|Best Overall||AXL Advanced Eclipse Belt||CHECK LATEST PRICE||
Making thermoplastic belts attainable for everyone, the AXL Eclipse brings ultra-light, ultra-rigid belts into an extremely competitive price range
|Best Value||BDS Tactical Modular Shooter's Belt||CHECK LATEST PRICE||
A scalable option that can be tailored to your usage needs, from a sub-$100 budget entry, and can be upgraded as you see fit.
|Editor’s Choice||AWS SMU Operator Belt||CHECK LATEST PRICE||
The author’s personal gun belt, the AWS offers a slim, durable, and modern design that can be customized to the user’s needs from the factory.
Gun belts, also known as gunfighter belts, battle belts, pistol belts, and many other names, are an easy way to carry weapons and ammo. The best gun belts do this through the use of superior materials, innovative designs, and rock-solid quality control.
We’ve compiled a list of our top picks in the various categories that are encompassed under the general moniker of “gun belts.” These move past the more traditional setup of a nylon belt with pouches attached, and feature design cues taken from the outer duty belts worn by many in law enforcement. So whether you’re looking for a belt to use at the range or in a military tactical environment, one of these will likely fit your needs.
As a rule, these products are made in the United States by top-tier companies, are suitable for military use, and have been thoroughly tested by Task & Purpose and our trusted experts.
The Eclipse belt by AXL Advanced is one of the newer developments in Tegris thermoplastic gun belts, and it makes these typically expensive options more affordable. Belts from Ferro Concepts and GBRS have been using Tegris thermoplastic for years now, but they’ve usually had a price tag that’s well north of $200 as a unifying factor. AXL’s option starts at less than $100, and tops out at $135, depending on the fastening mechanism, which is pricing that’s competitive with almost any belt on this list, even our budget option. The Eclipse, so named because of the fact that the tegris is partially exposed on the bottom half of the belt, hits every mark for a modern gun belt, and is a terrific grab and go option for anyone who wants to take advantage of new materials for better performance.
Tegris thermoplastic is a material that visibly resembles carbon fiber, and which acts as a flexible and durable stiffening layer for belts, straps, and other structural elements of garments, replacing SCUBA webbing in many cases. The characteristics of tegris mean that the AXL Eclipse gun belt is unbelievably lightweight and supports the weight of your various pouches and attachments well, with minimal torsion or sagging. A fully-loaded AXL Eclipse belt can be held by the front, and the rest of the belt sags no more than a few inches vertically, even when loaded with magazines, an IFAK, and other typical belt attachments. These characteristics aren’t unique to the AXL belt, but what is unique is that theoretically, you can have this belt for less than $100, and upgrade incrementally, or go fully-loaded and spend no more than $135 before shipping for a belt with a Cobra or Raptor buckle, which cannot be said for other currently available thermoplastic belts that cost anywhere from $215 to $285.
The velcro on the Eclipse belt is arguably the weakest point on the belt, being low-profile hook-side velcro that only covers the top half of the belt, automatically cutting your velcro real estate in half and lessening how well the belt attaches to your inner belt. Another issue is the unusual sizing, which AXL does warn their buyers about, saying that you should go a size down from your normal pants or belt size. For instance, I’m a fairly average size medium, but their medium is on the verge of being too large on me when fully tightened, without modifying the location of the buckle, which is what I ended up doing. AXL also has had a tendency in the past to have supply shortages, due to low production numbers, and although that seems to be less common these days, it’s still important to consider that you’re dealing with a small shop rather than a production giant like Eagle. Finally, actually mounting pouches to the belt is difficult, since the slots in the tegris are nowhere near as flexible as cloth loops on a traditional gun belt, and turns putting this belt together into a finger-bloodying exercise.
The AXL Advanced Eclipse gun belt is a rigid and lightweight tegris option that offers an affordable avenue into cutting-edge materials and technologies, at the expense of ease of pouch attachment and some velcro strength.
- Construction: Laminate and Tegris thermoplastic
- Velcro: Hook side low profile
- Available sizes: 28- to 44-inch waist
- Available colors: Black, Multicam, Ranger Green, Coyote Brown, Wolf Gray
Will not sag under pouch weight
Difficult to weave pouches
I own many BDS Tactical products, and they’ve all been of great quality, and made by a small shop in Oceanside, California. Previously, we’ve covered their cummerbund upgrade, and here we’re recommending their Modular Shooter’s Belt as a great budget choice for almost anyone. While they do offer configurations that are similar to other options on this list which feature aluminum cobra buckles and D-rings, it’s going to be the low-cost polymer buckle option that makes this our budget choice, since the low MSRP is going to put this belt in reach of people who might consider a $140 belt to be an excessive expense.
