I have carried at least eight different guns in BLACKHAWK! SERPA holsters during the past ten years. I have never been a fan of the thumb break, but since I open carry, I require some type of active retention. I bought my first SERPA because it was the only option I could find for less than fifty federal reserve notes that met my requirements.
I have used these holsters in practice at the range dozens if not hundreds of times, and have never experienced any problems. With that being said, I need to disclose that I have never shot competitively. The rare occasions when I have taken classes that involved timed firing, I used my revolver in a custom leather rig – the only real carry option for Cassie.
Shooting Buddy tried to use a SERPA in the Tiger Swan class that he took last year, and he was not pleased. I believe that the words “miserable”, “suck” and “fail” were used. There are
hundreds thousands of disparaging comments about one fault or another with the design, quality, or whatever to be found on the intertubes. Some schools, competitions, and departments have banned them.
Despite never having had a problem with any of mine, the sheer quantity of complaints has made me uneasy. Recently, I ran across yet another teh serpa holster sux article. I headed down the rabbit hole, and nearly every hater recommended the Safariland 6377 or 6378 (belt loop only or paddle with belt loop option respectively) as a hands-down superior choice for about the same price.
I owned a Safariland holster back in the day, and although it performed well, it cost well over a hundred dollars. The least expensive ones I saw when I decided to purchase my first BLACKHAWK! were in the $75 range. It is possible that I overlooked the 6377/8, maybe they were not yet available, or perhaps the price of admission was higher at that time.
At the time of my most recent “research”, I happened to be in possession of a discount coupon for Optics Planet. To my surprise, they carry Safariland holsters for my Glock 17, 20, 21 and 29. I prefer belt loop to paddle, so I went with the 77, except for the one for the 29, which is only available in the 78, for an extra fifteen bucks. I have had them for a few weeks now, and am prepared to offer some initial thoughts.
The Safariland holsters are lined, which is a plus for anyone with a non-Tenifer (or similar) finish. The belt loop connection is flat on the Safariland, but slightly curved on the BLACKHAWK!, making the Safariland slightly more difficult to put on. This is a minor gripe, but enough of an annoyance to make me notice it. The fit on the 17 and 29 Safariland holsters seems great, but the one for the 20/21 isn’t. The retention mechanism clicks and the gun seems to be seated, but a little additional pressure will push it another quarter of an inch or so deeper into the holster, where it truly bottoms out. The other two seat fully within a millimeter or two of lockup.
Perhaps related, perhaps not, but the draw from that holster seems less clean. The gun wants to hang on the way out, right at the point where the retention mechanism catches after the initial 1/4″ of slack is taken up. I have tried to adjust the holster to eliminate this slack and perhaps clean up the draw, but so far, I have had no luck. Maybe I am thumbing the release and have started to let go before the gun gets by the catch. I don’t know. The other two draw cleanly, although the thumb release is an adjustment for me. It is an intuitive motion, but I’m just not as used to it as I was the finger release on the BLACKHAWK! holsters. In fairness, I probably haven’t done a hundred draws total between the three Safariland holsters, so I will get better as time goes by.
Bottom line: I am disappointed with the fit on the Safariland for the Glock 20/21, particularly since the 20 is the model I carry most often (for which a plastic holster is available – neither company makes a holster for the Alaskan). Even so, the design seems solid, functional, and there are a lot less complaints to be found.
After a few range trips, I will post an update. For the moment, I will stick with them and give them a chance to shine or shit the bed. Even so, I have no first-hand evidence or experience that would indicate the need to stop using the BLACKHAWK! holsters.