View Full Version : Shooting Belts ... What's the big deal?
December 9, 1998, 03:35 PM
I see many people every week who go to great lengths to acquire a custom holster that is "just right" and then strap it on with a standard dress belt. I personally see the belt as being just as important as the holster.
So … ante-up … Who believes that a quality belt is "essential to the rig" and who thinks it's not such a big deal? Please tell us why? Also, what do you like and where do you get'em?
December 9, 1998, 03:53 PM
I'll have more info in a few days. I'm hoping to get my new FIST holster and belt today... Jim Murnak, owner/proprieter/master leather god, has asked me to test a holster for him. I ordered a belt to come with it. Jim's belts aren't cheap ($67.25, to be exact), but I expect it to be very nice. I'll post back when I get it.
December 9, 1998, 04:38 PM
Okay, Scott you bring up an interesting topic. AS everyone knows by now, I love spending money on guns, I accept spending money on ammo and I hate spending money on shooting accessories.
Belts are accessories, more than that, they are accessories that I already have a mess of. AS you point out, the ones I have are designed to hold up my pants and (in some cases) look good doing it. They are not designed to hang a holster on.
A few years back I bought one of those thick leather Galco jobs, with the thinner leather sewn on top for the buckle. It hardly goes through the loops on Levi's jeans (my daily uniform) and rides like a duty belt. True, I hardly notice that I am wearing a firearm when I attach various holsters to it, but it is just not comfortable nor attractive for everyday use as far as I am concerned.
I have an "instructor's belt" that works much better with jeans and supports holsters pretty well that I prefer to wear.
So, I've got a $80 leather belt that I only wear for extended use at the range and a $30 nylon webbing belt that is much more comfortable for all day wear.
All that said, I carry primarily IWB holsters, where the belt is not as important to the support of the firearm.
So, while I admit that most "gun belts" I've tried are much better for holding up guns, they suck as belts.
Galco has a newer line (the Contour collection) of stiff but slim belts that I have not tried yet, they look much more promising but when I am at the gunshop I'd rather by 10 boxes of ammo than a belt.
December 9, 1998, 04:50 PM
A good holster needs a good foundation. The holster cannot function properly if it's attached to a flimsy belt. IWB's are a LITTLE more forgiving on belt quality, but they work better with a proper belt. The width of the belt should match the slots/loops of the holster.
If the user needs/wants a leather belt, it should be constructed of two layers and be quite stiff. I have no strong preference as to whether the belt is "contour cut" or just cut straight. Either way, it'll end up molding itself to YOUR contours as it breaks in. Milt Sparks Leather (now honchoed by Tony Kanally) makes very nice leather belts.
The nylon "Instructor" belts, originated by The Wilderness of Phoenix, are justifiably popular too. These 1.75" belts are available in three models...the original, a "5-stitch" version (which is stiffer, due to the extra stitching), and one with a polymer layer sandwiched within to further stiffen it. The buckle allows one to "clip in" to a safety line (although I think the near-fatal "wedgie" that would result from a fall would be as bad as the fall itself). They are infinitely adjustable. The only downside is that their 1.75" width relegates them to use only with jeans, BDU's, and other trousers with BIG loops. The Wilderness offers a similar belt in a 1.25" width. I would really prefer a 1.5" width.
December 9, 1998, 06:30 PM
If you dont have a good belt to put the holster on you may as well duct tape the holster to your leg. It will carry about the same.
I even look at where the belt loop's are when buying pants because some makers put the belt loops where the holster will be.
Mouse Assassins inc.
December 9, 1998, 07:32 PM
Rosco, we once again are on the same page here. The belt is not only the platform for the CARRY of the weapon system, but for the DEPLOYMENT of the weapon. Your draw stroke will suffer if the belt is floppy or thin, too narrow to fill up the belt loops on your pants (you'd be surprised how many people overlook this), or if the holster moves on the belt b/c the belt is too narrow.
I wear a 1.75" Wilderness 5 stitch belt almost every day, and it is a durable, silent, all weather gun belt to wear with my Royal Robbins 5.11 pants. My other favorite belt for when I am forced to dress up is the Milt Sparks 1B belt with lining. My comment above about filling up belt loops comes from spending time with this favorite 1.25" belt when it slides up and down in the belt loops of some pants. A 1.5" 1B is on my Xmas list. I have a Kramer 1.5" unlined horsehide, but it leaves greasy black stains on my dress pants, which is unacceptable.
