The leg blaster

Uncle found the bit on Tactical Response’s website on why the don’t allow SERPA holsters in their class.  The gist of TR’s “no-SERPA” policy is that under stress people will tend to punch the SERPA button with the tip of their index finger instead of pressing it with the inside of their finger as it’s intended to be used.  I had this same discussion with Kathy Jackson from the Cornered Cat a few weeks ago – I’ve used the SERPA holster in competition before and have done quite a few presentations from the holster (not as many as Todd Jarrett though) and I’ve never had an issue.  She maintained that under even higher levels of stress such as a force-on-force class, the muscle control would break down and I’d end up punching the button.  At the very beginning of this video (highlighting one of the most fun things I’ve ever done with a gun) I actually don’t hit the SERPA button hard enough; and if you watch closely I do actually “punch” the button a little bit as evidenced by the slight bend in my index finger.  Now, that video is over 2 years old, and I’ve gotten a lot better at shooting guns since then so I’d be interested to see how I react under stress now while using the SERPA.  I haven’t used one in competition for a while, because I switched to faster, retention free holsters for IDPA and USPSA competition.

I think some sort of objective test is in order, don’t you?


  1. I guess I won’t ever be going to their classes then..since the Serpa is currently the only holster I have for the P250.
    I’ve heard this complaint leveraged against them before..and personally I think it’s only possible from people that don’t know their gear properly.
    I don’t know how it is for the other Serpa models..but on the P250 /229/228 one when you hit the button and follow the finger groove off of the holster and onto the pistol your finger lands right on top of the trigger area..basically where the take-down lever’s massive pin is. Pretty hard to shoot yourself in the leg when your finger isn’t even on the trigger unless you consciously put it there.

  2. Its not the Serpa’s fault and I would not have much faith in any instructor that would blame the Serpa or any other piece of equipment ,the holster is a tool just like your gun is a tool and you need to know how to use your tools or is the instructor going shopping with everyone to insure they have the tool he knows about.
    What do I always hear ? Train , train , train until it becomes muscle memory.So how is it that a button on a holster is any different than the safety on a 1911 or a ruger or trigger pull….its not different but no one ever mentions the fact that you need a holster to carry your gun and you need to know how to get your gun in and out of the holster you have chosen and that too takes training.
    Humans can’t even stand or walk without lots of pratice,why do we all think learning to shoot will be a cake walk ?

  3. I’m going to have to agree with the previous two responses, especially the part about your finger ending up on the frame vs. the trigger when you hit the paddle. If you hit the portion of the paddle where your finger would land on the trigger, the holster won’t unlock the pistol. I use Serpas exclusively in competition because both guns that I use regularly (1911 and Beretta M9) have safeties that don’t come off until I’m on target anyways.

  4. Why does an armed citizen carrying concealed need a retention holster? Does anyone have a documented real world example of a situation where an armed citizen had a holstered gun taken away and used against them? I know this happens in law enforcement, but armed citizens are not stepping in to handcuff people and are not making traffic stops. Has there been some mass outbreak of people having guns fall out of holsters in day to day carry that I missed?

    What benefit is there to a holster whose operation requires additional steps, specifically fine motor skill steps, when the most likely situation in which the pistol is to be drawn from the holster is one in which the armed citizen is already behind the action-reaction timeline, and in which the consequences of failure are death and/or serious bodily injury?

    More steps and more complex means higher likelihood of failure under high stress. That’s basic universal risk analysis.

  5. My mind boggles at the idea that a Serpa would be a good choice for competition. When fractions of second determine winners and losers, what benefit does a holster that complicates and slows down your draw offer?

    If those winning matches aren’t using it, there’s probably a reason or two or three for that.

  6. There’s a reason my competition holsters are Comp-Tac holsters that have no weird locks or other gizmos on there. 🙂

  7. Individuals reporting “it’s never happened to me!” notwithstanding, enough agencies/units have experienced ADs based on this problem that the SERPA has been banned by a number of PDs and ranges.

    It’s all well and good to say “safe shooters should never have a problem.” Safe pilots should never crash airplanes, either. But operator error occurs even to the trained and most well-meaning people. Choosing equipment that shaves the margin of error by having shooters moving their trigger finger in toward the gun during the drawstroke just doesn’t make sense.

    I tell students that they are discouraged from using a SERPA in class, but don’t “ban” them per se.

  8. Why does an armed citizen carrying concealed need a retention holster? … Has there been some mass outbreak of people having guns fall out of holsters in day to day carry that I missed?

    My best friend broke his big toe at the gym when his gov’t slid out of the holster… He was changing at the time and in the locker room. He didn’t have the retention strap engaged. Obviously, that is a fluke, but stuff happens…

    I dunno, as OC becomes more popular, it might not be a bad thing to have a retention holster.

    … and practice with it.

