The author reviews the ratchet-style Black Beard Belts Ranger Gun Belt, an adjustable and comfortable concealed carry accessory.
I have a new gun belt, and I really like it. But first, I want to talk a bit about this new world we’re currently living in.
Back in 1993 when I was a young patrol officer, I was recruited to cover the firearms law portion of a concealed carry class that was frequently taught in the city where I worked. The lead instructor had graduated from Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute and was well versed in the application of a handgun for self-defense.
Part of the course dealt with what I categorized as “not doing stupid things that could increase your exposure to situations where your life might be jeopardized,” or where you might have to use your handgun. This included not hanging around in dark alleys, parking in dim-lit areas or frequenting secluded stop-and-rob convenience stores, failing to look for suspicions characters and paying attention to the body language of others.
Back then—30 years ago—if you did those things, the chance that you would need to use your gun to save your life while out in public were slim. That hardly seems like enough anymore.
The times, as they say, have changed. Gun belts and holsters are no longer just made of leather, and bad guys with bad intent are likely to appear anywhere at any time. It seems that all that has to happen now is for someone to get off their meds or wake up with their panties in a wad, and they’re ready to load their guns and head out to some gun-free zone and start shooting folks.
This complicates self-defense because what we once thought were relatively safe spaces no longer exist. The world—this new world—has become a dangerous place, and it doesn’t matter if you live in a small town or a big city.
The point of all this is to remind you that bad things can now happen anywhere, and your awareness needs to be properly tuned and functioning anytime you’re out in public. Also, no matter where you are, you should have a plan, and, if at all possible, a gun that’s handy and that you can shoot well.
Just as important is the training of your family members to respond to a potential bad situation, whether it occurs in a mall, a church or a bowling alley. If you wait until something happens to make that plan, it’ll be too late. Be armed, be vigilant and just like it was 30 years ago, don’t do stupid stuff.
Black Beard Belts
Back in the day, gun belts were made of leather. They still are, and I’m kind of an old-school guy and like leather belts and holsters. However, I’m open to anything that makes carrying a gun more comfortable and, for the past three months, I’ve been wearing a new gun belt from Black Beard Belts. Black Beard Belts offers several styles of gun belts to include those with a conventional buckle and prong, to the more modern ratchet-style belt.
The older I get the more I appreciate comfort when it comes to, well, everything … but especially as it relates to concealed carry. Lack of comfort is the number-one reason those with a concealed carry permit don’t carry a gun. This appreciation for comfort has led me to also be appreciative of ratchet-style belts because they’re not limited to 1-inch adjustments. If you’re feeling an extra bit trim, a ratchet belt will allow you to snug-up incrementally. Just the same: If you eat too much, a ratchet belt will allow you to loosen up a bit. Ratchet belts also allow you a bit more flexibility when carrying, particularly with inside the waistband holsters. I have Black Beard Belt’s ratchet-style Ranger Gun Belt.
This belt is offered in black, coyote brown, OD green or with the M81 camo pattern, and in 2-inch incremental lengths from 32 to 52 inches. Regardless of length, it has 19 reinforced holes spaced in 0.5-inch increments, and there’s an option for steel grommet reinforcement. This 1.5-inch belt is made of high-strength polymer-coated nylon with a no-shine, non-slip coating.
The buckle and pin are made of stainless steel, and it has a quick-release feature. When you adjust it, you get an audible click letting you know everything is locked in place. This is a good-looking belt to wear with jeans … and even dress pants. Black Beard Belts also offers a 1.75-inch version of this belt with double holes, but it’s a bit radical for everyday wear and is probably best suited to range or duty use.
I’ve worn this belt a lot with inside the waistband and outside the waistband holsters, and it hasn’t shown any wear. Also, I’m not as lean and trim as I used to be, and it seems after every meal I need a bit more room, and with this belt, it’s a simple adjustment. It’s also easy to adjust this belt when sitting for long periods like on a drive or at a desk, and tightening back to normal is almost instantaneous when you stand up. It’s not uncommon for me to carry a steel-framed Colt Commander, and this belt has plenty of rigidity to hold the gun in place.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like leather. For me, guns—especially steel guns—and leather go together. But I also like to be comfortable and for inside or outside the waistband daily handgun carry, this is one of the most comfortable belts I’ve tired. Just like our world is evolving, this new millennium has brought with it new threats. But it’s also brought better gear that will allow us to be more comfortably armed, more often, and that’s a good thing.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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