The well-known BLACKHAWK! brand − now an ATK group company, and possibly the world's best known manufacturer of tactical gear and apparel − finally announced the launch of a brand new type of tactical retention holster, the Epoch Level 3, for full-sized service and defense pistols equipped with tactical gunlights.
The official press release for the BLACKHAWK! Epoch Level 3 light bearing duty holster dates back to August 11th, but the item itself has become available in significant quantities both in stores and on the most notorious on-line marketplaces only much more recently.
It sure took a while: the first prototypes of the Epoch holster design were first seen in late 2012, and then again at the 2013 SHOT Show, when it was announced that mass distribution would start by February or March of the same year. The design was instead pushed back to Research and Development, where further improvements were made over the existing design before final clearance was given to mass production.
The Epoch holster design capitalizes on BLACKHAWK!'s experiences and lessons learned ever since 2004, when the SERPA retention holster was first launched. For ten years now, the SERPA line has been one of the global top selling holsters between civilian shooters and professional operators alike.
The BLACKHAWK! Epoch holster has been conceived to provide the same high safety and reliable retention levels as the SERPA, although with a totally different release system.
Molded out of reinforced polymer, the Epoch holster is furthermore unique in that it's specifically conceived to host a gun fitted not with a specific type of gunlight, but with any of the most modern and widely available gunlights on the market, such as − but not limited to − the entire SureFire X-series or the Streamlight TRL-series models.
As a matter of fact, the new BLACKHAWK! Epoch holster has been conceived to be used only with a gun equipped with a tactical light (the rear of the holster itself is clearly marked as "do not use without light"). As such, it clearly configures as an open carry service/duty holster for military personnel, Police officers and security guards.
The BLACKHAWK! Epoch holster sports an adjustable passive detent screw and the Company's own, patent-pending EPOCH™ Auto Lock™ retention system that engages the ejection port of the holstered gun and won't let it go until manually disengaged by the user.
The thumb-released pivot guard also dubs as an added safety measure, and is designed so that it won't close accidentally and lock the user out of the holster in the worst possible moment.
The placement of the EPOCH™ Auto Lock™ release and an index finger indent reinforce a full master grip by allowing the shooter to draw the firearm with the index finger and thumb in proper alignment; plus, just like in the earlier SERPA, the retention systems can be disengaged only when the gun is drawn in a proper movement, meaning that it will be harder for a surprise assailant to take the user's gun from behind.
The BLACKHAWK! Epoch is compatible with all the previous attachment and interface systems proposed by the Company itself, and comes with a jacket slot duty belt loop for easier attachment to a duty belt.
The BLACKHAWK! Epoch Level 3 light bearing duty holster is currently available only for the Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 31 and 32 pistols, and for the Smith & Wesson M&P full-size models in 9mm, .40 and .357 SIG calibers without an external thumb safety.
Additional models may be available in the future, though: BLACKHAWK! makes no mystery of their will of turning the Epoch platform into their next generation tactical holster system.
We may thus be possibly seeing the successor to the SERPA here, with the additional advantage for their users of being able to use the tactical flashlights they already own on their guns, rathern than having to buy new ones that will suit the new holster design.
The only difference between the three available variants of the BLACKHAWK! Epoch holster (the "Plain", the "Matte" and the "Basketweave") are in the look and make of the outer finish: the "Plain" model sports a light grey finish, the "Matte" model comes with a darker finish, while the "Basketewave" features a carbon-style, scratch-proof outer lining.
Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the BLACKHAWK! Epoch Level 3 light bearing duty holster has been set between $107,99 to $124,99 in the United States (that's 85,34€ to 98,78€ at the current change), depending from the version. Prospective non-US buyers should contact their Country's authorized distributor of BLACKHAWK! products for local availability and pricing.