By: Jaymz Cervantez
Let’s Jump into This
I am going to do my best to keep this intro short as there is a lot to cover. A battle belt is one of the more recent tactical trends that started in the military and made its way to the civilian world. It consists several major parts, an outer and inner belt, holster, magazine pouches, and a medical pouch.
Why would someone want to wear a battle belt? Well, there are a few reasons. Wearing one allows you to take weight off of your shoulders and put it onto your hips. Wearing body armor and carrying a full combat load on your vest is cool for the first 20 minutes and then the suck starts to set in. A battle belt will allow you to move gear from your chest area and reduce your profile and allow you to properly get into the prone position, this will reduce lower back strain. The ability to clip Two buckles together and be ready to kick ass is appealing, especially in a home defense scenario. Fumbling in the middle of the night to put on body armor and then having to maneuver is not ideal.
A Strong Core, The Inner Belt
The inner belt is the core of the entire system and it is what supports the rest of the setup. The inner belts are often made from a stiff webbing with a cobra buckle closure. The stiff webbing prevents sagging and also prevents the belt from loosening. The Cobra buckle is made from machined aluminum that is highly durable and allows for quick donning and doffing. The belt that I am running is the London Bridge Trading Riggers Belt with Cobra Buckle. London Bridge Trading is one of the top tier gear makers and is based out of Virginia Beach. LBT has been providing some of the best gear on the market to special operators since 1985.
Since using this belt, it has performed better than expected. No sagging, no loose threads, and no malfunctions of the buckle. I expect nothing less from LBT. When selecting a belt, you need to take into account your waist size and the exterior belt. I am using a size large and it sits tight enough to prevent bouncing and feeling loose without strangling my waist.
Tactical Comfort, The Exterior Belt
The exterior belt is what adds comfort to your entire battle belt set up. Battle belts have MOLLE webbing that is either sewn on or laser cut into the material. The laser cut material is lighter but it can be more difficult to repair IF needed. A plastic stiffener is added to the core of the belt to prevent any sagging from your gear. In my case, for sizing, I went with a medium belt and that allows me to have the maximum amount of MOLLE with no overlap from the belt.
I purchased a FirstSpear Assaulters Gun Belt in Multicam on the secondary market for about $45, it was a deal that I could not pass up! Even though I purchased the belt from the secondary market, it was in excellent condition. I chose the FirstSpear belt because the company is known for crafting quality gear, usually marketed towards top tier units.
My overall experience with the belt has been very pleasant. When I run, it moves with me, but it does not bounce. It is almost non-existent on my hips and retains all of the pouches with very little effort. This is a very comfortable belt that does not trap heat around my waist. Now, I haven’t gone low crawling through mud, nor have I gone hardcore on it like an airsoft player (you know they work harder than any Marine out there!), I have no doubt in my mind that this belt can outlast me.
Retaining Your Tools, The Holster
I am in the school of thought that your holster should have some sort of retention on it. I think this way because if you have to get close and personal, you do NOT want someone being able to use your sidearm against you. If you think that shaving hundredths of a second off of your time is worth it then you need to train more. It all comes down to how much you train with that system.
When I was looking for a holster, I wanted something that was top of the line. After doing some research I decided to go with the Safariland 6354-2832, it works with my Gen 4 Glock 19 with the Streamligtht TLR-1 HL. I also needed the holster to be stable as I moved around so I also purchased the Safariland UBL mid-ride, the QLS fork system, and a single leg strap from T.Rex Arms.
I have run this holster for the past year and I fell in love with it after the first use. With a little bit of practice, I am able to draw my pistol smoothly without getting caught up on the Active Locking System. When I first started I would try to pull up on my pistol before breaking the thumb release, this would delay me and cause me to reset myself to practice more on it. The leg strap plays a vital role because it holds the bottom of the holster against my thigh, preventing it from canting as I draw. The UBL is mounted to the interior belt, that is woven through the exterior belt, and is stable
Tactical Shelving, Magazine Pouches
When it comes to magazine pouches, retention is an important factor. Without proper retention your magazines won’t be there when you need them most. Running and any sort of dynamic movement will cause them to bounce out. Retention can come in several different forms, elastic shock cord, hook and loop flap, or kydex inserts. Each of these options has their pros and cons and should be chosen accordingly to your needs.
It was important for me to have pistol magazines on my belt. I was able to purchase a FirstSpear triple magazine pouch on the secondary market for about $15. It came in Multicam and had kydex inserts built in. I wanted to go with a pouch that featured kydex inserts because the ability to retain the magazines while performing dynamic movement. They have performed very well over the course of the past year. The pouches even feature a built-in drainage hole, this should be standard on any of your pouches in case you have to take a swim, expected or not.
