Belts are an important, but often over looked piece of defensive equipment. Years ago it was very difficult to find a purpose built belt, and when you found one, they were very expensive. Most likely driven by style, they belts are commercially produced, priced within reach and widely available online. This month we are going to take a quick look at one of those many options. The 5.11 Tactical Operator and Trainer Belt.
The design concept of these belt is nothing new. The design has been around for a long time and to my knowledge originates from Jumpmasters (Expert Skydivers) who started using parachute parts to make sturdy belts. These belts then caught on with the military and rescue communities because its strength and ability to serve as a last ditch climbing harness. Many manufactures produce these belts in various qualities, but 5.11 is the most widely available, that means there is always a price somewhere if you shop around.
Both of these belts are constructed of a very strong nylon webbing that is reinforced to provide support for all of your gear. The Operator Belt is 1 ¾ wide and in my opinion provides the most support and comfort. The downside of the Operator Belt is that some pants will not accommodate the extra wide belt. That is where the Trainer Belt fits in, which is only 1 ½ wide. Another important feature of the belt is that had a solid steel buckle that is rated for 6000 pounds. Why do I need a belt that can support 6000 pounds? Well for defensive shooters, we carry a lot of equipment, guns, magazines, flashlights and other equipment. If we are ever confronted with gun grab, there will be a lot of pressure on your belt. I have had more than a few guns and holster break off of a body during weapons retention training. Some of those happened because of cheap holsters, but many were bad belts.
The belt is available in 3 colors, Black, Coyote Brown and TDU Green and is available in size small to 3X. The accommodates waist sizes from 28 inches to 54 inches. While there is a little wiggle room, pay attention to the sizing chart when you order to get the optimum fit. If you get it too long, you will not be able to tighten it as the reinforced portion will not go thru the buckle. Too short and there will be a long portion of belt that is more flexible then it is designed to be creating support issues for all your heavy gear.
I have used these belts for several years and I am very pleased with their comfort and durability. The only negative is that the look screams TACTICAL! This is fine when concealed with shirt, but even the buckle can telegraph you may be carrying a weapon. The MSRP is $34.99, but 5.11 gear is usually discounted on many websites.
Check it out for yourself and as always stay safe!