The Blackhawk Serpa Holster Modularity at its finest! By Peter M. Reiff Sr.

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The Blackhawk Serpa Holster
Modularity at its finest!
By Peter M. Reiff Sr.

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Figure Kimber Custom Classic in Serpa Duty Level 2 rig

Recently I transitioned to a Blackhawk SERPA (level 2) holster for my duty belt. I have been rather skeptical of new fangled duty equipment having seen, heard about, and worn many “ultimate” holsters over the past thirty years. Having made the near Luddite level transition from leather to (gasp) synthetic duty belt gear, a decade ago I discovered that I vastly preferred the low maintenance aspects for daily wear.

The Blackhawk SERPA CQC immediately grabbed my attention during a recent training class based on the simplicity of design and various levels of retention offered. I selected the level 2 platform based on my particular needs, and the fact the finger tip type release just damn well made sense. If you HAVE TO by direct requirement use a level 3 duty holster with thumb break one is available as well…….

Ordering my G-23 Serpa Level 2 duty rig at a local cop shop proved easy enough, and installing it on my belt required nothing more than removing the existing holster and then sliding the duty carrier plate down over the belt from the top and re-securing the two lock screws. Each of which has a dab of thread sealant already applied to them, a nice touch!
The top loading feature is nice instead of having to slide all of the gear off the front of the belt make adjustments, and then slide it all back on to the same position each time.
The SERPA duty mount offers three integral tilt positions, forward, vertical, and rearward. I left mine at vertical placed at the point of my hip. A bit of draw practice was all that was required to retrain myself to the new locking system due to the simplicity of design. The CQC Duty holster has after one year of use only presented one minor problem familiar to those who wear a duty belt in a vehicle. While seated in the normal driving position it pushes up from the seat of a Crown Vic into my side. The notorious traffic make known as the “sideways slouch” commonly viewed on the roadways from the rear car window, resolved that temporarily. (*Since then Blackhawk has added a mid rise platform that raises the height of the holster enough to make driving once again a pleasure.)

Holster Overview: The Serpa holsters are constructed of a high end synthetic that seems to be impervious to just about anything normally encountered. Some of the handy features include a molded in front sight track, separate screw tensioning device for adjusting accordingly, open bottom for drainage, drilled port for adding a bungee cord for additional security, and lastly a threaded insert at the rear of the holster for “optional” use equipment.
The Duty Level 2 model also features an integral hood to deter most common types of firearms snatches for the end user. Nothing will prevent a skilled opponent from removing a sidearm from any holster, in any carry position. This includes Level 3 variations, trust me on this topic…..

Figure Blackhawk Serpa Level 2 duty rig hood

Figure Kimber Custom Classic .45 with CQC Serpa paddle mount holster

Paddle type Plate: I have had a love-hate relationship with pancake/paddle holsters for a long time. Try finding a pan/paddle holster that does not ride too high, rests comfortably on the hip all day long, fits a variety of belt widths, and offers a good balance between security and speed of draw is tough.

My second holster a Serpa CQC concealable proved to be a challenge to obtain, they just were not locally available for a G-23 (Hmmm is there a popularity message here?). Fortunately I checked with Brownells Inc. and they not only had them in stock, but in my hands in less than four days! FAR faster than the locals could provide one to fit my immediate needs. Popping open the package revealed the holster to be set up with the slotted plate for slide on belt carry. I practiced draws and used it daily for one week, and hesitantly decided to try the included paddle carrier.

This carrier bolts to the holster with three screws exactly the same as my duty rig, and additionally resolves the belt width/slot issue with two adjustable synthetic pegs. Slide the paddle on the belt, then look at the notches on the back, remove the paddle, and then install the locking pegs with a simple twist of a coin or standard screwdriver. DONE!
Being somewhat hesitant the original setting height was for a 1 ¾” gun belt, and the Serpa CQC was pressed down onto the belt while wearing the belted pants. It clicked into place and DID NOT MOVE at any point while practicing with my blue gun, and then with the unloaded carry piece. Incidentally, though not mfg. recommended the G-23 holster works fine with my G-27 as well!

The SERPA finger tip release and speed cut frontal area make this design unsurpassed for the intended purpose. I compared it with my G-23 Hellweg speed holster and the CQC Serpa won for both concealment and a very close second for speed of draw (the Hellweg only being a level one tensioning type holster).

Figure G-23 Serpa paddle mount in cross draw mode

The cross draw adjustment offers versatility should you be assigned to say a VIP protective detail and determine that strong side carry prevents quickly accessing your PDW (buckled up of course…) in a vehicle with recessed seating. Those with serious Personal Protective Specialist experience also understand the benefits of cross draw while standing a static post, or moving with the principle “working” a crowd.

I like the Serpa design with my G-23 so much that when I transitioned back to a 1911 .45 pistol, ALL of my other holsters were immediately replaced with just two Serpas. The Serpa Level 2 duty rig and a CQC for more specialized assignments and off duty carry.
For those with a penchant for “antiquated” wheel guns, a few models are also covered by the Blackhawk Serpa line!

Serpa Holster Spacers: One of the gripes most serious folks have with holsters is wearing an exposed holster with a jacket. The Serpa CQC DUTY rig sits “almost” far enough from the duty belt to allow an un-inhibited draw past the elastic waist of my jacket. Blackhawk makes available ¼” thick spacers to move the holster out slightly further from the belt without creating a safety problem for handgun retention.

Figure Serpa Duty rig (left) shown with spacer plate (right)

SERPA Concealment Vest platform: If you wear a concealment type vest (aka 5:11 brand) you are probably familiar with their 6 piece accessory package. Setting mine up was no problem plenty of pockets and locations for my various “fashion accessories”, however the included carry holster SUCKS! The modular answer from Blackhawk is a hook backed platform carrier that can be used not only with tactical vests, but attached anywhere you can put looped Velcro, or inside many styles equipment carry bags.

Shoulder rig: In 2010 Blackhawk also developed a harness to allow the Serpa holsters to be fitted as a shoulder holster. Good news for those who either by dress code or personal preference must carry their defensive sidearm in this manner.

Synopsis: The Blackhawk SERPA holster platform offers good security, modularity of use, and speed of access. The SERPA takes the “end user” to the current peak level of holster performance, without the need to purchase and train with multiple platforms.

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