For my rifle magazine I wanted to go with the Esstac KYWI pouch. I have heard many great things about it from other reviewers, Garand Thumb being one of my favorites. The simplicity of the design makes it a very low-profile magazine pouch with excellent retention. The only other pouch that comes close to the minimal design is the Blue Force Gear Ten Speed pouches, however, they lack the ability to index the magazines back into position. The Esstac pouches have a built-in piece of kydex that allows the pouch to remain open at the top-, as well as, retain the magazine. I have enjoyed mine so far and can’t wait to put it through its paces.
Dropping Bodies and Saving Lives, Medical Pouch
If you are at the range just plinking, taking some classes to increase your knowledge, or out on a combat mission, you should ALWAYS have a personal First Aid kit on you. Accidents happen anywhere and anytime no matter how well you are trained, a quick slip of judgement is all it takes.
Everyone should have their own medical pouch on their person and the contents of that pouch are to be used on the person carrying it. The idea behind this is to prevent waste of medical supplies and to ensure that everyone has their own supplies should they become injured. The size of the pouch is dependent on what you deem necessary to carry.
I am currently running the London Bridge Trading LBT-9022B-T, Modular Small Blow Out Kit. The design allows me to run it centered on the rear of the belt. I can use either hand to deploy the contents of the pouch in seconds. This is something that you should consider when selecting a pouch.
I have balanced the contents of my pouch on two areas, hemorrhage control and preventing tension pneumothorax. For hemorrhage control I have QuikClot Combat Gauze and a six-inch trauma bandage. The Combat Gauze has a hemostatic agent in it that promotes blood clotting. The trauma bandage can act as a pressure dressing, and if used in conjecture with the combat gauze, you create a combination that will extend life. For tension pneumothorax I carry a needle decompression and a two pack of the Halo chest seal. Unless you have training, I do not recommend you to focus into this area. I also keep a pair of gloves in case I have that extra moment to use them.
Have it and Hope to Never Need it, Tourniquet Pouch
If you have nothing else on your belt, at least have a proven tourniquet and pouch. You may never have to use it, but when you need to, you WANT it to work. If a projectile enters your body, it will make you bleed and you will never know how bad it will be. You may get lucky and just bleed a little bit with minimal damage to your bones or muscle. You may hit a major artery and bleed out in minutes. Whether you are on the range for a plinking session or if you are patrolling the streets at home or in a combat zone, have a tourniquet on you.
I am using the Combat Application Tourniquet by North American Rescue. I am running it in front of my holster, as close to center as possible. This allows me to deploy it with either hand when the situation presents itself. It can be applied with a single hand if needed and can be easily deployed in seconds. The less time wasted fidgeting around the less blood you will lose. The wide band ensures that the artery will be properly compressed.
The pouch that I am running was also designed by North American Rescue and specifically made for the Combat Application Tourniquet. The pouch is there to protect the tourniquet from the elements. Sand will work its way into the fibers and cut them and UV light will deteriorate the fibers over time as well. You want it to work when you need it, so protect it while you have it.
Recap, what does it Mean?
You must make the decision of what is best for you and accomplishing your mission. You do not have to purchase any of the products that I have mentioned, these are only suggestions and my personal preference so far. I am not paid or endorsed by anyone to say what I have said.
There are several reputable companies out there that can produce quality gear that I would trust my life to. TYR Tactical, London Bridge Trading, First-Spear, North American Rescue, Esstac KYWI, that is only naming the few that I have direct experience with. Do your research before you buy a piece of gear, just because it is cheap and available to you right then and there does not mean you should buy it. American made companies tend to have better quality control, there is a drawback though. They are not able to pump out a mass number of goods. This is because they are usually Berry Compliant (source all materials from the United States) and they also have a team of designers and engineers working together. I like to follow the mantra, “Buy once, cry once”.
No matter what company that you want to buy from just make sure that you train and make sure that it fits your desired roles. There is no one correct way to have a battle belt set up. There is trial and error and finding what is more comfortable for you individually. I used to run a dump pouch at the 6 o’clock on my belt but ditched it because I needed a medical kit more than wanting to store magazines. My belt is more of a quick reaction belt to encounter and overcome a threat while preserving life. Again, your need may be different than mine and it all comes down to training. Realtors say “location, location, location”, but us tactical gear heads it should be “training, training, training”.
Do your due diligence and decide what works for you. I hope I was able to provide some sort of insight into this perplexing and complex tactical world. I hope all of you decide to comment, follow and subscribe to our page!