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Concealed carry requires the wearer to make sure their gun is as discreet as possible, and this can be a challenge when wearing a pistol at the hip or waist. A belt that’s optimized for concealed carry makes this more manageable.
The right option for you depends on how you plan on carrying your gun. Here’s an overview of the options available and the criteria for picking the best one.
Materials, Shapes, and Sizes
The overwhelming variety of belts available makes it difficult to gauge the best option for you. Although some concealed carry users manage to use a plain belt for their gun holster, there are also a number of belts specialized for guns.
Ordinary belts sold at clothing stores aren’t usually optimal for concealed carry. They usually prioritize form over function, especially if they’re made of leather to be suitable for work or dressing up. They may also be too thick or thin for use with a gun holster.
Gun enthusiasts will debate which materials and designs are best for concealed carry. Opinions vary and often depend on holster preferences and how you plan on concealing, so a material and style that works for someone else might end up not being helpful for you.
The first thing to check for in a concealed carry gun belt is rigidity since you need the gun holster to stay in place when you’re trying to draw from it. Nylon and leather are capable of being sturdy materials for belts as long as they are reinforced properly. Cheap belts that are not designed for holding the weight of a gun may sag or stretch dramatically over time.
Gun belts need more rigid material for outside the waistband (OWB) carry because gravity will tug on the gun more when it’s hanging outside the pants. However, OWB is less common for concealed carry anyway because it’s harder to cover the gun.
Plain leather is unlikely to hold up long-term without creasing or bending, even for inside the waistband carry. Nylon should be at least 600 Denier (600D) in order to hold up, but both nylon and leather perform better with a rigid backing or insert.
Many gun belts have steel or polymer backings to keep them from sagging. Although these add to the overall cost, they make the belt a much more worthwhile investment for long-term use.
The belt buckle does not matter much if you’ll be hip carrying or carrying near the small of your back. However, a large belt buckle may get in the way if you’re trying to appendix carry. Any other studs or accessories could also get in the way, depending on where you’re wearing the holster.
Even the pockets on tactical belts may be a hindrance if you want the flattest and most discreet belt possible. However, these belts may be helpful for carrying extra tools if you’ll be outdoors or working.
Finally, make sure to check the width of the belt. A belt wider than 1.5” might not fit well into your belt loops, especially if it’s thickened with steel or polymer. Measure your belt loops so you can be certain your new belt will fit.
Where to Look
Shopping online is the best way to find a concealed carry gun belt. You’ll have a full selection of thicknesses and widths to make sure the gun is compatible with your holster of choice. You can even choose from different colors to help your belt look as natural as possible with your outfit of choice.
Once you’ve found a belt that looks good, make sure to closely read both the product description and the reviews. Check the return policy to ensure you have options for returning the belt if it ends up being a poor choice for your wardrobe or doesn’t fit you right.
Make sure to buy a belt that has at least a few reviews. Even a new manufacturer should have a few reviews, so don’t take a chance on a product that no one has vouched for yet. Good reviews will show that the quality of the fabric and backing is as advertised
Considerations for Your Wardrobe
Even with the functional considerations for gun belts in mind, your exact fashion and clothing needs also influence your belt choice. Keep in mind that gun belts with tan or camo prints may look out of place with your regular wardrobe. A black belt matches with a wider variety of clothing and looks more formal.
Even black nylon may look very utilitarian when paired with slacks and a jacket, especially if the material is shiny enough to catch the light and show its texture. A black leather belt with steel or polymer inserts is appropriate for a wide range of occasions, so keep one on hand just in case you need it.
Women, in particular, may struggle to find a gun belt that works well for them. Since women’s pants are often shaped differently than men’s, it can be surprisingly tricky to balance comfort with concealability.
This problem can be exacerbated by belt loops on pants being too small. If you have trouble finding a holster, belt, and pants combination that works, you may need to try a different pant style or go up a size, then try the same gun belt again.
Both men and women may struggle to find a belt that has enough holes for a good fit. Your exact length needs may vary based on which gun you’re wearing on a given day and might increase or decrease if your weight fluctuates. Look closely at the product description to make sure the belt will fit you well, and don’t hesitate to contact the website or manufacturer directly if you have questions.
Choosing the Perfect Belt
It may take some experimentation to choose the right belt for you, especially if your wardrobe or concealed carry needs to change sometimes. You may even find that having multiple belts is the best way to carry safely without revealing the fact that you’re carrying. Having the peace of mind that comes with concealed carry is well worth the effort of seeking out the perfect belt for your body and style.