Are you tired of uncomfortable sagging belts? Do you typically carry items on your belt like tools or other items? If so, what you need is a tactical belt! Tactical belts solve the issue of regular belts sagging and are specially designed to carry gear including a firearm. They are typically fast drying, highly adjustable, rigid, and durable.
There are many different types of tactical belts on the market and it can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. Below, we will discuss how to properly fit and wear a tactical belt, what should be on your tactical belt, considerations when choosing a holster for your tactical belt, and the most popular belt and buckle designs.
Wearing and Fitting Your Tactical Belt
One of the most common questions we get about tactical gun belts is, “do tactical belts go through belt loops?”. The answer is, it depends on the design of your tactical belt. Most tactical belts are designed to fit standard 1.5in belt loops that are found on jeans and other commonly worn pants. Two of the most popular sizes of tactical belts are 1.5in and 1.75in wide. Both of these belts will typically fit standard belt loops.
That said, belts that are 1.75in wide will be a much tighter fit and may not fit belt loops that are a little on the small side. There are duty/law enforcement-style tactical belts that are not meant to go through standard belt loops. These designs are not usually as comfortable but tend to support even more weight because of their larger design.
If you prefer a larger belt that does not go through your belt loops then a good option is to purchase a two-piece or dual tactical belt. These belts have an inner belt that goes through your pant loops and another belt that gear can be attached to that goes on over the top of your inner belt. Then the two belts are fastened together. This way you can remove your gear while still wearing the belt that holds up your pants.
There are also tactical belts that are designed to just sit on your hips and not be attached to your pants in any way. These belts typically have some sort of rubber on the inside to stick to you and keep it from sliding down. These belts just have to be tightened down and you are ready to roll. These kinds of belts are usually made for being put on in a hurry and are quite large compared to an EDC belt.
Excluding tactical belts with frame buckles like the ones on most dress belts, tactical belts will almost always fit better than the standard leather belt. The reason for this is that many tactical belts have limitless adjustments. Meaning, that most designs do not have the typical holes like in a leather dress belt that force you to choose one and do not allow for fine-tuning.
This makes tactical belts extremely easy to fit and wear. All you need to do is buy the correct size tactical belt which can typically be done by measuring your waist size with a soft tape measure. Then for most tactical belts, you simply thread the belt through your pants loops and use whichever buckle system you have to tighten it to a perfect fit.
Types of Tactical Belts
One of the most confusing things about tactical belts can be deciding which type you want to buy. Below, we will go over the four general categories of tactical belts, what materials they are made from, and what they do best.
EDC Tactical Belt
The EDC or “everyday carry” tactical belt is likely the most common tactical belt worn. This is not exactly a type of belt but more of a collection of belts that fall into this category. These belts need to be comfortable, most prefer them to be somewhat stylish, and most importantly, they need to be capable of carrying more weight than a standard belt.
EDC tactical belts are typically worn by people who commonly need to carry extra weight on their belts and they do not want it to sag. For example, a loaded Glock 43x weighs just a touch over 23oz. To hold nearly 1.5lbs of weight you need a belt that is designed for it. This is where EDC belts come into play. EDC belts are typically manufactured from nylon or leather and designed to support the additional weight of firearms, flashlights, multi-tools, and whatever else you want to wear on your belt!
Duty/Law Enforcement Tactical Belts
A duty/law enforcement tactical belt is a heavy-duty belt that is designed to carry a lot of weight. When fully loaded, a police officer’s belt will often weigh over 20lbs. Their belts are designed to be comfortable yet rigid and strong. Duty/law enforcement belts are usually constructed of nylon or even in some cases, leather. Duty and law enforcement tactical belts come in varying widths.
The most common duty/law enforcement tactical belt widths range from 1.5in to 2.25in wide.The wider belts are usually two pieces with an inner and outer belt. They also come in varying stiffness and strength options. For example, many companies sell a nylon 2-ply 1.5in wide law enforcement belt and a stronger nylon 3-ply 1.75in belt.
Light Duty Tactical Belts
Light-duty tactical belts are typically lighter, narrower, and hold less weight than a duty/law enforcement belt. These belts tend to be more comfortable and easier to wear for long periods. This type of belt is even lighter than the belts in our EDC category.
That said, some people prefer to wear light-duty tactical belts every day. They are perfect for people who do not want to load up their belts with lots of gear and maybe just need to carry one or two lighter items. These belts are also generally much nicer to wear in the summer or hot climates than other belts. That is because they are lighter, tend to be cooler to wear and they dry easier than heavier belts.
Heavy Duty Tactical Belts
Heavy duty tactical belts also known as rigger belts are great all-purpose belts that will work for everything other than formal occasions when you need to wear dress pants.
These belts are incredibly strong and if you buy a quality one, very comfortable. This belt is in between the EDC tactical belt and the duty/law enforcement belt categories. It is stronger than an EDC belt yet not quite as strong as a duty/law enforcement belt. This is usually perfectly fine for the average person who is not consistently carrying 20-plus pounds of gear on their belt.
What to Put On Your Tactical Belt
Many people who are looking for a tactical belt already know what they want to put on it. In most cases, this ranges from handguns and holsters to flashlights, tasers, mace, or even tools. The options are really only limited by your imagination. Tactical belts can hold just about anything you can think of. It is probably safe to say that most people that are looking for a tactical belt are looking for an EDC belt to carry their sidearm. This brings us to choosing a pistol holster for your tactical belt.
