One of the make it or break it concealed carry accessories is a solid gun belt. A belt that is specifically a concealed carry belt can make all the difference when it comes to being successful carrying a concealed handgun. It seems like something as silly as a belt would be unimportant in the big picture of concealed carry. The exact opposite is true. Your CCW belt is just as important as your holster or your gun.
So lets take a look at what a quality concealed carry belt needs to do to help you carry your gun.
The Jobs of a Concealed Carry Belt
When I look at concealed carry belts and the jobs that they need to accomplish to help you carry your CCW handgun I look at three different aspects a gun belt’s duties: Support, secure and conceal.
Let’s face it, your EDC gear (every day carry) is heavy. I recently weighed everything my concealed carry belt needs to hold up and it came out to a total of eight pounds. EIGHT POUNDS. That is like running your belt through the handle of a milk jug. That is a good amount of weight to support and it is a challenge for most belts. If we are being truthful most belts have a hard time just keeping up your pants.
In addition to supporting all that weight your concealed carry belt needs to secure that gear. A loaded gun is not something that you want to loose control of. Whether you lose control through and adversaries evil intent or through your own carelessness in gear selection, your belt, along with your quality holster and gun retention skills, plays a serious role in the security of your concealed carry handgun.
We are talking about concealed carry here and so concealment is an important part of the equation. You guessed it, your belt plays a real in concealment. High quality concealed carry belts make it significantly easier to conceal a handgun on your waist band and of course, lousy belts do a lousy job helping you to conceal your pistol. If you want to carry a gun and spend less time, effort and energy trying to conceal it, investing in a quality concealed carry belt is an important step in making it happen.
The question you might be asking right now is, “How does a quality CCW belt do what it is supposed to do?
What Qualities Make the Best Concealed Carry Belt?
It’s a fair question. Belts are seemingly pretty simple things, yet there are certain characteristics that a concealed carry belt needs to exhibit if it is going to be good at its job of supporting, securing and concealing your handgun. Let’s take a look at rigidity first.
I have the expectation that a good concealed carry belt is going to be rigid. We discussed the weight that the belt is going to be expected to support a rigid belt is much more suited to holding up all that gear than the typical flimsy belt. Lots of the weight that your gun belt is expected to support comes from your handgun itself. Regardless of the size of the gun you are carrying concealed, when you add a full magazine of ammunition to the gun and then a full spare mag for when things go really south it becomes a chunk of weight that is focused in a small area of the belt. A concealed carry belt that is rigid and stiff is going to do a better job spreading the mass out over the entire area of the belt instead of letting the heavy gun sag in a single area. This kind of vertical and horizontal stiffness makes a big difference and is usually found in thicker belts.
As important as the up and down and side to side stiffness is what I call torsional rigidity. Torsional stiffness prevents the belt from twisting around its length. A gun belt that is torsionally stiff helps to keep your handgun, which is heavy in the grip, from rotating out from the body. This makes a significant improvement in both comfort and conceal-ability and also in security. Typically the best concealed carry belts exhibit this kind of rigidity because they are reinforced. Modern polymers are either layers with sections of webbing or leather, or the webbing or leather is impregnated with some kind of a stiffening agent. In general, if a belt isn’t reinforced it isn’t likely to maintain its stiffness.
The best concealed carry belts are durable. Durability is important from a security standpoint. If your belt isn’t durable then your gun isn’t secure. This seems obvious, but consider that durability is an issue over time. We have discussed the idea of rigidness and all gun belts are rigid when they are new. Just like a pair of boots those once rigid belts can become soft and supple over time. If the only job of the belt is to hold up your drawers I suppose that would be no big deal. A concealed carry belt has a much more important job and because concealed carry belts aren’t inexpensive, it only makes sense that they should keep doing their job for a long time.
I expect my concealed carry belts to easily withstand sweat, bending, twisting and hard everyday use for years without a significant decrease in performance. My belts support my Every Day Carry gear and it is called EDC for a reason and my belt needs to live up to that same every day standard.
