SERPA Holster – is it Deadly?
I have recently become embroiled in a debate around the merits of the Serpa Holster. I have been doing my research and there is some evidence the people using this holster have had NDs (Negligent Discharges) but I have also found that there have been NDs using other holsters as well. I know, I know some of you who read this are going to quote that FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) has banned the use of this holster as one” published expert” did, and in the same breath attempted to refine his position by saying * “that even the Government realizes there’s a problem (the same people who brought you the Bradley Fighting Vehicle) then it may warrant some additional consideration on the part of civilians as well.” His faith in the Government leaves me somewhat suspect, especially since the Bradley Fighting Vehicle is an extremely reliable and battle tested weapons system that has saved many US soldiers lives as well as mine.
If this is such a bad holster, why has the United States Marine Corp adopted it for standard issue equipment? If you know anything about the modern Marine equipment procurement process, then you know they are truly serious about providing their warfighters with the best equipment available. I am not saying this is the end all be all holster, but I can tell you that I have bet my life on it several times over the last 10 years of being evolved in actual combat operations, and I have drawn my pistol from a Serpa in theater and fired (hitting my target) at a threat. My point here is this; the vast majority of people that are affected by debate are average or new shooters. I will be the first to tell you, that this holster is not for novices. I will even venture to say it is not for most people who may carry a gun as part of their profession such as the vast majority of police officers. Most cops simply are not very well trained all be it through no fault of their own, but that is a whole other debate.
To call this holster “deadly” as I have seen in blogs and articles throughout the internet is simply erroneous. This holster requires training, you can’t expect to draw and fire your weapon flawlessly when you only work with it once or twice a year. Stress under fire is a bitch, but as I always say, “you are not going to rise to the occasion, but you will sink to the lowest level of your training”. The human body is an amazing machine, capable of fantastic feats, just watch any pro athlete or even better just watch a Todd Jarrett! This brings me to another point that people like to readily point out as to why the Serpa is so deadly, and that is the issue of the fine motor skill required to “safely” use this holster. There is the age old fact that fine motor skills degrade under stress, but with training this can be mitigated. If you want to argue this, all I will say is “front sight focus”. If seeing your front sight while engaging a real threat is not a fine motor skill than I will eat Paul Markle’s infidel hat.
So with that thought in mind let’s take a look at our draw stroke. Let see if this sound familiar, 1. “Hand high on the back strap, finger strait along the holster.
2.” Break leather (or plastic in this case), rotate 90 degrees with your finger straight and off the trigger.
3. Bring weapon centerline of your body and gain your support grip and place your finger on the trigger.
4. Punch the weapon out towards the target, as you take the slack out of the trigger and acquire your front sight and engage your target.
I have done this thousands of times using a Serpa holster and have never put my finger on the trigger until I had hit my proper performance points and made the conscious decision to complete my trigger press.
So what is my point? My point is this, proper training prevents poor gun handling which prevents accidents no matter what holster you are using. Teaching ourselves to know where our trigger finger is at all times is the key, not carelessly allowing our trigger finger to casually wander on to the firing mechanism. Somewhere and somehow the shooters involved with these NDs failed to follow the tenets which have been drilled into us from the first time we were taught by a competent instructor. So in my humble opinion blaming your equipment, in this case the Serpa holster, as the cause for you failing to execute the proper performance points is ridiculous and immature.
Gun work, and gun handling is serious business, there is no place for anything but sincere self examination of our actions concerning our use of firearms, especially when things go wrong. As I have said earlier, the Serpa is not the end all be all holster. I have used them extensively and I have had my issues with them as well as my success with them. All I can say is with anything mechanical there will be issues from time to time. I have seen Blackhawk helicopters crash but I would still bet my life on them with a properly trained crew, just as I have with the Serpa.