Do I Really Need a Gun Belt?
If you spend some time reading most shooting or handgun forums, you'll probably eventually see a
post or question asking if a true gun belt is really needed. Having carried concealed for 15+ years, and
worked in a gun store that specialized in concealed carry for a number of years, I can't tell you the number of
times I've heard this question asked.
The next question was usually something like "Well what's wrong with my belt from _________?"
The blank was usually filled in with either Wal-Mart, Sears, or some other similar store.
Let me answer both questions separately.
"Do I really need a gun belt?" - If you carry a handgun or shoot a handgun
on a regular basis, then the answer is a very strong YES. I'll get into why you need one below.
"Well what's wrong with my belt from _________?" - Nothing at all.
I'm sure it does a fine job of holding up your pants, carrying your cell phone, etc. The problem
is it's not designed to be a gun belt. Most belts from a Wal-mart or other comparable store are designed
as a standard belt for your pants. This means that they are usually a single ply piece of leather.
Unfortunately, no matter how nicely they are made, single ply leather will stretch over time. The stretching
is even more noticeable under the weight of a loaded handgun and/or other related gear (mag carrier, light
A true gun belt is going to be specifically designed to support the added weight of all
that gear. Most all true gun belts will be produced from two strips of leather so that they are
significantly thicker and stronger than a standard belt. As a result, a true gun belt has the following
While all the points listed above are important, pay especially close attention to the point
about providing a solid foundation for the holster and gear. This is a key point that really has to be experienced
to be realized. I experienced it firsthand as a rookie Detective.
When I was promoted to plainclothes Detective, department policy required that all the
officers carried the same weapon, which was a full size Sig 226 at that time. In the beginning, I was
carrying a department issued plainclothes holster supported by a nice 1 1/4" dress belt. Notice I said a dress
belt. Just like the one you would typically wear with a suit. After 6 months or so of carrying this
set-up, I noticed two things:
The holstered weapon was starting to sag downward some on my hip. Even though I wasn't gaining
any weight, I was forced to snug the belt up another hole to compensate for the sag. Although I
didn't really realize it then, this belt I was wearing had started to stretch under the weight.
At weapon qualifications, I noticed the holster wasn't staying stationary on my hip during the draw,
but was moving upward as the draw was executed. While this wasn't preventing me from
drawing the weapon, it was noticed by one of the dept. firearm instructors. He politely pulled me
off the line, pointed out the issue, and was kind enough to let me borrow a spare ballistic
nylon gun belt that he had.
When I returned to the line to complete the qualification, I literally could not believe the
difference. The holster sag had been completely eliminated. The holster no longer moved at all
during the draw. The draws were far more crisp and clean. Why? Because the nylon belt he had
loaned me was specifically designed as a gun belt. It was more rigid and thicker than the dress belt I had been
using. The experience was a real eye opener for me, and I haven't carried a gun without a gun belt since.
Based on the reasons above, when people ask if they really need a gun belt for their
holster, my answer is: Try a gun belt yourself and then make your own decision. I honestly don't think
you'll be disappointed.