U.S. Customs Confiscates Counterfeit Blackhawk Holsters

U.S. Customs recently confiscated two shipments of counterfeit Blackhawk products …

NORFOLK, Va. – June 6, 2013 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently discovered two shipments of counterfeit BLACKHAWK!® products, including SERPA® holsters, at the Port of Miami. The subsequent seizure was the result of the collaborative efforts of BLACKHAWK! and CBP officials to prevent the influx of cheap and dangerous counterfeit products into the American market. This latest seizure sends a message to overseas counterfeiters that American companies will not accept infringement of their intellectual rights and dangerous imitations of their products.

“We would like to extend our thanks to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and, in particular, the vigilant officials at the Miami Seaport,” said BLACKHAWK! Brand Director Chuck Buis. “We work hard to ensure our customers aren’t exposed to imitation BLACKHAWK! products. Knowing we have agencies like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection working on the front lines to protect our customers is invaluable to us.”

Counterfeit products create confusion in the marketplace and pose a potential danger to users. Original products produce American jobs and provide the quality expected of brand name products.

For a holster like the SERPA that actively locks the gun in place, a poorly made counterfeit could cost someone their foot, if not their life.

Blackhawk SERPA CQC Holster.

Blackhawk SERPA CQC Holster.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Edgar Castelo

    Counterfeits, Black Market. Glad to know Customs aren’t yet as PC’ed, as to deem Law Enforcing as “Waaaaacist”…

  • Matt Gentry

    Anybody else seeing the irony in BLACKHAWK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1¡! Trying to prevent the distribution of cheap and dangerous products?

    • Nicks87

      Serpas are cheap and dangerous?

      Maybe if you are an airsoft commando low crawling through your backyard but for everyday carry they work just fine. If by cheap you mean they don’t cost very much then yeah I agree but I don’t think they are cheap as far as quality. Of course there are better choices out there but serpas are great reasonably priced starter holsters.

      • JaredN

        Serpas are reasonably priced, but they are fundamentally ergonomically flawed. Any holster that requires you to press inwards with your trigger finger to release the gun is a disaster waiting to happen. It is absolutely not a holster that I would suggest to a new shooter.

        • Havok

          A Serpa was my first holster. Used it everyday for my Ruger SR40 that I carry at the gun store I work at. Never one negligent discharge in all my live fire drills I ran. Why? Because I did dry fire practice until I learned to remove my finger after the holster released the firearm. All it takes is practice. Don’t wanna practice? Then ya gotta live with the consequences.

          • JaredN

            Havok: Suppose you designed an airliner that had two switches, each of which had two positions. One switch lowered the landing gear. The other switch shut off the fuel flow. Now suppose you decided to make both of those switches identical in shape and size and put them next to each other. Guess what? There would be a number of airliners crashing on final approach when the pilot flipped the wrong of the two, identical, side-by-side switches. You could say that the pilots weren’t trained properly and it was just a training problem. But I would say that ergonomic design can make an accident more or less likely and that would be a horrible design.

            The Serpa design makes an accident more likely. If you release your finger from the button too soon, the holster doesn’t release. If you release your finger from the inward pressure too late, then your finger might end up pressing on the trigger prematurely. A holster design that depends upon such timing is simply ergonomically flawed. Retention holsters can be designed such that timing mistakes like that won’t lead to an ND.

            Consider the Safariland ALS holster. To release the ALS holster, your strong-hand thumb pushes on a release lever. Your trigger finger remains straight. No matter how you mess up the timing of moving your thumb, your thumb won’t end up anywhere near the trigger.

            Do you see how the ALS holster is ergonomically superior to the Serpa holster? It is more tolerant of error. People make mistakes. Ergonomics can be used to reduce the chances of mistakes or to increase them.

          • Suburban

            You sound like a human factors professor.

            Tis’ true though.

          • Nicks87

            I’m sorry but you would have to be fucking retarded to shoot yourself because of a supposed “design flaw” with the serpa holster.
            You extend your index finger to press the release button and while you draw the weapon you keep the index finger extended out until you are on target and ready to fire the pistol. It’s simple weapons saftey, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot… If you cant figure that out then you shouldnt be carrying in the first place.

          • Aaron

            True. However, in that same line of logic using plastic on real handguns, and placing a safety on the trigger itself is so ludicrous that the manufacturer exhibits outright negligence. So said much of the firearms community to Gaston Glock in 1986, when the Glock 17 first arrived in the U.S.

            Amazingly, 27 years later Glock continues to dominate the U.S. law enforcement handgun market, maintains a strong world-wide reputation, and even has several major manufacturers mimicking those very designs.

            In each example, it all comes down to the user knowing how to use their equipment. Or in the words of Dirty Harry Callahan, “a man has to know his limitations”.

      • Matt Gentry

        Cheap because they are made out of cheap, non-reinforced ABS plastic. Dangerous because the serpa has a clear track record of being involved in a higher number of negligent discharges than other holsters. Go ahead and ask a few good handgun instructors how they feel about the Sherpa and BLACKHAWK!!!!1! Products in general.

    • Suburban

      The “could cost someone their foot” link it to an article about the GENUINE Serpa holsters. I also don’t get the fuss about genuine vs. counterfeit holsters, from a safety standpoint anyway. I’m not so sure either is particularly safe. JaredN did a pretty good job of explaining why, with the comparison to aircraft switches below.

  • Raoul O’Shaughnessy

    Wait..if the counterfeit holster is cheap and dangerous to the point of the user possibly shooting themselves in the foot that makes it different from the real Blackahawk holster how exactly?

    • Nicks87

      Since when did the Serpa become this horrible death trap, anyway?
      If you shoot yourself while using a Serpa holster maybe you should get another hobby or, god forbid, find another profession.

