What is the main purpose for today’s tactical (cringe…I hate using that word to describe something) belts? I mean, why do people pick certain belts over others?
First off, what makes a belt tactical? Is it because it is black, has Velcro or made of some sort of super metal? I have no idea I suppose, but for me a good belt holds my pants up, which are sometimes loaded down with a daily carry pistol.
My first “tactical” belt, was not tactical at all, in fact it was a competition belt. Part of the Ernie Hill “Speed Leather” line that went with my holster and magazine pouch. I loved it! It started out stiff, but a couple of excursions in the drink and lots of wear that belt become almost human. It warped to my body, but never lost it’s ability to support the weight. I still have that bad boy and no…it doesn’t still fit. I wish, it’s hard to find a belt that’s comfortable and good at it’s job; plus looks damn cool.
I strayed away from leather belts with the mass appeal of nylon “riggers belts”. Partly because I needed something I could use for a safety harness, but that’s what all the cool kids where using. I liked them for the most part and still wear them almost on a daily basis. But, I recently went back to wearing a leather belt and I have to say, I love it! I am still searching for that perfect match, but so far I am pretty happy.
How do you go about choosing a good belt for you? First, you have to define the mission. What do you intend on using it for, is it for daily carry or duty? While I have found some that can do both pretty well, comfort is more important to me these days so that makes it pretty hard. The common theme with duty is to wear a light weight pants belt then your heavier gun belt on top and I do mean heavy. Some of these gun belts are ridiculous, I mean really; even Batman might be a little jealous. I think if your job really entailed running and gunning you might think twice. I have gone back to my old school minimalist approach so I really only wear one belt; it’s good enough to hold my holster plus a magazine pouch or two and that’s it.
We use to break things down into different “line’s” and I don’t know why we moved away, but I see the move back (funny how we are cyclical). First line; what is on your person and essential. Second line, what is on your load carrying equipment and critical; third line, what is in your rucksack and enhancing.
For most people out there it is all about daily carrying of a firearm in a concealed mode. So, I need a belt that is comfortable. Yes, I need it to carry the load, but if it is uncomfortable then it will compromise my ability to carry discreetly and that sort of defeats the purpose of concealed carry. Since most concealed carry involves inside the waistband or IWB the support we needed is a lot less. Comfort and freedom override, stiffness and rigidity.
Some considerations for concealed carry. It should be the same width as the holster loops used to ensure the holster doesn’t slide around on your body through daily movements. It should be stiff “enough” to support the weight of your load out. That can be achieved through extra rigid material, doubling up on the material or reinforcing the material through internal bands or extra stitching (my preference). It should easily secure and adjust for different clothing options and weather conditions. Lastly, it should be somewhat discreet.
I want to wear the belt and not have the belt wear me.