The BDS Modular Shooter’s Belt offers a unique advantage for those who are either unsure about whether or not they will use a gunfighter belt in their personal equipment, those on a budget, those who don’t shoot as much, or all three. In its lowest-priced configuration, the Modular Shooter’s Belt retails well south of $100, which is further lowered if you take advantage of military discounts. Of course, you can add the aluminum cobra buckles that make other options on this list cost more, but as mentioned above, that’s excessive for some users.
In spite of the low entry cost, BDS offers the belt in a number of colors, all made in the U.S., for a price that rivals that of lower-quality brands. If you want a gunfighter belt in an unusual color like Wolf Gray or Multicam Tropic, BDS has you covered, and while other brands might allow for special color orders, BDS offers these at no additional cost.
The low price also doesn’t come at the expense of durability either, since BDS uses good quality materials that comply with the Berry Amendment and NIR suppression requirements for military usage, and in my experience features durable, even stitching. This extends to the Velcro as well, which is not unevenly stitched and does not feature much overhang beyond the stitched edge, which is not common at this price point. As a final cost-effective measure, the belt includes the inner belt, making this option ready to go from the factory.
The cost-effectiveness of having a plastic buckle is offset by the obvious durability concerns of having a plastic buckle. As any salt dog who insists on still using an ALICE pack over the modern FILBE or MOLLE 2 will tell you, plastic eventually gets brittle, especially in extreme cold or dry conditions. Also, the plastic buckle lacks a D-ring since using a plastic buckle as an emergency rappel seat sounds like four different bad ideas at once.
Another issue is the fact that this belt is absolutely nothing fancy. If you’re looking for ultra-light, ultra-thin, ultra-Gucci belts made of space-age materials, this isn’t going to be the belt for you. It’s a gunfighter belt that works right every time and is priced accordingly. I don’t necessarily consider this to be a bad thing, but scaling one’s expectations accordingly is wise.
A final shortcoming of the BDS belt is that it’s made in small quantities in a small shop. While that might be excellent for things like quality control and color choices, it can also mean that popular colors are often out of stock, or that lead times can be high. Make sure that you’re not putting in something made-to-order and then going in Karen mode on the phone because it didn’t ship within three days as you expected.
The BDS Modular Shooter’s Belt is a cost-effective belt that scales to the user’s needs and provides an accessible entry into the world of gunfighter belts without locking it behind a paywall. The wide array of colors, buckle options, and sizes mean that the cost savings don’t limit your choices to basic colors or configurations.
- Construction: Nylon fiber and SCUBA webbing
- Velcro: Hook-side
- Available sizes: 28- to 44-inch waist
- Available colors: Black, Multicam Black, Multicam Arid, Multicam Tropic, Multicam, Wolf Gray, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Olive Drab, M81 Woodland
Wide color selection
Budget buckle options are fragile
The AWS SMU belt is my personal belt that I’ve used for the better part of a year as my primary magazine-carrying platform. It’s also where I occasionally put my IFAK and a tourniquet, as a sort of ready kit to have all my stuff on without needing my plate carrier. It stands out from the crowd by featuring laser-cut material rather than sewn MOLLE loops, which makes it lower-profile, but no less durable. After being recommended this belt by a friend, I’m now communicating that recommendation to you, because this is a seriously good belt, and AWS will even help you set your belt up if this is your first time.
The AWS SMU belt is one of the most durable options on this list, while at the same time being one of the lowest-profile and very lightweight. It achieves this by using laser-cut webbing made of a proprietary fabric, which not only cuts down on weight, but also improves pouch stability by being cut closer to the belt than MOLLE could be, while still remaining looser when the belt is spread out, and tightening when the belt is wrapped around your waist. At the core of the durability is the AWS proprietary TAC WEAVE webbing, which the laser-cut material is sewn onto, making the belt very resistant to twisting and sagging. Due to this construction, I’ve carried three rifle magazines, a dump pouch, a first aid kit, and a tourniquet with no issues with comfort or sagging.
