Let’s look at belts: Five tips to be well and safely dressed

posted on March 11, 2019

Daily carry requires a holster. I don’t care how slick your buddy is, or what secret-ops organization he was in, if you choose his option and do not use a holster you are asking for trouble. And the thing about asking is, if you ask for trouble enough times, you get it.

            A holster needs a belt. To be properly belted, you have to tend to a few things:

  1.  It has to be sturdy. Your typical dress belt—an inch or less wide, and made of some thin material—won’t do. A thin belt will not secure a holster with loops meant for a wide belt. A thin material belt won’t keep your holster (and sidearm) from sagging out, and that shows. So, 1-1/4 inch or 1-1/2 inch belts.
  2. It has to be the right size. A lot of gents still wear the same size belt (and even trousers) they did in high school. Guys, that was then, this is now. They belt underneath the extra weight they’ve put on since then. I have come to call such belts and trousers as being an “aspirational” size.
  3. Add four inches to the correct size, belt and waistband, if you are going to carry inside the waistband. If you do not, your waist and the sidearm will be competing for the available volume. Your back will suffer as a result.
  4. Appropriate buckles, please. Holster makers who make belts (many do) often offer a belt that is wide enough for a holster for most of its length, but is narrow and has a dress buckle, for the gap in your jacket. You don’t obviously look like you are wearing a gun belt.
  5. Leather stretches. Your leather belt will conform to your shape, but also stretch. It is a good idea to have a pair of identical belts (like boots) and give them a weekly rest. Two belts (or two pairs of boots) will last more than twice as long as one will.
You can have a discreetly tucked-away IWB holster, but the rigger's belt makes it easy to spot you as "the gun guy".

There will always be someone in the gun club—or at the gun shop—who doesn’t feel a holster is needed. A friend of mine went through an incident that is illustrative. He was police chief of a small department who had managed to talk the city fathers into springing for the cost of sprucing up the ready room. One day as he walked through the newly carpeted and painted ready room, he nodded to the officers getting ready to go on shift and also to an off-duty officer in a sweatshirt who had his pistol tucked into the waistband of his running pants.

A thought occurred to him as he entered his office. “Maybe there should be a department policy requiring holsters.” A moment later, there was a gunshot.
Yep, the off-duty officer (with his pistol shift in his waistband) had grabbed it to keep it from falling. And in the classic phrase, “it went off.”

Afterwards the officer was properly admonished and told he would have to pay for the repair of the new carpeting. My friend went back to his office and wrote up the new department policy on holsters.

Handguns loose in pockets and simply tucked into waistbands are bad business. Be safe. Don’t be that guy.


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