This weekend at the ParaUSA summer camp, Blackhawk was kind enough to provide gear for all of us, including a Serpa holster for my ParaUSA LTC. Now, I have a plastic holster for my Beretta 92, it’s a Fobus holster and I like it okay, but I really only bought it because I wanted to see if I’d like shooting IDPA.
The Blackhawk holster, the Serpa, uses the most intuitive retention system I’ve ever seen on a handgun holster. In the picture, I’ve got my Serpa stacked on top of my Fobus holster, and you can see where the release is for the lock on the holster – you just lay your finger on the side of the holster as you draw and press in slightly and the gun comes right out. For comparison, they gave us a Blackhawk holster without the Serpa lock, and the Serpa was just as fast on the draw as the holster without the Serpa.
It’s also faster on the draw than my Fobus holster, which as soon as my Serpa for the 92D shows up is going in the “don’t use this rig” bin. The reason for this is that to provide retention for the pistol, the Fobus rig grabs it extremely tightly around the trigger guard, which means that you have to yank the gun out at just the right angle to get the holster to work. The Serpa on the other hand provides and extremely smooth draw once the retention lock is released – the draw is also screamingly fast once you get some practice in with the rig.
In the picture to the right, you can clearly see how low the cut in the top of the holster goes. It doesn’t affect retention, but easily cuts time off the draw, as you can begin punching the gun towards the target even faster. It also makes re-holstering both safer and easier, the cut allows you to guide the barrel of the pistol into the holster without having to look down and poke around to find the opening in your rig.
Now, all that would make a pretty cool holster, but where the Serpa really shines is how it distributes the load of the gun across the “carry area”. After the first day, I switched mine from a belt holster to a paddle holster, so that I could compare it with my Fobus, which is also a paddle holster. Once I put that paddle holster in, I did some experimental tugging to see if I could get the holster to shift its contact point. By “tugging” I mean that I yanked on that holster as hard as I could, and it absolutely refused to move. In fact, it was so secure that getting if off at the end of the day was kind of hassle, but it’s one I’m willing to put up with to ensure that my carry gun isn’t sliding around all the damn time while I’m walking/running driving a car.
What makes the Serpa so stable is the size of the paddle, and the little gripping teeth which you can see in the picture at fullsize. The paddle is almost twice as wide as the paddle on the Fobus, and the teeth have an aggressive upward bite so that if you tug on the holster without releasing the lock, it doesn’t shift around.
In fact, when driving our sweetass Blackwater Limo around, I was quite impressed with how the gun wouldn’t shift around like my Fobus does when I get in and out of a car. That’s key for a carry holster, because if you constantly are having to readjust your holster to make sure your gun is secure, it’s a pretty good way to give away that you’ve got a gun.
Point blank, I liked this holster. I liked it so much that I’m getting one for my Beretta 92D – and then I’m going to shoot my Fobus holster.
If you’re looking for a non-leather option for a carry holster, don’t get a Fobus. Spend the extra 10 or 20 dollars and get a Blackhawk Serpa. If the fact that it’s a better holster doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the fact that Blackhawk does all their holster fabrication and production right here in the United States will do it for you. In fact, Blackhawk went out of their way to ensure that their production and manufacturing facilities remained here in the States – you’re not getting some product glued together in a South Korean sweatshop, it was made by real people in Idaho, Virginia – right here where we live.
The bottom line? I loved my Serpa. A light, fast, well balanced holster that fits me is a rare, rare find so I need to take full advantage of that when I can – if you don’t believe me, try it out yourself.