Serious about concealed carry? Get a serious gun belt.
During a class presentation on everyday carry and gun holsters, master shooter Kyle Defoor disclosed his own IWB system, saying as he demonstrated “it clips on your belt like that—unless you’re a millennial. Millennials don’t wear belts.”
The Bravo Concealment blog is a perfect place to issue a reminder that waistline carry offers the fastest access to the gun when compared to other carry methods. When carry is done somewhere on the front, from six- to three- o’clock with the belly button being 12 o’clock, IWB carry also provides the greatest security for the gun itself. In my opinion, there are too many examples of guns being stolen from the posterior side of the waistband to justify making that part of my lifestyle.
Like failure? Here’s how
As I drive around listening to the Sirius radio business radio channel, I’m constantly reminded that “failing fast” is a cool thing. So, if you want to look like an amateur and perform like a noob, here are two choices:
- Wear no belt and carry IWB, or,
- Wear a fashion belt that’s not a gun belt and carry IWB
Lots of people are doing it, after all! Failure-embracing, gun belt-less IWB carry has become so common, one of my gun writer friends made a meme about it using a collage of photos taken from social media. Why does it matter? The weight of a gun, maybe added to the burden of a spare magazine or other tools, makes most non-gun belts sag more than Bette Midler’s triceps. These sloppy setups are one sure mark of a concealed carry ignoramus. First, a sagging gun is difficult to conceal. Worse, when it’s time to draw the gun, often the pants try to come along with it. Combined with the uneducated draw technique that’s almost sure to accompany this sort of carry, time is wasted and safety is compromised. Consequences of this can be grave. A real gun belt, attached to pants with belt loops as if that’s not obvious, forms the platform for most successful waistband concealed carry setups.
What is a gun belt?
Not all great gun belts are sold as such. Yet a couple that are, fail to perform in a way that’s satisfactory, especially for range practice. An acceptable gun belt does the following, at minimum:
- Holds the gun holster and any other attachments snug against the body. Whether the gun is being carried outside or inside the waistband, the gun holster should stay solidly in place as you move around. If the gun is worn for concealed carry, this keeps your little secret, a secret. Whether the gun is worn open or concealed, the belt, along with an assertive draw from a well-designed holster that’s unimpeded by a covering garment, is the secret to a rapid and effective draw with a firing grip that’s required for safe, effective range practice and most defensive encounters.
- Stays tight without a fuss. No matter how it attaches around the waist, you shouldn’t have to think about your belt while wearing it. If you can’t set and forget your belt in terms of adjustment, concealability, and comfort, shop for a new one.
- Is as easy or easier than any other belt to use. Gun belts should not require excessive effort to use. If extra labor is required to don or doff the belt in comparison to a regular one, it’s likely to become a forgotten closet item. Just like a gun and gun holster, a gun belt should a simple and easy component of your EDC gear.
What do these factors mean for what a gun belt looks like? Here are some almost-universal traits of acceptable gun belts as we know them today:
- Free of accoutrements that impede gun holster installation or removal. Decorative stitching, metal studs or conchos, and other bits of eye candy are generally absent. These items usually suffer destruction when used in conjunction with a holster.
- At least 1.25 inches wide. To support the weight of a gun holster and perhaps other gear and not feel like there’s a boa constrictor around your waist, a belt needs to be sufficiently wide.
- Hefty enough to support your gun and gear. To be sturdy enough to support the weight of a gun and ammo, a gun belt should be constructed of material that’s sufficiently stiff to not to sag under the weight of the gun or allow the grip to fall away from the body. Whether for concealment or range use, a flimsy belt cause frustrating delays and can cause “printing” of the gun underneath a garment. In my experience, belts constructed of two layers of material, usually nylon webbing or leather, are more comfortable for EDC while the doubled material lends weight-bearing ability. Belts made of a single layer of thick nylon or leather are usually great for OWB carry of a larger gun, but are often stiff and more difficult to use for concealed carry.
These guidelines are purposely a bit loose as there are many variables that affect what constitutes a proper choice. What’s right for you could be a nylon or a leather belt. What’s not negotiable, in my book, is the ability to fine-tune adjustments. The leather gun belt pictured here has closer-than-normal holes to facilitate a custom fit. Many nylon belts, including the Cinturon gun belt by Bravo Concealment, are practically limitless in their capacity for a custom fit since tightness is determined by pull tension, not holes.
There are many types of gun holsters, and a growing selection of good gun belts available today. If you’re serious about your training as well as your concealed carry habit, it’s likely that you’ll need at least two belts—one for heavy-duty range use and a literally lower-profile one for EDC. I have found that a flat-profile buckle is essential for concealment under a shirt, and even then, I usually wear the buckle a bit off-center, to the left, so that my gun riding at the 2 o’clock position on my waist doesn’t pooch the buckle out and make a funny bulge in my profile. The resultant asymmetry used to bother me, but in reality, no one sees it, and the comfort of knowing my life-saving device is instantly accessible definitely prevails over this slight inconvenience.
With so many great gun belts available for the choosing, in the end it’s like everything else associated with concealed carry: experimentation on the real you, with your real gear, and real lifestyle will inform you better than any review article. If your current setup isn’t satisfactory for some reason, do some research and try a new system. Understanding that the belt is one component of a carry system that also includes your gun, gun holster, physical conformation, and lifestyle will help you make the best decision.
About the author:
Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and concealed carry instructor living in the American Southwest. Today she works full time as an instructor and writer in the gun industry. Flanigan loves helping new and old shooters alike to develop the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.