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I use IWB and OWB holsters worn on embossed, fairly soft cowhide belts about 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" wide. I've read about specialty belts for packing, but have never seen one. I heard that Kramer makes a good one, but over 100 bucks seems a litle steep for a belt. How important is it? What are the advantages?
 

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A quality belt is very important. Generally, gun belts and work belts take a lot more wear and tear than normal belts. This is especially true if you are overweight.

What is important in the belt is that it not stretch (or not much) and that it be the correct size for your holster or vice versa. You don't want a holster with 1.5" loops riding on a 1" belt. The holster will fail to provide proper stability and ride. That can make the difference between a comfortable ride and reliable positioning to a holster that moves around, is not comfortable, maybe sags or pulls on the pants wrong, may tilt, and therefore may not be as reliable for use as you would like. Here, it should be pointed out that the belt loops need to match the belt as well. It is all part of a system. So your pants need to fit the belt and so does the holster. You may have to guage your belt to your pants and then your holster to your belt, especially if you are needing a particular size, such as 1" which seems to fit dress clothing best (I have found).

I have not gone with the really expensive belts. I have no doubt they are a good thing to buy. Thusfar, I have found a commercial doppleganer to Bianchi $60 belts that cost me $15 at Academy Sporting goods and last about 2 years. The only difference I can find is in the buckle. The leather thickness, stitching, and finish are the same.

The other option I have found better is a guy at the local DFW gun shows that sells fiarly heavy weight, thick belts that I assume are made in Mexico. They cost me $30 a piece and are well made. So far, they handle my abuse just fine.

Personally, I like to go with the wider belts rather than thinnger. They also tend to be thicker. Sizes of 1.25" or 1.50" will hold gun, mag pouch, cell phone, knife, etc. better than a little skinner belt. Notice that the belts on cops and workmen are wide. That isn't for show, but function. So I suggest getting the widest belt your pants and holster will accomodate. If your holster is made by somebody like Milt Sparks and is of some of their particular models, you can actually buy new holster loops in different sizes to change out as necessary. In my case, that model is the VersaMax-II. I find it to be a fine IWB holster.
 

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Double Naught Spy said some great stuff. I think there is a world of difference between a normal 1" belt and a 1.25"/1.5" double thickness belt. If you're not sure about dropping the big bucks for a good quality CCW belt then go to WalMart and buy their work belt. It has a yellow and black 'construction zone' looking tag and is twice as thick as a normal belt. It'll cost you about ten bucks. Now, try the walmart belt and you'll notice a lack of all the things you saw with your normal belt. I carry a Glock 30 in an IWB holster and started carrying using a normal thickness belt. The gun would sag even if I pulled the belt as tight as I could without loosing feeling in my feet.

Granted, the walmart belt is not good quality, but it will let you see what you've been missing and make the decision to get a quality belt much easier.

I feel a lot more secure with a double thickness belt. The gun doesn't sag or shift when I walk/sit. Good luck to ya.
 

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I ordered a 1.5" belt with my Watch Six holster from Milt Sparks. The quality of ALL their products is second to none. I even started wearing the belt to work daily (w/o the gun) for that extra bit of back support. Luckily, I have a job that allows jeans and sneakers.

I strongly recommend giving Tony at M.S. or Lou Alessi a call. If your budget can manage $70-$80 it's money VERY well spent.

Mac
 

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I sell Tuckerleather gunbelts at www.tuckergunleather.com . A double-thick 1-1/2" handmade belt is $75 for up to 48 inches. We can provide up to 70" belts for bigger guys.

I wear one every day with my IWB holster. Whatever you pay for a better belt it will be worth it. You'll have it for years.

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"Fight back! Whenever you are offered violence, fight back! The aggressor does not fear the law, so he must be taught to fear you. Whatever the risk; and at whatever the cost, fight back!" -- -Jeff Cooper, Nov. 1993
 

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I will go a bit further with my recommendations.

I like a 1.75 inch belt. Every day of the week I wear a 1.75 inch, 5 stitch, instructor belt from the Wilderness in Pheonix, AZ. After wearing this belt for over a year now, I can really tell a difference when I put on a more narrow belt such as 1.25" or 1.5".

I do keep a Galco contour belt around for dress occasions. It matches their Concealable holsters/mag pouches, and tapers from 1.5" to 1.25" up front at the buckle.

I just ordered a 1.5" belt from the Wilderness, but it is still the 5 stich model, making it more rigid and durable. I am going to try it with some Burns/Alessi gear I ordered from Dane Burns. I figure that I will wear this rig and belt mainly on the weekends. During the week, I will rely on my Wilderness 1.75" model to carry a Gerber and a Star Tac, sometimes a Kimber also. Just depends what's going on that day.

Bottom line: Get the absolute best belt you can. Why would you want to spend good money on a handgun, then go cheap-o on a belt or holster to carry it??
 

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I think a good belt is worth every penny they cost. The extra support makes wearing your gun a lot more comfortable.I wear a Wilderness instructors belt 1.5, 5 stich model daily. I compete with a Widerness 1.75 combat shooters model,and for dress I have a Fist belt with a plastic reinforcement insert.And make sure the width of your belt is the same as your holster's belt slots
 

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Here is a solution I just stumbled on a few years ago. If your belt is not going to show, like under an untucked tee shirt or sweat shirt you might want to try "Uncle Mikes Ultra Inner Duty Belt". It costs $21.95 list. Places like "Galls" sell them for $18.00. It is a little like the tactical belt - inner and outer heavy nylon with a rigid layer in between. It is 1.5" wide and adjusts with velco - no holes, no buckle. It is made to be worn under a LEO duty belt. For me it works extremely well and is more comfortable than the 2 ply leather belts I have worn. It does not stretch and eventually conforms to your body like a leather belt. Uncle Mikes has a web site with a picture of the belt under the law enforcement section.
 

