Belts & Setup
We will be discussing Every Day Carry/Conceal Carry vs. Duty Belt vs. War/Battle Belts. Each of these belts has their own place and purpose, as well as their own pros and cons. You would not want to choose a Battle Belt for your EDC/CCW, it would not conceal and could be cumbersome for daily tasks [in a non-combat zone]. For all three, you need to remember to weigh, space on the belt, space expanding past your waist, and most importantly comfort; if it is not at least bearable you will not want to wear it. All of these belts can be made from either nylon webbing, leather, ballistic nylon/Cordura, or a rubber type of material.
Let us start with an EDC or CCW belt, it is the smallest with the lowest profile. The first characteristic the belt needs is a ridge design. There are exceptions to the rigid requirement, but most belts will not meet the exceptions. I have been using a Hypalon belt from Snake Eater Tactical [SET]. This belt is a synthetic rubber that can be tightened and will bend around the holster and still be comfortable on the waist [you can not wear the belt loose/relaxed, it must be tight]. When checking for rigidity of the belt, when holding the buckle and tail the loop should stay up when help horizontal. If it sags, it will not hold the holstered firearm firmly in place, and that will affect your ability to draw the firearm properly. Next you need to ensure your belt width [top to bottom] will fit your holster; like Goldie Locks, the belt should be “just right”, not too big or too small. If your holster is for a 1.5” belt, use a 1.5”, if it is for a 1.75” belt match the size according for maximum benefit. The last basic feature to consider is the buckle type. There is no magic “best” buckle, because the wearer’s preference may include look and design. The crucial factor here is the strength and reliability of the buckle’s design. [Weight: 1-5 lbs. depending on load/firearm]. When I wear a regular nylon webbing belt, I prefer a “cobra buckle”. When I wear the SET Hypalon belt, it has a hook and loop design with a wrap-around the tab.
For open carry EDC, I have chosen a Snake Eater Tactical “SET War Belt” with minimal items on it [pad left off]. This belt option lets me get some benefits of the Battle Belt and Duty Belt with my EDC/CCW belt. The belt is 1.75” with a Cobra buckle, which fits my holster, a ridged design, as well as one of the strongest [if not the strongest] buckles available. This belt uses the same Hypalon inner belt like as the SET Duty Belt and War Belt systems, so I can remove my holster and belt when at home without removing it from belt loops and threading/de-threading the belt and holster; also, the inner belt allows me to keep a belt on still. I am using a Black Point Tactical holster & mag pouches when carrying outside the waistband [OWB] and a CrossBreed holster when carrying inside the waistband [IWB]. When I carry IWB, I also remove the outer SET belt leaving just the inner belt. I have had no issues with the Hypalon inner belt, but I am also looking at the G-Code inner belt, it appears to be slightly more rigid & uses a “G hook” in addition to the hook and loop. I chose this [and may choose the second] inner belt, which allows me to transition from concealed to open carry or to my SET War Belt without removing the base belt used in EDC/CCW.