AWS is also a very customer-friendly company, supporting belt sizes that are much larger or smaller than most other companies, meaning that for many women, this may be the only off-the-rack belt that fits properly with no customization. Additionally, AWS offers a belt-builder tool on their website, which allows you to pick the belt size and color, as well as allowing you to order the pouches that you’ll need, color-matched to the belt, making this a great option for those who want a one-stop-shop option.
All Science™, innovation, and quality aside, though, $140-ish as a baseline price for a standard-size belt in a preset number of colors is on the high side of pricing for traditional gunfighter belts. The only options that are more expensive on this list either offer complete customization (Ex Umbris) or use exotic materials (the Ferro Bison). Some may consider the laser-cut laminate on the AWS to be an exotic material, but your mileage may vary, especially considering your intended use for the belt. I wanted a belt that I could buy and then hopefully never replace, despite the fact that I use it for everything.
The preset colors I mentioned are definitely first-world problems, but compared to some other options on this list, five colors is paltry. You can have any color you want, as long as it’s something officially used by the U.S. military — so it’s multi-cam, coyote, black, or ranger green, although you can change the color of the laser cut material from color-matched to black, which opens up the added colorway of woodland camouflage. This is a niche concern, as I’ve found that coyote brown goes with everything, and most military users I know don’t usually tend to fret over the fact that they can’t get their gear in multicam black. However, for civilian shooters who want a more customizable experience, or for anyone who wants a less-common color, this might not be the best option, and the fact that other belts on this list come in myriad colors shows that it is in demand.
One of the issues that I’ve had personally with the AWS SMU belt has been that the large Austrialpin Cobra buckle digs into my stomach somewhat when bending over, taking a knee, or lying in the prone position. Another issue is that the paint on the buckle is very fragile, and has rubbed off over time due to contact with the ground while in the prone position, or with the receiver of my rifle when I let it hang. For military users, the idea of having bare aluminum exposed to light might seem tactically unsound, and over time you may have to re-paint the buckle or replace it with a new one.
The AWS is a seriously capable belt that, in spite of being one of the more expensive simple gunfighter belts on this list, costs no more than what you’d expect to pay for the quality that you’re getting. This could easily be a belt that lasts you for years.
- Construction: Polymer laminate composite and high-tensile nylon
- Velcro: Hook-side
- Available sizes: 24- to 49-inch waist
- Available colors: Black, Coyote, Ranger Green, Multicam, Multicam with black webbing, Coyote with black webbing, Ranger Green with black webbing, and Woodland with black webbing
Rock-solid brand reputation
Does not trade durability for weight and form factor
Hook-side Velcro may abrade clothes
Limited color options
Eagle Industries has been in the gear game for decades, and it shows. They made our list of the best magazine pouches, and they have a heavy representation in my personal gear ensemble. Their Operator Gun Belt, or OGB, stands above most other belts on the market because of its unique Velcro construction, specifically requested by “end users” (it’s the SEALs, guys) to work over things like wetsuits and warming layers. Available in common sizes and colorways, the Eagle Operator Gun Belt is the best overall gun belt on this list.
The largest advantage of the OGB is the fact that, unlike many other gunfighter belts on the market, it features loop-side Velcro on the inside of the belt, rather than hook side. Eagle does this for two reasons. First, this was specifically requested so as not to abrade any clothes that it’s worn over, and second, because they claim that this provides a much more secure fit while moving with heavy objects on one’s belt, due to the hook-side Velcro on the inner belt being spread out when the belt is wrapped around your body. Under my usual belt load of three magazines, a dump pouch, and an IFAK, I didn’t notice an increase in stability over my usual AWS SMU belt (featured later), but I also don’t consider that a heavy load, or my testing regimen of running, jumping, and crawling to be exceptionally tough on the Velcro.
An advantage that the Eagle OGB absolutely has over lesser options not picked for this list is that the build quality is rock solid, and I’ve personally never seen an Eagle product that wasn’t finished well. The belt is made of durable MIL-W-4088 Nylon webbing, stiffened with high-density polyethylene, and featuring an aluminum cobra buckle closure with an aluminum D-ring to serve as a rigger’s belt. The MOLLE webbing is smaller than the usual straps, but thicker, which helps compensate for any stability issues when mounting pouches, and overall I didn’t notice any issues once my magazine pouches were fully mounted.
