Sometimes good enough stops being good enough. We want the best, price no object. Hence Rolex, Ferrari, and Ares Gear. I bought one of Ares Gear’s $80 Ranger belts recently. By recently, I mean two months ago. I finally received the belt a few days ago, after a bunch of tailor gnomes finished sewing it together. It was the first time I’d commissioned custom clothing. It was worth the wait. The Ranger belt is the finest belt I own. Of course, my criteria for a tactical belt are a little extreme . . .
First, I want a tactical belt with an infinitely variable size. Conventional belts with eye-holes and a pin to retain tension don’t do it for me. One of those sizes will be a bit too large, and another will be a bit too small. I might get lucky and find a size that’s perfect at the point of purchase, but my weight fluctuates. What was good then is not necessarily good now.
Second, I wanted a tactical belt that would not warp or fray. That removed leather, cloth, and other natural fibers from contention, and led me to belts made out of webbing material with a friction buckle.
Third, the belt has to work, and work hard. I put a lot of weight, as much as ten pounds, on my belts. A firearm, some extra ammo, holster, and magazine carriers are not light; they weigh almost 10 pounds.
The first thing I noticed: the Ranger’s Cobra buckle is a monster, larger and bulkier than anything I’ve ever owned. If someone is determined, they can wiggle the buckle through their pants’ belt loops. Otherwise, you have to take the buckle off to put the belt on or take it off.
The Ranger belt consists of two layers of 1.5″ scuba webbing with a thin 1″ layer of webbing on the outside. Ares Gear offers the belt in camouflage (for the thin webbing layer) with a standard black for the scuba webbing. Since I do not wear clothing that meshes with coyote or multicam, I went with black on black.
I have a leather belt from Galco and a webbing belt from 5.11 Tactical. The Galco belt has uniform thickness, but it is not very stiff. The 5.11 belt is stiffer but only on right side. It is just as flimsy as any other belt on the left side. The Ranger has uniform thickness throughout. The Ranger’s thick, stiff webbing supports the weight that hangs off the belt.
The thin webbing layer loops through the buckle when the belt is worn. The main challenge when putting the belt on through belt loops or equipments’ loops: the end of the webbing itself.
That’s the backside of the webbing. The scuba webbing layer pulls through the loops. Ares’ tactical elves have stitched the end extremely well, but there’s still a small part that doesn’t stay down all the way. When the belt is worn, the end of the webbing has to pass through the equipments’ loops. Over time, the stress on this part might pull the stitching loose. I have heard nothing about this particular problem from other owners of the Ranger Belt. Yet.
When you remove the Ares Ranger, the end of the belt’s thin webbing isn’t as much of a problem. The belt pulls off easily. Alternatively, you can switching to different belt loops on the Kydex gear. Raven Concealment makes belt-soft Kevlar loops with snaps you can attach after the belt is in place.
Putting on the belt is . . . involved. With other belts, I can get my belt and gear on in less than a minute. The Ranger requires a three to five minute commitment, depending on whether or not the thin webbing layer wants to play along. The belt is stiff is enough that it can be pushed through, not just pulled. Thank God.
As you might have guessed, the Ranger isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a belt to keep your pants up and hang your phone, the Ranger is overkill. If you carry a firearm on a regular basis, the Ranger is better than anything else on the commercial market—provided you’re willing to take the time needed to use it.