard like on a SIG or FNX), but more likely rests on the guard or slide (with longer fingers or on a Glock, M&P or 1911). An ND with the Serpa & 1911 you would have to depress the release with a bent finger for it to be fired before getting on target.

    It seems this last point may be as much to blame as the others. People rushing the sequence of the draw & fire by inserting their finger into the trigger guard before the gun clears their holster / body & is on target. That is the only way an ND can occur.

    If drawn quickly under stress using the tip of the finger to release the retention mechanism the natural result would be that eventually the trigger finger would slip through the trigger guard & a have the tendency to follow the other fingers to close their grip squeezing the trigger resulting in an ND.

    If you own a Serpa draw carefully with your index finger straight. If you’re not comfortable with its mechanism don’t use it, as it’s more likely to cause a problem if you’re not confident or nervous.

    • Common sense and muscle memory are the key, fast draw done wrong, or without many hours of normal holster pulls can go wrong. On any holster your muscle memory should cause you to to place your trigger finger on the frame above the trigger. I have tried fast draw with an unloaded gun many times in my Sherpa holster and have never had an instance where I ended up with my finger in the trigger guard. I think people are moving their finger down to be ready to take the shot, which is a terrible practice and could cause them to fire before being on target with any holster.

  71. Find this article a little wanting on firearms analysis and safety. “Keep your finger straight alongside the receiver until ready to fire” – a core safety practice is the issue for this accidental discharge. It goes with the entire presentation until on a target. It’s remedial to remind an experienced shooter that control of the finger alongside the receiver means a straight finger and not inserting finger into the trigger guard by breaking the straight or nearly locked finger until you gain sight picture on a target. The SERPA release does not require breaking or bending the trigger finger for release and presentation, the SERPA holster release allows a proper grip and release with no adjustments of hand or finger other than normal target transition.
    There is a shooter error here. The error could be anticipation leading to improper finger control, lack of practice with the holster, the shooter may have had a longer standing practice of inconsistent timing causing improper trigger finger positioning during presentation that finally caused a discharge.
    When you shoot yourself you’ll likely look for an excuse beyond your own actions and look for anything that can be used to explain away an unfavorable practice or overlooked detail, or bad equipment.
    I served as a USN Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor for nearly 25yrs, along the way completed the HLS Firearms Instructor COI (which does not allow the SERPA) and NRA-LE Pistol and Shotgun Instructor Cert. While doing USN instruction and as a carry for all our security forces we transitioned to the SERPA, most were level 2, some were Level 3. There’s nothing wrong with the SERPA design and it’s a superb speed holster with all of the retention needs. The SERPA may highlight those shooters who have for sometime not had the muscular conditioning to keep the finger locked or straight until ready to fire, or they may believe release requires them to break and bend the trigger finger to depress the release. SERPA holsters do allow an exact firing grip while in the holster with finger straight as it releases for the presentation to target or a even remains alongside the receiver in combat ready position. Opinion: Shooter hooked his finger to depress the release (error) and continued with an insertion of the finger onto trigger as weapon just cleared holster causing discharge and self-inflicted wound. We should be grateful to learn from this error.

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