A final advantage is that Eagle products often go on sale around the holidays, and I personally purchased an OGB for nearly half price. Ordinarily, Eagle provides 10 percent discounts to all military personnel as well, which reduces the cost somewhat, and provides an extra edge over some of the other products on the list.
It’s not all sunshine though, and the Eagle OGB has several distinct limitations that you have to consider before buying, with the first one being the Velcro system. Most gunfighter belts use hook-side Velcro on the outer belt, which connects to the inner belt that has a loop-side facing out. If you are switching from another belt system to the Eagle OGB, you’ll likely need to get a new inner belt or take the time to reform your inner belt to curve the other way without much difficulty to expose the other side of the Velcro. For me personally, I use a modified USMC MCMAP belt with loop-side Velcro sewn around the outside, so to switch to the Eagle belt would require me to make a new belt, or risk getting some raised eyebrows at a black inner belt that’s not an MCMAP belt.
Another issue is the value proposition of the Eagle OGB. On sale, the belt is a no-brainer, being a quality belt for less than $100, but at full price, even with military discount, it’s mostly a matter of preference between the Eagle belt and the other comparably priced belt that has loop Velcro on the inside from Tyr Tactical. Your mileage may vary, and Eagle does sales and military discounts a lot more readily than Tyr does. As a final value issue, the cost of the Eagle OGB does not include the inner belt, which increases the cost further.
The Eagle OGB is a belt that will work great for most users, is fairly priced, and comes from a reputable brand. It’s durable, fits a wide variety of missions, and can be had at a great value if you time your purchase correctly.
- Construction: Nylon and polyethylene
- Velcro: Loop-side
- Available sizes: 29- to 49-inch waist
- Available colors: Black, Multicam Black, Multicam, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Olive Drab, Woodland
Will not abrade outer layers
Velcro system Value may vary
Inner belt sold separatel
There’s a certain demographic of a shooting enthusiast who was reading this list the entire time and was thinking “what a boomer, he didn’t even mention the Ferro Concepts Bison Belt.” In spite of the high price tag, it’s worth it, because this is a fantastically rigid belt that absolutely will not twist or sag, and which is amazingly lightweight and adjustable in spite of the rigid construction.
The Ferro Concepts Bison Belt completely abandons the cloth-based belt systems found on nearly every other belt on this list, and instead uses a layer of molded thermoplastic, to which the actual fabric of the belt is sewn into. This not only reduces the weight, increases rigidity, and cuts down on water retention when wet, but it also makes the belt surprisingly flexible in terms of sizing. One way in which it achieves this is by having a strap that makes adjustment and buckle removal for holster attachment very easy. Another added benefit is that due to the rigidity of the belt, wearing a stiff inner belt is unnecessary, meaning that the included inner belt is no more inflexible than your standard web belt.
Some other structural advantages that make the Bison Belt stand out from the crowd mostly pertain to visibility and form factor. For example, the molded thermoplastic in the core of the belt is exposed but is properly treated so as not to reflect infrared light under night vision. Another advantage is the fact that the cobra buckle used is much smaller than the standard cobra buckles on nearly every other belt on this list, which means that it will make bending over more comfortable and prevent the buckle from digging into your stomach. Finally, the inner belt is very flexible and can be adjusted for many different sizes, with extra slack being easy to take up.
The downsides of the Bison belt go a bit further than just the price, which although it’s considerably higher than other options on this list, isn’t excessive for the features that you’re getting. The price is also exactly what you see, with no military or law enforcement discounts available, which is likely due to the fact that most of Ferro’s customers are in the military anyway. However, the real issue with the Bison belt that I can see at this price is the sizing, being difficult to find and highly limited. To find the sizing chart, you have to go into the product manual, where you’ll find that the sizes range from 30 to 49 inches, which means that the Bison belt will fit most men within military height and weight, and some slightly larger, but leaves options for very slim people lacking. Coupled with the limited color options, the Bison belt is a belt that essentially tells you to take it or leave it.
The Ferro Concepts Bison belt leads the pack in lightweight durability due to its futuristic choice in materials and rock-solid construction. This is a belt for the discerning professional user, and those who need this kind of performance will be willing to overlook the steep price tag.
- Construction: Nylon and molded thermoplastic
- Velcro: Hook-side
- Available sizes: 30- to 49-inch waist
- Available colors: Black, Multicam, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Wolf Gray
Almost no risk of sagging
Easy to adjust
Many of the options on this list are limited to what the manufacturer puts out. Sure, some companies may sell a very limited number of products in a rare color, which then all get bought up by a 15-year-old scalper in Southern California who will happily sell them to you for double the price, but not many of these companies offer truly custom services.
