Depending on who you ask, the Marines either get the best equipment or they get the last equipment. There’s a reason their unofficial mantra is “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.” But when they do get a big order of shiny new gun hardware it will turn heads. And the latest piece of Marine kit is no exception: the Blackhawk Serpa retention holster, one for every single M9 pistol in service.
While it has its naysayers, the Serpa is a high-end holster with a lot of customization features and a reputable safety system that’s designed to keep handguns in place until its owner says it’s time for it to come out and play. It’s in use by police an military forces around the world and is highly trusted, and it should be, because it’s a hundred-dollar holster (we don’t know what the Marines are paying for them).
And it’s definitely an improvement over the Marines’ currently-issued nylon holster. The Serpa they’re going with is a level II. Level I holsters generally use friction but may also use a molded shape that contours to the guns’ trigger guards to hold them in place. Level II holsters use mechanical retention, like a strap, or in this case, a lever that catches the inside of the trigger guard which won’t pull out unless you push on it from the other side. Level II holsters use two types of retention, like a strap and a trigger guard lock.
The supplier ATK is the company hooking the Marines up. “Being chosen by the Marines is a tremendous honor. Tens of thousands of BLACKHAWK! SERPAs have been used by U.S. and NATO forces with an impeccable performance record. SERPA provides the technology and edge required by warriors on today’s modern battlefield.”
The Serpas will be issued with a modular mounting kit that will attach to belts, thigh rigs, or MOLLE or PALS webbing.
And both the trigger lock and the modular mounts worry some Marines (which you can read about in MarineTimes here).
Mind you, these concerns apply to all similar holsters, not just those made by Blackhawk, which really does have a great rep. “’I would think you would have the same worry regardless of what holster you are using,’ said Matt Rice, a Blackhawk spokesman. ‘With the draw stroke that Blackhawk works on, the finger is supposed to go outside of the trigger guard and line up exactly right when the pistol comes out of the holster.'”
But ultimately, concerned Marines just don’t want to shoot themselves a la Tex Grebner. “However, while the SERPA is more advanced than the M12 nylon holster it will replace, the product has been faulted by some firearm enthusiasts for what they say is a dangerous design flaw that can enable ‘trigger hooking.’ In some cases, if a shooter isn’t careful when drawing the pistol, the trigger finger can slip onto the trigger and squeeze off a round. And that has caused injuries.”
Still, the deal is done. Despite a few nagging worries, they’re getting Serpas, and a lot of them. Have you run into problems with yours, or can you think of any better options in hindsight?