gun belt

What's The Difference Between A Gun Belt And A Regular Belt?

The difference between a gun belt and a regular belt is that a gun belt is made strong enough to support a pistol and holster, along with any other accessories. Your standard department store belt is not.

The typical department store belt lacks the material necessary to have enough tensile strength and rigidity to hold up much more than your pants; a gun and a holster are right out of the equation.

To do that, a gun belt has to be made with different materials, and has to be made a bit larger, a bit stiffer, a bit thicker, than your typical fashion belt.

How so? Let's go over that.

Leather Gun Belts Use More And Different Leather

leather gun belts

A leather gun belt is still a leather belt...but it's made a bit differently than the typical leather belt you'll find in a department store.

For one, the leather is different. You have to use a different kind of leather, or at least made differently, than the typical leather belt that you'd use to just hold up your pants.

Most department store belts are what is called "genuine leather." It's leather...but that's about all that can be said about it. Genuine leather is typically the less-desirable parts of the hide that have been split from the grain, which is the topmost layer of skin.

Some genuine leather is dyed, but a lot of it is painted. You'll notice the belt cracking and flaking with use; that's a leather product that's been painted instead of dyed, like leather products that are of actual quality.

Genuine leather also lacks the hardiness of grain leather, which is the hard outer layers of the skin of the animal. Because more strength is needed, full-grain or top-grain leather is used to make leather gun belts.

Leather gun belts are also usually vegetable-tanned, meaning the hide is preserved and treated with organic compounds found in actual plants like oak or birch bark.

Vegetable tanning usually produces stiffer leather, whereas oil tanning and chrome tanning tends to create softer leathers. Vegetable tanned leathers, such as English bridle leather, is typically used for working applications like work boots, holsters and horse tack.

Additionally, leather gun belts tend to be thicker, with the most common construction being dual layers of 14-oz leather; typical department store belts are, at most, only a single layer of 14-oz leather, if not 12-oz or thinner.

Some are also given a reinforcing layer for additional rigidity, such as a spring steel core.

So...your typical gun belt is made with more leather and better leather than your typical fashion belt.

Web Belts Use A Whole Other Kind Of Web...And More Of It

tactical belts

As far as web belts (aka tactical belts) are concerned, the idea is much the same. A different, stronger material and at that more of it.

The typical web belt from a store is a soft, elastic nylon webbing that stretches when you pull it. There's only a single layer of it, and a rather flimsy brass or aluminum claw-style fastener.

The typical tactical belt, whether it's a rigger's belt or lower-profile EDC belt...is a different animal altogether.

Instead of soft web, hard woven nylon webbing essentially similar to cargo straps or scuba webbing is used. Just like with leather belts, dual layers is the standard practice.

By comparison, leather has a tensile strength of a few hundred pounds; scuba webbing can have a tensile strength of nearly 2000 lbs, depending on the webbing used. In other words, the typical web belt found in stores...is just not nearly as strong.

Additionally, you'll find much more strenuous hardware. Some belts feature AustriAlpin hardware which is actually rated for mountaineering and on a belt, is arguably overkill. A cheesy tin claw...just isn't going to have the same structural integrity.

In other words, a cheap web belt and a tactical web belt are both technically made of nylon webbing...but one of these things is not like the other!

A Gun Belt Is Made To Do More

gun belt more

So, as you have likely gathered, a gun belt is different from a typical fashion belt in that it is made to be stiffer, stronger and to hold up more weight.

A gun belt is purpose-made to be able to carry the weight of a gun plus a holster, and hold them in place while the user is out and about. The typical fashion belt is just not, and that's why everyone and their brother says that you need a gun belt if you're going to carry.

Think of it this way.

The typical commuter car can actually pull a light trailer if fitted with a trailer hitch, even a small boat like, say, the kind of aluminum hull boat with a modest outboard that lots of people use to go fishing or duck hunting.

However, the typical commuter car cannot haul a fifth-wheel trailer. For that, you need a pickup truck, and one with enough torque (and importantly, large enough brakes!) to effectively pull and stop such a load.

The former is a tool that could be used for a task, the latter is a tool MADE for the task. That's the difference.

Granted, that doesn't mean a typical leather belt for wearing with dress pants can't be a quality item for what it's made to do. Allen Edmonds makes great shoes, but they aren't work boots and you wouldn't want to wear them for backcountry hunting.

Gun belts are made thicker, harder and stronger than typical fashion belts, because they're made to carry more than just your pants. They're made to hold a pistol and holster, and create a stable platform on the waist to draw from and reholster to.

So make sure you get the right tool for the task.

purchase gun belt