One of my favorite “gun guys” at my office asked me earlier this year what kind of belt I was going to use when I started carrying. I laughed and pointed at the brown leather belt I was wearing at the time and said, “What does it matter?” Oh how wrong I was. It turns out that it matters very much . . .
Having recently undergone a bit of education on the finer points of why it matters, I’ll share what I know. Whether you choose to carry IWB or OWB, a gun belt is THE connection between your body and your holster (which should contain your gun). As such, you need a belt that can remain stiff and give you a solid platform from which to hang holsters, mag pouches, flashlights, and cell phones.
The biggest problem with your run of the mill Wal-Mart belt is that the leather is thin and prone to breakdown. For example, I have a leather belt from some big box store that I’ve already had to cinch to the next hole after less than a year of use. My new Texan neighbor Nick Leghorn can testify to my love of Whataburger and breakfast tacos. I assure you that my belt adjustment is not the result of sudden weight loss. No, that thing just stretched itself right out over time. OWB fans should be focused on the belt a bit more than IWB users as the belt is the ONLY thing keeping your piece attached to you. IWB users should definitely not overlook proper belt selection either, though. But enough preaching.
The biggest claim to fame for the Comp-Tac belt is the strip of Kydex sewn down the center. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Kydex is the bee’s knees when it comes to holster materials. It’s light, impact resistant, and slick. Oh yeah, and its super rigid which makes it an excellent support material for a leather belt. I tried out a few holsters with my “big box” belt and the Comp-Tac belt and noticed a huge difference in both usability and comfort.
My grandmother would call this a “smart” looking belt. I ordered the brown version and was rewarded with a very neutral dark brown exterior and much lighter interior. I’m not a leatherworker by any means, but I have spent some time around nice saddles and the work from Comp-Tac is on par with some of the nicer pieces I’ve seen. The stitching is uniform, there were no loose threads, and the whole belt generally felt VERY sturdy.
Levi says I have a 34 inch waist, but Comp-Tac’s size 34 belt was on the second to last hole (38 inches) during regular carry and the last hole with an IWB holster. I highly recommend that you read and reread the sizing guide on their website before buying. I prefer that my belt have a little extra tail on it, but for this test, I didn’t have any issues.
Given the chance to do it again, I’d go with a size 36. My belt had six holes for the buckle spaced perfectly at 7/8 inch increments with the closest to the buckle at 34 inches. When they say 34, they mean 34 – on the dot. One other nice feature is the removable buckle held together by three very stout brass screws. If you have a favorite buckle, you can swap it out for the stock unit as long as you have a flat bladed screwdriver around.
- Available Lengths: 28-72 inches
- Width: 1.5”
- Available Colors: Black or Brown
- Other options: Tapering from 1.5” to 1.25”
- Price: $85-$165 depending on sizing and configuration. As reviewed, $85
Ratings (out of five stars)
Fit and Finish * * * * 1/2
While it’s beautifully made, the only reason the Comp-Tac belt doesn’t get five stars is for the buckle being uber squeaky. I managed to quiet it with a bit of mink oil, but it was really annoying at first and decidedly not tactical.
Performance * * * * *
Using this belt with a number of different holsters was a dream compared to my big box belt. The rigidity lent by the Kydex strip made a huge difference in the security I felt carrying at the range and in my house as most of my testing was done before I got my fancy card in the mail. When you cinch things up, this thing locks down like a damn vice. That’s not to say that it didn’t conform a bit after some repeated wear. Full disclosure: I was born without a functional derriere. As such, every belt I’ve ever owned has formed a U shape almost immediately as it spends its life clinging for life to my hip bones with no support from the area where my posterior should be. The Comp-Tac belt certainly started to show signs of the U, but still retained all of its lateral rigidity.
Overall Rating * * * * *
What else is there to say? It’s a belt. But it’s one hell of a belt. Before you go burning dollars on holsters, buy a quality belt to attach them to. The Comp-Tac belt is a high quality piece of kit manufactured in Houston, Texas that is built to last. I enthusiastically recommend it.