December 9, 1998, 10:18 PM
I'll throw in my two cents worth here and actually say that the belt is just as important if not more so than the holster itself. And before you start sending me flame-mail, just remember that the holster doesn't keep your pants up. ;)
A belt pretty much holds your tools and gears in place. Otherwise, they jiggle and slide everywhere and makes deployment more difficult. Also, it can ruin your concealment strategy. In fact, just this last week, I had to go to a leathersmith just to get a belt that fits my needs exactly. I admit this isn't a top-of-the-line, premium quality belt by someone that specializes in firearm accessories. However, for less than $20, it does everything that I can ask for out of a good, simple leather belt. And if it ever gets ruined, I'll just get another. They're very inexpensive and this guy is just right around corner from where I live.
And though I don't mean to sound contrary, merely something I feel I should bring up, I have not been as enamored with the Wilderness 5-stitch as the rest of the community. It simply gives too much IMHO. In fact, it gave just enough to ruin my concealment strategy and moderately dampen my deployment. Admittedly, mine doesn't have the polymer reinforcement.
December 11, 1998, 11:25 PM
I promised to post when I got my FIST holster and belt, and they came today. I'll tell of the holster in another thread.
The belt is a nice, heavy, two-layer black belt, with attractive and heavy stitching. It has a third layer neatly sandwiched in from the front of the right hip to behind the left hip. It has a nice (not to big or fancy) polished brass buckle. I really, really like it. Easily the best belt I've ever examined - though I'm still not sure any belt is worth $65.
December 12, 1998, 02:20 AM
Lou Alessi (of Alessi Holster fame) has made me rethink my ideas on the price of handmade gunbelts. He informs me that belts are expensive (his are $85) because: A) they take several times more leather than a holster B) they take way more time than a holster, and C) belts aren't nearly as fun to make as holsters.
He summed up with "you get what you pay for."
December 12, 1998, 07:51 AM
Because of my assignment, I acquired a Galco dress belt (1") which is of gunbelt thickness. I found that carrying a radio and a gun on an ordinary dress belt wears the belt out quickly. Outwardly it appears like a belt any ordinary office worker wears, but it is quite durable and doesn't sag with all the junk I have to carry.
While Rosco's point is well taken in that a the belt should be wide enough for your holster so as to prevent it from flopping or canting, I find that if I cinch up my belt, there's no problem with the holster.
December 12, 1998, 09:36 AM
I also use the Galco dress belt.I need to wear business casual clothing, so a big gunbelt is out of the question. I carry a Commander or Springfield Ultra Compact, spare mag and pager, this belt does a great job. It's nice enough so that I'd wear it anyway.
December 12, 1998, 01:09 PM
I use the leather belts made from saddle skirt made by Paul at the New Braunfels Leather Company, New Braunfels, Texas. I wear 1 1/4" dress belts and they can carry my 629 in an IWB comfortably all day. Their address is 165 S. Seguin St., New Braunfels, TX 78130. and cost around $28 dollars each and last about 6-8 years.
December 15, 1998, 11:43 PM
For the last 15 or so years the only belts I wear are 1.5" double layer leather gun belts. They don't wear out easily, they don't deform from pressure of belt loops or any accessory worn, they handle heavy custom belt buckles with ease be they classic silver cowboy types or items like the brass Varmint Hunters Assoc one. I've bought them from everyone from Dillon to custom makers. They cost more initially but are cheaper in the long run because they last so long. Whatever is carried and regardless if it is IWB or hung on, a thick heavy belt is the only stable platform I know. I won't wear anything else period.
PS Hear you've been working too many nights until after 9pm and your e-mail is topping 3000 pieces per month. Some cutlery dealers are even carrying your Spydie Moran sheaths (e.g. Chai)... I love it and won't apologize if my posts about the sheaths you made for my son and I have had anything at all to do with the situation :) !!!
December 17, 1998, 12:14 AM
Thanks much for the support …. Customers like you have been very encouraging and helpful to our efforts. So as not to get off topic here I will post a new topic in a few days putting our year and future plans in a nutshell.
As far as shooting belts …I am now in the market for a new one as mine is shrinking. I will be looking for either a 1 ½”-1 ¾” with. I am also thinking of trying a synthetic as opposed to leather this time however, I have not decided just yet.
December 17, 1998, 06:02 PM
We can all give hearty cheer and thanks to the wisdom of the ancient Saxons for it was they that are credited with advancing the idea of girding the girth to the point of harnessing it to haul. And ever since, we’ve been toting our "stuff" around our middle. At least we’ve advanced to the screw-off beer-bottle cap and dispensed with the ale mug in the last 800 years, but not much else.
