Of the many items purchased to make carrying a firearm, mace, knife or another defensive tool easier the belt it far and away the most important. In this article I will go over why you need a belt, what belt types exist and of course my personal favorite belts for concealed carry.
When it comes to belts the topic is as diverse as saying 9mm or .45acp and like that topic, there are facts and there are many opinions. It is my goal to give you as much information that is factually supported as is possible. After all, if all we hear is opinion, it becomes quite tiring. For the facts, we can start with a brief history of belts. After which we can look at a few different belts and what makes them good, bad, ugly or great!
Belts have been documented as far back as the Bronze Age, the intent has been the same throughout history with minor asides for fashion interests of a few. Support for tools and bags to hold one’s goods while hunting, working, traveling and eventually warfare has been the primary purpose of the belt.
Vikings, for instance, had belts that were about 2 cm in width or 3/4” this is based on the very few artifacts that have been found and measurements were taken of these. (Short, n.d.) For northlanders or Vikings, the belt was meant to hold their fire starting gear, short working knives and possibly a seax (larger working blade that doubled as a defensive tool). Quite simply put, belts have been cords through strips of leather. More importantly, they have and do change based on needs at the time.
It should be noted that suspenders or sashes were used to hold clothing up, contrary to many historians who claim that belts were used for this. The reality is a belt throughout most of history was meant as a means to hold added items and tools. It was adopted to use as a means of holding up one’s pants/clothing or cinch the clothing tighter as clothing changed. So what makes a good belt for concealed carry of firearms today?
A good belt for carrying firearms/knives and other tools should be strong, durable, rigid and comfortable as can be. Leather, nylon and other materials have been used to build some very fine gun belts over time. I have owned many types and loved them all! One use for a good belt is as a weapon itself, wrap it around your fist, use its entire length as a flexible club or flail.
Let’s take a look at some designs and brands that are available today and see what works best and why. Leather gun belts have been around since the advent of the pistol well over 300 years ago. Wide, thick leather has always been the approach taken and continues to make the most sense with regards to carrying a firearm.
This approach, however, is not great when looking at concealed carry versus open carry. After all, a good gun belt is designed to go over your clothing and other belts, it is designed to carry the firearm and magazines or cartridges and nothing else. Some leather belts have evolved to better fit your needs and be a solid cross of stylish and concealable.
Allowing a daily concealed carrier all the benefits of a gunslinger rig without the brash approach of open carry. (open carry is perfectly fine and necessary in some applications)
When it comes to leather belts they should be double layered and properly stitched. I prefer my leather belts to be a minimum of 1.5” or approximately 4 centimeters in width at a minimum. Less than this does not support even my smaller handguns well over time. Remember, just like gripping your handgun the more skin on the grip or in this case leather on body contact you have the more comfort you will also notice and a more even weight distribution. My favorite belt to wear is 1.75” or 5 cm wide and has a narrow stainless steel buckle, I react badly to chrome, bronze and brass buckles for some reason.
Over 3 years ago I purchased the Aker Leather Garrison belt for $26. This belt is still in use today and has seen quite a bit of wear. I carry a Glock19 daily with two spare magazines and a belt knife. It also has to hold up my pants with sometimes two more folding knives and a backup piece. As with most leather, I have noticed a bit of give, though it still remains quite solid and functions well for the price. The buckle I had to replace almost right away because the chrome gives me hives. However, with a solid stainless buckle, it functions very well! Another leather belt I really liked due to a polymer lining inserted between the leather layers was the Desantis E25 which is 1.25” wide and costs $35 at last glance. While it was a bit narrow for me, it did work very well especially with dress clothing.
My personal favorite and the most used belt is the following one. I like this belt so much I have gifted it to others when I can afford too! Around two years ago I did a review of the Daltech Indestructibelt which is now known as the Daltech Force SuperBio CCW belt. This belt ranges in price from $26-$50 and is worth every single penny. It is hands down my favorite belt and is the one most often on my person. I can wear it external to regular clothing and belts or as my primary belt.
I personally tested the belt I wear almost daily by towing over 2 metric tons with it using my 4 runner and a 12’ long trailer. In addition to this, it has seen no negative effects from my copious summer sweating (living in Arizona is hot) and has never stretched or sagged at all. It also looks like a high priced designer belt and I have worn it with suits and dress slacks numerous times.
It is also manufactured entirely in the United States and has a no holds barred guarantee! It should be noted that I have worn this belt since purchasing it in 2016 and the tests were simply to prove a point for the review.
Next we look at nylon belts, these are among my least favorite though they are comfortable and easy to size as compared to leather or the SuperBio belt. The reasons why I do not like nylon belts is the sag factor, combined with more stretch than even the leather belt and you have something you need to adjust regularly.
As we know, concealed carry is only concealed carry as long as no one realizes you are doing so. Adjusting constantly is one of the chief ways others can tell you are carrying. Of course, this is my opinion. The Blackhawk riggers belt runs $50 or so and is well made, though I will say that my testing of this belt was not exemplary if you want nylon this is a good choice and it will work.
There are a few buckle types with nylon belts and due to their wide use among military members, they have a following. This being said, I will say that I do not prefer them especially when you can buy a Daltech SuperBio belt for less in many cases.
Several buckle types and materials exist, I will say again, due to allergic reactions I can only use stainless steel buckles. I have used the following buckle types, some are better than others due to strength and what the buckle allows.
The first buckle is the standard tang and loop design, some of these may have two tangs or metal tongues that go through the belt in designated holes spaced evenly apart. This approach requires measuring and does not allow much deviation in width.
My favorite belt uses a single tang and loop approach as well as holes every half an inch which allows a greater range of width and expansion as required. The next buckle is the slide or ratchet style belt buckle, while not the strongest they do work decently.
Next, there is the hook and loop or use of velcro for belts, this approach works well for competition and duty belts, though I do not like it for daily wear. Lastly, there are a few different approaches to buckles most of which are attached to the nylon belts.
One is the rigger or instructors belt which is made by a few different manufacturers these buckle types were designed for parachute/climbing hardware and are quite strong though they are not good concealment approaches as they scream “tactical”. I do have a few belts with these buckle types and use them exclusively for camping, woodcraft and hunting trips.
As always, feedback is greatly appreciated as I grow reading and learning from others. Additionally, if you notice a factual error in any of the articles I have written please let me know so that I can and will adjust as needed.
Free the mind and the body will follow
Short, W. (n.d.). Hurstwic: Clothing in the Viking Age. [online] Hurstwic.org. Available at: http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/clothing.htm [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].