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The gun belt may be the most overlooked part of a concealed carry system. After you select a gun and holster, it’s very tempting to think that your normal belt will work just fine. These belts aren’t specifically designed for carrying a handgun, though. You might even try to carry without a belt at all. If you’ve ever tried to draw your gun in these instances, then you know mishaps aren’t out of the question, and sometimes even the best products fail.
I’m a USPSA grand master and shooting instructor, so I’ve had years of experience with shooting and wearing different gun belts. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then your carry system is only as strong as the belt that supports it. Whether you’re competition shooting or concealed carrying, the best gun belts can help eliminate any interference when you need to draw.
- Best for EDC: Nexbelt
- Best for Formal Dress: Galco SB1 Dress Holster Belt
- Best Tactical: Bigfoot Tactical Riggers Belt
- Best for Competition: CR Speed Ultra
Best for EDC: Nexbelt
Why It Made the Cut
This is the best, most versatile solution for an EDC carry belt on the market. The ratchet system makes the belt infinitely adjustable for any IWB or OWB carry system and can be switched between them instantly.
- Ratchet style closure system
- Several different buckle styles
- Wide variety of belt styles
- Infinite adjustability within standard size
- No holes to wind up in between
- Can be configured to look tactical or practical while being both
- Belt must be cut for buckle installation
- Tools and Loctite required for initial use
Once you understand how and why the Nexbelt works, it’ll be hard to consider using anything else. When you open the box and unroll the belt, you’ll find that the buckle is not attached, and there are also no holes in the belt. No, this is not a defect.
You’ll need to estimate the general length of the belt before you can attach the buckle. This estimation provides the ability for the belt to work as your waist size inevitably changes. You just need to account for extra room around your current waist size.
Once you determine this, trim the Nexbelt to a length that better fits your waist size. Make the cut as straight as possible, because the cut end will slide into the buckle, which you will attach with two screws. Then the belt then goes through the belt loops and back into the other side of the buckle like normal. But unlike traditional belts, the Nexbelt uses a ratchet system to create a snug fit.
Because there are no holes in the belt, you won’t catch between holes when your waist size inevitably changes. For example, switching from IWB (Inside the waistband) to OWB (outside the waistband) requires a different belt length which might wind up in between the holes of a standard belt. You may even prefer different levels of tightness in the belt for driving vs walking. The Nexbelt makes this easy to accomplish. Simply ratchet the belt as tight as you prefer, and release tension with the small button on the buckle.
The Nexbelt comes in a wide variety of materials and styles, so whether you’re looking for a belt to use at the range or something more formal, there are plenty of options to fit your needs.
Best for Formal Dress: Galco SB1 Dress Holster Belt
Why It Made the Cut
If you need a belt that looks more formal than tactical, the Galco SB1 Dress Holster Belt will serve you well with some necessary compromises.
- Material: Double thickness premium steer hide
- Brass buckle
- 1.25 inches wide
- Sleek design but functional
- Blends in well with formal dress
- Multiple color options
- Not as sturdy as wider belts
If you need a gun belt that doesn’t look like a gun belt, you’re going to have to make some compromises. The Galco SB1 Dress Holster Belt makes these compromises as painless as possible with a sleek, formal appearance.
The 1.25-inch width will fit most dress pants and still support the best handguns. Though slim, the belt’s double layer steer hide construction provides plenty of support for your gun and holster. And the traditional belt buckle fits into one of seven holes in the belt, which provides reasonable adjustability. If you’re looking for one of the best gun belts that can pull double duty in these regards, the Galco SB1 looks more James Bond than Jack Reacher.
Best Tactical: Bigfoot Tactical Riggers Belt
Bigfoot Gun Belts
Why It Made the Cut
The durable Bigfoot Tactical Riggers Belt combines strength and functionality required of tactical personnel.
- Width: 1.75 inches
- Cobra buckle system
- Tactical V-ring for hanging accessories
- Available for a seven-day test drive
- Six basic sizes with five inches of adjustability
- May be too wide for some belt loops
- Metal Hardware may set off metal detectors
The word tactical has been used in the firearms industry for so long that its meaning has become a catchall. In the belt world, Tactical means strong and durable enough to carry more gear like magazines, flashlights, a medical kit, communication equipment, or even other everyday carry gear. To carry all this extra equipment, users need a durable, reliable belt.