  • Anonymoose

    Their knives are made in Taiwan…are their holsters made there too?

    • sean

      They used to be made in Vietnam. My local gun store sent a whole shipment back one time upon seeing that on the boxes. A good portion of that stores customers would not be happy seeing that on their holsters

  • Aaron

    Glad to hear! I’ve been using Blackhawk products for over 10 years and have found their products to live up to their founder’s goal – quality gear that holds up in the toughest of environments.

    Matt Gentry and JaredN – I’m glad they’re affordable, but to call them dangerous is your opinion and not fact. My police department (about 140 officers) has used the Serpa Level III on duty for over 5 years. Detectives are issued the Level II, and many officers use that for off-duty as well. Not one accidental/negligent discharge, and we carry Glock 22’s with no external safety. Several other departments in the major U.S. metropolitan area I live in also use Serpas with no problems.

    We transitioned away from the Safariland SSIII (a great holster too) because they are much more complicated to master, and involve break-in time to allow the trigger guard snap to work properly.

    The statement about “ergonomically flawed” is also incorrect. With the pistol locked into the Serpa, the trigger finger release lever requires an inward push that is above the trigger and trigger guard. After pressing the release lever the shooter simply allows their trigger finger to slide up with the firearm during withdrawing. The trigger finger naturally lines up on the frame of the pistol and NOT on the trigger. This was specifically designed for users so their trigger finger would naturally take up this position – a very common safe firearm handling grip.

    If someone has an AD/ND while holstering or withdrawing using the Serpa it is a training flaw for THAT shooter, and not the Serpa holster. Those shooters are “fundamentally flawed” in their firearms safety skills and need to be trained to stop putting their finger on the trigger until ready to shoot. If that happens, it was the shooter’s physical action (whether intentional or not) that caused the discharge, and not the Serpa design.

    • JaredN

      Aaron, there is a reason that FLETC has banned Serpa holsters from their range. Safariland ALS holsters are released with the thumb, not the trigger finger. That is a much safer design.

      “In our efforts to continually stay abreast of issues relating to officer safety, the National Training and Emergency Operations Branch (NTEOB) routinely evaluates the law enforcement equipment issued to or carried by OI personnel.

      Recently, one such piece of equipment, the Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System holster, has come under scrutiny due to safety concerns involving the design of its retention safety device. There have been several recent documented cases, involving law enforcement and civilian personnel, where unintentional discharges have occurred while weapons were being drawn from this holster. Many of these unintentional discharges have resulted in gunshot injuries to the officers/agents involved.

      The SERPA is one of the only holster system designed to use the trigger finger to release the retention safety device. This method of releasing the safety device is contrary to our training methods and techniques, which emphasize attacking the holster from the “top down.” In addition, this retention system is completely different from the standard thumb-break holsters currently issued by OI. While it is true that one of the Cardinal Rules of firearms safety was violated by the individual placing his or her finger on the trigger before they were ready to shoot, we believe that the design of the SERPA holster facilitates this action by engaging the trigger finger well before the individual is prepared to shoot.

      In light of these events and in accordance with OI policy, specifically Part 2, Section 2, Subsection IV B, NTEOB is suspending all use of the Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System holster by OI agents acting in an official, on-duty capacity. NTEOB will thoroughly research and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of this holster system and report on its findings. “

      • Aaron

        Thanks for this post JaredN. I heard a “major” LE training range not allowing Serpas, but nobody seemed to answer up who that was. Before I get started I agree that the Safariland ALS holster is a good holster, and don’t discount other options just because I like the Serpa. However, just because the Serpa uses a trigger finger release does not make it “dangerous” as I’ve previously identified. Hundreds of LE, and security in my area use the Serpa and have not had problems.

        Your statement that the Serpa has been “banned” from FLETC is not exactly accurate. The quote you provide simply states that NTEOB is, “suspending’ all use of the Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System holster by OI agents acting in an official, on-duty capacity.” The quote then continues by clarifying, “NTEOB will thoroughly research and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of this holster system and report on its findings.”

        Like any government mishap, the item in question is “grounded” while a review or investigation can be conducted. No date is provided so readers are left to wonder – where is the report of the results of that research?

        The answer has already been mentioned inside your quote – it was Operator Error. “It is true that one of the Cardinal Rules of firearms safety was violated by the individual placing his or her finger on the trigger before they were ready to shoot”.

        When someone is looking at a negative letter, suspension, demotion, or worse from a high paying Federal LE job because they screwed up with a firearm, it’s not a big stretch to imagine that the “guilty” one is going to quickly blame the inanimate object rather than admit they violated a “Cardinal Rule of firearms safety”.

        FLETC trains most of the alphabet soup Federal LE agencies (IRS, Agriculture, HHS, Labor, Education, etc. – yes they all have LE agents). Many of these bureaucrats are not firearm savvy at all, and rarely use their firearms. Sadly, in government, we often have to train to the lowest common denominator, and not the the level of proficiency we should.

        I mean no disrespect to them, but I’ve seen how badly they tear up a firearms range – hitting the ground at even close up shots of 10 yards or less. That range is owned by the Sheriff’s Department, and the ONLY reason they allow them continued use is they pay big money! The Sheriff did refuse to supply them with targets, target stands, posts or anything else because of their destructiveness however.

        If FLETC ends up “banning” the Serpa holster I would imagine that the underlying tone of that research will be – because we have to train to the lowest common denominator, not because Serpa is a bad product. If you learn not to put your booger picker on the boom handle before you’re ready to shoot, there really is no problem.

  • kzrkp

    isn’t BH notorious for cheap ripoff designs produced overseas? hahah

  • Travis

    Any mention of who made these “counterfeit” products and to what kind of retailers they were going? I suspect they might have been targeted at airsofters.