TTAG Improves Blackhawk SERPA Design

Blackhawk is here, and apparently they’ve heard about my issues with their holsters. So much so that they tried (rather unsuccessfully) for a good 15 minutes to try and convince me that the SERPA holsters are perfectly safe… if you’ve trained properly, that is. They’re going to give it another shot next month down in San Antonio with some range time and a wide open mind on my part, but until then RF and I think we’ve got this thing figured out, and have a simple fix that could solve the whole issue…

The main problem with the holster is people trying to push directly on the button instead of indexing along the slide naturally and applying force. That’s what leads to the finger slipping into the trigger guard and causing a ND.

RF had never picked up a SERPA before and found himself doing exactly that: pushing down on the release with his right hand’s fingertip. The culprit for that motion: the small bump below the release button.

According to the Mr. Buis the plastic enclosure surrounding the button was designed to allow a seatbelt to slide over the button instead of catching underneath. According to Farago, the enclosure “box” was a subconscious signal NOT to lay his finger flat along the release.

RF said Blackhawk should lose the ridge at the end of the button (on top of which he’s supposed to lay his finger).

That’s when I chimed in with my idea: lengthen the button. In my opinion the curled finger stems from trying to push directly on the rather small button. Especially with my gigantic fingers, it seems like everything before that first distal joint is completely off the button and forces me to push harder to compensate.

If I was able to put my entire finger on the button I wouldn’t push nearly as hard. And Farago would lay his normal-sized finger flat.

At this suggestion the Blackhawk guy paused, looked at the holster, played with it for a second, and said that no one had ever suggested that before and he would look into it with the engineering guys.

I think we’ve got a winner with that idea, but we’ll see if the powers that be agree.

comments

  1. avatar ST says:

    NDs are a sign of operator error.

    No intelligent gun owner straps on a brand new & unfamiliar holster system without practice in its use.Doing so is tantamount to buying a brand new piece and carrying it without shooting it once to verify function.

    Its not Blackhawks fault that some of its customers cannot apply this simple concept of practice before use.

  2. avatar Rabbi says:

    ST, the problem with the Serpa is that it forces operator error by placing the finger too low on the frame. Some shooter’s fingers are long enough to easily avoid the trigger most are not. It is the only holster that has the distinction of being banned an numerous training facilities.

    To me , the best solution is to lengthen the armature so it places the finger higher on the slide.

    Lastly, asking the trigger finger to do anything other than activate the trigger is a mistake. The best designs, such those from Safariland (my fav is the ALS) use fingers other than the trigger finger.

  3. avatar Paul says:

    I will stick to a good leather holster, without all the buttons to push and having to push down on the firearm, and then rotate your ass 90 degrees, and don’t forget to flick a bugger at the bad guy to distract him/her, while making all that racket with a plastic holster. BAH HUMBUG, PISH POSH, BUNKEM and BALDERDASH. Leather feels good, smells good, works great, and if taken care of properly, will out last the firearm your carrying in it. Oh, what the hell is an ND? For God’s sake speak English!

    1. avatar Dex says:

      leather and other flexible holsters also contribute to negligent discharges with glock handguns.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    It seems like Blackhawk wants to blame every mishap on the operator. Telling one’s customers that they’re incompetent is a sure ticket to Chapter 7.

  5. avatar R says:

    Good observation. I hope it works well and look forward to hearing about it.

  6. avatar Twinkie says:

    Well, Glock has been doing the same thing (operator error = kB!) for a long long time now. Why shouldn’t Blackhawk! do the same?

    Serpa sucks. Move along.

  7. avatar Aaron says:

    Maybe that’s why I’ve never had a problem with them….I have a long enough finger that I cover the whole button. I don’t push, I just rest my finger there.

  8. avatar IndyEric says:

    My wife (5’1″, 100 lbs.) and I (5’11”, 185 lbs.) both use Serpas. We love them, trained with them, and have never had a problem with their function. Blows my mind that people still have issues with their proper function.

  9. avatar Steven Robertson says:

    I understand completely about how the holster can not be what they want out of it. Whether the release is too short, the release shouldn’t be on the index finger, or whatever else it may be (YouTube people’s serpa issues). For me though, this holster is great. It’s very versatile in its construction (you can adjust angle, holster type, etc), and the release is perfect on my hand. I agree 100% to ST’s input about becoming familiar with your holster. If you can operate it correctly, it’s perfectly safe. I press my thumb/index webbing into the grip, pay my finger along where your hand should be (below the slide, parallel to the slide) and pull up. My finger naturally hits the release mechanism without any intentional force, and pulls up perfect every time.

    Now I can see that being nowhere near true for anyone with Long-fingered hands. I would like to see Blackhawk create a redesigned holster with a longer release mechanism, AND (for you YouTube fable story watchers) have a rubber cover over the release mechanism so nothing gets caught up or trapped inside the release.

    Serpa, you have the approval of my personal use, but the majority of Americans still want better results out of your release guard. Work on that.

  10. avatar Jay says:

    I have suggested that many times, that they redesign the button. It is from my personal experience that Serpa holsters are creating an unsafe draw. At least for those with short fingers. It isn’t a hard thing to figure out. It took me 5 minutes of usage to realize that the button and the ridges are creating this problem and a simple redesign can fix it. Maybe they didn’t want to fix it because molds cost money and it is easier to say that it is your fault you suck, not theirs.

