All plastic is not created equal

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.

One of the key reasons that the draw is so fast for the Serpa holster is the “speed cut” for lack of a better word in the top of the right – present on the Serpa and absent on the Fobus.

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.


  1. A couple weekends ago I got one for my Sig P220.

    I immediately went looking for them for my Cougar and my PX-4, but am not finding them anywhere…

    Maybe I’ll call Blackhawk…

  2. I can’t go back to FOBUS now. It’s not the draw that gets me, although the Serpa lock makes a difference. It’s the act of reholstering. That always seemed like the most unsafe thing I did in any IPSC event–getting the gun back in the holster. Of course, there you’re doing it with an unloaded weapon.

    Doing it hot was scary, but using the “speed cut” to locate the gun in the holster without looking made it routine.

    Incidentally, that’s also the biggest reason I don’t want to take the safety off the LDA 1911 models. I kind of LIKE having a safety on when I put the gun into the holster, because if there’s a time for something to catch on a trigger, that’s got to be it.

  3. I also have a couple Serpas; and other than my Safarilands (that they no longer make, the bastards) they are my favorite padel holsters; and my favorite “duty style” holsters in general.

  4. Hah, good news for me, Safariland discontinued the 567 and 568 for a while, but it was apparently only so they could update them, and now they are back in production.

  5. If that’s the video I think it is (where the guy helps his friend shear a Fobus holster off) that defect has essentially been corrected. Now, the Fobus holsters will start to shear and crack and around the rivets after time, but for cheap concealed carry they’re not the worst option – but again, I’d recommend saving for an extra week and getting a Serpa.

  6. I have several SERPA holsters, love ’em – but they don’t make one for my Glock 30 🙁 — and the G21 model doesn’t work.
    So I bought a Fobus for the G30, and ended up doing a bunch of Dremel work so it wouldn’t keep dumping my magazine out (I use the Glock extended mag release on all my Glocks). Color me annoyed with Fobus.

  7. I absolutely love the serpa that I bought for my glock 17. However that honeymoon was short lived. While the paddle design is extremely stable, it’s a little lacking in durability. In the process of putting on and taking off the holster every day for about 3 months, the paddle broke off. I do have a belt slide mount for it also, but if I have to deal with a belt slide holster, I prefer a leather pancake style.

    In all fairness, I haven’t contacted blackhawk as of yet to report the problem, so who knows they may just fix me right up. I just worry about a repeat occurance at the most inopportune time.

    Otherwise the holster is fantastic.

  8. Oh, one other thing, be carefull when crawling around in the dirt with them. if a little pebble or some dirt gets behind the retention button, your pistol is locked in place for good, or at least until you find a hacksaw. USPSA,IPSC competitors beware. Seen it happen on a couple of occasions.

  9. I don’t actually carry with the Fobus holster, I used it for one IDPA competition. I actually prefer the Uncle Mike’s kydex to Fobus for the “cheap stuff”, but I’m going Blackhawk for any kind of serious work.

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