Negligent Discharges and a Learning Experience to Take Home - ITS Tactical

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Negligent Discharges and a Learning Experience to Take Home

By Bryan Black

Negligent Discharge SERPA MainThere’s a YouTube video that’s currently circulating around the Internet that shows YouTuber Derek Grebner, of Tex Grebner Outdoors, taking his audience through his Negligent Discharge and how he wound up shooting himself in the leg with his Kimber 1911.

His expensive bullet wound could have inflicted much more damage and he was extremely lucky he didn’t blow out his entire knee cap. I strongly feel that this ND could have been prevented by better trigger discipline, but I’m sure he probably thinks that himself too.

While I agree with Derek’s statement that he didn’t feel it was caused by the Blackhawk SERPA holster, I still feel like the SERPA is NOT A BEGINNER’S HOLSTER. The SERPA holster relies on your index finger to slightly depress or graze the trigger guard release to draw your firearm. If trigger discipline is not fully developed or rushed, it’s easy for an index finger to curl and press the release, rather than slightly rub the release with a properly indexed trigger finger.

If the index finger is already curled while drawing, hopefully you can imagine how easy it would be for that finger to naturally find the trigger. I personally own and have used a SERPA multiple times and have my own reasons for disliking it, but this issue isn’t one of them. I feel an important take home message from viewing this video is that

In the video he states that his thumb safety was disengaged on his draw stroke, due to another holster he was previously using, but that information is irrelevant. This could have happened to anyone using a Glock or Sig which doesn’t utilize a thumb safety at all.

I commend Derek for coming forward with this video and showing his mistake as a learning experience, hopefully everyone reading this article will take note of this and learn from it. He certainly handled the incident well considering he’d just shot himself on video. It’s also an important reminder of why we advocate having a trauma kit like our ETA Kits readily available!

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  • Like Tex I have practiced this drill hundreds if not thousands of times. (Thanks Doc!) I was always more concerned with putting a round through my hand.
    Glad that Tex didn’t blow his knee cap off!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Thylacine

    It is and was OPERATOR ERROR. Quit trying to find an excuse for the booger hook on the bang switch.

  • Thank you for bring this out. It does happen. We were re-qualifing a number of police officers with their firearms. It was at the 2 yard line. The officer drew his weapon and before completely clearing the holster his finger hit the trigger and he ended up with approximately the same injury. The officer was using the same holster but for a Sig. He was also lucky that it did not hit bone.
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Merrion S. Taylor
    Jennings, LA

  • JP

    “The SERPA holster relies on your index finger to slightly depress or graze the trigger guard release to draw your firearm. If trigger discipline is not fully developed or rushed, it’s easy for an index finger to curl and press the release, rather than slightly rub the release with a properly indexed trigger finger.”

    I think its more enlightening to say that: “releasing the lock on the SERPA requires the trigger finger to exert pressure, in the vicinity of the trigger, largely in the direction of trigger travel, and at a time when the trigger may be exposed; the gross hazard is obvious. Proper training can isolate the lock release from movement from the closely related trigger pull movement, but this is a extremely nuanced and closely time separation of movements. ”

    Bottom line,…. the whole concept of the holster is a bad idea.

    • Hads 0601

      I have carried a Colt Commander 1991A1 in a Gun Gun (level 1 holster) and also a Safariland 070 (Level 3) holster for duty. About 6 years ago, I went to a Glock 22 and carried it in the 070 until about a year ago… I switched to the Blackhawk SERPA Level 3 duty holster and haven’t looked back.

      IT WASN’T THE HOLSTER!!! I give Tex alot of credit for putting himself out there like that; he even admits it wasnt the holster… On a clean & PROPPER draw, your trigger finger aligns along the frame of the gun; no matter the make or model of the gun!

      Shooters who are quick to the trigger are more prone to a ND… plain and simple. Propper draw & adherance to the 4 firearms safety rules= No ND’s!!!

    • Hads 0601

      **Top Gun (Level 1) Holster

  • Larry maxwell

    i am new to the concealed carry world-i carry a 40 cal glock 23 and am overwhelmed by all the inside the waistband holsters out there-could u help-all my cop buddies keep harping on retention so it doesn’t just pop out while others stress concealment-i have seen holsters from 20 bucks to 100-i am thingkin about one of the leather molded ones by galco-could u give me some input?

    • Larry my EDC ( ) is a Glock 22. I have been using a Cross Breed holster for a little over a year now. It’s a combination of leather and Kydex. It works great, very comfortable and I’ve had no issues of my pistol falling out, even when dropping a deuce in the head.

