The belt is the most important part of your carry setup. A tremendous holster can be uncomfortable and unwieldy with the wrong belt. A good belt can turn a cheap-o holster into something useable. Put simply, the easier you make it on yourself to carry the more you’ll carry. You can’t use your firearm to protect yourself or anyone if it’s at home. If you can carry, you should carry. A good, solid belt removes an obstacle to carrying.
Like most concealed carriers, I’ve got a box of belts and holsters I’ve picked up along the way looking for “the one.” Usually, they were the most inexpensive alternatives; I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that $30 holsters aren’t very good.
At a recent instructor certification I saw a fellow candidate wearing a strange looking gun-belt, kind of a rigger look with a strange metallic buckle. He told me it was called the Ares Ranger Belt and he spent the next 20 minutes talking about how awesome it was. On his recommendation and after checking out their website, I dropped the $94.99 (OUCH!!) for a Ranger Belt “Enhanced” and patiently waited the 4-week lead-time for it to arrive.
Ares Ranger Belts are made from a backing of double-layer 1.5″ wide SCUBA nylon webbing and a 1″ wide, much more pliable, webbing to which the Cobra Quick-Release buckle is attached. The belt ships with one additional “elastic loop” similar to those found in SCUBA applications, to keep the free running end of the 1″ webbing stowed.
When I unpacked and, with noticeable effort, unwound the belt I was immediately struck by how stiff it was. So stiff, that the first time I tried to thread it through my belt-loops I had to actually remove my pants; the super-thick SCUBA nylon webbing had a mind of it’s own and, having been coiled tightly in the shipping box for a few days, it wanted to stay in that position. Making matters
worse less convenient was the female end of the Cobra QR buckle. It’s really too wide to thread through standard 1.5″ belt loops even with the pants off. After several days, I realized (duh) that the female end was easy enough to remove from the much softer and more pliable 1″ webbing when you’re threading the belt and reattach it when you’re done.
This belt really works, owing mostly to the absolutely unyielding stiffness of it. No sag throughout the day. I simply forgot I was wearing them. Coupled with my go-to holster, the Crossbreed Supertuck, it evenly distributes the weight of the gun, even the heavy ones, across my hips, my pants stay straight and it turns an already comfortable holster into an extremely effective carry system.
The Cobra QR, despite the inconvenience of having to remove it to swap pants, holds its position perfectly; no droop or sag over extended wear.
From the very first practice draw the only thing that moved was the gun; the holster stayed in place. Reholstering was equally as effortless.
After Extended Wear
Having worn the belt for about a year, including several months in Afghanistan which is where I truly put gear through the paces and decide if it’s good kit or bad kit, I have to say it’s easily the best gun belt I’ve worn. I’ve yet to find a pair of pants with too-shallow belt loops, a problem I ran into frequently with the 2″ rigger style belts I’d opted for prior to finding the Ares. I’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours carrying several different holsters for guns of varying weights with no issue. The belt is still extremely stiff, but it’s “broken-in” and seems to have conformed to the fit of my waist, making it even more comfortable. I’ve even taken to wearing this belt in situations where I can’t carry because it’s just a good belt. Once adjusted it stays in adjustment, it’s standard width so you don’t have that “Sam Brown” feel that many other styles of gun belts offer, it’s stylish and it holds my pants up. All in all – great belt.
I’ve lost the little elastic SCUBA loop that keeps the tail of the 1″ webbing stowed somewhere along the way and recently noticed that the aluminum* crossbar in the COBRA QR buckle seems to be bent a bit. If it becomes an issue I’ll happily order another one for $14.99 and another elastic loop for $2.99 while I’m at it.
One final thing I’ve noticed is that I can wear it in more “formal” clothes than I can a rigger belt because it has a bit of a “softer” look, as opposed to the very tactical look of the rigger belts. That’s my opinion, anyway.
The draws and reholsters have remained as good as they were when I first tried the belt.
*I’m assuming the COBRA QR buckle system is aluminum because it doesn’t set off the metal detectors at airports, a big bonus because, due to having to remove the buckle, the belt does take a few minutes longer to don.
This belt is a tank. It’s comfortable. It’s stiff. It’s easy to adjust and, once adjusted, holds adjustment. It fits the loops in standard pants, which, as mentioned, most rigger-style belts and heavy leather belts don’t. It holds even the heaviest of carry guns in the position I put them in, it doesn’t sag over the day, unless I haven’t adjusted it properly.
It’s clear that this belt is designed for every day carry.
Buy this belt if you carry full-sized guns, carry often, want the utmost in carry comfort, or really care about the concealment a good, solid belt provides. I’m extremely happy with the belt and, if this belt ever fails (and I can’t imagine a scenario in which this belt would) I will buy another one immediately.