How To Determine Belt Sizing For Gun Belts

Gun belts aren't the same as normal belts, so one has to determine belt sizing for gun belts prior to purchase. It isn't difficult, but you have to get it right otherwise the belt will be all wrong.

Belt sizing for a gun belt makes the difference between a big, sturdy belt that one doesn't wear and the right tool for the job.

Importance of Gun Belt Size

measure your gun belt

Gun belt sizing seems to be an easy enough thing to figure out, but it is vastly important. After all, a gun belt is a tool that helps one achieve a secure platform with which to carry a pistol. That which fits best will work best.

First is the dimensions of the belt itself. Typically, belts are offered in two-inch increments, just like pant sizes. The person shopping for a gun belt will therefore have to deal in those terms, as half-sizes generally aren't available unless one is ordering a totally custom, tailored belt.

Gun belt dimensions of height and depth are varied and at the purchaser's discretion. The best gun belt width is partially subjective, but it's also partially not; most belt loops don't accommodate a belt much wider than 1.5 inches, nor thicker than ⅜ of an inch.

Many belt loops on pants or shorts will work with a belt of a taller width - 1.75-inch belts are very, very common - but not ALL will. It's up to the wearer to decide, but a 1.5-inch width is going to be usable with more articles of clothing.

As to the depth of the belt, this is also somewhat subjective, but the thicker a belt is, the less comfortable it will likely be. Anything much thicker than ⅓ of an inch is likewise not going to fit the best in most belt loops.

Granted, this brings up the idea of whether one is going to have multiple gun belts. Say one is for outdoor pursuits, another is for most every day carry and another for formal dress. Some want a jack of all trades, and others desire a specific tool for a specific time and place.

Picking the Right Gun Belt and Holster For You

Every day carry gear choices

For a gun belt, holster and pistol to work best, they have to work together in harmony. It matters most when wearing an IWB holster, as it matters in an additional dimension of carrying. Unlike pocket carry, where the belt doesn't contact the holster or pistol at all, or OWB carry which merely requires the belt secure the pistol to the wearer. It doesn't matter at all if a person ankle carries!

With an IWB holster, the holster and pistol have to go inside the waistband. This puts an additional inch to two inches of gun and holster in the beltline. Therefore, any belt ordered for use with an IWB holster should be at least two inches - or one pant size - longer than the length of belt a person would normally wear.

A gun belt of sufficient strength can be ordered to normal length if one primary carries with an OWB holster.

Carry both? That can be easily enough done. Order a gun belt to an appropriate width for an IWB holster. All you need do is cinch the belt a notch - or possibly two - tighter for OWB carry.

The typical belt is two to four inches longer than the pant size of the wearer. Many gun belt companies recommend that as a baseline. However, most will have a belt sizing guide to help you through the ordering process.

Follow Gun Belt Makers Recommendations


While certain things are definitely up to the wearer's preferences, be sure to follow the gun belt makers recommendations for sizing. The people who make the belts are going to - in most cases - know best when it comes to sizing and how to use their products.

That said, picking the exact model is entirely up to the person ordering the belt. Do you want a rigger's belt and don't want any hide at all involved? Do you want a beefy leather belt that can easily hold up a pistol but go with every outfit? It's all up to the person choosing the belt.

Regardless of what type of gun belt a person wishes to purchase, it should first and foremost be able to hold a pistol and holster. If this capability is lacking in any way, then the belt is no good as a gun belt. Poor retention only means an unsecure carry and an insecure carrier, which is never acceptable in carry equipment.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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