Battle Belt Smack Down!

I come here today to review some of those super awesome belts that make your life better.  I’m guessing that someone smarter than me realized that wearing 50 lbs of mags, med kits and more mags on your chest rig led to pain and encumbered movement. They came up with MOLLE on a belt so you could carry more stuff on your waist and still have room for more mags on your chest.  They called it a “battle belt” (how cool…)  So now, if you want to be tactical, you need to “run” your gear on these new belts.  I do admit, it is more comfortable and functional than a standard “bat belt” I wear as a LEO.  Depending on your agency or unit, you might be able to ditch the old “leather” gear for one of these beauties.

The first one I’d like to talk about is the HSGI Battle Belt $79.

It is by far the gold standard of the larger battle belts out there.  HSGI (High Speed Gear Inc.) designed a battle belt which has three rows of PALS spaced out the same you’d find on a tactical vest.  The belt is stitched extremely well and has durable webbing.  There is also a stiffener (that is removable) inside the lining of the belt.  The belt can be ordered with a standard duty belt $18 or a cobra buckle belt $64 (I chose the latter).  A unique feature of this belt the SureGrip neoprene padding.  The SureGrip provides a lot of comfort and compared to other unnamed large belts I have, did not slip and move around especially when bending over to pickup mags on the deck (annoying…)

My problem with the HSGI belt was not directly against the belt, but the concept of a large battle belt.  I did not like the bulkiness of having a large belt plus the added pouches.  I am lucky that I am now in a position that I can wear a battle belt daily, but this wasn’t working the way I wanted it.

Enter the small battle belts.  A couple of companies recognized the need to attach MOLLE pouches on a belt but knew there were people like me out there who didn’t like the bulk.  The small belts come usually in 1.75 width to 2 inches wide.  This will fit the belt loops on some pants (but that defeats the purpose of wearing a battle belt).  These belts can be worn with uniforms in some cases as they are not that different than the standard issued police duty belt.  I was lucky to get my hands on three of them.  These happen to be the only small belts I know of but I’m sure there is something on the inter webs that I don’t know.

The belts are:

Tyr Tactical Gunfighter Belt

Ares Armor Micro Belt

Volund GearWorks Duty Belt

First off was the Tyr Tactical Gunfighter Belt.  This was the original belt I saw one day online that made sense to me.  I liked the look of the two rows of Pals webbing and it comes with a velcro pad that aids in comfort.  It retails for about $114 from Tyr’s website.  The belt comes with a ubiquitous cobra buckle and a variety of tactical colors.  This belt was the only one with a rigger’s loop.  I was surprised at how soft the belt was.  From pictures on different websites it looked like the pouches and holsters held tight.

Here is a picture I took of the HSGI Pistol Taco attached.  I felt like there is too much room between the pouch and the belt.  But I also had more of an issue when I loaded up the belt.  The lack of a stiffener or material made the pouches feel like they way loose.  Overall I liked the look of the belt.  Tyr’s quality is definitely there.  This was also the thinnest of the three belts at a little more the 1.5”.

Next up was the Ares Armor micro belt.  Note:  I also bought their Keeper Belt $41 to use as my under belt for all the tests.  I liked the idea of having a hooked buckle instead of just velcro holding my inner belt together.  Their Keeper Belt also has cloth flaps that cover the velcro if you are just wearing this belt and don’t want to ruin moisture wicking shirts, etc.  When you need the velcro, you just flip the flaps.  I found it time consuming as when I turned one flap the others would turn back.  So, I took a knife to it and removed all the flaps…

Anyway, back to their Micro Belt.  Their take on the small battle belt was to insert a stiffener to make the belt not flex with pouches attached.  The belt is larger at about 1.75” and the outer material is very soft.  They have three rows of PALS webbing knit tightly together.

See how the Taco attaches to this belt.  It was better than the Gunfighter belt, but there was a gap and some movement.

The lining of the belt matches up with the hook velcro of the Keeper Belt and together it held the Micro belt extremely tight to my body.  There is an adjustable cobra buckle to tighten the belt up and the feeling was secure.  It definitely was the most comfortable of the belts with both padding and the stiffener.

One issue I started to have was the craftsmanship was not up to the other belts.  I encountered fraying of the belt where the loop was sewn on the inner lining and along the top row of stitching.