    About the Serpa
    I had the chance to train with Pete Milionis last year and he commented that he wasn’t a big fan of the Serpa design as the finger doesn’t always fall onto the same location. He was a bigger fan of the Safariland ALS system stating that the thumb seems to hit the same spot everytime…

  9. I’ve had a couple students tell me they are sticking their trigger finger into the triggerguard upon their draw with it. As much as I told them to just index the trigger finger they didn’t get it and switched holsters – probably the single-best investment they’ve made in safety.

    It’s not as much about punching it under stress as it is a training issue from the get-go — learn how to use it properly and train with it often — I’ve use a SERPA on three different guns I’ve carried for work, competed with them, and gone through a few classes with them and never once had a problem but, it’s only a matter of time before a new shooter tests out the limits of liability insurance, waivers or not.

    For folks insistent on using them, don’t even think about the “button” – focus on the proper placement of an indexed trigger finger and acquiring a strong grip before the draw stroke. Forget that damn button is there…

  10. Ben, which is precisely why I’ve come to think of the button as unnecessary. If you’re open carrying and want a retention holster, the Safariland ALS is probably a better system; if you’re going for speed then the non-SERPA CQC holster is probably your best, and fastest bet.

  11. Caleb, I think we’re both on the same page. I’m starting to move away from SERPAs altogether… not because they’re unsafe, but they offer no advantage to my competitive shooting and I very rarely just open carry a firearm anymore.

    With proper technique, they work just fine and are just as fast as a regular kydex holster. “Proper technique” is what a LOT of new shooters skip past when they buy a gun. Heck, how many new shooters have you seen go straight to the trigger as soon as the gun clears leather / plastic? Folks are plenty spooky without needing to blame the gear…

    For competition, there are much better holsters out there, period, that come from companies who don’t put a “!” in their name 🙂


  12. I carry in two modes – a Galco SSII shoulder rig daily – which has a thumb break retention strap (USP in 45) – and a SERPA for the 1911 when I’m not wearing a jacket or suit.(there’s also a 642 in a LH thumb break over the left hip when I’m wearing the SSII). These are carryovers from previous agency work. I’ve always used retention holsters because one never knows when physical activity may be required (read: running). I’ve been deliberately bumped in crowds when in casual clothes by someone trying to find out if I’m armed, and I have to assume they, or an accomplice, is going to try a snatch if they’re planning on taking it to the next level.

    When I compete I use the same holsters I wear daily (except the rules preclude use of a horizontal shoulder rig). IDPA is a 1911 in the SERPA or a Bianchi 19 with a thumb break, IPSC is a G17 in a SERPA, and ICORE is a thumb break Galco for the 625. And, I always snap the thumb break closed at “load and make ready” because I want to train the same way I fight.

    With students in the advanced course (NRA Outside the Home) we spend a LOT of time practicing draws, and not just because the course requires it. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, so get the muscle memory down pat. “Establish the draw grip” gets a LOT of repetitions – and lots of instructor assistance – before they ever get to take the gun out of the holster because that’s the foundation for everything that comes after. Getting the draw grip right, and keeping it right – which means correct and consistent hand and finger placement – is crucial, no matter what type of holster the shooter is using. Getting it right at the start makes it easier to keep it right as the draw, rotation and push-out occur.

    You do “play like you practice” so practicing it right is important. As for matches, I’ve watched a lot of shooters, most of whom are faster than I am, some a LOT faster, and I’ve never gone to a match and not learned something. One thing that gets reinforced at every match, however, is how important consistency is.

  13. If someone at an IDPA match or USPSA match is telling you that your Beretta 92 needs to start with the safety on, they are 100% objectively wrong. The mechanical condition of readiness for a DA pistol is hammer down on a live round – use of the safety is not required.

  14. Beretta 92 needs to start with the safety on, they are 100% objectively wrong.

    Unless they are shooting non-production where they can cock and lock as per (“Selective Action”)

    The only reason I know this is because we’ve got one guy that shoots a 96 as Lim 10…

  15. It’s ACTS, not IDPA or USPSA, and I can flip off the safety as fast if not faster than I can flip off a 1911 safety. A quick thumb swipe forward knocks the safety off no problem.

    Plus my Beretta has a 8 lb. double-action/3 lb. single-action trigger, so I’m cool with it. 😀

  16. I think disallowing the SERPA is pretty weak. As mentioned above it’s probably the most popular M9 holster in use overseas, and if you’re going to a course you want to train like you’d fight. But that’s me.
    I’ve never had an issue, either with issue sidearm or my 1911.

  17. Holy stickershock, batman.
    I looked up the Safariland SLS’s and they’re than double (probably closer to triple) the price of a Serpa. Which then caused me to accidentally spit on my monitor in a “lolwut” moment.
    Not everyone with a gun has deeppockets. I like my Serpa..after looking around it’s one of the best ones in its pricepoint.

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