A newcomer to the world of gunfighter belts, Ex Umbris is owned by a former Army Special Forces medic and is probably the only belt on this list that can be truly said to be developed by a Medal of Honor recipient. The company’s owner proudly told me that Master Sergeant Earl Plumlee was one of the primary product testers in the development of the Assault Belt. However, the company does not use this fact in their advertising, which fits the bill for a brand owned by a man from a unit that calls themselves “quiet professionals.”
For instance, several owners of Ex Umbris products informed me that beyond their color catalog and normal sizing chart, Ex Umbris will happily accommodate users who need larger- or smaller-than-average belt sizes at no extra cost, and can also accommodate rare or offbeat camo patterns, even lending me a belt in the Navy SEAL-specific AOR 1 camouflage pattern, aka NWU II, for testing. This means that if you’re a woman with a 23-inch waist who needs a belt in M81 woodland with a tan cobra buckle, Ex Umbris has you.
Ex Umbris is also a company that stands behind their product, guaranteeing every belt for life, which they claim is an offer that they’ve never had to make good on. This guarantee is believable since if I had to describe this belt in one word, it would be “robust,” with every aspect of the belt’s construction feeling incredibly sturdy. Other owners who’ve used options from popular brands like HSGI and Ronin Tactics simply said one thing about the quality of many other brands compared to Ex Umbris: “No comparison.”
Another aspect of Ex Umbris’ business model that comes with dealing with a smaller shop is the terrific customer service, being highly personal. I emailed them for comment and was immediately connected with the owner of the company, who answered all my questions regarding the brand and production process. In an industry where it’s often difficult to feel like you’re talking to a real person, this is an excellent touch and has to be highlighted.
Unfortunately, many people are going to look at the price tag, see the lack of futuristic materials, and consider the fact that the company that made it has been around for a little over a year and a half and think twice about purchasing. Other users might not care about the customization features, falling into the size ranges that are usually found on military-age males, and seeing all the extra options as superfluous. As a final limitation, the Ex Umbris Assault Belt is not the lightest or lowest-profile option, prioritizing durability over all other factors.
The Ex Umbris belt is probably the best option on this list for people who find other options too restrictive in terms of size or color, and who want something that fits them and their mission. Coupled with rock-solid production quality and a pedigree that can’t be beat, the Ex Umbris Assault belt is a discerning belt for the discerning user.
- Construction: Reinforced nylon
- Velcro: Hook-side
- Available sizes: 32- to 40-inch waist production, larger sizes available on request
- Available colors: Black, Multicam Black, Multicam, Coyote Brown, OD Green, Military Green, Desert Tan, M81, and combinations of these. Custom colors available
Bulkier than other options at this price
Customization isn’t a factor for everyone
Not everyone needs a load-rated assaulter belt, but there is a certain demographic of discerning user (it’s the SEALs, guys) who need a lightweight, rigid setup that can be used to retain its wearer inside of a helicopter or boat using a lanyard or as a semi-comfortable rappel seat. The S&S Precision Belt-Modular is one of the best options for this as a perfect cross between a load-bearing safety harness and an assault belt.
Like many S&S products, the Belt-Modular makes use of laser-cut materials and thermoplastic to increase its rigidity and durability while also keeping weight and water retention down. Featuring a completely unique fastening system and your choice of inner belts for comfort or load-bearing purposes, the Belt-Modular is one of the most supportive belts on this list and the best option for users who need their belt to carry both their gear and them in a pinch.
The Belt-Modular is designed from the ground up as a load-bearing belt, featuring an inner belt design with a lanyard loop at the rear which allows the wearer to have something to lean against for safety while also remaining reassured by a load rating of 3000 lbs. This is important because, in the event of a jolt or sudden movement, a large adult male wearing 50+ lbs of gear goes from being 265lbs standing still to having thousands of foot-pounds of momentum, necessitating this high rating.
But this belt isn’t just a great safety device: it’s also one of the most capable gun belts on this list, with an incredibly lightweight and rigid outer belt that holds all the magazines, holsters, IFAKs, and other gear the wearer might need with absolutely zero observed buckling or sagging. If used with the “Comfort” padded inner belt, this is one of the most comfortable gun belts that I’ve worn, which is fantastic on longer days of moving around with gear on.
