Blackhawk Serpa Holster Review
by Steve Cassidy
Blackhawk Serpa Holster
I purchased my first Blackhawk Serpa holster just days before being deployed to New Orleans in support of the security efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I never saw anyone else with one and was frequently asked about it. I was even stopped on the street by a pair of DHS operators and asked about it. I now own 5 of them. 2 drop leg tactical rigs and 3 hip holsters.
The first thing you'll notice on the Drop Leg Tactical version is the "Y" belt suspension. Unlike a drop leg rig with a single belt strap that pulls your belt down right at the hip and lets your holster sag, the BH Serpa has 2 straps mounted at each corner of the flexible molded carbon fiber reinforced polymer leg platform. This spreads the load out over a much wider area and eliminates that sag and sometimes raw area on the hip from the single strap style rigs. It also allows you to still access the front pocket.
Although I discovered that once I tightened the top leg strap down it shortened the pockets depth that it was difficult to carry anything in the pocket. But it still had sufficient depth to carry my Gerber 4" folder. The straps attach to your belt with a pair of proprietary swivel buckles and a nylon and hook/loop belt loop that has overlapping layers to prevent the straps from coming undone. Yet they can easily removed.
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To take the holster off of your belt, simply pop the 2 leg straps (Incidentally the the top strap is narrower than the bottom to give your "Package" a little more comfort) and the 2 swivel buckles and the holster comes right off. Hands down the most comfortable drop leg holster I've ever worn.
The holster rides in the middle with a 2" Picitinny rail in front and back of the holster. BH sells mag pouches and a flashlight holder for Surefire type 1" bodied tactical lights. I don't like mags on my strongside just because they are very difficult to reach and add even more weight to the heavier side, although you may wish to carry one there as an emergency in case your weak arm is disabled.
I have found that due to its design and size that the Glock 17/19 sized mag pouch will also hold my 4 AA sized battery flashlights from Pelican and Streamlight. It will also hold many of the Multi-tools on the market. The 1911 mag pouch will accommodate many of the pocket clip combat folding knives as well. The mag pouched can be easily removed from the rails and other rail mounted accessories can be attached as well. Such as your M-3/M-6 taclights. I removed the front rail and attached a Kydex knife sheath and carry my K-Bar in its place.
The Serpa tactical holster is much thicker than their belt mounted counterparts and offer more coverage to the
weapon. They have a closed muzzle and provide a drainage hole at the bottom. They are Level 2 standard with a tension device as well as the Serpa Active Retention technology. This spring loaded device clips over the front of the trigger guard during re-holstering. I keep my tension screw tightened just enough that I can hold the holster upside down and depress the Serpa latch and even with some shaking the weapon will not fall out, yet with a moderate tug can still easily be drawn. The holster allows you to attain your full shooting grip prior to the draw.
To draw your weapon you first attain your full grip with your trigger finger on the side of the holster in standard "Finger on frame safety position" the pad of your trigger finger will naturally lay right on the Serpa release. With a slight downward pressure the Serpa latch is released and the weapon removed without any wasted motion and no re-attaining of your grip after draw. The holster body is widely flared at the top to facilitate easy blind re-holstering. Secure re-holstering is as easy as pushing the weapon into the holster until you hear the quite audible "Click". The 1911 version of both the leg and belt holsters will accommodate 1911s with railed dust covers.
An off leg modular platform is also available to allow you to carry up to 4 spare pistol mags or to attach any Molle style pouches or Picatinny accessories as well. I have mine is configured to hold 4 1911 mags and 3 AR-15 mags.
The belt/concealment versions are somewhat thinner and lighter but constructed of the same materials as the tactical rigs. Each come with both a belt loop and a 2nd gen paddle. There is also a wide multi function belt loop, a shoulder rig and 2 different Molle attachable platforms available. I have the reinforced nylon platform on my vest for my Glock-19 and love it. I found the standard belt loop to be to stiff to use with my leather duty belts or the reinforced "Instructor" type belts. I chose to go with the paddle.
Side Note (If you purchase your Serpa on line remember that the early versions had the 1st gen paddles which were smaller and not adequate for secure carry. This was addressed by the "Gen 2" version. If you buy a used one or an old style one with a small very flexible paddle, call Blackhawk and they will replace it free of charge)
The paddle is wide at the top and supports the weapon very well. I have been carrying a full sized 1911 in mine for over 2 years and still love it. It allows for several degrees of forward cant and is exceptionally strong. The only problem I had with mine was once I snagged the bottom of the holster on something and the holster went above a 90 degree angle from my hip before the top of the paddle cracked. It did not fully separate and I finished the shift with it after a 100 mile an hour tape repair.
I called Blackhawk and explained the problem and received the new one in two days. The paddle is adjustable for different sized belts up to 2" and holds tight enough to the belt and pants that you could probably lift me off of the ground by the gun grip. I have 3 for my Glock 19 and 2 for my Kimber Desert Warrior and wouldn't trade them for the world.
There are several new models available including Level 3 duty holsters and versions which allow you to leave your Weapon light attached.