Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: The Most Underestimated Piece Of Equipment

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Much is made about the gun and ammunition you carry with. Lots of people talk about guns all the time and it’s fun! Guns are also fun! You go to the range, do some shooting, it’s a good time.

The only thing is the gun actually matters less than you’d think. Basically, as long as you aren’t trying to conceal a Walker Colt, Desert Eagle or H&K Mark 23 concealing isn’t that hard with most guns. What does matter for concealed carry?

The holster, sure, but also the belt. In fact, the belt is arguably the most important part. If you have a functional holster and basically any suitable pistol, the belt is going to be the component that makes it all work. Your concealed carry belt is the spine that holds everything together. It is also the least sexy part of the whole equation.

It’s easy to get excited about a gun. It’s hard to get excited about a belt.

Oooh it has a buckle, I, um, guess.

So, what do you need to look for in a belt?

It’s fairly simple. The CCW belt has to have sufficient structural rigidity to hold the gun and holster up. Depending on how demanding you are when it comes to fashion, it should at least not be hideous to look at.

The bad news is that the typical belt found in the typical department store isn’t really going to be sufficient for anything less than the lightest of pistols. Unless you’re toting a .22 LR mini revolver, you need something a little more strenuous.

For the most part, people tend to wear either a leather belt or one made of nylon web.

Nylon web belts are very stiff for how thin they are. You’ll want to look for models that have a liner belt – an additional belt that usually attaches by hook and loop fabric inside the main belt itself – and/or nylon web that’s resin-reinforced.

Web belts can be quite strong, but make sure to select the appropriate model. Belts with a 1.75-inch width are very common, but not all belt loops will work with a belt of that width. Almost all, however, do work with a 1.5-inch belt.

Leather gun belts are, of course, a bit more old-school but are also the dressier option. However, not all leather is created equal.

Make sure to select a belt made of top grain or full grain leather. Avoid “genuine” leather; it’s little better than scraps. A two-sided belt is better than a single strip of hide.

Most quality leather gun belts are offered in 14-oz and 18-oz leather. Each “ounce” of leather is 1/64″ in thickness. Some companies offer belts with a reinforcing material, such as a strip of spring steel between layers of leather.

Your mileage may vary when it comes to how much belt you need. In my experience, anything from compact on up has the best results with an 18-oz leather belt or a reinforced 1.5-inch web belt. If you carry something like a Glock 19, CZ 75 Compact, S&W M&P9C, Officer frame 1911 or larger, the beefier belt tends to yield better results.

Since most people carry on the waistband, make sure to invest in what holds up that waistband, as well as what you wear on it. You’ll carry better if you do.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.