Next is the Duty Belt, which is commonly a 1.75” or 2” belt. When I worked in law enforcement, I wore a 2” Safariland belt for several years, followed by a Snake Eater Tactical 2” Duty Belt. Both belts have the wider width common with most Duty Belts. This belt system usually uses a smaller inner belt [1.5-1.75”] that usually has Velcro that interfaces with the inside of the outer belt [2”] and may use belt “keepers” to help the belt stay in place [even with Velcro the keepers help keep the belt in place]. They both also have a ridge structure, and this factor can be even more important for this use due to the additional pouches and tools needed for duty purposes. Police/Sheriffs usually have the most, but even an armed Security Guard will have more gear on their Duty Belt than the items carried on an EDC/CCW belt. These additional items can include a larger duty holster, magazines and pouches, flashlight, handcuffs and pouch, baton, Taser, or other similar tools. For the most part the common Duty Belt setup will include two additional pistol magazines, and maybe a single rifle magazine. The most common Duty Belt buckle is a large plastic buckle, while the Snake Eater Tactical Duty Belt uses a Cobra buckle. Many of the plastic buckles I have used have made a “squeak” when walking, and that was one of the reasons I changed to the SET Duty Belt, because the metal Cobra buckle does not “squeak’ due to the way the buckle locks together. [Weight: 5-15 lbs. depending on amount of gear needed]
When we transition to the Battle Belt, this belt in contrast to the other belts usually has a higher focus on magazine carrying. Most people using a Battle Belt for their intended purposes do not need the less lethal weapons or handcuffs, which frees up more space for magazine pouches. This belt usually has a pad around or attached to the belt due to the increased weight. Some Battle Belts just buckle around your waist, while others use an inner belt system, and others may incorporate suspenders of some kind. I have changed by Battle Belt setup several times over the last few years and it has usually been back and forth between the HSGI Battle Belt [MOLLE Pad with a 1.75” ridged belt with a Cobra buckle] and the SET War Belt in full configuration. I have used the HSGI belt with and without suspenders. I have also used the HSGI Taco pouches [nylon front/back, plastic sides, and shock cord wrapped for adjustments] and High Threat Concealment's molded pouches on the HSGI base belt. Currently I am using the SET belt with their Burros pouches. The Burros pouches use an elastic outer shell with a Hypalon covered plastic insert. These pouches expand and contract for the magazines being carried [the Taco pouches do as well with more adjustment via the shock cord, but the Burros do not have cord hanging from their bottoms]. I have had a lot of use time in both belts and they both have their advantages and disadvantages based on your intended use and/or mission-driven needs. Battle Belt/War Belt video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnntHrN05c0&t=7s
I have really enjoyed the use of the SET belts in all capacities. They were smart with their designs, especially with their inner belt. The Hypalon allows for the smallest profile, but it is still strong enough to use for IWB holsters & holding up your pants. They also did a better job with their hook & loop than traditional Duty & War Belts. Traditional designs us hook on the inner belt, which rips up belt loops and can damage fabric seats [especially in vehicles] when you do not have the outer belt on. The SET inner belt has the loop on it, which is the softer non-catch side. The traditional Duty & War Belts have the loop on them, so you can easily carry it over your should when transporting it. Conversely, the SET Duty & War Belts have the hook which can be uncomfortable and damage clothing if carried over the shoulder. The SET also has their hook sown in on Hypalon webbing so there are breaks for holster/pouch loops to go through. This allows the loop to be on the belt, but not obstruct the hook and loop interface. With their Burros pouches, they also made the loop out of hook and loop strips so it go under or on top of the belt's hook strap. This design increases the surface area of the hook so that it completely touches the inner belt's loop the full 360 degrees of your waist [which reduces any of the hook/loop separation and scratchy sounds].
Whichever belt you choose, you also have to configure your gear to match your needs. With my EDC-OWB and my War Belt I carry all my magazines on my non-dominant side, where as with my Duty Belt I carried them closer to my dominant side but on the front. This was done because I also carried a Taser which I carried on my non-dominant side, along with my keys, radio, and flashlight [all things I grabbed with my non-dominant hand to keep my dominant hand free to draw my service weapon if needed]. When drawing my magazines on my duty belt, I had to reach across my front and draw them sideways [I could not physically draw them vertically with my non-dominant hand from my dominant side]. With my EDC and War Belt I do not and never had a Taser, so the non-dominant side is reserved for magazines. I also do not carry handcuffs on my EDC or War Belt, which were on my back with the Duty Belt. On my War Belt, I have an IFAK [trauma level first-aid kit- see article], and canteen/water bottle. Instead of a baton behind my holster [Duty Belt], on my War Belt, I have a fixed blade knife. I also used a drop-leg holster on my War Belt, with my Duty Belt the department rules allowed for only belt mounted holsters [such as the one pictured]. Remember to followed employer rules, but also make sure you place your gear where you can most effectively use it based on its importance/exigency; ie: Do not put your holster on your back and expect to be proficient at drawing it during a self-defense or combat situation.
So, in closing, I chose to use the Snake Eater Tactical inner belt as my EDC belt, so the SET design is much more advantageous to me for my wear and applications. When choosing your own belt you need to start with the purpose, width, rigidity, and buckle. Remember to consider the amount of gear that will be attached, how long you will be wearing it [pad or no pad], and any employer rules on belt type/material/colors. Also watch for my next article, where we will discuss holsters.
Copyright: RATH-Defense, LLC 2019