Picking an IWB vs OWB Holster
The first question you need to ask yourself when choosing a holster, is what its purpose will be. For example, are you purchasing a new holster to put on your tactical belt to go to the range, will you be open or concealed carrying it, or is it for hunting or some other purpose?
If you are choosing a new holster for concealed carry then you will need to decide between an inside-waste-band belt (iwb) or outside-waist-band belt (owb) holster. This is an important decision and can affect draw time, concealability, comfortability, and even the size and design of the sidearm that you can carry.
If you are choosing a new holster for some other purpose like hunting or for open carry then the choice is easy, an owb holster will work perfectly for you. There are some big differences that we should discuss between these two types of holsters.
First, iwb holsters are typically more concealable than owb holsters. This makes them a better option for concealed carry than owb holsters. That said, owb holsters can certainly be used for concealed carry as well. You will likely need a little longer clothing to conceal the holster and firearm than you would with an iwb holster.
Second, owb holsters are typically more comfortable than iwb holsters. This can make a big difference when you plan to carry it daily. Third, iwb holsters limit the type of gun you can carry more so than owb holsters. For example, it is more difficult to carry a full frame or even larger compact models in an iwb holster than an owb holster.
As you can see there are a lot of considerations when choosing the type of holster to put on your tactical belt. The best way to decide is to narrow down your options by figuring out exactly what you want out of the holster and then trying out different options.If you are like me, you will probably end up owning multiples of each.
Tactical Belt Materials
Tactical belts are primarily made out of two materials, nylon and leather. They each have their pros and cons. Nylon tactical belts are typically lighter weight, thinner, and faster drying than leather belts. Leather belts are more fashionable and possibly more durable. Although the latter is often debated.
Nylon belts are typically slimmer than leather belts with the same strength capacity. Nylon belts also tend to have more buckle design options. Choosing a tactical belt material typically comes down to personal preference, or if you are in law enforcement you may have your choice made for you. My personal preference is for nylon because I like how they are quick drying, thinner, and weighs less than its leather counterparts.
Tactical Belt Buckle Types
There are four main types of belt buckles on tactical belts. When choosing your tactical belt you should consider the buckle that it comes with. Although they all work, each buckle design has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Something to keep in mind while reading about the buckles is that one type of buckle may be called several different things online. For example, what we call a loop buckle below, may also be called a hook and loop buckle.
The loop buckle is a simple buckle that looks like a “D”. The most simple loop buckle design uses a strong hook and loop also known as velcro to hold the belt in place. These buckles are easy to use and very adjustable.
There is also a slightly different design of the loop buckle. This buckle also looks like a “D” but has an additional bar in it that allows you to thread the belt through. One side of the bar is typically textured so that the belt can not slip after it is adjusted to fit.
There are a few cons to this type of buckle. First, if you are like me and you have the style that has velcro, you will get a lot of stuff trapped in it, like lint. Second, the velcro can be pretty loud to remove. This is not a big deal if you are not trying to be quiet but it is something that should be considered. Third, the size of the belt will have to be readjusted each time it is taken off and put back on.
If you do not have the version with velcro, then there is not really much of a downside. The buckle is small, strong, and easy to use, but it is not as easy to take on and off as some of the buckles we discuss further below. Loop buckles are perfect for people who want simplicity. The buckle has minimal to no moving parts and has a very low risk of failure.
The snap buckle is a common buckle used on tactical belts and many other types of gear like backpacks and binocular harnesses. Tactical belts with snap buckles are extremely easy to take on and off. They are quick to use, lightweight, and typically cheaper than other types. Like loop buckles, snap buckle belts are also very adjustable. A nice thing about snap buckles is that you do not need to readjust them every time you put them on and take them off.
One downside to the snap buckle is that if quality materials are not used, the prongs can break. They also tend to be much bulkier than other buckle types. If they are too big, they could be uncomfortable to wear and may not even fit through your belt loops. Snap buckle belts are perfect for people who want a strong, lightweight, and affordable tactical belt.
The frame buckle is the classic belt buckle. They typically have one or two prongs and fit through pre-made holes in a belt. These buckles look very nice and professional but most lack fine adjustment. Belts with frame buckles are perfect for occasions when you need to dress up, but still want to be able to carry a firearm or other gear.
Quick Release Buckle
Quick-release buckles tend to be on the best-quality tactical belts. These buckles are typically made of metal, they are strong, thin, and very comfortable to wear. As the name implies, belts with quick-release buckles are very quick and easy to use. They are also extremely adjustable and do not use velcro as a mechanism for keeping the belt tight. Like the snap buckle, belts with quick-release buckles do not need to be readjusted with every use.
There are two downsides to quick-release buckles. First, if you do not get a quality one, they can break. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. Second, quality quick-release buckles are expensive. Some quick-release buckles cost over $50. Belts with these buckles are typically more expensive because of the buckle price.
Tactical belts are a must-have for concealed carry or other tasks that require you to carry heavy gear on your belt. They are strong and sturdy belts that will not let you down. There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing your tactical belt but one of the most important things to consider is comfort.
If your belt is not comfortable for you, then you will not want to wear it. The best thing that you can do is to try multiple belt types out and see which one is right for you. If you do not want to do that, then I would suggest you purchase a nylon EDC or riggers belt with a quick-release buckle. If you want a heavier-duty belt, then get a riggers belt.
This combination should be very comfortable, quick-drying, extremely adjustable, and very strong.Once you get a tactical belt you will not have to deal with an uncomfortable sagging belt anymore. You will also be extremely pleased with how adjustable they are when compared to a regular belt.