Back in the mid-70s I acquired a couple of Bianchi #B10 belts. Double thick & stiff because they are comprised of a double thickness of leather, one brown and one black to make the belt reversible. They've done an admirable service of carrying big revolvers and autos, with the requisite amount of magazines, blades and other assorted martial paraphernalia. The nice part is the belts fit the standard belt loops of my blue-jeans and chinos. Additionally, they can be "dressed" to meet the occasion, as the belt buckle is easily removed and replaced with what ever buckle is inferred as apropos for the occasion. They are extremely durable and long wearing, as attested by the 23-year old B10 around my waist now.
Later that decade, I had the sterling opportunity to wear the distinguished Sam Browne belt, replete with the shoulder strap, and holders for other essentials such as: riot baton, 3-cell flashlight, keys, Motorola radio, mace, Colt MKIV Series 70 and loaded magazines , all over a polyester uniform decorated with a name tag and a badge. The belt itself was very thick, unyielding and singularly uncomfortable. It was so heavy that it was necessary to augment it with keepers to prevent its collective mass from continually pushing a feller’s pants clean off… Felt like a buffoon, clanking about the place with all the accouterments whacking me in the ass and thighs. Not a very enlightened means of conveying equipment, in my mind. Needless to say, and thankfully to boot, this job didn’t last very long.
A stint in the military brought me to intimate proximity with the webbed granddaughter of Sam Browne, the LBE (load bearing equipment). This contrivance consisted of a pistol belt (which rarely had a pistol on it, but always a canteen and magazine pouches which functioned as twin possibles bags) and padded suspenders which were hitched to it front and rear. The suspenders were the real star of the show, as that is where folks tended to display their most used and functional equipment: a large bowie-type knife on one side, and a MILSPEC compression bandage on the other. This latter was essential for those militaristic neophytes that were more dangerous to themselves than to a C-ration can with that razor-sharp KABAR, Randall or Camillius blade. However the most utilitarian types were the aviator’s standard-issue survival knives. These knives were rarely unsheathed, but the coarse carborundum stone affixed to the outside of the sheath was renown in its reliability for striking matches in damp weather. But, I digress, so back to the gun belts. The pistol belt/LBE outfit worked great until one had to add layers of clothing to accommodate the obligatory change in weather for a leg soldier. Cold weather meant letting it out to accommodate the bulk of the Field Jacket, and wet weather meant compounding the problem with some asinine product of military mental masturbation known as an SOP. Everybody had to dress up just like the SOP said, or you’d be on KP if the Platoon Sergeant was in a foul mood cause the hooch had gone bad. Wet weather meant you were going to wear a poncho to stay somewhat dry, and that entailed determining if the SOP said you had to wear the LBE on the outside of the poncho where it and everything gets wet or at the logical place, on the inside. To make a long soliloquy succinct, most SOPs for what to wear in spring showers, favored the LBE on the outside, so it could get 10-lbs heavier with water. The rationalization being that it more readily presented a handhold for someone (combat medics, graves registration teams?) to grasp onto while dragging one’s carcass about the battlefield.
My most recent experience with hauling "stuff" about at arm’s dangling distance is with the respected product of The Wilderness Co. of Phoenix, AZ, 1-800-775-5650. It is the three-stitch 1.75-inch version often referred to as an "Instructor’s Belt". I chose the 3-stitch because it tend to flex and give just a bit more than the two more rigid versions. And for those of you fellow toads for which a six-pack is something to be carried in your hand instead of on your belly, you will find this slight flexing prevents the pinching that often comes with sitting or shifting positions while wearing a stiffer belt. I’ve used mine to carry around my .45 & spare mag, flashlight, a couple of knives, and 2 loaded HK-91/G3 mags. The 4-1/2 inch range of adjustment quickly adapts the belt to varying loads and clothing, not to mention keeping enough tension on things so that pants don’t fall down when jogging about.
[This message has been edited by Mykl (edited 12-20-98).]
December 26, 1998, 11:16 PM
I'm getting in late on this. While we can pretty well agree that a good belt is critical to the comfort to carrying concealed it does not have to cost an arm and a leg. I have 2 style's of belts that I sell. One I make the other I contract. The Contracted belt is double ply, has chicago screws holding the buckle, 7 belt holes at 3/4" spacing is available in Black or Tan and sells for $30.00. I can due this because I buy the leather already died from the tannery and have a belt company make them for me. I also make line of custom hand made belts in 4 colors that I make. these sell for $70.00. Visit my web site and you can check them out.
M/D ENTERPRISES Custom Concealment Holsters
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