The last belt in this review is the Volund Gearworks Atlas Duty Belt.  The belt is in pre-release and they expect to start taking orders very soon.  These are the same guys who make the really great Atlas belt which is my EDC belt for concealed cary.  Why?  Because it is a very stiff belt that connects with a small G Hook.  The great part with that system is that it allows more real estate in the 11-2 o’clock position for appendix carry with a spare mag.  But I digress….we are here today to discuss their Duty belt.  The belt will run $110 shipped and like the regular Atlas belt, it is very stiff.  In fact it was the stiffest belt of all in the review.  For me, I like a belt that won’t bend or move so my pouches will become part of my subconscious routine when I train and practice.  It also helps function where by the holster stays put during the draw and the pouches don’t slouch.  See here how the Taco sits:

Kind of like the Gunfighter belt, there are two rows of PALS webbing but it differs since the belt is 2” wide.  The extra space is a game changer that assists the Pals attachments to stay strong.  Also ingenious is the micro cobra buckle.

The belt is designed to be wider than the buckle to keep the buckle from becoming an object of hatred that constantly pokes you in the gut (especially when seated).   When you order the belt, you can choose what type of lining you desire:  Hook, Loop, or their Slip-Not.  Slip-Not is a grippy material which allows the belt to be worn like the HSGI belt (with no under belt).  Since I was using the Ares Armor Keeper, I chose loop lining and it married very well with the hook under belt.

I think you can tell which belt I recommend over the others.  I found the stitching and quality of the Atlas material to be fantastic.  I really noticed a big difference during training when wearing the different belts.  Having a stiff belt actually helped the belt sit (?) on my frame better than a softer belt.

So to wrap up, I believe the new smaller battle belts will start to find their way in to more classes and law enforcement agencies.  While I’m all for the standard battle belt, a lot of people will look at them as just a “cool guy” belt for overseas work.  The newer small belts come in police black as well as Multicam to satisfy everyone’s taste.  More importantly it will help drive a new trend in law enforcement to rethink current duty gear that for a lot of people is not really functional but more of a historical record of “the way we used to do it…”

We looked at three small battle belts that are different enough to fit a lot of different tastes.  I still prefer the Atlas Duty belt.  It won in all categories and I am still wearing it today.

Now go out and train!

This entry was posted in Gear, Review by Arik Levy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Arik Levy

Arik Levy is an 12 year veteran law enforcement officer working full time at a major metropolitan agency in the South East. He spent 7 years working the streets in patrol and as a field training officer. For the past four years he has been a full time firearms instructor teaching handgun, rifle and shotgun. Arik also has been competing in USPSA for the past two years where he is currently classified in Production Division at A class. He is a two time gold medalist in his division for the Florida Police and Fire games 3 Gun match, and a gold medalist in both the Practical Pistol and Shotgun match. He is also the Top Cop Pistol Champion for 2014 and 2015. He has trained with an extensive list of both tactical and competitive instructors including: Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara, Frank Proctor, Scott Reitz, Chris Costa, Max Michel, Frank Garcia, Bruce Gray, Ben Stoeger, Steve Anderson and Jerry Barnhart. Arik is also a certified Advanced Armorer with Glock, Colt, Sig Sauer and Smith and Wesson.

22 thoughts on “Battle Belt Smack Down!

  1. Great article – thanks for the info. Is there any padding on the volund belt?

  2. This Atlas “Duty” belt is nowhere to be found on Volund Gearworks ! Further you write one can order different linings for the alleged “duty” belt. Not so. Thus your articles claims the Atlas belt is available in 2″ width. Not so. PALS webbing….not that I can see. Basically, there is something wrong with this story or with the folks at Volund.

    What’s the accurate story on this belt ?

    • Dan, thanks for taking the time to read my article and review. At the time of publication, the Volund Duty belt is not on their website. I did follow up with the folks working there and they tell me that they are in the process of updating their website with new photos and information. People can (and have been) ordering directly from Volund. I suggest if you want one to contact them with their info (number) on their webstore.

      Also, I’m not sure you are aware that gear reviewers sometimes get “advanced” items before they are available to the public. Especially when a smack down is being written about the very product they are about to release. I can’t speak for Volund Gear Works but I’m guessing that they felt their product was ready for review even though it was not currently available.

