Tactical Heresy: Holsters and Tourniquets

First up on “Tactical Heresy”; Uncle Mike’s Nylon Holsters, Blackhawk! Serpa Holsers, and should always carry a tourniquet? Hopefully I’ll be able to address why these “tactical truths” came from with some historical context, and then explain why they they can’t be universally applied and anyone who tries to universally apply them deserves a good mocking.


The common wisdom that Uncle Mike’s holsters, especially the cheap nylon variety, are pure garbage that will get you “killed on da streetz” is pretty universal. There are better holsters than Uncle Mike’s, but there aren’t better holster’s than Uncle Mike’s at the Uncle Mike’s price point. Just like the Hi Point pistol pretty much dominates its price point category, they serve a niche.

So where can you use an Uncle Mike’s nylon holster where it doesn’t matter? When hiking in nature and you don’t happen to be the top of the food chain any more. When open carrying and care more about proper retention than “speed draw.” Pretty much ANY activity where you need a secure way to hold a pistol, Uncle Mike’s nylon holsters will work just as good as a top quality cow leather or kydex holster. The “inside the waistband” holsters also work, they are not as good as a kydex friction retention holster, especially not for re-holstering, but if you have one of those “carry lot, shoot little” lightweight revolvers as your defensive carry piece then there aren’t a whole lot of kydex options out there for you.

Next up, the ever so “cloggable” Serpa holsters. Videos of Serpa holsters getting clogged with sand/grit while folks are rolling around at “real tactical schools” doing “real tactical stuff” can be found all across the internet. And yes, this is a real thing, the Serpa WILL in fact clog, however a friction retention holster isn’t something you want to jump out of a C-130 with, otherwise you’ll be searching the drop zone “hands across America” style for days trying to find where the hell that M9 or M11 pistol ended up. So when is a Serpa the right tactical choice? When you are in an environment where positive retention is more important than a speed draw, such as conducing airborne, air assault, or amphibious assault, and your pistol is your secondary weapon. Sure the folks who train hard on the weekends will make fun of you for having a Serpa in thigh rig setup, but they aren’t the ones wearing body armor during the week crawling in and out of MRAPs.

Last up, carrying a tourniquet and making fun of anyone who plans on using their belt MacGuyver style to staunch the blood flow. This one doesn’t make too much sense to me as the whole “carry a tourniquet” came out of the “War on Terror” and it does make total sense for that scenario. However the deaths from gunshot wounds in the US are actually a very rare thing, and of those tourniquets in Iraq and Afghanistan were there to staunch the blood from the leftover stump after someone “got blowed up” so to speak. Since the number of full or partial limb amputations are rare as a result of gunshot wounds, and thankfully there hasn’t been a large increase in victim initiated IEDs in the United States, the “tactical tourniquet” crowd has really supplanted “actual first aid training” with a magical totem called a CAT-T. The military figured out that teaching people to use a tourniquet, pressure dressing, sucking chest wound flap/pneumothorax decompression and then getting them to a REAL trauma center was the 90% solution to saving lives.

So tourniquets are great for full and partial amputations, but what about gunshot wounds? Will a belt actually do for that? Yup. http://thehill.com/homenews/house/337723-gop-rep-recounts-using-belt-as-tourniquet-at-baseball-practice-shooting  Now what does a tourniquet do for a lower abdominal gunshot wound (what, your tourniquet doesn’t double as wound packing?) What does it do for a lung shot (you know, use the plastic cover from your field dressing with some medical tap to make a flap that lets air out but not in?). Nothing, but you’ve got your tactical tourniquet, so you must be more prepared than the guy wearing a belt, right?

So there you have it, some tactical heresy, hopefully explained with the backstory about how and why some of the “common wisdom” came about and how it can’t be universally applied (and definitely shouldn’t be universally applied). And anyone who parrots the “common wisdom” without understanding where it came from is probably someone you shouldn’t let waste your time. Now, if you are planning on being a concealed carry ninja who works really really hard on drawing from concealment to do a Mozambique drill and can afford a better holster than an Uncle Mike’s low end nylon, by all means you should get one, and the same goes for a Serpa. Better gear is always a good thing, but it is never a substitute for training and good judgement.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tactical Heresy: Holsters and Tourniquets

  1. B says:

    Israeli wound dressing is all I keep ready beyond standard band-aids in my field first aid kit. I’ve teased the idea of tampons for gun shot wounds but the reality is any trauma that is bad enough for the described scenarios, I figure the spray and pray approach to wound stabilization makes most sense. If they invent an aerosol wound canister spray I’d buy it but my only objective at the level of trauma you’re discussing will be management until a more qualified person can be found


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s