Make Your Own Patrol Belt

Here's how to put together a flexible and convenient system for training and competition

patrol belt
Setting up your own custom patrol belt will make your time at the range more efficient and fun.Bill Buckley

I shoot a lot, both for work and for fun. If it has a trigger and goes bang, sign me up.

Depending on the day, I might be training with handguns with former Delta Force door-kickers, competing in a multi-gun event in the New Mexico desert, shooting a local 3-Gun match in Montana, or running around the mountains of Utah ringing steel at 1,000 yards with AR carbines. And that was just over the course of a few weeks this past summer.

I’ve come to realize there’s no single perfect system for hauling the variety of gear I use. But a patrol belt with modular attachments works well for the majority of situations. There’s nothing magic about my rig. It’s basic and it works. And the good thing is that if there’s a particular item you absolutely must carry and have close at hand, there’s probably a way to hang it off a patrol belt. Here’s what mine consists of.

1. BLACKHAWK PADDED PATROL BELT

This is the foundation of the rig. The padding on it makes it comfortable to wear, and the large side-release buckle makes it easy to put on and take off. It has nylon webbing stitched around the whole belt, allowing you to attach all types of accessories. It is compatible with Blackhawk's STRIKE system, which has strong nylon speed clips, making it less of a chore to attach pouches, mag holders, and other gear. (from $39; blackhawk.com)

2. TAB GEAR MAGAZINE POUCH

These versatile magazine pouches can accommodate a variety of styles of magazines. They handle 5- and 10-round bolt-gun mags like the AI, AICS, and Alpha Mags. They also securely hold larger 20-round mags from Larue and Magpul. The pouch has a built-in shelf that quickly adjusts when you need to go from longer to shorter magazines and back. They are made in the U.S. and are as tough as rawhide. ($55; tabgear.com)

3. PETZL CARITOOL

Don't call it a carabiner—mountaineering purists will throw a fit. (Plus, it isn't designed to carry heavy loads like a true carabiner.) This clip has a prong on the inside that weaves through webbing to hold it in place. It is an ideal way to carry ear protection while at the range or when training. ($9; petzl.com)

4. BLACKHAWK SINGLE MAG CASE

This mag case is made of injection-molded polymer and designed to take a beating. It clips on and off in a flash with a pair of jaws that ratchet down to adjust to the size of the belt being used. The case also can rotate 360 degrees so you can angle the magazine to suit your preference. It comes in sizes for pistol magazines and AR mags. (from $41; blackhawk.com)

5. SAFARILAND ELS

The three letters stand for "equipment locking system," and it has become one of the most popular ways to affix holsters, ammo carriers, and magazines to belts, packs, and other items. The ELS incorporates a backing plate with strong forks that weave into webbing. Once it's in place, you can quickly attach any ELS-compatible item (and there are a ton of them out there) to that plate. It lets you attach and remove pistols, for example, without ever needing to remove them from the holster, which is good for both convenience and safety. (kits start at $35; safariland.com)

Our ability to accessorize is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. Shown above:

  1. Ithaca M1911 A1 in .45 ACP (ithacaguns.com)

  2. Smith Pivlock V2 tactical eye protection (smithoptics.com)

  3. Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140-gr. ELD Match (hornady.com)

  4. Nosler Match Grade Handgun Ammunition (nosler.com)

  5. MSA Supreme Pro-X Earmuff (us.msasafety.com)