Can I Trust Velcro Gun Belts To Hold?
Some gun belt designs don’t use a traditional buckle and as a result, there are a number of Velcro gun belts out there. It’s especially popular as a tactical design. Granted, some belts use a combination of Velcro and hardware, but some wonder if the fabric itself is strong enough to be relied on for daily carry.
It actually is, if employed correctly. Velcro is actually very strong in the right circumstances, every bit as tough as steel core leather. It doesn’t look as good, though.
Hook And Loop Fabric: Good Enough For NASA
Velcro is actually a brand name of what is otherwise referred to as “hook and loop fabric,” which is more like a type of fastener rather than a fabric. Two strips of opposing fabrics – one made of little hooks and the other made of little loops – are put together, cling to each other and hold something shut. Not too complicated, really.
The touch fastener was the brainchild of George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who took a walk in the woods one day in the 1940s along with his dog during a hunting trip. They walked by a burdock bush, which makes a bunch of those little burrs get caught on everything. Both he and his prized pooch wound up stuck with a bunch of burrs on them, and instead of being merely annoyed – the typical reaction – de Mestral got curious.
He took one of those burdock burrs and put it under a microscope. What he observed was the tiny hook-like structures of the burrs, which he correctly surmised were hooking the “loop” like fibers of his clothing and his dog’s fur – and getting burrs out of there is a pain.
He eventually came up with a design for the touch-fastening fabric strips and called it “Velcro,” a portmanteau of “velour” and “crochet” and it started gaining traction. What helped sell a lot of Velcro strips was the public learning that NASA used it in in astronaut suits, and basically anything that those guys used back in the day was solid gold.
It caught on and now it’s available on virtually anything, including a number of different gun belts.
Just How Strong Is Velcro?
The “strength” of Velcro depends on the context. For one, hook and loop fasteners are like other fabrics – just like leather or nylon, not every kind is created equal. Some are made strong, some not so much. There are industrial-strength hook and loop fabrics and then the kind that go on shoes.
That aside, Velcro is strong in a very particular way. The peel strength is not mind-blowing, since peeling them apart is how strips are undone and so on. Instead, it’s the shear strength that’s impressive.
Put your hands out, palms flat and fingers together. Put the underside of each arm together and start dragging outward until your fingertips touch. Any resistance you feel is shear strength – the limit of resistance when one material is dragged across another, in essence.
The shear strength of run of the mill hook and loop fabric is about 15 pounds per square inch, but can be made with shear strength of 80 psi or more – meaning it takes around 80 pounds of pressure per square inch to pull two pieces of material apart in that fashion once fastened.
What About My Tactical Belt?
A good number of gun belts, especially of the tactical belt variety, employ hook and loop fasteners instead of a buckle like most leather gun belts. Some wonder if that’s enough fastener for something so vital, since a gun belt has to hold a pistol, holster and so on.
It’s totally fine. If hook and loop fabric can hold perfectly together in space or underwater (it’s used on a lot of scuba gear) then a gun and a holster is not a problem.
What causes Velcro to come apart is peeling, rather than pulling, the two layers of fabric apart. A stout belt, made with strong hook and loop fabric is going to stay where it’s fastened.
However, the drawback is that hook and loop fabrics have a lifecycle. There’s a set number of times it can be fastened and undone before it starts to lose some of it’s hold. Often it’s in the tens of thousands, meaning you can get years of service from a Velco-fastened gun belt. Once the Velcro starts to go though…it will be time to replace it.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.