      I’m sure there are other holsters that can do just as good but this is my experience. But this is defiantly an item in your EDC you don’t want to take the cheap route.


      Stay Safe!

    • c. Gfield

      Look at Raven, cross breed, or comptac. I carry a Glock 30 IWB in a crossbreed quick clip the regular retention of the holster is more then enough to keep it from falling out.

    • Eric F

      I will second Raven Concealment. Retention is great however there is no mechanical mechanism and concealment is amazing. Yes they are $100+ but I carry a 4″ XD with a Docter and a TLR-1 on it and no one can tell.

    • Larry,

      I used to carry a Glock 19 (same size as the 23) in a Galco Summer Comfort IWB (about $50). It worked fine for years and I still have it. I had no problems with it.

      However, about three years ago I picked up a Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 (Galco modeled the Summer Comfort after the original Summer Special holster) and I like it much better. The comfort is much improved. Brownells actually carries them as a stocking item (I had to custom order mine). They are $100.

      Both are very good at retaining the firearm. I like the Milt Sparks much better than the Galco, but the Galco works well. For the price it is a pretty good buy.


  • Aaron McDoomsday

    Glad Tex is alright, all things considered… I own the same model SERPA for my Springfield XD .45acp. Just from my early dryfire practice with the SERPA, one if the inherent concerns I noted was the tendency to want to curl one’s index finger to press the guard release. My SERPA is the only holder I currently own, but I’m looking to trade it for a Safariland possibly.

    I’d like to extend my thanks to Tex for openly and unabashedly haring his unfortunate experience so we can all be just a little more aware of the importance of proper trigger discipline, regardless of holster. Speedy recover Tex!!

  • It’s important to cross train on different guns but this really goes to show the good and bad of muscle memory.

    And thank god he was only using a .45 cause a .357Sig would have killed him…. Just joking.

  • Joe

    This is why I used one style holster. I use the Serpa for every pistol, no matter what, if its available for the particular model. Glad he shared this because it shows just how one can get mixed up if they have been using a certain hoster and then switch to a different retention.

  • We all learn from all of our mistakes. I was trained that your index finger does only two things: 1. It stays out of the trigger guard and off the trigger. 2. Finger goes on trigger when ready to fire with sights on target. That’s it. A perk of being an RO at matches and going to training courses in a group; you get to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen SERPAs lock up and prevent shooter from drawing thier weapon. The thigh rig actualy points the weapon at the wearer’s own leg/foot. I’m not a fan of them. thanks for sharing, both ITS Tactical and TGO.

    • Almost forgot…. YOUR IFAK SHOULD BE WORN ON YOUR BODY DURING FIREARMS TRAINING. If you’re not carring a TQ on your body during any firearms training…you’re wrong. ETA Kit is a great start.

  • Alpha32

    I thoroughly agree that better trigger discipline would have helped prevent this ND. Having used the exact holster in the photo above for several years now and a Sig Sauer 229 for over a decade, I have never felt or observed my trigger finger in anyplace other than where it belongs during the draw and obtaining the master grip. Crawl before you walk and walk before you run, take the proper time to practice and become profecient with your equipment before you use it at full speed. I hope I would have the character to put this info out if I comitted the same sin.

  • Anthony C. Blandino

    Thanx for sharing. Praise God you lived to tell it.

  • I’d never use a serpa, and the argument that it’s not for beginners is a cop-out. If it’s an expert holster, why is it sold to the public, more-over. Why aren’t pro-trainers using them? I don’t know of a single trainer, No magpul/MDFI to name a few use them, and actually don’t ALLOW you to use them in their courses, as they will fail when needed, and are prone to allowing this situation to occur. Raven Concealment Kydex is the safest holster I’ve ever encountered, why would I switch to an inferior “expert” holster when it makes pro shooters pissed having them on the range?

    • Rodger, you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said it was an “expert” holster. I said it is NOT a beginner’s holster, plain and simple. If you couldn’t tell from the context of the article, my reasoning for stating that it’s not a beginner’s holster is that beginners can be more susceptible to improper trigger discipline and this holster only magnifies that. It’s not to say that people that have been around guns long enough to not be called a beginner can’t have trigger discipline issues either.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • I apologize, I must have misread. after the re-read I agree. However, serpa are horrible holsters. I’ve seen the Steve Fisher video where a 1911 was locked into the holster, and had to be cut out. Since then, I wrote off the Serpa as a carry option. When I want my firearm, I want it now, I don’t need a button. If you are blowing your situational awareness so bad that you let someone get a hold of your gun, it’s a game of chance.

