Gun belts are not accessories, they’re necessities, and many do not understand the importance of a good gun belt. A belt that will keep your pants from sagging down past your underpants is not the same thing as a belt that will support a holstered gun the way it should be supported for comfortable carry, and for drawing and holstering. Consider a police officer’s duty rig. The belt is more than 2 inches wide, very thick, and stiff. For sure, cops put a lot more gear on their belts, but the goal of support and comfort is the same.
It’s doubtful you’ll carry around 16 plus pounds of gear like a patrol officer does for 8 to 16 hours. But when carrying concealed your belt will be supporting several pounds. To do this comfortably you need the right belt. Here are some things, and some good carry belts, to consider.
One is Not Enough
Because most of us do not dress the same way all the time, one gun belt is generally not enough. You’ll need one gun belt for everyday wear and another gun belt for swankier dress-up occasions. Having a knock-around gun belt for outdoor chores, working on the farm, or any other activity where looks are not as important as ruggedness, is a good idea as well. You might also need different belts for different holsters or handguns.
I generally carry a lightweight Browning HiPower more than any other handgun. As luck would have it, my Wilson Combat EDCX9 fits the same Galco IWB Royal Guard holster. But, on occasion I’ll carry a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum in a Galco Combat Master Holster. This is a good-looking leather holster, and it looks kind of foolish on a nylon belt, so I have a leather belt to match that holster. For dress occasions I have a tooled leather belt, holster, and mag-pouch rig for my HiPower. I have and commonly use several gun belts, but they all have some things in common. They fit, they’re stiff but comfortable, and they’re wider than customary trouser belts.
Your gun belt needs to fit you. It needs to go all the way around your waist and should have some adjustment both ways. The adjustment is for when switching between an IWB and an OWB holster. It’s also there for when you eat too much at your favorite Italian restaurant and need another notch, or for when you’ve shed a few pounds because you can’t afford to go to that Italian restaurant. Most traditional leather gun belts have five holes. Your gun belt should fit you best when the prong goes through the middle hole.
To measure to get the correct fit, measure a belt that fits you from the end of the buckle—where the prong rests on the buckle—to the hole that fits you most comfortably when you are wearing the holster and gun you most often wear. This is your belt size. This measurement allows for you to have that little bit of adjustability that you’ll need in both directions.
How Wide & Thick?
To determine proper gun belt width, your belt should fit the holster. If your holster has 1 3/4-inch slots, your belt should be 1 3/4-inches wide. The belt should also be comfortable. Belts of less than 1.5 inches in width can feel like a razor wire once loaded down with gear and snuggly fastened. Generally speaking, the wider the belt, the more comfortable it will be.
Avoid single layer belts like you would the Rona. They’ll not have the necessary stiffness to support a gun and will tend to bite into your side and gut. With leather belts, go with at least two layers. For nylon belts, unless the nylon is thick and wide, the same is true. Some belts will also have a metal or polymer core to help provide strength. Another way both nylon and leather belts are stiffer is with extra rows of stitching.
Galco SB5 Casual 1¾-Inch Holster Belt
My primary gun belt is a two-layer, plain tan leather gun belt from Galco. It’s the same style belt I’ve worn for 30 years. It is soft enough for comfort but stiff enough for good support, and it doesn’t look half bad. Galco also offers a 1½-inch version ($98) as well as a stitched 1 3/4 -inch style ($124). Though I don’t own one because I’m not what anyone would consider a fancy dresser, Galco also has a collection of exotic leather belts that are fully lined and fine enough for any three-piece suit. Prices start at about $290.
Blade-Tech Ultimate Carry Belt
A few years back my wife bought me a Slide-Belt for Christmas. Slide-Belts are unique in that they have a ratchet buckle with ¼-inch adjustments. They’re extremely comfortable because you can easily tailor their fit as you go through your day and never have to un-buckle. But they are not very stiff. A similar belt from Blade-Tech is. Their Ultimate Carry Belt ($59.99) has a ¼-inch ratchet type adjustment, but it also has a polymer core and is 1.5 inches wide. You cut it to the correct length. If a common buckle belt never feels like it fits you perfectly, these belts are the answer.
Versacarry Underground Belt
Versacarry has five belt styles ranging in price from $54.99 to $84.99 and all are made from premium water buffalo hide. My favorite is the Underground Edition. This is a triple-ply belt that looks good enough for everyday wear but is rugged enough for when you might have to crawl under your tractor, go cave exploring, or maybe wrestle a bear. And these belts are hell for stiffness; their ideal for supporting the heaviest handguns.