This isn’t a belt that’s for everyone, and many end users (and at least one S&S employee) have charitably described the Belt-Modular as “a lot.” The most significant reason for this is that much of the stability comes from the inner and outer belts being interlinked at several points by a variety of fasteners, with a traditional rigger belt inner belt which has velcro straps to act as keepers and is slightly too thick to easily fit through belt loops if you have the comfort inner belt. The outer belt fastens to the inner belt with a combination of velcro and G-hooks, which link to a sort of “bow-tie” laminate loop in the front of the belt, making it a more complex donning and doffing process. Another issue with the Belt-Modular it’s probably the most costly belt on this list due in no small part to the system’s complexity and handmade character. These both contribute to the biggest issue with the Belt-Modular: most users will never appreciate the factors that make the complication and cost necessary.
This is a full-featured, respectable belt that I had an absolute blast tinkering with. The only thing that keeps it from ranking as our best overall is that the vast majority of users, even professional military, will never appreciate what makes the Belt-Modular a great tactical gun belt.
- Construction: Thermoplastic, laminate, nylon, and padding
- Velcro: Hook-side
- Available sizes: 30-38
- Available colors: Coyote Brown, Multicam, Black
Excellent load-bearing for use in vehicles
Extremely lightweight outer belt
One of the most comfortable belts on the market
Niche primary use
Why you should trust us
When writing this article, I drew from my own experience adapting my personal belt to the various tasks that I’ve had to take on, as well as drawing from the experiences of other users in various military branches, competitive shooters, and tactical law enforcement. To supplement this, I got hands-on time with the various belts on this list to ensure that every option got a fair shake. To test this, I made sure that every belt could effectively carry my preferred loadout, that I could easily attach pouches, and that once the pouches were attached, they fit without much slop or play.
Every belt that I put on this list is popular with military users because of its rock-solid build quality, load-bearing capability, and proven longevity in combat situations. Finally, in the cases of Ex Umbris and Eagle, I asked the company directly for any information that they could provide on their production process and build quality.
Key features of gun belts
Gun belts are separated into four major components: core, webbing, buckle, and retention material. These components determine how well your belt will fit, how well it carries your equipment, and whether or not it will last under the strenuous conditions that many users will put it through. A dependable gun belt will hold pouches with minimal slop or play, and it won’t twist under a heavy load or tear apart by passing foliage, debris, or other environmental factors.
The core material of any gunfighter belt is what makes it stiff enough to hold up magazines, lanyards, pistols, and other items without twisting or sagging. Different from the webbing material, it’s designed to be inflexible and provide a solid, stable base for all your attachments. This can be either SCUBA webbing, polyethylene, thermoplastic, or even steel in some cases.
MOLLE webbing material
The webbing material is what makes a gunfighter belt a gunfighter belt, allowing it to mount MOLLE accessories despite having a form factor similar to an ordinary web belt or rigger belt. It needs to be flexible enough to easily web your pouches through, but sturdy enough to withstand pulling, twisting, and other outside stressors.
In addition, it needs to be cut so that when a belt is laid flat, the loops open up to allow for easy pouch attachment, but when worn on the body, they tighten up to keep the pouches secure. The webbing can be folded MOLLE loops, laser-cut laminate, or thermoplastic loops.
The buckle is the fastening device for the belt and the most crucial point of failure if not executed properly. The buckle is what keeps your belt together. The vast majority of gunfighter belts on this list have aluminum Austrialpin Cobra buckles, but some have plastic buckles that trade weight and cost for durability. Oftentimes, a buckle will feature a D-ring for attaching lanyards or for use in conjunction with a harness for climbing and rappelling.
The retention material is what holds the belt onto the inner belt and provides stability for drawing magazines and pistols out of pouches and holsters. This can be a Velcro inner belt, a rubberized friction pad that attaches to the Velcro, or old-style belt keepers that hook behind your inner belt and over your outer belt.
Benefits of gun belts
The primary purpose of a gunfighter belt is to carry your equipment, whatever that may be. Whether it’s as simple as keeping a few magazines on one side, or the need to carry ammunition, batons, pepper spray, handcuffs, and a sidearm for law enforcement users, a good belt will do all this and more.
