Let’s Talk Holsters….
January 10, 2012
There are a lot of debates on which hard holsters are better. Currently we carry G-Code holsters and BlackHawk! SERPA holsters. I am going to give you my opinion based on my experiences and you can decide for yourself. Before we begin, let me give you my background.
My name is Andrew and I have been playing airsoft since 2006. Over the years, I have been to numerous operations and countless weekend games. More importantly, I have been a firearm enthusiast since 2009. I currently own an AR-15 (M4) and 2 handguns, Glock 17 and Kimber 1911. I have firearm training sessions frequently, almost once per month. I also participate I.D.P.A (International Defensive Pistol Association) and I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation). I have used both BlackHawk! SERPA holsters and G-Code holsters during those firearm training sessions and matches and found the advantages and disadvantages on both brands.
BlackHawk! CQC SERPA
After extensive research, BlackHawk! was founded in 1993 by a former U.S. Navy SEAL. BlackHawk! is a manufacturer of tactical gear, body armor, and law enforcement duty gear, holsters, hydration systems, protective gloves and gear, apparel and footwear, knives, illumination tools, breaching tools, hunting gear and recoil reducing stocks.
BlackHawk! CQC SERPA holster series first hit the market in 2004, and because of its revolutionary retention system, it quickly attracted everyone in the shooting community, including military and law enforcement around the world. The holster is injection molded from a high strength polymer, therefore it is durable.
The SERPA holster, which is a level 2 holster, has the patent pending SERPA Lock (locking the trigger guard), as well as a detent adjustment screw. The holster is “speed cut”, therefore it allows rapid draw and target acquisition. The package comes with one (1) belt loop and one (1) paddle platform, which make the holster somewhat modular. The operator can purchase the MOLLE platform separately if they desire to mount the holster on MOLLE gear. The holster and platform are mounted together using 3 screws.
To draw from the SERPA holster, the operator acquires a firm grip on the pistol. Using the index finger to unlock the SERPA lock (located near the trigger guard), the operator can draw the pistol out. It is imperative to keep the finger straight and outside of the trigger guard during the draw in order to prevent an accidental discharge.
When I was using the SERPA holster for an airsoft game, I found the holster extremely uncomfortable because it sits a little bit too high, and my plate carrier usually covers it. The holster series is designed to be used in a concealment role, which explains the height of the holster. The operator can also purchase the drop leg platform separately if they wish to lower the holster. However, when I used the drop leg platform, it sits way too low. My general rule of using a drop leg holster is the holster needs to be just low enough to clear the rest of the gear.
Another problem that I found with the Blackhawk! SERPA holster is when dirt and debris get into the SERPA Lock (release mechanism), it has a tendency to jam and prevents the pistol from being drawn from the holster. Especially if you are like me, who likes to crawl around in dirt or mud during airsoft games, the SERPA holster will fail you.
The last problem I had with the SERPA holster is that it has a high safety issue. I have seen numerous accidental discharges at the range. People draw the weapon incorrectly resulting in an accidental discharge into the ground or their thigh. The holster forces the operator to put unnecessary pressure near the trigger area when drawing the weapon. With the right amount of pressure, the index finger can easily slip into the trigger guard, potentially causing an accidental discharge. I am not going to lie, I like the SERPA Lock design, and I think that the retention system is excellent for both airsoft and the firearm industry. It secures the gun firmly in the holster, for airsofters, it means not losing their pistol; for military and law enforcement, it can prevent the bad guys from disarming those who put their lives on the line for our country and community. Plus the price tag is very attractive. For $40, it comes with a paddle and belt mount.
In my honest opinion, the perfect way to use this holster is chest draw. Using the MOLLE platform (sold separately), the operator can mount the holster right on their chest. It has a lesser chance of getting dirt and debris into the release mechanism since it is sitting up high in the chest area. Along with chest draw, SERPA holsters are perfect for concealment, as shown below.
Before I begin reviewing the holster from G-Code, let me give you a little background on the company and the holster making process. G-Code Holster went into business in 1997. It was founded by a retired United States Marine. The company is located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The founder of G-Code (retired United States Marine) was always looking for ways to improve the carry of his gear and became an obsession for him. Eventually that obsession turned into a business. G-Code uses an extremely durable thermoplastic called Kydex for all their holsters, which is tougher than injection molded polymer. All their products, from raw material to the final products, are manufactured in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Many Marines, especially Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune (since Camp Lejeune is right next to G-Code Holster), are issued G-Code holster (along with Safariland) when deployed.
I had the honor of interviewing the owner of G-Code Holsters. G-Code has an industry classified procedure to manufacturing their holsters, which make their holsters more durable and more unique. They only use high grade material for all the parts and components. All their materials and components are 100% American made. G-Code uses C.A.D. (Computer Aided Design) and C.A.M (Computer Aided Machining) heavily in the production process. The owner emphasizes that precision is very important to G-Code; therefore, G-code is the only company that makes its own molds. The mold is test fitted in the actually holster in order to maintain the high precision which the consumers need. Before shipping out to customers, each holster has to be inspected. With G-Code’s 3 tiers of inspection strategy, combined with their quality emphasis from start to finish, they have an EXTREMELY low percentage of warranty issues.
