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. http://www.highspeedgear.com/hsgi/sure-grip-padded-belt-31PB.html
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 http://www.tyrtactical.com/products/details/tactical-belts/tyr-tactical-gunfighter-belt/
Ares Armor Micro Belt http://aresarmor.com/store/Item/MicroBelt
Volund GearWorks Duty Belt http://store.volundgearworks.com/index.php/
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!