This belt handles those requirements with nylon webbing that is reinforced with two steel cores that resists sagging no matter how much weight you load on it. You adjust the size with a hook and loop system similar to Velcro, which also keeps the tail of the belt secure. The quick release Cobra buckle is rated for weight well beyond anything you can load on it. If you’re still wondering if this belt is up to task, the Riggers designation also means that the belt could be used for Rappelling in an emergency situation even though that is not its primary intended use.
Best for Competition: CR Speed Ultra
Why It Made the Cut
The CR Speed Ultra belt provides the strength and stiffness needed to keep competition guns and magazines at the ready for shooters to compete at the highest levels.
- Inner/outer belt design
- Sizes: 28-60 inches
- Available in black, red, blue, and pink
- Stiffest competition belt system available
- Can be worn with the closure in the front or back
- Holsters and mag pouches stay where you need them
- Finding the right size can be tricky
- Initial setup requires a learning curve
Most serious handgun competitors are familiar with an inner/outer belt system. The inner belt goes through the belt loops and secures with Velcro. The outer belt is wrapped around it on the outside of the belt loops and is also secured by Velcro. You mount your competition gear on the outer belt, then simply wrap the outer belt around the inner belt, and you’re ready to go. The holster and mag pouches remain permanently mounted to the outer belt, and you don’t have to worry about them going anywhere. Because the outer belt doesn’t pass through the belt loops, you can place your holster and mag pouches anywhere on the belt.
For this system to work, both belts need to be extremely rigid, snug on the body, and tightly connected to each other. This is where the CR Speed Ultra belt really shines. The dual layer of the outer belt makes it stiff and rigid to handle the weight of a heavy gun and up to five magazines. This extra strength also helps keep the two belts connected under the physical rigors of competition.
The inner/outer design of the CR Speed Ultra also means that you can close the outer belt in the front or the back. If you like your holster and/or mag pouches slightly forward of the hip, you don’t want them to be near the closure point. With the inner/outer design of the CR Speed ultra, you can mount the holster in the middle of the outer belt and wrap the outer belt around you backwards, with the closure joining behind you.
When you buy a CR Speed Ultra, you’ll notice that it’s quite a bit longer than a normal belt for your pants size. This provides some overlap as you wrap the outer belt around the inner belt for some extra Velcro coverage. This overlap provides even more strength and stiffness between on an already sturdy setup.
Q: What kind of gun belt should I get?
You should get a gun belt that makes sense for your carry method, your clothing choices, and your lifestyle. How you carry and what you carry are the two most important considerations. Then narrow down your choices based on material, appearance, and price.
Q: Does a gun belt make a difference?
Yes, compared to a regular belt, a gun belt offers more support and security for carrying a firearm.
Q: Are gun belts uncomfortable?
Not necessarily. A gun belt that’s made of the right material for your lifestyle and carry method will usually wind up being more comfortable than trying to make do with a standard belt that isn’t designed for carrying a gun.
Q: How much do gun belts cost?
Prices on gun belts start around $25 and can eclipse several hundred dollars if exotic materials are used.
Things to Consider When Buying a Gun Belt
Not all pistols are created equal. The same goes for the holsters and belts that hold them. Make sure the belt you’re considering best fits your needs. The gun belt you use at the range will look and function differently than the belt you wear in a more formal or social setting. Here are a few things to consider before you buy one.
You need a belt that will pass through the belt loops of all your pants and one that works with your holster’s attachment system. A lot of gun belts have wide widths, so it’s best to try them on in a store to make sure they fit your belt loops.
A belt needs to be strong enough to support your gun and holster and keep them safe and secure. Some do this with thickness, others rely on different materials of construction. Match your gun and holster to a belt’s construction to ensure you’re primed for safe, secure carry.
This may seem obvious, but the belt goes around the waist, and waist size is subject to change. Make sure you invest in a gun belt that can adapt with these changes.
If it’s going to be seen, the belt must look like it belongs. An army green belt won’t work with a suit and tie, and a slim dress belt will be out of place at the range.
How does the belt close and/or attach to itself to do its intended job? Does a buckle fit into a hole or does a ratchet system use the inside of the buckle to latch onto itself? Is there any Velcro involved? Depending on your needs, some of these are better suited for some applications than others.
For this review, I relied on retail samples and personal experience to evaluate these belts and make recommendations for them. I have been carrying guns for years and have been shopping for gun belts most of that time.
The best gun belts are the support system for the gun you carry for personal protection and even others. Though it might not seem like it, your gun belt deserves as much consideration as any other piece of gear in your everyday carry system.