A Good Gun Belt Will Make Concealed Carry Easier And More Comfortable

ccw gun belt

Credit: Bigfoot Gun Belts

Credit: Bigfoot Gun Belts

Full disclosure: I work for a company that makes and sells a gun belt or two. So I have a dog in this hunt, so to speak. However, I will also say that while I would love for you to buy one of ours – and frankly, they’re pretty damn good – you don’t have to.

Feel free to shop for a KORE belt, Hanks, Amish, 5.11 or whatever other brand of gun belt you like. If you feel like you DO like ours – which are Bigfoot Gun Belts – awesome! If not, that’s okay too.

I’m going to try to avoid shilling the product we sell and give you the rundown on why you need a dedicated gun belt for CCW purposes, as well as what you should look for in good one.

First and foremost, the reason you need a stronger belt to carry your IWB holster and handgun (maybe even some spare magazines or two in the bargain) is that the typical leather belt that you find in a department store just isn’t going to cut it. They simply don’t have the requisite tensile strength to hold an additional 16 oz or more of weight along with your pants, shorts, slacks, tactical kilt or what have you.

A lot of people experience this: they put on their pants, tuck in their holster, insert the pistol and head out the door. During the day, the gun is constantly sagging, requiring frequent re-tightening of the belt. It also gives you a fair amount of heartburn worrying if your pants are going to fall down.

It’s called “holster sag” and it can lead to your IWB or OWB-carried gun being revealed to the world. In the right (wrong) circumstances, it can even lead to you dropping your pistol.

You might eventually get the belt tight enough to hold the gun, but at this point it becomes incredibly uncomfortable to wear because it feels like you’re losing circulation to your feet.

The point is that in order to keep the pistol and holster on your waistband, and for you to be comfortable enough to carry it for more than a few minutes, you need a stronger belt. A purpose-made gun belt is stiffer, which means it will keep your pistol and holster in the position you want it to be in, meaning it carries more comfortably and more securely. You also won’t need to tighten the belt to a notch above “excruciating.”

The good news is that a good gun belt isn’t hard to find, nor is necessarily that expensive.

Before you start, however, know how much belt your belt loops will accommodate. Most jeans, shorts and pants will handle a belt that’s 1.5 inches wide. A 1.75-inch wide belt can be touch and go. If you wear slacks or suit pants on a regular basis, you may need to find a belt that’s 1.25 inches wide. All are widely available.

You have two basic choices in what kind of belt to look for. You can get a leather gun belt or a gun belt of nylon webbing. Both are excellent choices and will certainly tote a carry gun without issues. The question is what features you want and how much you’re willing to spend to get it.

A leather gun belt is a good all-around choice. They work with almost all outfits, last a long time and look good without looking “tactical.”

Credit: Hanks Concealed Carry Belts

However, you want to look for certain features. Never buy a single strip of leather; your gun belt should have two layers of leather stitched together. Some belts feature a spring steel core for reinforcement. This guarantees the utmost in rigidity, which is what you’re looking for.

Make sure you check what thickness of leather is used.

For those unaware, leather thickness is given in “ounces” instead of in an actual measurement of width, where each ounce the weight of one square foot of leather of a particular thickness. A 1 sq ft piece of leather that’s 1/4″ thick would weigh 14 ounces, meaning 14 oz leather is 1/4″ thick.

If you’re looking for a leather belt for concealed carry, you want a double-sided 14-oz belt at minimum. This is great for most subcompact and lighter compact pistols. If you carry a compact pistol that’s a touch on the heavy side, or a full-size pistol for that matter, go bigger; 18 oz and 20 oz belts will carry everything from a 1911 to a Smith & Wesson 500.

Most are 1.5 inches wide, with a good number of 1.25-inch wide belts being made by various companies. If you need a 1.25-inch belt, get one with a spring steel core.

Most come with a steel buckle, but a few companies are making track belts, which feature a ratcheting buckle with a Kydex teeth track on the interior of the belt.

The biggest downside to leather belts is pretty much the expense. Good leather is not cheap. But if that’s your choice, know that anything marked “genuine leather” is scrap leather that’s thick enough to pass muster. Get one marked full-grain or top-grain. These are made from the top-most layers of skin, making them harder and stronger, but also more expensive.

Expect to part with $60 to $100 for a good leather gun belt, but it will look good, work well and last a long time.

Nylon webbing belts can give you the same strength and support. They are also lighter, and some people find them a bit more comfortable. However, they have their own set of drawbacks, which I’ll get to.

