Skip to main content

LAPD Bans Use Of Blackhawk SERPA Holster for Safety Reasons

The Blackhawk SERPA holster is one of those hot button topics amongst the firearms community. The Blackhawk SERPA holster is a retention holster compatible with many firearms on the market. Some shooters talk about how it’s an intuitive and useful retention holster, others say it is an unsafe holster prone to causing negligent discharges.

The famous “I just fu***** shot myself” video was caused due to the design of the SERPA holster.

When it comes to firearms, the only thing the trigger finger should ever do is stay straight until it’s ready to go into the trigger guard to pull the trigger.

LAPD SERPA holster ban

This very concern is what has prompted the LAPD to ban the use of Blackhawk SERPA holsters by their officers. Here is the statement.

LAPD Ban Blackhawk Serpa Holster

Date: June 8, 2017

To: All Department Personel

From: Commanding Officer, Police Sciences and Training Bureau


The Department has determined that the Blackhawk SERPA holster, and ALL auto-locking, trigger finger manipulated holsters are immediately disapproved for usage by all Department personnel. These holsters violate sound weapon manipulation practices and may increase the liklihood of a negligent discharge.

Notice how the memo specifically bans retention holsters that are manipulated by the trigger finger. This retention holster mechanism is specifically called out as a safety concern as they violate weapon manipulation best practices.

SERPA safety concern in slow motion

Here is a slow motion video of the safety concern of using a Blackhawk SERPA holster. When manipulating the retention button with a trigger finger, the trigger finger has a tendency to slip down into the trigger guard, which causes negligent discharges. Even with training, a very slight deviation in draw stroke can result in the trigger entering the trigger guard.

Furthermore, the SERPA holster design can lock up in an extreme fashion.

While the LAPD is not the first law enforcement agency to ban the Blackhawk SERPA holster, they won’t be the last.

Brian Purkiss
Written by

Brian Purkiss is a Christian, husband, competitive shooter, firearms instructor, proponent for individual liberty and Second Amendment rights, and a web developer. He primarily focues on USPSA and Run & Gun competitions, but enjoys most other forms of shooting competitions as well.

Photo by Zorin Denu

Categories: Firearm Accessories, Vault | Tags: ,

12 responses to “LAPD Bans Use Of Blackhawk SERPA Holster for Safety Reasons”

  1. Dave says:

    If you don’t train your people you get AD’s!
    Simple as drilling with finger flat on holster to release, showing users that us ring tip of your finger while drawing can ( and will) put finger on trigger while drawing).
    It’s all about safe training and practice!

    • The LAPD is the third largest police force in the US, one of the most well funded, and one of the most trained.

      The holster by design has you a tenth of an inch of a mistake from creating a ND. Why run the hairs breath risk of a ND when you can simply use a thumb activated retention holster instead?

  2. Joe says:

    The lead-in had me thinking you were stating the holster, by design, was causing the unintended discharge. The fact is it is a negligent discharge because the shooter allowed his finger to enter the trigger guard once the trigger guard cleared the holster. If you choose to use this holster, be aware and train. I have used it for over 10 years without a problem. Be safe.

    • The SERPA holster, by design, puts your trigger finger with hard pressure on the frame just a fraction of an inch from the trigger. As shown in the video in the article, that pressure on the frame can and will cause the trigger finger to slip into the trigger guard. Or, if you get a slight off grip on the pistol while struggling with an attacker, your finger is now crooked and falling into the trigger guard. Or shown in the other video on the article, even when you do train you can still cause a ND. Avoiding a ND with the SERPA holster requires a perfect draw stroke – you can’t always count on that, even if you train. So why run the risk?

      The more stress there is on the situation, the more likely the pressure from your trigger finger is going to slip into the trigger guard.

      Why use a SERPA holster or other trigger finger activated retention holster when you can simply use a thumb activated retention holster?

  3. sylvia says:

    I work at Arizona Department of Corrections. Most of our officers use the SERPA holster including myself for inmate transport. No problems with it. Training, folks, and an awareness of what you are doing will solve most problems.

    • As shown in the video of the SERPA holster being used, less than a tenth of an inch seperates the finger from going into the trigger guard or not. Since you’re applying pressure downward with your finger, it will naturally curl inward. If you grip is ever so slightly off, it will snake down into the trigger guard. This has been shown many times over.

      There is no benefit to the SERPA design over other thumb activated holster designs.

      You can train all you want, but can you guarantee that you will draw the pistol perfectly every time? Will you jeapordize your leg under that assumption?

      Why not just use a superior thumb activated design instead?

  4. Jaque Bauer says:

    CORRECTION TO ABOVE POST. DELETE “Glock” and replace with “M&P’s.”

    If you can’t keep your finger off the trigger using a SERPA then I submit you have trouble keeping your finger off the trigger whenever you pick up or shoulder any firearm. Its a training issue, and very few police get sufficient and enough firearm training. LAPD and M & P’s don’t get along either. Perhaps there is another reason for their negligent discharges. Cops tend to have negligent discharges. And if Tex Grebner wasn’t clowning in front of a camera, he might have had a better day. In the end, its the finger on the trigger and not “it went off by itself” that causes the majority of ND issues.…0i22i10i30.………..0.ToS-M-lQcbY#q=police+negligent+discharge+statistics&spf=1498743950495

    • When using a SERPA holster, you put pressure downward with your finger towards the trigger frame. That is bad. Pushing down with your trigger finger to activate the SERPA holster will inadvertently cause the trigger finger to push down into the trigger guard.

      When manipulating a firearm normally, you hold your firearm straight and out from the trigger guard. Two different muscle groups and two different actions.

      If training is the difference, then that means you’re agreeing there is a risk. But you’re expecting training to remove that risk, but then you have to rely on a perfect draw stroke every time. Do you always have a perfect draw from the holster every time?

      Why use a SERPA holster when there are thumb activated retention holsters that don’t run the same risk?

  5. Strontium90 says:

    You can not trade technology for training.

  6. JayRLTW says:

    6 deployments… 5 with the hk mark 23 in a serpa as a side arm… more time in theatre than in high school… zero ND… 10% smarter than the object you operate… that is all…
    Sua Sponte

  7. 1wpk says:

    I have used the SERPA holster for years, on duty and off duty. I understand the concerns of this potential A.D problem.
    As an firearms instructor I training officers once they defeat their retention device (doesn’t matter the retention type they immediate rotate their trigger finger upward to rest on the slide of handgun. This prevents the trigger finger from coming into contact with the trigger inadvertently ( during stressful events).
    This has so far prevented any A.D during the drawing and holstering movements as well as under stressful situations. With your trigger finger resting on the slide of the weapon it requires conscious effort to place your trigger and press. The travel distance from the trigger guard to the trigger and the distance from the slide to the trigger is the same.

  8. JS says:

    Are there any class action suits to date from Officers?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Commenting Rules

Return back up to the main content Return back to the header