When selecting the best concealed carry belt, fit must be considered a top priority. Yes, your belt needs to fit around your waist without too much or too little belt left over. Quality manufacturers of ccw belts clearly indicate how you should select the size of your concealed carry belt. It takes more than just ordering your waist size to get a belt that fits. Make sure to carefully read the sizing instructions from the manufacturer so that you don’t make a costly error when you are ordering your new gun belt.
Your concealed carry belt also needs to fit your pants. Different clothing manufacturers have different standards when it comes to belt loop size and construction. Make sure that your belt will actually fit through the belt loops on the pants you intend to wear it with.
Keep in mind that loop size doesn’t just pertain to pants, it also matters when you are matching your concealed carry belt to your holster. Make sure that your belt and holster are going to fit together. You need to consider both the width of the belt and its thickness. Remember, we are talking about heavy duty reinforced belts and that can lead to some serious thickness. Make sure that whatever system you use to connect your holster to your belt actually fits.
The final area of fit that needs to be discussed is fit from a stylistic sense. Make sure to select a concealed carry belt that fits with your style. If you are like me and carry concealed with an untucked shirt, then the style of the belt isn’t terribly important. If, however, you need to carry a gun with your shirt tucked in, your belt may matter considerably more. Wearing a tactical webbing belt with a suit isn’t stylish and it is a dead giveaway that you are probably carrying a gun.
Recently I attended a funeral and I was displeased with the performance of my old leather only gun belt. Wearing my Ares Gear Aegis Enhanced webbing belt wasn’t an option so I placed an order for a new Magpul Tejas El Original, black leather and polymer belt. The belt fit, not just physically but also from a style standpoint. Make sure your concealed carry belt “fits!”
Selecting the Best Concealed Carry Belt
When it comes to selecting clothing items like belts personal preferences certainly have a large impact on our choices. Keep in mind that a concealed carry belt is more than just a piece of clothing. Your EDC belt needs to support, secure and concealed your handgun and you need to select a belt that is rigid, durable and that fits you and your style properly.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to selecting the best concealed carry belt for you, but luckily you aren’t the first person to head down this road. I have been carrying a concealed handgun daily for more than 17 years and in that time I have had my share of belts. Some good, some bad and some ugly. Below you will find my honest assessment regarding belts that I have used for long periods of time and my best guesses on how some other belts might stack up.
My goal is for this information to be helpful when it comes time for you to select the best concealed carry belt for you.
Concealed Carry Belt Reviews
Below you will find specific information that is intended to help you to select the best concealed carry belt for you. I have spent a lot of time and a lot of money learning the hard lessons of concealed carry and I hope that the insight I share below on gun belts is beneficial to you.
Please keep in mind a few things when you are considering a concealed carry belt:
- The thoughts below are based on my experience and although I am honest and direct with my opinions, they are just that, OPINIONS! I am not you and the belt that works best for me may not work as well for you. Use the information as a starting point on making a decision, not a conclusion. If you combine the information that I provide here with other expert sources and your own experience you will be on the right track.
- I will work to provide sizing information when it is available from the manufacturer. Concealed carry belts are not cheap and making a sizing mistake can be costly even if it costs you time. If sizing information is not included I highly recommend that you reach out to the manufacturer and confirm how you should measure your size to ensure proper fit.
- Many of the links included below are affiliate links. When you purchase through an affiliate link it costs you nothing, however, I receive a small affiliate commission for your purchase. I greatly appreciate folks following affiliate links but if you would rather not use the affiliate link you can simply type in the url for the website listed for the product and search the website to make your purchase.
Now let’s take a look at some of the best concealed carry belts.
Price – $99.00
The Aegis Enhanced belt has earned its place as my concealed carry belt of choice and for good reason. The Ares Gear Aegis Enhanced is a rigid belt that is easily able to support all the weight of concealed carry gear and it is also a micro adjustable design.