  11. avatar LTC F says:

    I’ve carried an M9 in a Serapa on all of my combat deployments. In those 40 some odd months the holster only came into play twice. Once it’s retention saved my life when I screwed up and let a MAM (military aged male) get too close to me and we ended up scuffling, with him trying to pull my pistol from the holster on my body armor (my driver gave him a love tap on the back of the brain housing group with the butt of his M4 before things could get really ugly). The holster made up for my stupidity and saved my life.

    Once I rather needed my pistol in a hurry, and had no issues drawing and employing it.

    I have never seen an ND as a result of a Serpa, but then the only people I know who use them are military types. On the (civilian) range I carry my Para Ord P14.45 in a Jack Slide, and my Glock 30 in a Crossbreed Supertuck or Crossbreed Snap Slide.

    I think the Serpa issues are caused by folks who don’t regularly practice with them.

    1. avatar Jay says:

      I disagree.

      Although I’m a tall person I have short fingers. I cannot grasp a basketball one handed. I have a hard time with operating large frame (.45 ACP) pistols.

      When using a Serpa sometimes my finger will slip onto the trigger during the draw. No, I am not an idiot and yes, I do practice. Fact is that when I get a proper grip on the pistol I cannot get a large amount of my finger on the button. Because of this I am required to use the tip of my finger and press harder on the button to actuate it. When pressing hard your finger will sometimes slip and land on the trigger. If you are using a pistol without a safety you could end up pulling the trigger.

      Your natural tendency when you need to draw immediately is to grab the gun and pull. If I’m lucky I can get the gun out with no problems. However most of the time I fail to actuate the button and end up yanking on the pistol. When you do that the button won’t budge. You then have to push the gun, press the button, then pull. But in the real world you don’t get a redo on your draw.

      So they have to redesign the button for people with shorter fingers. The current button and ridges don’t help these people. It actually makes them more prone to having a discharge with striker fired guns or guns without safeties. They just need to make it go little higher up the pistol and extend it for shorter fingers.

      1. avatar Robert Farago says:

        Well exactly.

  12. avatar Dex says:

    take a serpa through the frozen flatland, woodlands, or desert and see how much you trust it afterwards…

    1. avatar LTC F says:

      Sort of like Iraq and Afghanistan? Been there, done that, still love it. It’s not for everyone, but I won’t give mine up. It’s saved my life.

  13. avatar ST says:

    Some confusion appears to be taking place.

    It is an assumed principle that there is no “one size fits all” in the gun world. One man’s perfect pistol grip is another man’s idea of ergonomic insanity. It would be foolish of me to post that Glock’s Model 17 handgun is worthless because it points to the left in my hand .It obviously isn’t the best fit for my needs, but there’s 200 million other people in this country. For quite a few other folks it fits like a glove. Either way, it is no cause for me to send a letter to Glock Inc. demanding they reshape their ‘defective’ pistol grip on my account. What I should do is select a handgun that works better for me than the Glock.

    Blackhawk’s SERPA holster seems to work great for some people and badly for others. Like anything else in the gun world this holster won’t work for everyone. Some people can carry and draw from it (with appropriate practice) safely and well. Others , for whatever ergonomic reasons may exist, endanger themselves using it. In the latter case the buyer should simply select other gear that does work.

  14. avatar Joe says:

    I know mechanically it’s simpler, but the release button rocks laterally. It should rock longitudinally along the length of the holster and the gun. Indexing your finger fully extended should release the gun from the holster and your finger should end up on the gun in the same way after it’s drawn.

  15. avatar Don says:

    Don’t even have button “area” over the trigger. A longer flat button along the side of the frame where you are supposed to put your finger would be best.

    -D

  16. avatar Daniel says:

    Pfft. You know that RF still won’t be satisfied, whatever they do. He’ll continue to argue that you will want to curl your finger in defiance of whatever training you’ve had in depressing the lever properly. Ah well. When a bull sees red, it charges, and we can hardly blame them for that. 😉

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Not guilty. If Blackhawk changes that part of the holster, if they make it so that resting my finger along its length and pushing it laterally is the natural thing to do, then I’d buy that for a dollar. Not that I need a retention holster. Or have a spare dollar.

      1. avatar John_234 says:

        Has the Serpa actually been improved in the suggested way since the time of the article?

        1. avatar Robert Farago says:

          Yes. And without credit.

  17. avatar Kevin says:

    I’ve worn my Serpa quite a bit, and it has never, never crossed my mind to press directly on the button. It feels much more natural to slide my finger across it. There’s no reason to have a ND with the Serpa.

    That being said, I don’t use it anymore. I realized I don’t wanna have to dink around with any kind of gimmicky release mechanism if I ever had to pull my pistol for defense. Also, that button has the potential to get clogged up with dirt & debris and not function.

  18. avatar Yan2x says:

    BH SERPA is the best! Have no problem in it whats so ever, from the all the post I read above, I think its an operator error.

  19. avatar Tiger Tactical says:

    This article made me laugh at the time I wasted reading it. I OC every waking minute with a CNC SERPA LEVEL I. I experience zero issues. If one does not have the operational focus to adjust to something this simple then you just should stick to pepper spray or let others protect you from yourself. I think the CNC Serpa is an AWESOME piece of gear for the price.
    BTW I OC a 1911 with proper grip & hammer safety in condition 1.

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