Gear, Parts and Accessories

Review: BLACKHAWK! T-Series Retention Holster

Blackhawk T-Series Holster - side view

A few years ago, my son carried a BLACKHAWK! Serpa retention holster during most of his overseas deployment.

I purchased the holster on my own time (and with my own dime) because I wanted him to have the best.

The young Captain voiced no complaints on the holster’s performance.

The Serpa demands attention to detail and training. A new holster that is billed as the successor to the Serpa, however, is the T-Series Retention Holster.

This is a retention holster with many good features. Read on to learn more about them.

All About the Levels

As many of you are aware, holsters are usually rated at Retention 1, 2 or 3, depending on the level of difficulty and the number of holster latches or movements needed to release the handgun.

Here’s a breakdown of the level definitions:

  • Level 1 generally means the holster has only passive retention. It may be an open-top or thumb break holster.
  • Level 2 means there is another retention device other than friction or compression. A button, strap, snap or lever is used.
  • Level 3 retention is a holster with both a strap and a hood, or perhaps a hidden snap that must be activated. Or, a certain angle at which the handgun must be angled to draw.

The spring-loaded Berns Martin holster was among the first holsters offering a forward-type draw against spring pressure. The Serpa is among the most modern and widely distributed.

Most concealed carry holsters rate at Level 1 at best. Level 2 holsters are sometimes used by peace offices for concealed carry.

The goal is not only to retain the weapon, but to prevent an assailant from gaining control of the firearm as well.

For many years, the hard and fast rule that one in five officers killed by firearms were shot with their own sidearm.

Blackhawk T-Series holster thumb release design.
Note T-Lok and thumb release design.

Modern training and retention holsters have changed this to an extent, but the problem is real.

Remember, no matter how the fight goes, there is always one gun on the site and that is your gun.

A holster with some type of retention that the user may disengage relatively quickly is important.

How the T-Series Retention Holster Works

The T-Series Retention Holster requires a thumb-activated retention device.

When you grip the handgun, your thumb will naturally be in a position to press the T-Series retention lever and release the mechanical grip on the firearm.

The release is activated by pressing inward toward the holster with the shooter’s thumb. A spring-loaded lock achieves retention by locking on the trigger guard.

The release lever is resistant to lateral pressure. It may only be activated from directly above the holstered handgun.

T-Series Holster above view.
The T Series holsters’ range of adjustment is surprising.

Only the wearer is likely to be able to achieve this draw angle. A Level 3 version is also available with a rotating safety strap.

Even with this additional level of security, both the trigger guard device and the rotating strap are released by the thumb-activated lever.

The holster is constructed of modern materials with a stronger outer shell and a mechanism and body that is waterproof and impervious to oil, solvent and perspiration.

An adjustment screw allows the user to adjust the friction required to keep the pistol steady in the holster. Some like a hard tug on the draw, some like less pressure.

This works for both.

Other Design Features

The holster retains BLACKHAWK’s belt loop spacers. The holster may be adjusted for vertical or forward rake.

The quick-detach belt loop is very secure, robust, and well designed. I used a long-serving Glock 17 in the evaluation.

The T-Series demands training, but the draw is natural and the thumb release isn’t a challenge to use quickly.

Unlike the standard thumb break, in which the thumb is moved in an arc to release, the thumb must be moved straight down and onto the release.

Blackhawk T-Series Retention Holster paddle view
Note the large paddle for releasing the holster’s grip on the handgun. This is advanced engineering that works as designed.

This takes time to learn. After a few dozen draws you will be capable. I recommend 500 successful presentations, the same as with any type of duty or concealed carry holster.


While I have the greatest respect for the Serpa, some did not acclimate as well to the use of the trigger finger to actuate the handgun release.

The new design does seem faster on the range. The thumb does all of the work in releasing retention.

The holster tested doesn’t feature the top strap, which I would recommend for duty use. The appearance would be more business-like.

Just the same the holster tested meets my criteria as a duty holster. It is strong, well designed, offers good retention, and offers a sharp draw.

In the end? The BLACKHAWK! T-Series get a clean bill of health and a good recommendation.

What do you think of the BLACKHAWK! T-Series Retention Holster? Have you used the Serpa? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. I work private security and am only required to have a level 2 holster.I have a Sharpa lever 2 that works well with my Glock 17 & 22. As others have said it releases very well if used properly and leaves your trigger finger along the slide. If anyone attempts to disarm you the gun will not come out and the release cannot be activated while the gun is being pulled. In addition, most would not know how the release operates. I consider it more secure than a thumb release.

  2. I have used SERPA holsters on and off duty in law enforcement and ranch security work for years. While I have heard stories of accidents from a friend in the FBI, negligent discharges were always just that, negligent. I have presented from the SERPA holster thousands of times with never an issue. That being said, I have personally seen the Serpa holster become hopelessly jammed by a small piece of pea gravel during a law enforcement training exercise. I do favor the SERPA for my Glock‘s however, I still prefer nowadays days, a good leather rig that rides much closer to the body for my more regularly carried 1911 10mm or 45 Supers.

  3. “While I have the greatest respect for the Serpa, some did not acclimate as well to the use of the trigger finger to actuate the handgun release.”

    LOL. Like the guy in the video who says, “I just shot myself”? I’d say he didn’t acclimate well to his Serpa.

    Straight trigger finger is great until it doesn’t release the first tug (from, say, stress), then you push harder with the trigger finger, next thing you know, it pulls out and your trigger finger is all up on that trigger.

    Don’t do it guys.

  4. I have used the SERPA for a decade, and have never, EVER had a problem. Proper Training and discipline, spending time locking down the presentation, both standing and crouching, from behind cover, and out in the open makes you (and everyone else around you} SAFER. The SERPA parks your trigger finger EXACTLY where it needs to be, on the slide. This new design may keep a weapon from being removed during a struggle with a subject, all good, but if you transition to this, practice practice practice.

    My instructors always told me try to imagine presenting from every possible position, and what that will take to safely do so. You may be knocked to the ground, or on your ass… prone, or on your back. If you have the muscle memory to make it happen you are miles ahead.

  5. Yes, I own four Serpa Level 2 retention holsters and have loved them. To get a ‘draw from holster’ credential at a local range, I had to present the gun from the holster 200 consecutive times to a RSO without my trigger finger even being anywhere except up on the slide.
    I couldn’t/WOULDN’T own and OWB holster without anything more than friction retention.

    One thing that must be addressed is the increasing use/addition of weapon lights on semi-automatic pistols. Since I’m typically carrying a S&W M&P 2.0 4″ compact or a Glock G19 (or occasionally a G17) the InForce APLc for Glocks actually fit the rails of both the S&W & the Glocks. Poor old Safariland only sells a generic ‘one size fits all’ block of a holster – okay for ‘Duty Carry’ but awfully bulky to be an everyday OWB holster; one might as well have a drop-leg strapped to their leg

  6. I’ve used the regular Sherpa holster as my off duty holster since it came out I think it’s one of the best holsters I’ve used. I instruct firearms , DT, weapon retention and when I show the holster everyone raves about the design . Looking forward to getting the new T series when they become available where I live .

  7. Not bad from first appearances, but I’d have to actually use one to render an honest personal opinion. Honestly, I don’t see the problem with SERPA. I’ve used them and as long as you keep your trigger finger straight (as it should be until getting on target) there is no problem using the trigger finger to release the retention. As the author says, 500 reps is about right to ingrain the proper presentation. The SERPA has gotten an undeserved bad reputation. User error is the issue.

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