Blackhawk got the world to sit up and take notice of what could be done in the area of retention holsters with the introduction of its SERPA mechanical locking design in 2004. Its streamlined body is constructed of a carbon fiber and polymer blend, which was a real move beyond traditional hard-bodied synthetics. It also employed an index-finger-operated trigger guard lock that is now the standard in many circles. In eight years, the company has sold almost 4 million of the holsters.
The SERPA’s patented design is used worldwide and is now available in a number of belt, leg and chest-mounted variations that are perfect for many of the rugged outdoor activities I have discussed. While the base model is shipped with the parts to make it useful as a concealment paddle or belt loop holster, one of the more interesting options is a horizontal shoulder harness that lets the wearer employ it as an underarm carrier, allowing the gun to be drawn and replaced with one hand—something not generally possible with most leather or fabric models.
Blackhawk’s Latest Holster
As last summer was drawing to a close and most people were making plans for one last, long weekend with the family, a number of writers and media personnel were asked to make a trip instead to Blackhawk’s new Montana manufacturing facility and spend a few days looking into the future.
One of those days was spent with famed Competition Shooter Todd Jarrett, wringing out functional prototypes of the company’s then yet-to-be-introduced Thumb Operated Retention Holster: the GripBreak. In no way intended to be a replacement for its extremely successful SERPA retention holster, the GripBreak is being positioned in the Blackhawk line as an alternative for people who prefer that type of release. As discussed in the accompanying article, there can be real ergonomic advantages to thumb-operated designs, especially if the thumb falls onto the lever as part of the gripping and drawstroke process as it does here. And keeping the lever on the inboard side of the holster body also makes it harder for it to become the focus of an attack.
So far in my testing, I think it performs really well. The hand grasps the gun. The thumb presses the lever toward the gun as the proper grip is acquired, and the pistol is lifted from the holster and driven toward the target as normal.
While every holster requires familiarization and regular practice, I found the GripBreak very easy to get used to and simple to employ. It achieves a balance of performance and retention that I value.