One the most underrated and overlooked but critically foundational pieces of gear is often substituted with "what I've got", or "this should be good enough". But, truth be told more time and thought should be devoted to this core component of the Every Day Carry (EDC) and range load out.
Our students have heard us preach it, teach it, and demonstrate this on the range and in the classroom. We expect it to hold, we expect it to be strong, and yet we ignore it and give it little thought - we adjust and make what we have work. However, when it's time to get to work, to bring our training from the cerebral to the tactile, we move aggressively and act decisively as instructed and trained. And...if you've trained enough, long enough, what happens next is hard to watch, and in the context of defensive pistol - can be life threatening.
The aggressive action doesn't have the expect results - we formed our master grip, we aggressively pulled our pistols to clear the holster and...they didn't clear. The holster moved with the gun in an upward direct and with the intention of strong retention - didn't release the firearm. Or worse, the holster and gun move aggressively together in one piece in an upward direction while the sounds of vital equipment hitting the floor fill your ears and mind. In the context of a defensive situation - seconds are ticking away while you adrenaline filled blood and muscles tighten under the additional stress while you mind strains to grasp what happened and how to fix the problem. Seconds later...it's over... and...
Hopefully you were just on the range in a stress induced training scenario and not trying to respond to a deadly threat. What happened, what failed, where did this go wrong? Good questions to start the analysis...but...this could be avoided. Some of you no doubt have figured out what piece of equipment I'm referring to... others still may be wondering.
This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of equipment in our EDC and range load outs. When overlooked, replaced by a cheaper version, replaced with a thinner, older version, failure is not just a possibility it's a high probability.
If you're in one or more of IDS classes, you are guaranteed to put some hard miles and repetitions of drawing in and out of your holster, mag pouches and other tools on your belt. The range is not just a testing ground for your marksmanship, cognitive processes and speed reloads. It is absolutely a proving ground and testing field for your equipment. The goal is not to have a skillset and equipment, the goal is to merge the equipment into your skillset that you and your gear become one.
How do you know you have the right belt? Here's some thoughts to consider when evaluating your current belt, or selecting our next purchase:
Does it fit you tightly across your waist? When your holster and gear are mounted, they shouldn't move - they should stay exactly where they belong. A quick jerk to clear the firearm from holster and the gun clears the top of the holster and can immediate orient to the threat.
Does the closure/buckle strain under the tension and weight? Once you're geared up with loaded mag pouches and gun in holster (gun unloaded), have someone grab it next to the buckle and give it firm tug. Does the buckle release? If you're wearing a western belt, my money is you already know what's going to happen.
Does the belt maintain its tension under pressure? Does it ease up, slowly release? If you're seeing your leather belt stretch, elongate, and deform, it's time to rethink the solution. We've seen plenty of amazingly looking distressed leather belts snap und gear hit the dirt. Better the dirt of the range than the street. This is a lesson most only have to learn once.
Belts are not just for holding your gear. Some of our advanced students have learned this already. They're amazing apparatus for guiding, driving, and directing shooters while our instructors and training partners grab the belt at the shooters 6 o'clock. We can pull to the rear to make them retreat faster while engaging the threat at their 12 o'clock, slow them down by applying pressure to the small of their backs, change directions, all while never losing contact and giving them the ability to continually engage threats in the environment.
You're invested time in reading this, and hopefully confidently nodding your head in agreement because you've learned this and already fixed this problem. If you haven't, it's time for you to get after it and get it done. No surprise, we can help here. Our belts are made here in the US, by a veteran owned company who has made belts for LE, First Responders, competitive shooters, and of late, tier one special operations units.
Moral of the story - gear matters, this particular piece of gear really matters! As the saying goes, don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Your life, and the lives of those you train to protect may depend on this underrated piece of equipment. Reach out if we can help!