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Jul
16

SERPA?

Thoughts? I have mine, but I’m interested in yours… And, let’s avoid bashing the guy who was brave enough to share the lessons of his misfortune with us…

About the author

DaveRe

USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/07/serpa/

4 comments

  1. Mindy says:

    Rule #4. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.

  2. Aaron says:

    Ill give the guy kudos for not throwing the gun on the ground and screaming like a girl( no offense intended). Im not a fan of locking retention holsters for anything I do ( competition, hunting, concealed carry). Besides all that, a gun is not supposed to fire uless and until all safeties are released and the trigger is pressed. Thumb safety on or off, your finger should remain off the trigger until you are on target.

  3. JD says:

    It’s not the holster that caused the problem, it’s putting your finger on the trigger before you should.

    A response to Aaron’s comment: never trust a safety to keep a gun from going bang, they can and do fail.

  4. DaveRe says:

    So, here’s my take… Ultimately, the shooter is to blame for an ND. If anyone wants to argue that, well… ;-) And, I would be surprised if anyone argued that one should not put the booger hook on the bang switch until you’re ready to make some noise.

    What I’ve seen discussed on the web, and what I’ve had discussions with folks about re: the SERPA in general seem to fall into two camps. Those who say exactly what JD does – “putting your finger on the trigger before you should” is why people ND with any holster, SERPA included, and that it’s not the holster’s fault. The other camp is made out to be saying that they believe the holster is responsible for the ND, not the shooter. That’s a sort of ad hominem attack by the first camp – they can’t argue the second camp’s actual message, so they make it out that the second camp is saying something so absurd that they appear to be idiotic. (I’m not saying this is what JD’s getting at, or that he’s “in the first camp” – just a convenient example).

    What the second camp is actually saying is – the holster puts the shooter in a position where they are pressing toward the gun with their trigger finger as they’re drawing the gun, and that this increases the likelihood of the finger accidentally finding it’s way into the trigger guard as part of that motion. Under pressure, that motion can be exaggerated, ending up with the trigger finger somewhere it shouldn’t be (especially given that, under pressure, one of the body’s natural reactions is to grip things harder). Fine motor skill training (like, “press smoothly with a straight finger but still keep it straight along the gun”) regresses to much more gross movement (like, “mash like hell with the trigger finger and yank the thing out of the holster”) under the effects of stress and adrenaline. The concern, then, is that the ergonomics and biomechanics of the situation are sort of “asking” for NDs to occur under the circumstances you’re going to want to use the holster in most – self defense, competition, training…

    NDs have happened out of pretty much every holster in the world, so if it were an isolated case – ie, just this gent who posted his video – I wouldn’t get all the hype from the second camp… But, if you start looking into it, you see that there have been a number of NDs show up specifically with the SERPA in force-on-force scenarios where the players are very seasoned, (ostensibly) very safe shooters. FoF tends to strongly simulate the body’s reactions to extreme stress, so you get a lot of the fine motor skill regression stuff under those conditions. That data would seem to add some weight to what the first camp is calling “theory”, or “water cooler talk”.

    I’ve played a bit with a SERPA, myself, but rejected it for personal use right off the bat, as I can barely actuate the lock in perfect conditions with my normal grip on the gun. My fingers are apparently too short. When I do manage to reach it, I either end up with a bad grip on the gun, or poor control of my trigger finger’s position on the side of the gun.

    Worse, the SERPA is potentially easily rendered non-functional by small rocks if they find their way into the lock. I’ve seen this reported by competitive shooters and by defensive pistol instructors. There are better options out there if you really need a retention holster that can take getting fouled up with dirt and pebbles and will still give you your gun when you ask for it.

    And… Do you really need a retention holster? If you’re a standard CHL person, or a normal competitive pistol shooter, probably not. Even the best kydex holsters can be taken apart with an appropriate manipulation of the gun, retention or not (this happens quite a bit in FoF stuff, too, I’m told). If you need to retain a gun as a CHL holder, you’re better off knowing how to move the gun away from the threat than relying on the holster to keep ahold of it for you…

    So, yeah, it’s the shooter’s fault, ultimately, not the holster’s – but maybe it’s also the shooter’s fault for choosing a piece of gear whose ergonomics are such that it can’t reliably be manipulated by that shooter under pressure. The holster didn’t pull the trigger, but the requirements of operating the holster can definitely put the shooter in the position to need to pay a lot more attention to a fine motor skill action when they may not have the capability to physiologically do so…

    I’m not going to blame the holster for this guy’s accident. He made a few other errors before the final one – including training earlier that session with a different platform and holster. At the same time, I think it’s extremely telling that basically all of the top defensive schools in the nation have disallowed this holster from use in their classes.

    Either way, be safe and careful out there!

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