Blackhawk Serpa Versus Blackhawk T-Series, by Pat Cascio

I’ve been around firearms and firearm accessories, for more than 50 years, and I’m still amazed at a gun buyer who will purchase an expensive firearm, and then ask the dealer if they have any “cheap” holsters. It boggles my mind, that someone must have thought long and hard about their gun purchase, but no thought at all, was given to a holster for carrying their gun. I’ve been an advocate for good leather for as long as I can remember, and that includes ballistic Nylon and molded polymer holsters.

Blackhawk Products produces some fine tactical products, and I’ve been using their products for about 20 years now. Blackhawk was founded by a former US Navy SEAL, because some of his gear had failed him, at one of the worse possible times, and he vowed that wasn’t going to happen ever again. When a SEAL speaks, I listen. I’ve watched the Blackhawk holster line evolve over the years, and I’m anxious to test new gear from them, especially holsters.

We’re going to look at two hip holsters today, However, this isn’t going to be a test to see which holster is better, so keep that in mind. It will be a personal preference type of test. I ordered the T-Series L2C from the PR firm handling Blackhawk. As a rule, they are extremely fast to get me what I request. However, this time around, it was several months before I received the T-Series for a 1911 – and I was told that everything they are producing is going out the door just as fast as it is being made – especially anything tactical in nature. That’s a good thing from a manufacturing standpoint, but bad for the consumer. Then of course, we are still in this pandemic – that I believe will be with us forever – and labor shortages is a story itself, not to mention delivery delays.

If you follow the news – the real news – not the lamestream “news” media on the television, then you already know we are experiencing shortage of just about everything – prepare accordingly!

The Serpa and T-Series holsters are manufactured out of a hard polymer and made in the USA. At present, the T-Series only comes in black, while the Serpa line comes in several colors. These holsters are super-tough. I wish I had them when I was doing private security contractor work, and in law enforcement. Some jobs I performed were in all manner of weather and terrain, and leather holsters, even well-molded holsters didn’t last long.

I’ve read unverified reports over the past year or two on the ‘net that there have been some problems with the Serpa line of holsters – that being, that when the locking button area got sand or dirt, or mud in it, that you couldn’t get the gun out of the holster because the button lock/release would operate properly. I’ve taken the Serpa to task on my own, and poured sand, mud, and dirt over the holster – inside and outside – and I was still able to press the release/locking button and draw the gun. Of course, you should care for your holster and other gear, as best as you can – just like caring for your firearm.

JWR Adds: It has been reported that Serpa holsters have been banned from use by the LA Police Department, and the US Forest Service. Apparently, some shooters got into bad training habits with the Serpa’s mechanical retention paddle. For a properly-trained shooter, there should be NOspeed re-holstering”!  That foolishness could risk getting your trigger finger inside the triggerguard while re-holstering, and bang. Nor should your trigger finger touch the trigger until you are ready to fire a weapon. Again, bang! These negligent discharges are not the fault of the holster design. It is the fault of the shooters. Rather than investing in proper training as they should have, the LAPD and USFS issued these bans — taking the easy way out.

The Serpa line of holsters was first up for testing, and I didn’t do any testing to destruction – no need to do what Blackhawk has already done. The Serpa comes with two ways of attaching the holster to your belt, one is with a paddle attachment, and the other with belt loops – and it only takes about 5-minutes to swap out the attachments. I don’t like paddle holsters – I never did. To me, it seems like the gun/holster rides too low on my pants. So, I used the belt loop attachment – with this attachment, I can also mount a Serpa holster on a tactical thigh rig – one of my favorite methods of packing – if I were in rough terrain, or carrying a full-size backpack, or for that matter, if I were back in law enforcement again.

There is a small button on the outside of the holster, or call it a spring-activated lever – once you place the gun into the holster and push down, the gun is locked in place – it won’t fall out. When you go to draw your handgun, you simply place your index finger alongside the gun – and your index finger will fall right on top of the lever – a small amount of pressure on the lever and the lock is released and you can draw your gun – it’s a very instinctive move. I have placed a small piece of skateboard tape on the lever – on the side that you would press to unlock your gun – so I know when my finger is on that tape. All that I have to do is press against it to release the lock and draw the gun  – a very simple operation.

Blackhawk came out with the T-Series about a year ago, and I was determined to not like it – I thought to myself, what can be easier than pressing on a lever to release your gun – its just part of the natural draw. I was wrong! The T-Series works similarly, but just different than the Serpa model does. You put your handgun in the holster and press down, and you’ll hear an audible “click” to let you know the gun is locked in place. However, there is no lever or button on the outside of the holster. Instead, there is a “tab” on the opposite side of the holster – on the body side. And, you just have to press against it with your thumb, when you are drawing the gun and press against it – toward the holster. Wait? Another secure locking method, that locks your gun in the holster and it is instinctive to release the gun – using only your thumb? Can’t be! But it does!

While alternately wearing both holsters – not at the same time – on my right hip, I had a friend, a very strong friend, try to snatch the gun out of the holsters by pulling up, as in a drawing motion – all he managed to do was pull me off my feet – the locks held!

I did the same testing, when it came to getting dirt, sand, and mud into the locking mechanism, and I was able to still draw the guns without any problems. However, I believe it was easier to press on the tab on the T-Series to get it to release the lock and draw the gun.

The method or parts used to attach the holsters to a belt on your pants, are different – but once again, much the same. The T-Series belt attachment is much stronger – thicker – than that found on the Serpa holster. Over the years, I’ve had zero problems with the Serpa set-up. The T-Series is much thicker, though – so we’ll see how the newer T-Series attachment holds up – however, I don’t see any problems arising.

On the T-Series, the release tab is actually protected on either side of the tab. This accomplishes two things: First it helps direct your thumb onto the tab. Secondly, it is next to impossible for a would-be gun-grabber to press the release tab, but getting their thumb into and onto the tab and push it to snatch your handgun out of the holster. With the Serpa, if someone is gun-savvy, they might know that they need to press on the release lever before trying to get your gun out of the holster. So, in this respect, the T-Series is a bit more secure from gun-grabbers.

By the way, both the Serpa and T-Series will allow a 1911 with a rail on the dust cover, to fit into them. That’s a big plus. And, the T-Series already has models out that will accept handguns with lights/lasers on them. You’ll need to check the website for the holster to match your gun – the T-Series in a fast-growing line.

Right now, I prefer the Serpa over the T-Series, and it is not because one holster model is better than the other. I’ve trained drawing my handguns out of Serpa holsters for many years, so it is more instinctive for me, when drawing the gun from the Serpa as opposed to the T-Series, I’m sure it is only a matter of retraining my gun hand, and the T-Series will be just as fast, and just as smooth when it comes to drawing the gun. I can easily see myself using a T-Series over the Serpa, given time.

I spent 35-years in the martial arts, and I taught my students that it takes about 5,000 repetitions to master a particular move – and that is 5,000 repetitions doing the move correctly. So, I believe I can work with the T-Series, so it will become a natural/instinctive move to draw the gun. If you carry your handgun in a Serpa holster, and decide to go with the T-Series, then make sure you practice drawing and releasing the tab over and over again, before you strap on the new holster – you don’t want to be pressing with your index finger to draw your gun, when you need to be pressing on the opposite side of the holster with your thumb.

I don’t think you can go wrong with a Blackhawk holster in either the Serpa model or the T-Series. Check them both out.