Even with the extremely low percentage of warranty issues, G-Code Holsters still offers a LIFE TIME WARRANTY to their customers. Customer can deal directly with them or the G-Code authorized dealer which they get the holsters from. The idea behind this is that they want the customer taken care of as quickly as possible in the way they feel most comfortable. G-Code’s goals are customer satisfaction, and providing real solutions to their customers through innovation and uncompromising quality.
Every G-Code holster has the following features:
– Pro Safe Tensioning
- G-Code was the first Kydex holster to have this feature
– R.T.I. (Rapid Transition Interface) System
- Patent Pending
– Modular system integration
- G-Code was the first and still the only true all modular holster system, especially with the R.T.I. system
– Self powered tactical release mechanism
- On SOC holster series and XST holster series only
– Interchangeable cowling system
- On SOC Holster series only
- G-Code is the only holster to have this feature.
– MOLLE attachment systems
- Different MOLLE attachments to fit user’s different needs
Currently, I have 3 holsters from G-Code (1x SOC and 2x XST), all of them are R.T.I. (Rapid Transition interface) ready. I use those holsters for airsoft games and actual firearm training. The XST has two (2) retention systems which keep the pistol in nicely. The first retention is the Pro Safe Tensioning (friction), which has 1 screw to tighten and loosen the holster depending on the operator’s preference. The 2nd level of retention is the hood. The hood is release by a self powered tactical release mechanism. All the operator needs to do is to press down, and the hood will snap forward.
The SOC holster (Glock 17 w/ surefire X300) also has 2 retention systems. However, the friction lock is non adjustable. The SOC holster also has the hood, which is released by a self powered tactical release mechanism. My Glock 17 (real) with the surefire x300 fits tightly (but not too tight) in the holster. With the hood in the upward locked position, I am 100% sure that my sidearm will be there when I need it.
To draw from the XST or SOC holster, the operator will acquire a firm grip, and press down the release mechanism using his thumb. The hood will snap forward, and the operator will draw the weapon straight up and out of the holster.
I have used my XST and SOC holster in competition and firearm training countless times, and I have not yet experienced a failure of the holster. Since G-Code is a true modular holster system (R.T.I.), finding the right “height” is no problem. For competition, my XST holster is mounted on a standard R.T.I. belt mount. Since I wear a battle belt for airsoft and firearm training, I use a R.T.I. MOLLE mount. The height of the holster is perfect, and if I wear a plate carrier, I can easily switch to a lower mounting platform. The beauty of G-Code holsters is they have a lot of mounting solutions to match your needs.
Another advantage of using a R.T.I. holster from G-Code is I can switch holsters under 10 seconds. This comes in handy especially in airsoft. I have experienced a catastrophic failure with one of my 1911, and luckily, I brought my USP and the holster for it. I quickly unlocked the RTI and switch holsters. The entire process took under 6 seconds. With any other brand of holster, I would had to unscrew the 3 screws on the back, which takes much longer than 6 seconds.
The Drop leg platform, especially with the REAC belt mount, is a very well thought out and well designed piece of mounting solution. The platform is adjustable, and it uses very little material to help keep the weight down. The height is also perfect for me because it sits just low enough to clear my plate carrier. The leg strap has rubber sewn into it so the entire platform will not move side to side when running. It is the most comfortable drop leg platform I have ever tried!
Nothing is perfect in this world. There are some things that I do not like on the G Code Holsters. For the SOC holster series, I do not like the fact that the operator cannot adjust the friction lock. The hood system in the SOC and XST series holster make a loud noise whenever it is released, which could give away your position when stealth is important for you. Comparing to the SERPA holster, G Code holsters are a little bit bulkier, especially in the R.T.I. platform. The OSH holster series, since the friction lock is the only retention system on the holster, the operator needs to find the perfect tension (not too tight so it prevents him from drawing the pistol, and not too loose that he might drop the pistol while running).
Another disadvantage which G-Codes has is the price. I am not going to lie, it is a pricy holster. The SOC holster cost $98, and the XST cost $48.95. The holsters do not include any mounting solutions, which cost at least $30 dollars additionally.
I recommend the XST and SOC holster for “direct action” only, especially for airsoft. Since in airsoft, players usually have a plate carrier, the drop leg platform is perfect. With the hood retention, it gives a secure feelings which airsofters are looking for.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the holsters from G-Code for airsoft and real firearms. I have seen a lot of comment on FaceBook stating that G-Code is a cheap copy of the SERPA holster series, which is totally not true. Like I said before, G-Code Holsters started in 1997 while the SERPA holster hit the market in 2004. In my opinion and from my experiences, G-Code holster is a far more superior choice. It is a higher quality holster and it is more durable and more reliable than the BlackHawk! SERPA holsters. G-Code has been in the holster market much longer. After all, they are specialized in manufacturing holsters. Although BlackHawk! SERPA has a better pricing and is more affordable for airsofters, I highly recommend to spend the extra bucks for the higher quality and more superb G-Code Holsters. Until next time, I am Andrew, stay safe and get out and play airsoft! Thanks for joining.