The worth of a belt is decided by how well the belt stands up to the weight of your gear, and the best gun belts will do this by having a stiffened core that prevents twisting and sagging, without having rough, exposed edges that dig into your sides while moving. Additionally, many feature D-rings or reinforced fabric loops to attach a lanyard to, preventing you from getting flung out of a moving boat, aircraft, or ground vehicle due to a sudden movement.
Having an outer belt that mounts all of your magazines is advantageous because it allows you to remove your kit easily when done, or even to just use the restroom. Another advantage is that you can have various belt setups if your job truly requires it to accommodate for things like Sensitive Site Exploitation gear, versus a more direct action setup with magazines, versus a belt designed for shooting competition, all swappable without having to change your inner belt or pants. A final advantage is that you can have magazines or tools on you even when not wearing your plate carrier, allowing you to more easily carry all the essentials.
Sure, you can have 10 magazines, an IFAK, GP pouch, dump pouch, and microwave on your vest, but how comfortable are you when doing that for many hours and many miles? Realistically, the ability to spread the weight of one’s combat load between hips and shoulders is going to lessen the stress on one particular part of your body over another, and having your magazines mounted lower on your side may be easier for some people to reach in a hurry.
The low end of gunfighter belts is plagued with Chinese-made belts and imitators that are good for little beyond airsoft or cosplay. Most belts in this price bracket will feature shoddy stitching, inferior-quality materials, and inconsistent quality control. However, in this less-than $100 range, you can find the entry-level of the BDS catalog, as well as Eagle when they’re on holiday sale. Shop judiciously, and purchase from a reputable brand that actually sees military usage.
Between $100 and $200 is where most gunfighter belts retail for, as this is a price range that can allow for good quality materials and workmanship, while not going overboard with space-age production that drives the price up. Belts in this price bracket will feature consistent stitching, excellent quality materials, and battle-proven pedigrees. You won’t find many unique belts, however, and the majority of them can become a bit same-same, meaning that in this price bracket, it often boils down to personal preference.
Above $200, there are dragons. In this price range, you’ll find things like the Ferro Concepts Bison belt, which is legitimately innovative, but you’ll also find various other belts that I will not name, sold by personality-driven companies, as well as one-off boutique jobs. You will also find belts in limited edition or restricted colorways, since those are sold for the privilege of owning something that others can’t buy, and are best left for collectors. At this price bracket, you can pay for exotic materials and incredibly precise QC, but you can also be paying for an average belt in a fancy color.
How we chose our top picks
To build this list, I based it on products that I’ve personally used, along with interviews with professional end-users and the manufacturers themselves. I limited the belts on this list to tactical nylon “gunfighter belts” rather than expanding it to belts for concealed carry, padded “battle belts,” and leather duty belts for law enforcement use, simply because of the fact that those are topics in and of themselves, and this list would easily be an entire book if I included all of them.
You may notice that the Ronin Tactics Senshi belt is not on the list, and that’s mostly because Ronin belts are manufactured under contract by AWS, so I’d recommend AWS instead. The GBRS Group Assaulter belt is not on this list because for most users, the advantages over the Ferro Concepts Bison belt are not appreciable, and the Ferro belt is still lighter.
Finally, I’ve generally avoided companies that engage in “drop” marketing, as end-users who need a quality belt solution sooner rather than later aren’t always willing to wait for the next hyper-limited drop.
FAQs on gun belts
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
Q. What makes a good gun belt?
A. A good gun belt should be rigid enough to support your equipment, while also being flexible enough to move with your body. It should also be stable when worn with an inner belt, to prevent the belt from moving when you go to draw a magazine. All gun belts on this list satisfy this need.
Q. What kind of gun belt should I get?
A. Your gun belt should be scaled to your needs. If you’re not someone who needs to carry more than three rifles magazines or a few items of gear on a vest, then you can possibly do without. If you’re a law enforcement officer whose department requires you to wear all weapons and ammo on a belt, then a quality gunfighter belt is essential. The same goes for people who are in military occupations where they have to wear a pack with kidney straps, as with my Mystery Ranch Observed Fires Pack.
Q. Does a gun belt make a difference?
A. A quality gun belt absolutely makes the difference between efficient gear carrying and more awkward options, whether they be carrying all your ammo and gear on a plate carrier or chest rig, or weaving holsters and ammo pouches directly into a conventional belt.
Q. Is a gun belt worth it?
A. For those who need an easy-on and easy-off option to carry all of their essential gear, and that is separate from a plate carrier or chest rig, a quality gun belt is absolutely essential.
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