Nylon webbing is very strong, as some have a tensile strength of several thousand pounds. Some tactical belts can even do double duty as a climbing harness or even a tow strap. So yes, much stronger than leather.

Some are a single strap of webbing, others are dual-sided. Some are even double-sided and soaked in resin for additional hardness. 1.75-inch widths are most common, which means they’re a little more problematic when it comes to belt loops, but there are plenty of 1.5-inch belts are out there, too.

Many have some sort of trick buckle. COBRA buckles or knock-offs (a type of buckle used for parachute rigging) are common, as are simple cinch buckles. Most also feature a Velcro fastener as well. A few companies make a web belt with a G-hook fastener, which hooks onto a webbing loop on one side of the belt.

With a rigger’s or COBRA buckle, you won’t be able to get the buckle through most pant loops. The best practice is to leave the buckle fastened; you want to actually take the belt out of one end of the buckle to take the belt off. Re-insert and pull tight, and fasten onto the Velcro.

Some are dead simple, such as this web belt from 5.11 Tactical:

Credit: 5.11 Tactical

Some are a little more ornate, such as this 1.75-in Rigger’s Belt from SOE Gear:

1.75-in Rigger’s Belt from SOE Gear. Credit: originalsoegear.com

A dirty secret about web belts, tactical belts, whatever you want to call them, is that A LOT of them are white-labeled. In other words, they’re made for pennies overseas (usually in China) and an extra tag is stitched on or a logo applied at the factory before shipping over to the stateside purveyor, who then marks it up to $50 or more.

Here’s a good example from Amazon:

WONDAY Tactical Belt. Credit: amazon.com

It costs $14, it’s made of 1000 denier nylon, and has a COBRA-style metal buckle. It ticks all the right boxes. But if you do a bit of hunting, you’ll find some tactical gear outfit offering the same belt with “Wonday” crossed out and “Compensating White Male Tactical” written in in crayon for $60.

The tell-tale sign? Look at the buckle. If you notice the same product for a lot cheaper on Amazon or Wish.com with the same buckle just without the logo on it…you’ve got a white-labeled belt.

A few outfits, however, DO make these belts entirely in-house in the USA. SOE Gear and Volund Gear Works are two examples; both of those companies make their web belts fully domestically, so you’re getting the real deal from them.

Does it matter, though?

In my experience…not as much as you’d think. Build quality will be a bit better if you spend a bit more for a belt made by a company that makes the higher-end gear, but I’ve used the $10 tactical belts from Amazon and they work well as an EDC belt.

If I were a police officer on a tactical team or putting together a competition rig, I’d spend a bit more than one from Amazon or Wish.com belt just because, but for general everyday use they’re great.

As to what you’ll spend…well, you can part with as little as $14 through Amazon or Wish.com, or as much as $80 to $100. Again, it’s up to you.

Some people find they prefer one kind over another. I’ve used web belts and I find they’re a bit more comfortable since there’s less material on your waist, but just as strong as leather. However, I also found that since there’s typically a lot of Velcro on most web belts, I had to be really careful about how I seated my holster clips.

I went to the range wearing one and my holster came out on the draw! It didn’t happen again after I figured out my holster clips weren’t fully seated and after I’d adjusted the holster accordingly, but that was my experience. Other than that, stellar, but I just subjectively prefer leather, so that’s what I wear.

You may find something totally different. Again, it’s all up to you as to what you find comfortable and works best with your carry gear.

Have a gun belt you really like? Had a bad or good experience with one? Have you, through wind and rain and weather, become hell bent for leather? Or are you just so tactical that you wear Kydex underwear? Tell us in the comments!

comments

  1. avatar MLee says:

    Bullhide belts. I’ve had one for years and years now. A good belt is more important IMHO than the gun, caliber, carry position and such. The belt is like the beginning of it all. If you’re going to carry on your waist, be it at the small of your back, appendix carry as I do in my case with a Sticky Holster, not just a good belt is necessary but rather an EXCELLENT belt is a must!

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I have two, one being a regular black Bullhide that I have had for a number of years and i=which is very comfortable, and the other a 1.25″ dress belt with a steel core. The steel core does take some getting used to. The Bullhide belts will out last a 5.11 by years.

  2. avatar No_Ones_Home says:

    Though not specifically marketed for CC-ing, someone put me onto Mission Belts & I’ve been using them. They don’t have holes and instead use a ratcheting system (track belt as mentioned in the article). Has worked great for me when IWB carrying in warmer months.

