Gun Belts, Options and Alternatives
Gun belts are an important piece of every day carry (EDC) kit which can sometimes be overlooked or glossed over. A good gun belt should be comfortable, sturdy and compatible with a variety of clothing choices. A good belt will keep a holstered pistol tight against the body and upright even when the belt isn’t buckled (think in the bathroom). A belt helps support, secure and disperse the weight of a firearm, magazines and other EDC gear.
Thick or Thin
A good double stitched belt, possibly with a nylon or plastic insert, significantly increases stiffness of the belt. One such option is the Volund GearWorks Atlas Belt. Just remember, as you increase the stiffness of the belt comfort may decrease; its personal preference.
The thinner the belt, the more chances the sidearm may cant outward away from the body due to weight. Even the slightest cant of an inside the waistband holster can cause printing under a cover garment. If you have to cinch a belt up so tight you can hardly breath it may not be the best belt for you. This may effect how often you carry the gun due to discomfort.
The Way Of The Gun Covert B.E.L.T. is a light weight highly versatile belt. With built in pistol and carbine magazine loops and hidden pocket it offers a lot of options. Its only drawback is its thinness. It has to be cinched down pretty tight when loaded up with all that gear.
I’ve run a number of different belts made of different materials over the years. Nylon and leather are the most common with various buckle configurations.
I’ve never been overly fond of leather for holsters or belts that may come in contact with sweat or water. Leather is susceptible to these elements over time and can lose its original shape. Belts which were once straight sometimes look like a boomerang after a couple years wear. Holster sweat guards tend to curl downward creating possible re-holstering problems. This may be a quality of leather issue however I’ve seen this happen with what some would call quality gear. In my opinion, leather is great for concealed carry in milder climates or occasional wear such as with dress clothing.
Nylon and synthetic plastic or urethane type materials seem to hold up better to various elements and hold shape.
There are multiple options to choose from when selecting a good EDC belt. One of which is the type of buckle. Quick detach cobra buckles are very popular and fast. However, it requires the user to take part of the buckle off the belt to thread through the belt loops. Some find this problematic and some don’t.
Another option is a simple cinch tight buckle like that seen on a Wilderness Tactical belt (see below). Both belts utilize velcro hook and loop panels to secure the belt tail.
The Ares Gear Aegis Belt offers a slide buckle with tension bar. This tension bar design is convenient and looks nice. Similar to Ares excellent ranger belt the Aegis offers more of a natural look that can be worn in the office or on the range. With stainless buckle and double layered scuba webbing this belt is very solid an rigid. This belt was almost too solid for me. Its rigidness made it somewhat uncomfortable for my body type over extended periods of time. The slide tension bar can also get super tightened making it very difficult to loosen. Price is also on the high end but you get what you pay for with this kind of craftsmanship.
Alternatives To A Belt
This will be hard for some old school gun people to take but sometimes I carry my gun without a belt. I know, I know, heresy. In order for me to carry a gun as often as possible on my person (vs. in some bag off body) non-belt alternatives have to be explored. This is a matter of holster attachments such as hard belt loops, soft loops, J-hooks, spring steel clips, Ulti-clips and more. Most are meant to be utilized in conjunction with a good belt.
The best option I’ve found and tested is a spring steel clips with a cut out “tooth” or hook. Holsters (and knife sheaths) with this attachment can be clipped onto very light clothing materials and due to this tooth or hook, bite and hold effectively. This allows efficient draw-stroke without concern the holster will come out with the gun. Clothing choices still require some type of strong drawstring closure or tightness to keep the firearm close to the body and upright.
Another consideration is ladies who want to carry a gun or knife but don’t want to change their entire wardrobe or accessorize with a belt. These clips are strong, secure and offer another option in these circumstances. While a belt is always a good idea this alternative is proving to be viable.
Steel clips with tooth have shown the best results. Plastic clips with a hook, a kind of J-hook attachment, don’t bite into the clothing material enough and have come loose under pressure testing.
My current go to is a First Spear Line One Biothane belt. A urethane covered nylon the Line One belt is an excellent all purpose belt. Stiff enough for heavy gear carry yet the low profile look allows me to wear it to work or dressier events. As its sales description states this belt flexes like leather and is impervious to sweat or water. My only complaint is the black coating on the buckle is starting to wear off. I now utilize this belt almost exclusively for work, concealed carry and on the range. Its hard to beat for the price and a good mix of comfort, versatility and EDC utility.
My second choice and one I find useful for general range work is a double layer, five stitch, nylon belt. The Wilderness Original Instructor Belts have been consistently good over the years.
A lot of times I run around in gym clothing or fight shorts. This is because I spend my free time training and want to be comfortable. On these occasions I utilize one of the clip holsters and associated gear as described above.
I have a couple nice leather belts however I don’t carry my EDC gear on my waistline when wearing dressier clothing. If you do, I would recommend Ritchie Gun Leather out of Amherst NY for a good leather belt. Another option is Alessi Holsters Regular Leather Belt. A good leather gun belts made by someone who knows what they are doing will cost upwards of $100 plus.
There are many other good leather and nylon gun belt and holster makers out there. This post is not all inclusive and simply represents some of the belts and gear I’ve had extended personal experience with.
Finally, do your research. Ask around and do your best to get hands on an EDC gun belt prior to purchasing. Don’t just pick any random belt that looks “sturdy” to you. Go with an actual “Gun Belt”. Carrying that gun is a big responsibility. The importance of good belts and holsters cannot be over emphasized, choose wisely.
*Note- I paid for all of the equipment seen here.