The Foundation: Belts

By Sammy Reese

A hemp belt from the local swap meet isn’t going to get the mission accomplished. Trust me. I’ve talked about picking a gun you will actually carry and not leave in the safe because it’s too heavy or uncomfortable. What you carry is up to you. What isn’t up to you is gravity. Anything we can do to keep gravity from pulling our pants down while carrying a hunk of 9mm or .45 around is the main objective — and it starts with the proper belt. Keep in mind not every style of carry or type of clothing will support the same type of belt. Support — get it? I made a joke.

What You Wear

I’m pretty much a Wranglers and boots guy. I have some with a 33″ waist and some with a 34″ — the bigger size is for when I carry IWB. I have the same set up with dress pants — although I don’t wear them much these days. There are also the occasions where I have to wear a suit and tie. Suits are relatively expensive when compared to wranglers so I will have the jacket cut for wearing OWB, but the lightweight material of most dress pants won’t work for me for IWB.

For Every Day Carry (EDC from now on) I’m currently using several different belts depending on type of carry and what activity I’m most likely doing.

The Wilderness isn’t just a place; it’s the name of the Phoenix-based company making some of the best belts and gear in the industry. I’ve been using their five-stitch Original Instructor Belt for going on 10 years. When I travel I use their five-stitch Frequent Flyer Belt. The polymer buckle doesn’t set off metal detectors, but it does piss off TSA when I don’t take it off and go through the body scanner. Keeps ’em on their toes, eh?

The Wilderness belts are available in three levels of stiffness and three widths. Mine are both 11/2″ and work for smaller guns or my heaviest revolvers. I’ve worn them for EDC, when I’m teaching and even when I head out to hunt.


Left to Right: Wilderness Frequent Flyer, Wilderness Instructor,
Diamond D, International Handgun Leather and Five Shot Leather.
Each one does the job but sometimes in different ways.

I have two leather belts I call working belts because no matter what I’m doing they work. They are both in natural finish and 11/2″ width. I prefer the natural finish as it takes on its own patina, and they conform to my body over time.

Diamond D Custom Leather is probably best known for their Guides Choice holster, but they also make some other great products including their Alaska Tough leather belts. Dave Johnson and his crew hide out in Alaska and when they aren’t outdoors doing research — aka playing — they make products tough enough for use in some of the toughest country where failure isn’t an option. My belt has what they call the fancy stich pattern. Since I carry concealed no one knows its fancy but I do and that’s what matters right?
My second leather belt is made by Ian Martin’s crew at International Handgun Leather. They call it the gunfighter because of the stitching style they use. I thought the name would make me shoot better, but it didn’t. What it does do is allow me to carry all day and not have to worry about the belt sagging or cutting into me.

Both belts are handsome and are designed to support a firearm and other gear while going about your daily business. I’ve got lots of miles on both and neither has let me down.


Fancy stitching, like this on the Alaska Tough belt from Diamond D, isn’t
just purty — it also helps to stiffen the belt to help carry the weight of
a holstered gun.

Dressing Up

For those occasions when I have to dress up, specifically in a suit and tie, I use a belt made by one of the most talented leather makers I know, John Ralston of Five Shot Leather. The belt has lots of mileage on it from the days when I worked executive protection (it’s not a cool as it sounds — trust me …) and it still looks great. John uses a polymer insert to give the thinner dress belt the stiffness it needs to support even the largest of pistols.

I encourage everyone who is eligible to carry a gun every day. Train as much as you can and use the best gear you can afford. If you start off with the solid foundation of a purpose-built gun belt, it will make the process easier and ensure you continue to carry.

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