The belt itself is crafted from two layers of a very stiff, 1.5” wide, proprietary, scuba webbing which provides the support and stiffness found in the Aegis Enhanced. A third, thinner layer of webbing is attached to the outside of the belt providing a host of color options for customizing the belt.
The micro adjustability comes from the stainless steel box frame buckle design. A popular design in military belts, the box frame buckle passes the webbing belt through the box frame and over a sliding knurled rod. As tension is applied to the belt, the knurled rod slides in its tracks and pinches the belt between the rod and the buckle. The system doesn’t rely on holes to secure the belt instead it is friction applied to the belt. This means that the belt can be secured at virtually any interval you need to keep it fitting properly.
I love the micro adjustability of the belt. It makes it easy to comfortably wear your concealed carry gear in a variety of situations. I often find myself loosening the belt a touch as I begin a long car ride and then snugging it back up when I get out of the vehicle.
Although the Aegis Enhanced belt looks good, it probably isn’t compatible with a suit and tie. I wear my Ares Gear belt when I am untucked and the belt is covered.
All of the parts of the Aegis Enhanced belt are made in the U.S. and the belt is assembled in Columbus, Ohio.
There are several options when it comes to customizing your Aegis Enhanced belt. Buckles are available in black or bead blasted stainless and webbing colors include, black, Coyote 498, Ranger Green, and Urban Grey. In addition to the two buckle colors, you can have engraving added for a bit more flair. Your choices include an Ares Gear Spartan like helmet, a Crusader Cross, the Gadsden Flag, or an American Flag. I believe that with special arrangements you could even have an engraving of your own design incorporated with the buckle.
The stainless steel Aegis box frame belt buckle has become a popular buckle. Several other belt manufacturers have incorporated the buckle into their belts. I own a Mean Gene Leather Victory Aegis belt that incorporates an Aegis buckle. It performs well and looks good.
When it comes to solid performance as a concealed carry belt the Ares Gear Aegis Enhanced has a solid reputation and it is well deserved. If you are looking for adjustability, comfort and performance for your concealed carry belt, you will not be disappointed with the Aegis Enhanced.
When it comes to sizing, you need to consult the sizing chart on the Ares Gear website. The belts are sold from XS to 4XL by pant size. Please note that the sizing information on Amazon is different from the sizing provided by Ares Gear. In my opinion it makes sense to follow the sizing information provided by the manufacturer.
MSRP – 84.95
Street Price – $68.00-$92.81 (Amazon.com), $80.70 (Brownells.com)
Magpul is best known for it’s high quality, inexpensive and very reliable polymer magazines. As Magpul has expanded in popularity they have successfully diversified their offerings to cater to the wide variety of needs of their dedicated fan base. The Tejas El Original belt follows Mgpul’s dedication to quality products at a reasonable price and it is no surprise that the Tejas El Original has a significant polymer component.
The El Original has a top grain bull hide upper stitched and laminated to a reinforced polymer lower that provides a rigid backer to the relatively supple leather. The Tejas El Original has a traditional belt buckle that is chrome plated for corrosion resistance and good looks and features tool-less threaded hardware securing the belt around the buckle. With a simple lift of the handle you can twist the screw from the branded fastener and swap the Magpul buckle for a new buckle which is available separately or add a buckle of your own.
The Tejas El Original is available in both 1.5” and 1.25” widths and the thickness of the belt is right around .25”. The belt is available in black, chocolate and light brown. The belt is appropriate for casual wear or for dressier occasions although the edges of the leather are rather rough and may not be suited to your finest wear.
You can find the Tejas El Original here on Amazon.
This information is taken directly from Magpul’s website on sizing the Tejas El Original.
DO NOT order your waist size or pants size! Lay an existing belt out flat and from where the leather folds at the point where the buckle is attached, measure to the hole that you typically use. Please remember when ordering to take into account any holster or accessory that may be worn. For in-between measurements use the next size up as our belts will not stretch over time.
We size our belts from the fold in the leather to the #5 hole (count the hole from the tip, ~7 inches) as per the diagram below.