What’s The Best Gun Belt? It Depends On What You Want To Do With It
There are lots of opinions about what the best gun belt. Who makes it, various design features and so on and so forth.
It isn’t so much that there really is one best gun belt; it’s more that there may be a best gun belt for you and a best style of one for a particular application.
A gun belt is a necessary tool for daily carry or for range/training/competition use. Like any tool, you want to pick the right one for the task. A crescent wrench is a great general-purpose tool, but you’re better off with a socket set if you’re working on your car.
So, what are the best gun belts, depending on your intended purpose?
Leather Gun Belt: Best For Discreet EDC
If you’re looking for a gun belt for discreet EDC, it’s tough to improve much on a leather gun belt. Sometimes, a thing is a classic because it just works, and a solid leather belt always will.
Provided, of course, you buy the right one. Not all “leather gun belts” are necessarily created equal.
If carrying a compact pistol or smaller, look for a 14-oz leather belt. If carrying a compact pistol or larger, look for an 18-oz gun belt for the utmost in support.
If made correctly, a leather gun belt is more than strong enough to carry a pistol and holster, perhaps a magazine carrier or two, and support your pants or trousers on a daily basis. It looks like a normal belt, perhaps a tad bigger but otherwise isn’t noteworthy to the observer.
For carrying a gun, you need a belt that’s dual-layered. It’s also a good idea to find a belt that has a reinforcing layer for the added rigidity. While polymer reinforcing will work, it can become brittle over time and break.
Therefore, the best leather gun belts are reinforced with a spring steel core as spring steel doesn’t really lose its rigidity or become brittle over time in this application. Thus, a spring steel reinforced belt will give you a longer service life.
Given that you’re going to have to invest a bit in a leather gun belt, look for one made with quality leather, such as a vegetable-tanned English bridle leather. If you’re going to spend, you might as well get something good.
The Rigger’s Belt: Great For Competition, Range Days, Or Anything At All
If you’re just after the strongest possible gun belt for range days, competition, outdoor use or use with a battle belt – and maybe some concealed carry too – a rigger’s belt is about as strong as you can get short of an actual duty belt.
The classic rigger’s belt, which is a 1.75-inch width belt made of dual layers of rigid nylon webbing, is bigger than your typical belt. The additional material gives you additional rigidity, especially if you find a reinforced model.
One of the foremost benefits of a good, strong rigger’s belt is it’s versatility. It fits in most belt loops, so it can work as an EDC belt. Alternately, you can wear it over the waist as a light duty belt for range days, competition or open carry.
You can also use a rigger’s belt with a MOLLE waistbelt for use as a battle belt, either as part of the whole suite of gear or just the belt rig itself.
A rigger’s belt is typically strong enough to handle any and every size of pistol from micro-compacts all the way up to full-size service pistols and revolvers…so long as you get a good example.
The temptation for most people is to buy a $20 budget special from Amazon with knock-off hardware. For occasional use, that’s probably fine, but if you intend to use the belt regularly you want to order the real deal.
If you’re after a belt with a quick-detach belt buckle, look for authentic AustriAlpin hardware. Look for a belt that’s reinforced, either with resin-reinforced webbing or a stiffener added to the belt.
A reinforced rigger’s belt is going to be all the belt you ever need.
A Gun Belt That Meets A Dress Code? The Concealed Carry Dress Belt
If you wanted to still conceal and carry but needed to stay within your office’s dress code – or your own, because some people have standards – there are a number of dress models of gun belts.
The typical design is a 1.25-inch width dual-sided leather belt, much like a typical leather gun belt but just scaled down for use with dress pants. Often they’ll be made of premium leather with a slim buckle for a dressier appearance.
It’s imperative to find one that has a reinforcing layer. With less overall material, you need as much rigidity as possible.
While a dress belt can be made strong enough to carry a gun and holster, there’s no getting around the lack of material compared to larger belts. The smaller belt does place some limitations on the size of gun the belt can adequately support.
A slim gun belt is best paired with a slim, sleek subcompact or micro, with lighter compact pistols at about the largest; about 20 ounces (unloaded) or less if possible.
With that said, a dress gun belt can equip you to still conceal and carry, while maintaining a dress code.
A Modern Low Profile Gun Belt: Tactical EDC
The best of all worlds might be a tactical EDC belt. Quality examples are more than strong enough to serve as a gun belt, but low-profile so they’re comfortable and don’t necessarily draw any attention to themselves.
While a well-made tactical EDC belt isn’t quite at the same level of strength as a rigger’s belt, it gives you a bit more than a leather belt of a similar size. If you want to add some mag carriers and a timer for range day, it’s not a big deal.
However, they will be a little more limited compared to a rigger’s belt for heavier loadouts, so there are some limitations as to their carrying capacity.
A tactical EDC belt is usually a 1.5-inch belt, the same width as the typical leather gun belt. However, the material is often a dual layer of strong nylon webbing, with a hook and loop closure for the tail and a durable buckle.
Some examples will be more of a frame buckle to tighten the belt, and some may feature a quick-release buckle that’s either genuine AustriAlpin or a knockoff.
Just like with any other type of gun belt, it’s a buy once, cry once proposition. Buy a quality example and you’ll get years of use. Buy cheap, and you’ll replace it much more quickly. Very few things that people say are “just as good” actually are, so invest in your success.
Look for a model that’s reinforced, either with resin-impregnated webbing or – better yet – a reinforcing layer sewn between the belt layers. Also pay attention to hardware; look for authentic AustriAlpin hardware.
Get The Gun Belt That’s Best For You
As with anything else, you want to consider the role you have in mind for a gun belt before making a purchase decision. How much stuff you’re going to task the belt to hold, what sort of clothing you’ll wear with it and what sort of clothing you typically wear.
By understanding your needs, you get an idea of what kind of belt you probably need.
If you wear suits every day, a rigger’s belt probably isn’t going to work as an EDC belt for you. If you carry a 1911, you probably aren’t going to get the support you need with a dress belt, and so on and so forth.
Make the right choice of gun belt, and you’ll get more than your money’s worth out of it.