I’ve made several references to the Serpa holsters but I think it is high time I talk about them directly. They certainly deserve it. I have one for every semi-auto pistol I own except for the diminutive Ruger LCP.
I’ve tried many different holsters, including in-waistband (IWB), outside-waistband (OWB), shoulder, ankle, drop-leg, tac vest, pocket, etc. I’ve tried many different manufacturers including Fobus, Uncle Mike’s, Bladetech, Blackhawk, Safariland and a host of other less-known brands. I have found that while many of these companies have fine offerings, there are some key features that are critical.
The fit of holster to weapon is absolutely essential. If the gun doesn’t fit the holster its finish can be damaged and in a worst-case scenario, the gun can fall out of the holster. Also critical is the ability to draw and re-holster cleanly and quickly, the former being most important. I have found that while many of the plastic holsters on the market are OK, the best are made from Kydex or carbon fiber. These are very lightweight, hold their shape forever and typically are very kind to the gun’s finish.
The Blackhawk CQC Serpa is distinct from its contemporaries in several major ways. First, it is flawless in its basic design and manufacture. The holster comes with both a belt and paddle attachment system. I really like the paddle since it spreads the weight of the gun across a large area of my waist, allowing greater stability. This is especially important for larger, heavier pistols. The paddle also has “teeth” that hook under the wearer’s belt from the paddle and holster side, making it virtually impossible to dislodge without great effort. The only downside to that is that I usually have to remove my belt to take the holster off. That’s a small price to pay in my opinion for the security the system brings.
All this is great but the most amazing feature of the Serpa, and what puts it head-and-shoulders above its competitors, is the namesake locking mechanism. When holstering the weapon one hears a distinctive “click” when the gun reaches the bottom. This is the Serpa lock that holds the front of the trigger guard. Once this lock is engaged it is impossible to pull the gun out without first releasing the lock. This is accomplished by pressing a release lever that is right under your index finger when you grasp the pistol. This assumes that you are holding your index finger high “above” the trigger as standard training dictates. There is an adjustment screw on the side of the holster to produce the perfect amount of tension in the holster. I like mine to be buttery-smooth so that there is essentially zero force required to insert or remove the pistol. Once this setup is achieved the holster is simply marvelous. The gun will never come out unless you want it to.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a problem experienced with the early design of this holster. There were a few cases of law enforcement trainees inadvertently shooting themselves in the leg while drawing a weapon using the first generation design of the holster. It is believed that the problem was a result of finger pressure on the release button that transferred to the gun’s trigger as it cleared the holster resulting in the accidental discharge (AD). I can only say that having used the earlier design that I can’t imagine this happening unless the person was incredibly uncoordinated and/or experiencing some sort of extreme physical distress. Honestly, I would question whether such a person should be handling firearms at all. As a result, Blackhawk redesigned the holster to include a finger groove that guides the trigger finger as the weapon is drawn and deposits said finger on the frame above the trigger guard as the gun clears the holster. While I don’t think this is a bad idea, I really wonder if this would have helped these unfortunate souls mentioned above. In any case, I have both versions still in use and I see no difference.
With its superb design, excellent fit-and-finish, carbon-fiber construction, and of course, the Serpa lock, the Blackhawk CQC Serpa holster is my hands-down favorite for open or concealed carry. I also have a Level-II version on my drop-leg 1911 holster.
It’s just that good.