  3. avatar SoCalJack says:

    True story, I had a regular leather belt, tried to unholster my gun, pulled out the gun with it still inside the holster (it had a FOMI clip and holster retention was set on tight), and this happened on the range, during CCW class. I now use a Daltech leather, Blue Alpha Hybrid cobra belt and a XTAC cobra belt (actually a nice thick belt from Amazon.com that I can feed through belt loops for TruSpec and Vertx pants). Most of my holsters now have RCS overhook clips instead of FOMI.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      I have a Blue Alpha Hybrid – pretty nice belt, that.

  4. avatar Eli2016 says:

    I’ve used DeSantis belts from the start and never looked back. A little pricey but well worth it. The quality is top notch.

  5. avatar Arc says:

    I absolutely recommend the TAC SHIELD belts. I used a leg rig (four mags) in Afghanistan, the velcro will wear down after a year of heavy use in a sandy / abrasive environment on anything. However, every day use as a carry belt and a dog leash belt, it will easily last 1+ years, for me they are worth the asking price of $30-60. If you take care of the belt, it might be a once in five or ten year purchase. My dog breaks walmart belts in a matter of weeks.

    Bought several for the family a long time ago for when things get bad, I also vouch for BDS tactical leg rigs, I still have my Afghan/Hawaii stained one with me, great for AR 15 (four mags), kinda weak for AR10 (two mags)

    1. avatar Arc says:

      Need to bring back the edit button!

      5.11 also makes some great stuff, I saw a few of their belts running around on people and don’t recall any complaints. The D-ring shape is pretty iconic so I remember it quite well. Got a 5.11 backpack, the three day rush, one of the straps tore on it but I patched it up fairly easily with a tent repair kit. Its a great bugout bag for a larger set person, 6’+, otherwise I would opt for a smaller bag.

      I don’t work for BDS, Tac Shield, or 5.11 / haven’t received free products / been paid to buy their products / paid for endorsement, etc etc yada yada, I just used a lot of this stuff in the grunts. There are a lot of toys that will nuke a mans paycheck in the MCX.

      1. avatar Guest says:

        Agreed about 511. I love there ARC belt. Not necessarily a dedicated gun belt but a good heavy duty belt which is also goo for both IWB & OWB carry.

  6. avatar Todd says:

    I’ve been rocking a Bigfoot for about 3 years now. They are nicely made, and very durable. While I only EDC a Gen 1 Walther PPS in a Kydex OWB holster (so not the heavyweight iron that some carry) I find that it always maintains position even after a full day on my hip. I like the idea of having a ribbon of stainless steel inside as a stiffener. I have tried some of the “tactical” belts but in addition to looking too “mall ninja” the goofy buckles are difficult to thread trough standard belt loops. The Bigfoot fits the loops on my work pants as well as my Dockers and other casual dress pants. The Bigfoot shows no sign of wear but when it does I will reorder another. They are really superb quality belts.

    1. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Also a Bigfoot fan. Great customer service, also. Buckle broke. Started a chat with customer support. Sent them a pic of the broken buckle. New buckle in tbe mail 3 days later.

  7. avatar bryan1980 says:

    I’ve been using a nylon Kore Essentials belt, with the polymer core for the last six months or so. I carry an XDS 3.3 IWB, and it handles it with ease. The best thing about it is the buckle. It’s a ratcheting type that can be adjusted in 1/4″ increments, to allow for waist expansions/contractions throughout the day. I wore a Hank’s Amish leather belt prior to this one, which worked fine for IWB, but was too floppy for OWB.

    1. avatar B.D. says:

      I had one break on me. They replaced it because it was a year warranty, but still not the thickest polymer insert if it just snaps like that.

      1. avatar bryan1980 says:

        If that happens to me, I guess I’ll go right to the Bigfoot with the steel insert. I was considering it when I got the Kore, but saw some concerns about it being overly stiff. Hopefully, the Kore will hold up for a while, since it only has to carry a little old XDS.

        1. avatar Erik Weisz says:

          There is no such thing as “overly stiff” when it comes to gun belts. A stiff belt even with no load is still more comfortable than anything else.

  8. avatar Larry says:

    Kore Belts….simply the best value hands down. I have two and I wear one of them daily.

    I also have a bunch of other belts that are now taking space up in box in my basement. I can’t believe I dealt with Cobra buckle belts for so long.

