Previous Post
Next Post

The USMC has been issuing the venerable M-12 for decades. And for almost as long, Marines have shelled out their own money for something they like better. But the Marines have now decided to upgrade, recently designating the Blackhawk SERPA retention holster as standard issue equipment. And as Bob Curtis of Military Times’ Gearscout details, the decision isn’t meeting with universal shouts of “oorah!”

The SERPA is not without its critics and gripes revolve around two basic issues: safety and reliability. You probably remember Tex “I just fucking shot myself” Grebner’s excellent demonstration of the potential danger of locating a retention holster’s release in line with the gun’s trigger. While training could reduce the potential for an ND, it’s a serious design issue that could very well come into play in the heat of battle.

The second problem is the reliability of the retention release. There are any number of YouTube videos showing guns that have gotten stuck due to schmutz in the release mechanism. Not that Marines ever get down in the muck, right?

When a Marine has to grab for his sidearm, he’s very likely in a life or death CQB situation. Reaching down and being unable to yank his M-9 from it holster no matter how hard he pulls would be a bad thing.

The SERPA was up against a Safariland model for the Marines’ business.

SYSCOM told Marine Corps Times the Blackhawk SERPA was selected after a series of tests to include integration and interference evaluation, dry-fire drills and live-fire drills but they didn’t elaborate on the other competitors nor the program requirements.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I bought a Blackhawk SERPA paddle holster a few weeks ago for my G17, but ended up returning it only a few days after buying it. It’s a great design, but there was something about it that just didn’t feel right. I even took it to the range to practice some drills with it, but it still felt.. meh.

    I can definitely see how a soldier could run into problems in the field, especially in a rough combat situation. The USMC should’ve surveyed the guys who would have actually used the holsters beforehand. Maybe I’m wrong, but it could’ve been handled a bit smoother.

  2. I’ve been using the Blackhawk Serpa for my 1911 for a couple of years now. I like it because of the way it sits on my hip (belt) and the location for the draw. When my index my hand is on the grip safety, my index finger falls exactly on the release. As I draw the handgun from the holster my finger does fall in line with the trigger. But I don’t place my finger in the guard until my sights are aligned on the target. This is not some novel theory of hoster design, but a simple gun-safety precaution. My trigger finger is my final safety. But I also have the thumb safety on the side of the weapon which I do not release until my arm is extending. If someone shoots himself while using a Serpa, it is not the holster’s fault any more than it is the gun’s fault.

  3. I use a Serpa for my PX4. I have no problems keeping my finger out of the trigger guard when drawing. I can easily keep it indexed on the slide until ready to fire. There’s always going to be concern about a ND with any design, but for the M9 with a slide mounted safety the risk seems minimal and acceptable. Now, concerning the release mechanism getting fouled: it’s my understanding the latest version of the Serpa was modified to address this problem. I’ve never experienced any problem with it, but this is wearing it home front – having been to the great sandbox a number of times, I can tell you the sand there gets into absolutely everything. I’d be very concerned about this.

  4. I used a Serpa for almost a year during a plain clothes assignment. It was okay but never really screamed quality. I only had one incident where the mechanism locked up but that was one to many. After that we evaluated the Safariland 6377. The department switched to them and we have never looked back. The 6377 is a much better holster IMO.

  5. I used a Serpa for airsoft at one time, and even with our little fake milsim-paintball fights, the release mechanism got some dirt in it once and jammed up. I wouldn’t trust my life with one.

  6. Tex shot himself with a 1911, and while I love my 1911s I’d be willing to bet that the ungodly DA trigger pull on the Beretta is going to be a lot harder to ND when you’re yanking it out of that Serpa than a 1911. I don’t really see a problem there.

    As for reliability, I don’t own a Serpa and don’t really plan on it so I have no experience in that area. My buddy has one and like most plastic holsters it just feels cheap to me. My Fobus is ok, but it’s not my favorite holster.

  7. Phoenix Police Department has banned these holsters. They have had to many officers in a critical situation shoot themselves or have an accidental discharge that barely missed them.

    Using your trigger finger to disengage a weapon from a holster is a incredibly stupid idea. Thumb break or thumb lock has proven itself to be a safer solution.

  8. Own several Serpa’s, my only issue is that they are impossible to draw from w/ the weak hand. I love the quick attach/connect system to move the holstered gun from hip to thigh to vest – works quickly & securely. Was the selling point for me.

Comments are closed.