Perhaps Blackhawk’s most famous security holster is the Serpa, which has seen huge success and sales in the millions. However, you can find many people who don’t like the Serpa, mostly because the lock on the holster is deactivated with the trigger finger. Last fall I got to examine the prototypes of the company’s new holster line: the T-Series.
The “T” in T-Series stands for thumb, as in the locking/retention features in this holster are deactivated with the user’s thumb, not the index finger like the Serpa. The T-Series isn’t replacing the Serpa—the latter will still remain in production—but the T-Series will probably become Blackhawk’s preeminent security rig.
The T-Series is offered in a large duty-holster configuration, and right as I was starting to write this column, Blackhawk sent me a sample of the new Compact T-Series, which is concealable.
The full-size holsters are the L2D and L3D (Level 2 Duty and Level 3 Duty). The Compact is currently only offered in a Level 2 configuration—the L2C—although a Level 3 Compact is in the works.
All are for guns without lights, and all except for the Level 3 Compact are now in production and shipping. As the holster is still relatively new, it is currently only available for for Glock models 17/19/22/23 and the SIG P320/P250, but you can expect the pistol fitment to expand to cover most common duty handguns. It is available for both right- and left-handed shooters.
Let’s talk about the full-size Duty first. The release mechanism on both the Level 2 and 3 holsters is a tab on the inside of the holster body. You will find it under your thumb as you acquire a natural grip on the firearm in the holster. To deactivate the lock, all you have to do is press your thumb in toward the pistol—as you would automatically do prior to drawing the gun.
The pistol is locked into the holster by a beefy tab that impinges on the inside of the trigger guard, and pressing the thumb lever pivots that tab out of the way. On a Level 2 holster this is your only security.
With the Level 3 holster, there is also a thick, hard-plastic protective cover—described by Blackhawk as a retention strap—that clicks into place over the top of the pistol’s slide. The cover is spring-loaded and flips out of the way when you depress the thumb lever on the holster.
The Level 3 T-Series holster has already been approved by the National Tactical Officers Association. There is a tension screw on both holsters below the trigger guard for a more precise fit.
I first put on a police officer’s uniform in 1992. There were security holsters back then, but deactivating all the locks and drawing the pistol was a process nearly as difficult to complete as the field sobriety/drunk driving test from Steve Martin’s classic comedy movie “The Man With Two Brains.”
The thumb lever on the T-Series, on the other hand, is right under your thumb when you have a firing grip on the pistol. You have to move it less than half an inch to release the pistol.
I spent some time practicing my draw with the T-Series, and it is as fast or faster to use than most security holsters, and it’s faster to use than most concealed-carry holsters with no retention because it holds the gun away from your body.
Constructed of thick polymer, the body of the holster is rigid and securely attached to the provided dropped belt loop via three large screws. The holster isn’t coming off the belt loop, and the belt loop isn’t coming off your belt. Oh, and I’d like to point out that the metal hardware on these holsters is either stainless steel or brass, so you won’t have any corrosion issues.
The holster comes from the factory with a straight drop, but by removing and repositioning the mounting screws, you can adjust cant forward or back. On the Duty holster the rear of the pistol slide is just about even with the top of the belt.
The polymer of the holster body is so thick that I think I could bang on it for a while with a hammer without doing anything more than marring the finish. The interior of the holster is lined with a different polymer, one that is sound-damping so your pistol doesn’t rattle or make a lot of noise during drawing/reholstering. The interior is also water repellent.
The top of the holster comes up all the way to the top of your handgun, protecting the slide and the rear sight. This setup means you can’t add a red dot and have the gun still fit into the holster.
Because it’s an open-muzzle design, it will fit more pistols than what is listed on the Blackhawk website and or holster box. For example, the Glock holster is listed as fitting the 17/19/22/23/31/32 and 45, but it also fits the longslide G34/G35 models—as well as the ultra-longslide models 17L and 24.
This isn’t a guess; I tested my Level 2 T-Series with both a G34 and G17L. I know there are a number of police departments issuing G34s and G35s, and those guns will fit into this holster. However, they will protrude out the bottom about half an inch.
As for the Compact version of the T-Series, it is just as sturdily built, with the same locking mechanism and interal water-repellent polymer layer and tension screw. It’s just smaller and lighter. Comparing an L2D to an L2C made for a Glock 17, the former weighed 9.3 ounces and measured 9x3.5x3.25 inches. The Compact weighed 6.6 ounces and measured 6.75x3.4x3 inches, not including the width of the belt loop, which brought it out to five inches.
With the Compact holster the pistol rides much higher. The trigger guard is at belt level, which places this holster about four inches higher on the belt than the Duty rig. The thumb lever sticks out above the belt loop, but it is protected by thick tabs to prevent accidental deactivation.
The belt loops with the T-Series Duty holster will take belts up to 2.25 inches wide. The belt loops on the Compact will take 1.75-inch belts, but unlike the full-size rig, you can adjust the cant/ride of the holster much more than you can with the Duty holster.
The Compact will accept pistols wearing red dot sights. It is cut low in front, down to the ejection port of the pistol, for a quicker draw.
By September the Compact will be available for a wider range of pistols than the Duty holster: the Glock 19/17 families and 43/43X, SIG P320/P250, Kahr PM9/40 and the S&W M&P and M&P Shield.
Suggested retail price on the L2D T-Series holster is $130, and for the L3D it is $150. The L2C compact holster is just $65.