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Comfortably carrying a steel-framed 1911 requires using a proper belt. The ones made specifically for use with holsters often have a steel inner lining, which eliminates curling of the belt and distributes the weight of the gun across your hip.

Most folks who complain about carrying a heavy 1911 often do so because they use a flimsy dress or casual belt that doesn't properly distribute the weight.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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Steelerfan, no doubt there are some big differences is 1, 1.25, and 1.5" belts. I suggested the spread because sometimes you have to make do with the best you can do for your situation. My dress clothes balk at 1.25" thick belts, for example. If I could find pants that were reasonable in price, then I would to the 1.75" size as noted. That would be great! I am making do with the best I can make do with. Actually, 1.5" works really well. I just assumed 1.75 would make me happier.


As for Walmart and work belts, that is not a bad idea, but I need something that looks a little nicer for some occasions. I am not fancier by any stretch, so I will check out what they have to offer because it may fit my needs. At worst, it may be a fine range belt. Saving money is good if the product will do what I need. I have no doubt a good Sparks holster is a better product. I just may not be the right size long enough to enjoy that extra quality, and then the extra $$ will actually be wasted for my needs. Fortunately, holsters don't seem to care if I gain or lose weight.
 

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There are many pants available at "cop shops" or uniform suppliers or catalogue houses like "Galls" that sell dress pants with 1.5"-1.75" belt loops. They are designed for plain clothes cops that have the "belt loading problem". Ususally they are reasonably priced and in my experience quality is very good.
 

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I've been wearing a Wilderness 1.5" CSM belt for the last couple years. Has a polymer stiffener in between the layers. Took some getting used to, but I wouldn't use anything else now.

Tried a heavy leather belt from Cabela (Triple K, IIRC), but with a steel frame Commander size IWB, it rolled up fairly quick. Stretched some too.

Thing I like about the Wilderness belt is no holes to stretch out!! Very adjustable, especially if you have on layers in cold weather.
 

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eljay45 said:
I think a good belt is worth every penny they cost. The extra support makes wearing your gun a lot more comfortable.I wear a Wilderness instructors belt 1.5, 5 stich model daily. I compete with a Widerness 1.75 combat shooters model,and for dress I have a Fist belt with a plastic reinforcement insert.And make sure the width of your belt is the same as your holster's belt slots

3 years later I still agree with myself.
 

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i get paid to carry a gun everyday. i've never had a problem carrying a steel framed 5" 1911, and i use whatever belt happens to be on sale at ross or dillard's. i guess i'm not into the gun rag promo brands.
 

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Steve at Rafter S Gunleather makes a great belt at an incredible price. Cowhide is about 55.00 shipped. Wait times are under 4 weeks. I have a black 1.5 which tapers to 1.25 that is perfect for my Kimber (series I) 1911.

Rafter S is without a doubt the intersection of quality and price!!!
 

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I believe that for comfort and function , the belt is equally as important as the holster . Maybe more . First , there is lateral rigidity . That keeps the belt from rolling over. Secondly, there is the need for the support system to be able to carry 2-3 lbs. in a very narrow spread without sagging . Next it has to be comfortable . Then it has to last with everyday use . You might even require it to look good ! A great belt will make or break a holster.

I think Lou Alessi makes the worlds best gunbelt . They are a bargain at around $100 when you consider how many years they will perform for you . A 1 1/4" Alessi will out perform a 1 3/4" so called gunbelt from the holster factories . IMHO , they are worth the price and then some . Of course there is a wait as well , but I forgot EVERY other gunbelt I had after using the Alessi for a few days . I laugh when I hear someone say that they just use a thick belt from a men's store and pay $45 for it . They will destroy 4 of those and I will still be using one of Lou's belts ...Tom
 

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I'm with Tom...I have an Alessi 1 1/2" and it really makes a difference. I also have the wilderness 5 stitch and it's a cool belt...would have never thought to buy one but I passed their booth at the shot show and couldn't leave it there for 20 bucks....so I have a real nice leather belt and one a bit more tactical....
 

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Adding my $.03;
A good solid purpose-made belt is a necessity for belt carry of a sidearm.
1 1/2" width is ideal IME.
A lot of folks find 1 1/4" to be enough, but if you're carrying a heavy gun, say 36 oz or more, 1 1/2" will be more comfortable.
1 3/4" is fine, but only jeans and work pants will accomodate that width, and that won't work for me.

Some folks find that a 1 1/2" belt tapered to 1 1/4" in front enhances concealment (the visible part in front looks more like a dress belt), though I just usually just go with 1 1/2" width all the way around.

FWIW, there are none better than Lou Alessi's IF you need a belt that LOOKS like a dress belt AND lasts forever AND works well. Lou skives the belt so it's thinner at the edges than at the center, which other makers will do as an "extra" feature, though Lou's belts have this feature routinely.

If you just want support but don't care as much about details of appearance or about durability, you have LOTS of alternative choices, and even durability plus support can be had for very reasonable prices, eg. Uncle Mike's polymer belts and the Wilderness 5-stitch belt.

Personally, I haven't found it to matter whether a belt is cut on a contour or not. If you wear a belt, it will develop a contour. Period. Doesn't matter if it was straight to begin with.
If you buy it already contoured, I suppose some might find it more comfortable from the outset, though it's never mattered to me, and I wouldn't pay more to get this feature, but that's JMNSHO.

I've had belts from almost every maker out there, and Alessi's are my favorite, which is not to say that others aren't just as good, just that they don't quite look as "dressy", which happens to be important in my particular situation.
YMMV, etc.
 
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