Friends don’t let friends use Serpa holsters

If you have a Serpa holster please throw it away. Tell others to throw theirs away. Don’t go shooting with people who use Serpa holsters.

If I know you well enough I’ll tell you the story as to how I came to this very firm conclusion via an email request. Otherwise ask me at match or other shooting event. I won’t be blogging about it.

I was not injured.

Update: Apparently some people aren’t familiar with Serpa holsters:


The gun is locked into the holster until you depress the unlocking lever with your index finger. You must keep it depressed until the gun is withdrawn maybe an eighth of an inch. What ends up happening is that the index finger keeps on pressing as the gun is completely removed from the holster. There have been many cases of there being an accidental discharge during the draw because the index finger ends up on the trigger and putting sufficient pressure on it to fire the gun before the gun is pointed away from the shooter.

In the report I have in hand what is believed to have happened was the shooter was moving the gun in and out of the holster practicing the release of the lock. When his finger entered the trigger guard on the partial draw and he then pushed the gun back into the holster catastrophe happened. The shooter survived and probably will make an, essentially, full recovery.


19 thoughts on “Friends don’t let friends use Serpa holsters

  1. I’d expand that to don’t juse BlackJunk in general but that’s just me. If you want a level II or level III retention holster go get a Safariland with ALS

      • The biggest is NDs due to the holster design.Otherwise I’ve never seen anything in their lineup that I can’t get a better designed and made holster for about the same or less $.

        • Yikes. I have several pancake style leather BH holsters, along with an omnivore and a kydex holster without retention. I’ll keep an eye on it. So far no issues but I understand any leather holster can wear out and stick into the trigger guard.

  2. And I think I got a good idea what happened without even asking just based on how those craptastic holsters work….

  3. A few years ago there was a video, apparently made by the Serpa people. In slow-mo you could see how even in their demonstration, as the gun came out of the holster the trigger finger briefly entered the trigger guard. My understanding is that this is caused by the placement of the lever that must be pressed to release the gun, and that this has lead to many unintentional discharges, some with injuries.

    • Poor engineering. No understanding of human mechanics. Aggravated by adding speed to the draw. Faster you move, the more likely to hit the trigger. Doesn’t their engineering group have any oversight? Whoever signed off on this should be tossed. STUPID design.

  4. Add a light/laser combo to the gun and your holster chopices often drop down to, not what’s good, but what’s available. Case in point; I got a new Sig 380. It comes with a light rail AND a factory holster. It’s a servicable holster, but it prevents any use of the light rail. Same goes for Glock; they make all their guns with rails, and they make holsters, and they even sell lights, but I could not find a Glock holster that accommodated any light.

    I had a holster custom made for the G20 SF by a “reputable” holster maker, to accommodate the Veridian C5L. It’s comfortable, sits at the correct angle and it allows for safe and easy draw and re-holstering, but it fails in the retention department. I told them I wanted to able to go head-over-heels on the ski slopes in a high-speed wipeout and not lose the gun, but it falls way, way short of any such. I think if I merely stood on my head it would drop right out, and I’d end up like that FBI dancer.

    So part of getting a good holster, I suppose, is choosing a gun that’s more common– There are approximately one gazzillion holsters for a lighted G19…

  5. Used Serpa’s for many years. Still have them. I use them whenever I have to keep my sidearm in the safe, just to shield the trigger. I carry using a Safariland holster now. The turning point was not the release mechanism – I never had an issue with it, but the ridiculously flimsy attachment of the holster to the backing plate that held the whole rig to my belt.

  6. The SERPA requires you to release the gun using a straight finger. People make the mistake of using the tip of their finger and boom the finger ends up inside the trigger guard and on the trigger. It may be that people with short fingers can’t use a SERPA safely. If you tend to hold your trigger finger high up near the slide you maybe ok. If you keep your finger lower when if’s off the trigger probably not. Just too many ways to have an accident with the SERPA.

    • I was wondering about that. The picture suggests that the finger has to be extended along the slide, exactly the “safe” placement. Is the problem that you can also unlock with the finger placed too low, or that the finger can slide down too low during the draw? That would indeed be a problem in design. But the concept of asking for finger pressure with the finger in the correct spot seems to be a good one, if implemented correctly.

      • To release the holster, the finger must press inward. That means that the hand is tensed to insert the finger into the trigger guard whenever it comes clear of the holster. The finger is not lying untensed along the slide.

  7. Pingback: SayUncle » There’s a reason several training groups ban them

  8. Practising holstering/unholstering a weapon while the weapon is loaded. Smart. C’mon, guys. Alter the behavior. The holster is not at fault. Oh, I have a Safariland ALS. Piece of crap stays in my safe. To each his own. My Serpa does just fine used for the intended purpose.

    • ” Alter the behavior.”
      This indicates that you don’t understand how our hands work.

      “The holster is not at fault.”
      More accurately, the designer is at fault. Like you, he also doesn’t understand.
      My question is at what point did the maker understand that they had screwed up? I’ve seen this situation in manufacturing before. The tendency is to ignore it. And then, the lawyers tell them that if they change the design, or take it off the market, it is the same as admitting they made a mistake, and they will be liable for bad results. Sigh…

  9. Just as an aside, why do people who damn the Serpa holster as unsafe, turn around and say AIWB is perfectly safe because you’ll never screw up drawing or reholstering? Does Mr. Murphy dwell permanently in Serpa holsters and abandon AIWB?
    (Just for the record, I bought a Serpa holster in 2007, when it seemed like a good idea, used it about three times, and never used it again. I’ve tried AIWB off and on since 1979, and I can definitely say I’ll never do that again, either. No blood was spilled in the making of either decision.)

    • For the record…

      I would never use a AIWB holster and cringe when I see someone else carry that way. I also carry a 1911 style gun which also reduces the chances of a holster malfunction. The Glock in this incident contributed it’s share to result.

  10. Last paragraph says it all.
    I ain’t getting into a pissing contest of 9/45.
    Premature Ejaculation is a Personal Problem, Not a design problem.
    I’ll stick with what i have been Training with for better than 15yrs. And never a Incident.

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