This week's blog theme focuses on common questions from students.
SERPA holsters are a type of retention device that is deactivated with your trigger finger. The idea is to keep the deactivation of the retention mechanism as natural to the draw stroke as possible. As a law enforcement firearms instructor, I had more than one officer approach me with the idea that SERPA holsters were a flawed design and should be banned. They used the arguments they had seen online about experienced shooters having NDs (Negligent Discharges) using these holsters. They also learned some shooting clubs were banning SERPAs. So are these holsters flawed in their design?
The argument is that using the trigger finger encourages your finger to accidentally engage the trigger as you remove the firearm from the holster. For each of my students that raised this dispute, I had them perform a simple exercise. I would place a SIRT pistol into a SERPA holster and let them "demonstrate" the problem. Did they ever activate the trigger during their draw stroke? Yes.
Then I would show them why their entire draw stroke was wrong. The draw should be done with your finger in an indexed position (pointed straight down) so that it as you remove the firearm, your finger is indexed on the frame. Many people make the mistake of curling their trigger finger (like they would place it on the trigger) to activate the SERPA button. This results in their finger landing on the trigger as the gun comes out of the holster.
I would practice the fundamentals of a good draw with my students. Then I would have them try to "demonstrate" the problem again. Did they ever activate the trigger using a proper draw stroke? Nope!
The problem is not in the design of the holster. This type of holster is actually designed to encourage a proper draw stroke. The problem lies in the fact that too many people do not properly train to use a fundamentally sound drawing motion. They get sloppy with it.
Others claim that this type of thing happens under stress and so it is a flawed design. When SWAT Teams move through shoot house scenarios, they are usually video recorded. In not so few incidents, individuals are found to have their finger inadvertently jump from the frame of the firearm onto the trigger as they move through a stressful scenario. Does this mean the gun is flawed in design because an individual does something incorrectly under stress? Of course not.
I have also heard the argument, "But I know of a person that was a ______ that had this happen." This could be a police officer, firearms instructor, military operator, you name it. Unfortunately, people assume that titles in the gun world make you infallible. It is this attitude that actually makes many susceptible to having an ND. They believe they are not capable of such things because of the title that they possess. A true gun safety expert will have titles and certifications, but you will never hear them bragging about them.
For all of those people that believe in titles, I submit one of my favorites, Tex Grebner. For those of you that do not know Tex, he is a former Secret Service Agent and retired Special Forces in the military. He had a ND using a SERPA holster. I have heard numerous people point to him as proof that SERPAs are a dangerous design. But what does Tex himself have to say? Hats off to Grebner, who states unequivocally, like a true professional, this was not the holster's fault, this was his own improper use of his finger while drawing. Watch the actual video of his ND and his comments HERE.
SERPAs are actually one of the best holsters you can own. But you have to be aware that they reward a good draw stroke. If you are not regularly training to use a proper draw, you may find yourself on the losing end.