    • Hads 0601

      I STRONGLY DISAGREE with your comments on the Serpa… I’ve used the duty holster for about a year, the Tactical holster & concealed carry for about a a year & a half. Are you never gonna buy a Toyota because one had a sticky gas peddle? How about never step outside again because the sun COULD give you cancer?

      Truth is, if it’s not for you… that’s fine! But don’t make your decision solely on others with bad experiences (one admittedly HIS OWN FAULT; NOT THE HOLSTERS!). Because as a police officer of almost 12 years, the Serpa is head and shoulders more secure and easier to use than any holster I’ve ever used or owned.

    • Wayne K.

      Maybe because some of the range shooters will not take the time to practice and learn the proper way and amount of time.

    • So you are saying the majority of Pro training companies that don’t allow Serpas are wrong?

    • Wayne K.

      No. Just out of curiosity–how do you know what the majority of Pro training companies say?

  • Thylacine

    If your finger ends up inside the trigger guard then ‘you’ are doing something wrong. Your finger will aline with the frame on the draw. I found this video online, I guess I am not the only one tired of unknowing idiots spouting crap.

    • Bill

      Yes, if you draw the pistol correctly then your trigger finger will be along the side of the frame. Not inside the trigger guard. If that is happening then that person is doing it wrong.

  • NCShooter

    Roger, most gunfighter training instructors do not allow them on courses because of this reason. Most do not do enough dry fire exercises or do them in correctly causing the same accident as Tex had. All the instructors I’ve had do not want the ND on the range and so ban all serpas on the range. I have friends still deployed that have tried things like raising the platform of the release to help negate possible ND. Seems to work for them. Many PD’s do not want officers to use these on duty for this reason. I think Bryan is absolutely correct it is not a beginners holster but that does not make it an expert holster either. This is a common theme among serpa owners and Tex is not the first this has happened to.

  • D

    Ummm…..he wasn’t using a SERPA. He was using a 5.11 thumb drive holster. Did you guys even watch the video? Not to say that it can’t happen with a SERPA (or any other holster), but DON’T BLAME THE HOLSTER, BLAME THE SHOOTER. Good thing it wasn’t worse that it was.

    • No, actually he talks about using the thumb drive holster previously, but it was in fact a SERPA. Watch the video again…

  • Wayne K.

    I’ve have this holster and have had no problems with it. I’ve also never been killed in a car wreck either. So, I suppose, either could happen in the future. Safety means putting the odds in your favor–it doesn’t mean something won’t happen to you.

  • Jeff Z

    I have used this same holster for years, as well as several different types in and out of combat situations. I , also, cut teeth on a 1911. The only reason it dischargered was by having the hammer cock. There is plenty of time to cock the hammer after drawing from the holster. just practice that or taking the safety off after drawn, it will help prevent these accidents. Remember the days of revolvers and leaving the cyclnder empty under the hammer? All military guys were taught, a safety is a mechanical device, all mechanical devices a subject to failure. Happy shooting, pratice dry, and practice often.

    • John

      1911 is not for you

    • Steve

      During the summer time i carry a Smith and Wesson 442 Air weight revolver, as i was growing up My dad always carried an older revolver and kept the chamber in front of the firing pin empty. when i got my first revolver i went back to the way i was raised and still to this day keep that chamber empty. Will walking around or running cause my newer safer firearm to discharge, probably not, but thats the way i was trained and raised. Why change something that has worked so well. Jeff i am glad you posted this comment. Every one needs to realize SAFETY INTERLOCKS FAIL.

  • Erica vander Pool

    First of all I think it took some balls to show this video at a YT. Judging from the little detail the video shows, I think it is purely an ND due to careless trigger-finger movement. The Serpa has it´s flaws but this time the failure is not the retention system.

  • pm40-45

    Im glad you came away from this ND with what could be consided minimal damage compared to what could have happened.

    this is not a holster issue it is operator error

    if your finger is moving towards the trigger you are putting it there! the tab on a serpa you is over the frame of the firearm not the trigger……..i took some photos to show this on another forum a year or so ago if I can find them ill post them here if you would like to see them.

    If your trigger discipline is failing it won’t matter what kind of holster you are using its only a matter of time.

