I received an email this week from a reader who purchased a belt that I have mentioned on this blog. He had not actually worn the belt yet when he sent the email. He was concerned when he actually put hands on it, that it wasn’t stiff enough (that’s what she said). It was a good reminder of an article that I have been meaning to pen.
Just how stiff does a CCW belt really need to be?
The Superior Stiffness
If you could only choose that your belt be stiff one way, you should choose that it be stiff from top to bottom as shown by the red arrows in the photo above. It must be stiff in this direction to support the weight of the firearm which is key for comfortably wearing full size firearms all day.
Typically, if a belt is stiff from top to bottom, it will also be relatively stiff around the circumference (as shown by the green arrow) too but this is less important for how the belt handles weight. Remember too, that wearing the belt tightly will effectively “stiffen” it. That doesn’t mean that a sloppy belt should be made to work by wearing it tightly, just that there is not always that big of a difference between belts that possess varying degrees of acceptable stiffness.
How Do You Know If A Belt is Stiff Enough?
If you can handle the belt before you buy, put your forefinger on one edge of the belt, your thumb on another (like the red arrows show) and squeeze. If it collapses/buckles fairly easily, it likely isn’t stiff enough. It should resist crushing. In fact, I can not crush or collapse the webbing in the Ares Gear belt shown above… not even a little.
If you can’t handle the belt look for materials like double layers of thick webbing (especially scuba webbing), thick biothane, multiple layers of thick leather, or leather belts stiffened with HDPE or even spring steel. These will all typically exhibit acceptable stiffness.
You can also look for belts that are stiffened via rows of tight stitching joining two layers of belt material. Both vertical and circumferential stitching will very effectively stiffen a webbing belt. Snake Eater Tactical uses some very cool stitch patterns to adorn and stiffen their belts. Their belts are a good example of how belts can be stiff the right way, without being overly stiff around the circumference which makes them very comfortable.
A lot of the voices online will tell you that you need a “good” gun belt or a “stiff” gun belt but it isn’t always apparent what they mean. The above has been my experience and I hope it helps you more closely hone in on how stiff a gun belt must be… or rather how a gun belt must be stiff.