One of the equipment requirements I list in all my classes that require students to provide their own gear is a “sturdy” belt. Its purpose, of course, is to hold their holster and their firearm firmly to their body (not to mention holding their pants up). That said, it’s probably the single most ignored piece of gear. So, let’s chat a bit about belts.
In the day of the early revolvers, shooters wore “gunbelts” – belts that integrated the holster as well as storage for additional ammunition. It was worn over top of any existing belts or suspenders and had nothing to do with holding up a person’s pants. These are still standard equipment for Cowboy Action Shooting. I have one in my safe that dutifully holds my SA 45 Long Colt “Evil Roy” revolver. But, for the typical shooter going about their day concealed carrying either OWB or IWB – these have no value at all.
Walk into any men’s/women’s clothing store and there is always a rack with a wide variety of belts that, again, have little value in holding up your pants/slacks – let alone a couple pounds of gun. While they look stylish, if you’re rushing to cover or attempting to leave an area quickly, the last thing you want is your pants down around your ankles while you are trying to move/draw and engage a threat. Please, take a pass on these and spend some time looking for actual “gun belts”. Let me share with you a couple solutions I have found valuable and may act as examples for you.
Just a point of clarification – I am NOT a “clothes” kind of guy. I wear a pair of shoes until something breaks on them. Pants/slacks/jeans last until holes appear and my shirts pretty much last just as long. Belts . . . well, as long as they fit, I keep them. I’m also not what you would call “stylish” – polo’s, 5.11 concealed carry shirts, couple Henley long-sleeved, and a few “dress” shirts . . . that’s my entire wardrobe, less than a quarter of the lovely Mrs. Bill’s . . . . . and I am NOT going to “go there”.
While all clothing, from shirt to pants to shoes to belts, affect a shooter’s ability to carry concealed comfortably and without fear of not being able to move and reach for your weapon – belts are a major element of the mix.
For casual wear – Khaki pants or jeans – my choice is from Cabelas:
Rich, rugged nubuck is the ideal complement to your workday attire. Full-grain leather. Buckle has a rolled silver finish. Imported.
Even waist sizes: 32"-58".
Colors: Brown, Black.
My preferred holster for concealed carry is the Blackhawk IWB leather holster. It has a large strap that snaps around the belt at my 4 o’clock position. This particular belt is very well made, 1 ½ inches wide and sturdy enough to hold my holstered weapon in place all day without movement. The style is certainly casual enough and “normal” enough that it doesn’t draw undue attention. It’s a belt I would recommend without hesitation as well as one that acts as a good example of what I mean when I say the words “sturdy belt”.
When I move to “daily wear”, along with “training wear” I really like 5.11 Tactical’s Double Duty TDU Belt:
Reversible design gives you 2 color options
- Non-metallic buckle - great for air travel and safe for EOD
- 5 rows of stitching for stability
- Easy thread belt tip
A 1.75" reversible nylon belt
Two Layers of heavy duty nylon webbing with five rows of stitching, and a Micro-adjustable buckle for greater comfort and perfect fit.
Perfect for work, travel, or deployment, our reversible Double Duty Belts allows you to pack light and match at the same time
This is the belt I wear daily. Luckily my work allows for a fairly casual style of dress and this belt goes well with Khakis or jeans. It is double sided so it will work with the “browns” and the “blacks”. It’s 1 ¾ width provides an exceptional “sturdiness” for either my IWB or my OWB Serpa holsters (my favorite for range training). Since the buckle provides a “friction lock” it provides a continuous range of adjustment. This can come in handy when you find yourself wanting to use the belt sans holster, or with a different holster.
A “sturdy belt” is an essential part of your carry gear. A cheapie from the local box store is not something you want to bet your life on. Take some time, do some shopping and find a couple that fit your lifestyle and will provide a firm way of mounting your weapon to your body.
One more thought – buy two of any belt you buy. “One is none, two is one” applies to belts just as much as firearms.