One of the things that has perplexed and amazed me since getting involved in open-enrollment firearms training courses a few years ago has been the number of attendees who show up either without a belt or with one that is poorly suited to the task. A belt is a belt you say? If we are just talking about holding up your pants, you are probably right. When it comes to supporting a handgun for training and carry then we need a belt that is built for that purpose. The belt is quite literally the foundation that your concealed carry system is going to be built on.
Most of the belts you buy off the rack at a department store are too thin, both in their height from top to bottom and in the thickness of their material, to provide the vertical and lateral rigidity needed to keep a holster stable during hours of concealed carry or the rigor of repeated draws. To accomplish this task a belt usually has to be at least 1 ¼” to 1 ¾” wide. You should select the belt width according to the type of pants you plan to wear (your pants need belt loops!!!) and also the width of the attachment points on your holster (see pictures). The belt should be constructed of nylon or leather thick enough that you can’t easily compress it from top to bottom with your fingers (see included photos). Some of your better nylon belts will actually offer the option of having a plastic stiffener sewn into the belt.
These companies are my personal go-to for gun belts;
For everyday casual wear and carry I use nylon belts from The Wilderness Tactical (https://www.thewilderness.com/index.php?p=home) I have been wearing these belts daily on and off duty for over 20 years now and the craftsmanship has been unfailingly excellent. My preferred models are the Frequent Flyer and the Instructor both in the five-stitch variation with the plastic stiffener. One of my favorite features about these belts is the easy adjustment that allows me to loosen or tighten my pants when I am taking my gun on and off (or when I have too much dessert). These belts are also going to be perfect for about 99.5% of your range training.
For a dress belt that I can wear with a suit I like leather belts from The Beltman (https://www.thebeltman.net/). I own at least four of these belts and they have held up very well over more than a decade of periodic use.
Finally for training and conducting classes I use the excellent Shuto belt system from Ronin Tactics (https://www.ronintactics.com/store/c12/Belts.html) that includes both an Velcro inner belt and a MOLLE compatible outer belt. This system is definitely intended for open carry in the tactical or duty context. Frankly, for most people having this sort of belt set-up is going to be more of a luxury than a necessity. I like it because I can leave the belt set up with my holster, pouches, trauma kit, timer and other essentials. By using a non-slip pad on the inside from high-speed gear ( https://www.highspeedgear.com/hsgi/95MG-95MG.html) I can throw this belt on over a coat in inclement weather or even wear it in with athletic pants when I am incorporating dry fire into my workouts (don’t try this at Planet Fitness…they don’t approve).
So, there you have it; a quick overview of what you should be looking for in a gun belt and a few purchasing suggestions. There are tons of other great manufacturers out there, but these are the ones I have used personally and extensively and literally trust with my life. Now when you come to a class you have no excuse for showing up in your yoga pants or with your braided JC Penny belt.
By. Jason McCoy
Redpass Training Solutions