  9. avatar Andy says:

    I did the rigger belt, then the cobra, and now the water buffalo from Versacarry. The buff wins hands down.

  10. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    I love good leather for guns, especially revolvers. Mean Gene made me a hell of a nice belt for my S&W 686 .357, carries it really well in a gorgeous Wright Leather Works Predator pancake holster after riding in Bianchi leather for 20 years. The newer rig is very comfortable kicking around the farm. For the daily carry, I’ve become very partial to my Daltech bullhide belt for the G19 in a Dara kydex holster, to me Glocks and kydex go together. I’d go back to Mean Gene for another belt (or rifle sling), and especially the Daltech, which is not too stiff for daily wear even when not carrying, and has held up better than any belt I’ve ever owned. That said, I do like the look of these Bigfoots.

  11. avatar Bubba says:

    https://www.maxpedition.com/products/1-5-liger-gun-belt?variant=31916864657

    Owned a “blackout” liger gun belt for over 12 years now for EDC. Looks good with jeans, casual pants, cargo shorts etc…I’ve worn it approx 95% of the time over the years. Still going strong, with zero deformation. Outstanding gun belt that looks perfectly ‘normal’ – it’s no thicker than regular jeans belts.

    I would say I’d buy another, but I might be dead before this one wears out 😉

  12. avatar jwtaylor says:

    “Never buy a single strip of leather; your gun belt should have two layers of leather stitched together. ”
    Why is that? I’ve found the most durable belts, like the “Real Man’s Belt” from Simply Rugged to be a single piece of thick leather. Saddle straps and harnesses are single pieces, and they stand up to phenomenal wear with very little stretching, and for many decades in harsh weather.
    Unless there is a liner, like steel or hoplon, I’ve always seen stiched ply leather looked down upon by the better boot and saddle makers.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Hoober’s “content” is, as usual, recycled tripe.

      That said, I’ve bought two of those Simply Rugged belts and they held up pretty well. They did both start to sag significantly more, and more quickly, than my Bigfoot belts. It’s the steel insert that makes the difference, like the insert in a Wilderness CSM belt, especially when carrying heavier guns. Without the insert, I’d agree about the leather construction. I’m sticking with Bigfoot.

  13. avatar Gene Bashaw says:

    Good article. I prefer leather too. I have worn a Galco 1 3/4″ with the fancy stitching and bronze buckle for the past 12 years with no issues. It has held my government 45 and m9 Beretta securely. Its showing its age, but nothing a little leather dressing wont cure.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Seconded on Galco, I’ve had the “Cop belt” for a few years now and it’s fantastic.

  14. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    https://www.daltechforce.com/collections/bullbelt-gun-belts

    I was looking these at the time that there was a similar article on TTAG. Dan recommended this one, after a year or maybe little less of wearing every day I’m recommending them too.

  15. avatar John in Ohio says:

    “A Good Gun Belt Will Make Concealed Carry Easier And More Comfortable”
    “I’m going to try to avoid shilling the product we sell and give you the rundown on why you need a dedicated gun belt for CCW purposes, as well as what you should look for in good one.”

    Since I open carry, I guess your store is not for me. I’ll make sure that I spread the word to shop elsewhere.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Are you saying that you DON’T need a good gun belt for open carry? then you are a fool. An IWB or OWB belt needs substance to carry anything from wonder nines to 40 oz 1911s.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        A good belt is necessary for open carry or concealed carry (on the belt, of course). The point is that he apparently was only marketing to concealed carriers. There is enough of a division to the detriment of the exercise of the unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms. Likewise, there is an industry and lobby that fosters that division to the detriment of everyone’s exercise of their unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms. Why specify concealed more than once when it could apply to open carry as well? It’s unnecessary.

        If someone doesn’t go out of their way to specify concealed carry only then I don’t say anything. When they do, I do.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Damn, and I thought the left was easily triggered.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          @Eric in Oregon: Bless your little heart. You tried.

  16. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I’ve had my DeSantis belt for almost two years now. Its crack through the first layer of leather now. Time to get a new gun belt.

