Way back in May of 2004 I wrote my first review of the (then) new SERPA holsters available in the CQC line from BLACKHAWK!. It recently occurred to me (as I was cleaning out my storage closet) that the holsters have steadily evolved across the years and that some readers / owners of those holsters may not realize where the holsters stand today. Even in my own assorted collection I have various models from different production lines and the improvements that have been made are both obvious and beneficial. Let’s take a look back…
Back in 2004 when the SERPA holster was first introduced it was primarily an off-duty or plain-clothes use holster that was delivered with two mounts: a belt mount and a pancake mount. While I’ve always preferred the belt mount I know plenty of folks who swear by the convenience of the pancake mount. Made of BLACKHAWK!’s proprietary carbon-fiber material and incorporating the SERPA retention system along with an adjustable tension screw, the holster offered Level II security in a convenient package. Further the holster body was adjustable on whichever mount you chose so that it could be positioned five different ways for varying levels of forward or rearward cant or perfectly vertical. That made a single holster good for cross-draw as well as strong-side carry. The holsters were offered in matte black or you could get it with a basket-weave applique if that’s what you / your department preferred.
As soon as the fan base had developed for the SERPA CQC holster line there immediately grew a demand for the same system but in a duty holster. The designers at BLACKHAWK! were well aware of the requirements of a duty holster and wanted to insure an even more robust structure. Using the same proprietary materials and security systems, they developed a Lvl II duty holster. Covering far more of the weapon and protecting the full length of the slide (insuring protection of the rear sights and reducing any chances of a gun-grab by a bad guy), the duty holster caught on almost as fast as the off-duty system had. The mount – meant to get the holster on and off of duty belts with ease – came with a spacer to create more room between the holster body and the belt so that people working in cold environments could easily fit a jacket or coat in there and not inhibit the draw. BLACKHAWK! also made the duty holster available in matte finish or with the basket weave and pretty soon the duty holster was nearly as popular as the off-duty original. However, a Level III security holster had been the industry standard for quite some time and the demand for Lvl III protection was strong. BLACKHAWK! answered that call next.
Developing their own third security device called the “pivot guard”, BLACKHAWK! released its Level III SERPA Duty Holster. A spring-loaded mechanism that was designed specifically NOT to close while the gun was out of the holster, the pivot guard was released by pressing a release with the thumb of the drawing hand. In the original versions that thumb placement wasn’t entirely natural and did take some practice to get used to (but not much). In the current iteration, however, the design has been changed so that your drawing motion is 100% natural. As you grab the gun in a shooting grip (while it’s in the holster) your thumb should automatically press the pivot guard release. Your index finger should align with the SERPA release and, once that’s pressed with the pivot guard open, you should be able to draw the gun. If you keep your trigger finger indexed where it was to release the SERPA lock, then when you draw the weapon your trigger finger should already be indexed on the frame above the trigger, outside the trigger guard.