Don’t make the error of thinking gun belts are the same as any other belt because they are not. They are made to distribute the weight of a handgun across your hip by staying extremely rigid.
A good gun belt is reinforced with a metal insert and made from double thick leather. Avoid the plastic or kydex inserts as these can break leaving your belt totally useless, always go for a spring steel insert. You will find that with a poorly designed belt that even a good holster will hang outward from the body while constantly shifting its position. So it's important to purchase a good gun belt along with your holster.
Look at the handgun, belt and holster as part of a system, the weakest link will break the chain. More importantly this system could be needed to save your life some day so failure is unacceptable. To prevent that system from failing the holster needs to be matched to a correct gun belt. If that is not done then the belt will not be rigid enough to give you the best support for the weight of your handgun and will not be comfortable.
To get the best support you will need to match the holster to the width of the gun belt. Gun belts mostly come in widths of 1¼ - 1¾ inch widths. You will find that holster slots vary in width with some even using belt loops that can be adjusted. Although it may sound like a rigid belt around your waist will be uncomfortable they are not and are actually very comfortable to wear.
This is what we look for in a quality gun belt;
- Metal insert - plastic and other insert materials don't quite give the same rigidity of spring metal.
- Chicago bolts - these are a screw on fitting that holds the buckle in place. You will find some belts with snap on fittings. I have found that sometimes these can come undone so I only use belts that have a Chicago bolt.
- Replaceable buckle - A top quality belt should allow you to replace the buckle.
- English Bridle leather - is rated as some of the best you can get.
- Two layers of leather around buckle - If you have a belt made from two layers of leather then you want to make sure both layers go around the buckle. Some belts only have one layer of leather around the buckle which creates a weak spot.
Gun Belt Reviews
After 20 hours of research and actively testing 15 gun belts over 4 months we have decided that the Daltech Force Bullbelt Steelcore is the best to securely support your holster. It will carry all your tactical gear and holster without any sagging or stretching and looks like a real belt with a top quality finish.
This is just a well crafted and beautifully finished leather belt and it meets all our requirements for a top quality gun belt. The top quality finish means the belt can be worn as a dress belt if required.
It has a steel core, changeable buckle with Chicago screws, bull hide leather and at 15oz weighs less than the Hanks gun belt that we also like, plus it's got a better price. The only difference between the two belts is price and weight and this gave the Daltech Bullbelt the advantage.
This belt passed all our tests with flying colors although we did not run a SUV over it as with the Hanks belt below. The steel core will outlast kydex and plastic stiffeners which can break and the thickness of the belt comes in at 1/4 inch.
The fact you get a 100 year warranty with this belt should tell you it's not your average belt. The Hanks steel core belt is great if you have a heavy gun and tactical gear, the inner spring steel insert makes all the difference. In fact as seen in the video, running a SUV over the belt will not even cause it to sag or bend.
At 20oz it is the heaviest belt and one of the thickest belts on the market. I found I could wear this belt a bit looser than regular belts which made it considerably more comfortable. Because of the spring steel in the belt it will not conform to your body shape like a regular belt and may take a bit of getting used to. There is also much less flex in the belt so I had to adjust my method for putting the belt on, but I cannot say it was harder to put on, I just had to change my technique.
The buckle is attached with Chicago bolts that screw on, these are preferable to the snap on type which can sometimes come undone. Anyway, the buckle can be changed fairly easily if required.
Another thing to consider is that the thickness of the belt may require new clips on some but not all IWB holsters. I only had to change the clips on one of my holsters.
For those that want a belt without an insert then this is the one to get. Double leather with double stitching gives this belt a classy look that is wearable anywhere. Without the insert this belt will conform to your body shape once worn in. Handmade in the USA from top quality bridle leather in four different colors.
The Hanks Premier Belt has all the options we expect in a good gun belt, changeable buckle with Chicago screws and both layers of leather wrap around the buckle. I have worn other similar belts but over time as they age they can start to stretch and twist. Not this belt though, I have worn it for six months now and it is still a solid support for my gun with no signs of stretching or twisting. And don't forget it comes with a 100 year warranty. I have noticed that the higher quality leather can scratch a bit more but any scratches can be easily removed by rubbing on some leather conditioner.
At $125 it's more expensive than other belts we have looked at but you get what you pay for and this belt is worth every dollar. If you have a thinner, cheaper belt, by the time it has worn a bit and started to stretch the Hanks belt will still be going strong. You may spend a bit more now but long term you will be saving money. Always buy quality over lower quality products.
Getting The Correct Size
- Measuring a well-fitting belt you already own is the best way to determine your belt size.
- Lay the belt on a clean, flat surface.
- Start the tape measure at the hole you use and measure to the end of the belt, where it meets the buckle.
- Belts are measured in inches and you should round to the nearest inch.
- If you measure 36 inches, you will want to purchase a size 36 belt.
Most gun belts are fairly similar but there are a few that stand out. You will need to pay a bit more for a top quality gun belt but it is worth it. I have had many belts over the years bought with the intent of conceal carry. They usually start off doing the job, but slowly over varying times they start to sag, pinch or stretch till I have to replace. So that's why I always go with a steel insert now. The one exception to the steel insert I would make is the above Hanks Premier belt which with it's two layers of leather is certainly not going to sag or stretch for many years, if ever.
You can find tons of gun belt reviews online but in my opinion they are not giving you the full story. Yes, what they claim is probably true initially but what they do not tell you is that after the belt has worn in for 6 months (time varies) and become nice and supple, guess what is going to happen! This is important so I am going to repeat myself, it's going to start sagging or stretching. Lets say you thought you got a good deal with a $60 belt, well now you will need to buy another one for a total of $120. So if you find yourself in this situation then the prices of the belts we have recommended suddenly seem like a good deal, and to top that off they will last a lot longer than 6 months, you are looking at 10 years plus with these belts.
There is not much point in having a quality holster if you try to use it on a inferior cheap gun belt. So do yourself a favor and get a top quality belt.
The Daltech Bullbelt Steel Core can be used with lighter guns and is more suited to general purpose use. But it is still up to handling tactical gear and the heavier guns if you want to throw those on. The fact it weighs less and costs less than the Hanks Steel Core was what edged it to the top ranking. The quality of the finish is so good it can be used as a dress belt and this is now my main CCW belt I use every day.
The Hanks Steel Core is more suited to situations where you want to carry everything in tactical gear and a heavy gun. It will probably last you a lifetime so it's a good investment.
We added in the Hanks Premier CCW belt to cover people who cannot get used to a steel insert belt. Although, personally I find the steel insert belts more comfortable as they don't need to be done up as tight as a regular belt. From my experience the Hanks Premier will outlast nearly all other non insert belts on the market and is capable of carrying the full range of guns from light to heavy.