      Finally, all kidding aside, if you are suggesting I wrote this article and “made up” the review, you are walking a thin line of a libel accusation and I’ll treat it accordingly with an attorney.

      I hope that is not the case as sometimes comments are care-free and misconstrued on the internet.

    • He states it’s pre-release. Which would explain it not being on the website….

  3. As a HSGI SG user, I find this a very informative article. The Atlas just might be the ticket for my needs. Thank you!

  4. Arik,

    It looks like you are not weaving the strap through the pals on the pouches.

    If you weave the strap through the top loop on the belt, then the middle loop on the pouch then the bottom loop on the belt it might help remove the some of the slop between the belt and the pouch.


    • Agreed, to a point. I’ll have an update posted soon to address this. Thanks!

  5. Arik, Thanks for the review. I’ve been sporting the HSGI belt and love it, but also note the shortcomings of it being fairly big. I’ll have to look over some of the other belts, as they may be what I’m ultimately looking for.

  6. On the security of the pouches in general and the proper use of PALS/MOLLE for their attachment: even when using TT MALICE clips (standard for HSGI Tacos as seen in the article), the proper technique is to weave the attachment through the PALS.

    That gap between the pouch and the belt seen in the article is an invitation for Murphy to grab your kit and rip it off your belt (or just snag you on something). Using the MALICE clips like the original ALICE, without weaving, it will shift vertically and twist on the belt like the original ALICE. Moreover, from a security standpoint, even if the MALICE clip breaks, it will continue to secure your pouch as long as it remains woven through the PALS channels.

    Maybe that was implied and I’m just the guy that takes thing too literally, but that was what I thought of when I saw the photos. Using ALICE clips meant using a 550 cord safety on every piece of kit on my LCE – wasn’t sad to get away from that with MOLLE. I wouldn’t grab a MOLLE system and then set it up the same way as my old ALICE gear.

  7. For me, the battle belt is something I can grab and quickly put on when you need to.
    I contemplating on either picking up the hsgi battle belt. However, I also ehat good things about the original soe war belt however I do not think I can justify its price for when you also hear great things about the hsgi one.
    I agree after watching some videos the battle belt may be considered bulky however I believe many will still choose the bulkier belts compared to the skinny ones for the reasons mentioned above.
    Now only if they made a thing belt lines with pals webbing…..
    There may actually be a market for that.

  8. Do you know when the Volund Gearworks Atlas Duty Belt will be available? It is not listed on their website. Thanks

  9. Arik,
    Very nice review.
    An observation in your comparison pictures with the Taco pistol mag pouch;
    — Do you weave the male plastic strip back through the molle on the pistol pouch itself?
    — that may help with the “room” in between the pouch and the belt.
    Readers should note that not ALL sewn molle loops are of the same dimensions, especially when referring to width.
    Not trying to insult you here as you obviously have a lot of experience, but this comment may help someone else who hasn’t put together much molle gear.

    Great review, thank you for taking the time to share it. That Volund looks like it may replace my VTAC belt.


    • Excellent points and yes, it is more secure (but a major pain to do…) I will address that in the follow up.

  10. I would highly suggest you look into the Hard Point Tactical Orion Battle Belt. It is the most versatile and comfortable belt I have ever worn.

  11. Arik, us this worn in lieu of the standard pants belt or in conjunction with it?

    The larger padded belts from HSGI etc… can easily be worn over a standard belt and easily removed. How are these thinner non padded belts worn?

    Also, what’s your take on the crye modular riggers belt setup? Seems to be a good compromise between the 2 styles.

    • tcba_joe, thanks for reading the article. It can be worn for both situations. I daily wear it with an under belt (either the velcro or regular belt) and it works fine. I’ve also thrown it on over my shirt with no belt underneath and it is very secure (all of them can do this). I believe the Volund belt can come with a slip free technology that is intended to keep it from moving a la HSGI belt. Check with them on that.

      The Crye setup is very cool and also a contender. For me (and just for me folks…) Crye is usually way out of my price range. I “cry” looking at the prices for their gear/pants (want). If only they offered a discount. Sigh.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        The crye modular rigger belt is listed on their website for $111 which is in the same price range as others you listed.

        • Thanks for the info…seems to be the cheapest Crye gear I’ve seen!

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