  17. avatar GluteusMaximus says:

    I bought two Beltman belts this year. Love them and they were very helpful in assisting with sizing.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      +1. That’s my favorite belt maker.

      http://www.thebeltman.net/

      1. avatar LazrBeam says:

        I’ve got three belts (black, cordovan, and brown) from the Beltman and they work great. The proprietor, David and Rachel, are super. The belts are manufactured at their shop right at 145 miles from me. I’ve been to their shop twice and they are very gracious. The belts are top quality, no sagging, and very reasonable. Highly recommend The Beltman. Having written all of that, I have another belt that I purchased from Midway USA and it’s made out of a piece of conveyor belt. Talk about tough. You COULD use it to tow a car if need be!!

  18. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    You might eventually get the belt tight enough to hold the gun, but at this point it becomes incredibly uncomfortable to wear because it feels like you’re losing circulation to your feet.

    Ha ha, that made me laugh out loud!

  19. avatar Daniel says:

    Ares Gear Ranger Belt. It’s a seriously stiff belt, fits 1.5 belt loops (though on the thicker side). Will solidly hold a steel frame 1911 IWB. I’ve worn mine for 6 years now and it’s still solid as always.

    Down Side. The little elastic strap holders that come with the belt wear out after a couple years, but totally unnecessary. As mentioned above. It’s a cobra buckle and is cumbersome to thread in and out of your jeans each day (but I usually wear the same pair of pants multiple days and just leave the belt).

    Aside from a black leather belt and a brown leather belt meant for dress clothes. This is the only belt I own and aside from a handful of days I’ve worn my Ares Gear every day for 6 years now.

  20. avatar DJ says:

    Bigfoot gun belts, bought two this year. First guns belts I’ve ever owned. The difference is night and day.

  21. avatar B.D. says:

    The article should just be for gun belts period. Conceal or not.

    Tons of options. I started with a thick leather one, then a blue alpha, and currently a kore. The kore broke once (snapped internally) but they did replace it because of a 1 year warranty. I guess if it happens again I will find another brand, only time will tell. The blue alpha started out sturdy, but over time it feels a little wobbly. The leather one is a 17oz hanks and it’s awesome, but I rarely wear it because I enjoy the fitting of the not so traditional belt buckles that the kore and blue alpha offer, allowing for easier tightening or loosening without needing a specific hole.

    The one I am looking forward to is actually not reinforced at all, that I know of. It’s on the way and should be here thursday. It’s an Uncle Mikes inner, 1.5″ and made for duty belts. This should minimize the buckle print (which never really bothered me anyways) but most of all, is very quick and easy. I honestly don’t think a reinforced belt is necessary for concealment, because I have worn my regular nylon 5.11’s while concealing my G43 and not noticed any difference, in fact, they actually felt more comfortable. When I first started OWBing, that is also what I used, and they did just fine. Granted, there was a some play, but nothing serious.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      “The article should just be for gun belts period. Conceal or not.”

      Yes, thank you!

  22. avatar Ton E says:

    I love my Bigfoot Gun Belt I even wear it when I’m not carrying a gun on my hip.

  23. avatar Will Drider says:

    Nice but unnecessary. We’ve all seen belts supporting a heck of a lot more than two or three pounds of gear, go to any all you can eat buffet for examples. Be honest, its not the material or construction that keeps a belt and gear in place: ITS HOW TIGHT ITS FASTENED around the body. Loose belts allow tilt and vertical movement. Stay between the lines, there’s a place for Duty belt level stiffness because of the heavier loads and weight distribution. The shortfall with common belts can be the buckle retention devices (usually snaps) that can’t handle the tension require to work properly. Avoid single snap retention. Alfa males can easily mod buckle retention if needed. Overlaping layers like Ranger Style belts add friction between three overlaping layers and also add lateral line stability.

    Article mentioned belt loop size but “holster belt loop size” is important to control cant angle for draw.

    I’ve been a tighten the Belt than insert IWB holster guy for decades. Your mileage and waistline may vary. Lol

  24. avatar Erik Weisz says:

    I have an Elite Survival Systems 1.75″ 2-ply stiffened scuba webbing, Been wearing it almost exclusively for years. Great belt, but it has to be disassembled to feed through the loops and then the cobra buckle re-attached and re-looped – PITA style. So not too long ago I got a Raptor Tactical Mark IV laser-cut molly sleeve for it with velcro on the inside and a padded inner belt it sticks to – much easier and even a little stiffer.
    I wish I could get a good stiff rigger’s belt with spring steel sandwiched in between the plies that has velcro on the inside, but haven’t seen one of those.
    Also, I hear a lot of great things about the Arcteryx H150 (I think is the model) , and a company already makes a molly/velcro sleeve for it, too.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email