    I run a serpa for my XD-40 service and my 1911

    my .02

  • SERPA Holsters are only for certain people. I love the concept, but couldn’t get it to work. On a drop leg holster I didn’t have issues. But when I came off the line and became a supervisor I put one on my belt. After training everyday for a month I still didn’t have a training session that my finger didn’t end up on the trigger. If it happened during dry practice, it was bound to happen when the ball dropped, so I got rid of it and suggest anyone that has one practice a lot. If your finger is on the trigger when you draw even after a couple days practice. Get rid or it! It’s not worth the risk.

  • Ken

    I’m sorry, but after watching the video several times, he explanation of events, and frame by frame of the draw, I think the whole think is from muscle memory. Was using a different holster earlier and then attempted a live-fire quick draw at speed with a different holster. Bad idea.

    I applaud that gentleman for the video. He’s certainly opening himself for ridicule.

    Is that drill something he thought up? Is it just something for fun as I see no practical real-world use for it.

  • JaredN

    SERPA’s aren’t holsters for “experts.” They aren’t holsters for “beginners.” They are, quite simply, a terrible, unsafe design, period. Which is why they are banned from FLETC (the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) and many other law enforcement ranges. Pushing inwards with your trigger finger to release the gun from the holster can easily result in the trigger finger ending up inside the trigger guard. And that isn’t even getting into the other SERPA shortcomings, like locking up if some sand gets in the holster, or getting easily torn off the belt.

    The SERPA holster didn’t cause this discharge (he also should have had the safety on), but it was a contributing factor.

    If you really need a retention holster (and many non-law enforcement don’t), then there are plenty of safe and effective alternatives like the Safariland SLS.

  • This is what happens when you try to train above your skill level.
    Slow down and stay safe…

  • MN

    Thanks for posting this Bryan. It’s always good to learn from other people’s mistakes.

    There has been a lot of fire and brimstone aimed at the Serpa all over the net. The more I read it the more I am inclined to say that most of the people bashing it have never actually used one and/or have some terrible weapons handling habits.

    The holster itself has but one moving part. How that part could ever freeze up is quite a mystery. I am in Iraq using two Serpa holsters (read beating the snot out of them). For those who have not been here, we have suspended dust and dust storms almost daily. These conditions frequently took down my M-9 in the past because the dust builds up in places like the de-cocking lever spring. It also gets into the thumb-break of Safariland 6004 holsters. When I was using those I had to clean and lube the entire mechanism weekly. With a Glock and a Serpa I have had to do zero maintenance to keep them running in these constant sand and dust conditions. I have actually spent some time trying to figure out how to make that mechanism malfunction and I have yet to find anything.

    As for the draw and the constant “safety” concerns… If your finger ever hits the trigger during the draw then this proves to me that you have a serious training deficiency. In order for your finger to find itself on the trigger, you put it there intentionally or you have trained yourself to do this unconsciously by rushing to get on the trigger. Both are dead wrong and not the fault of the holster design. If you draw properly and have proper control of your appendages, your finger is in perfect index alignment above the trigger (where it is supposed to be). You may remember that silly little saying, “Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot”. That means keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. If you are incapable of doing this then you should not be allowed within several miles of a firearm. End of story! There is no such excuse that in the heat of the moment blah blah blah noise noise noise. You revert to your training and if you didn’t train properly, that’s on you.

  • I just like the part when he say’s his training took over and he, “called his parents.” I also like my Serpa holster!

    • pm40-45

      hahhahhaaaa read that and laughed

  • pm40-45

    slow is smooth——-smooth is fast

  • pm40-45

    I shot an IDPA match today with my XD and serpa I gotta tell you if you end up in the trigger guard it is a you problem not a holster problem

    if you are in there with a serpa you will be in there with anything else

  • jaydee

    Try a Fobus if you have a tendency to shoot yourself drawing or carrying a pistol….sheesh

  • Frank

    Just saw this and obviously the conversation has moved on but I have to say that for some NDs don’t seem to have existed until the Serpa came along. I have seen two NDs in my life, none involving injury (by the Grace of God). One was from a leather Galco using a thumb break for a 1911 and the other was a kydex of unremembered origin. This was a long time ago and when an ND occurred in the dark ages we never thought about blaming the holster so I didn’t check its maker. I wonder if anyone would have mentioned the maker at all if it hadn’t been a Serpa. And yes, some of you need to understand that NDs weren’t invented with the Serpa.

  • tcwright

    His “training kicked in” and he called his parents? Did he give them a 9-Line or something? hahaha

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