One of the less orthodox methods of concealed carry, belly band holsters offer both distinct advantages and disadvantages that may or may not suit your lifestyle and body.
Top Belly Band Options:
Comfortably carrying and concealing a pistol is more difficult than most people imagine. For most carry setups an individual must be wearing pants with belt loops, a gun belt, some form of holster and a cover garment. Besides the extra cost this gear incurs, it can be uncomfortable or impossible to wear in certain environments. If you live in a very hot climate or are engaging in physical activity like jogging, wearing jeans, a leather belt and an overshirt or jacket may just be downright unhealthy. Many of those who would like to stay strapped in situations like these have turned to belly band holsters, a retention system that as the name implies is a band stretched around one’s belly. Available in a variety of styles, materials and price points, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on their viability. Some view them as a gimmick reserved for those who don’t know any better, while others see them as an ingenious solution to the issue of carrying while wearing less than ideal clothing. Before you pass judgment, there are a few things you should know before purchasing one or rejecting them entirely.
Belly Band Holster Pros
One of the greatest benefits of belly band holsters is that they don’t require any additional gear for them to work. Whether you typically carry inside the waistband, outside the waistband or in a should holster, they all require a pant with belt loops and a belt in order to function properly. The self-contained nature of belly band holsters eliminates this need, allowing the user to simply strap it to their body. Another advantage provided when they’re worn is that belly bands typically have enough space and pockets to carry much more than just a gun. Spare mags, tools, your wallet or your phone could also be carried in many of these setups.
When worn under one’s pants at beltline height they can also typically be concealed with just a t-shirt depending on the user’s gun and body type. This helps to make them a good option while doing physical activity that would otherwise make wearing a cover garment uncomfortable.
Many women also prefer belly band carry since they can be worn with a greater variety of clothing types.
Belly Band Holster Cons
While belly band holsters do make it easier to carry in hot weather or when doing strenuous activity, there are also some drawbacks. Just as socked feet tend to get hotter and sweatier than the rest of your body, the same is true for a torso covered by a belly band. The nature of these holsters requires them to be strapped relatively snugly to their wearer, resulting in the covered area getting more uncomfortable and wet in the heat than the rest of you.
Also, depending on the height and orientation that one wears a belly band, drawing can be difficult to accomplish when compared to a traditional setup. If worn higher than the beltline, clearing one’s garment can take extra time and effort. Also, cheaper belly band holsters typically aren’t fitted for a specific pistol, meaning the loose pocket intended for it may not support your gun well or provide for an easy draw.
Something else to keep in mind for those with a larger than average stomach circumference is that you may be limited in the ways you can utilize a belly band. Most nicer models come in a variety of sizes, but even the largest models weren’t designed to be worn high on the torso of those with large bellies. It doesn’t make these holsters impossible to wear, but you’ll likely be limited to positioning it low on your beltline.
Best Belly Band Holster Options
If a belly band holster still sounds like a good fit for your lifestyle, there are some things to look for when deciding on a model. Firstly, many cheaper options come with a generic-sized holster intended to fit “most firearms”. In these, retention is usually accomplished by incorporating some sort of thumb-break snap. These are less than ideal, as they still typically don’t retain the firearm as well as they should and add another step in the already decently arduous process of drawing from a belly band. If you’ve decided that a holster like this will suit you well it's worth investing in a model designed to specifically accommodate your gun. Whether that be in a fitted Kydex sheath or just a properly sized and shaped pocket, the holster should hold the gun snug enough to retain it but still allow for an easy one-handed draw. Here are three belly band holster options worth taking a look at:
Galco Underwraps 2.0
Galco’s belly band holster is similar to some of the simpler, cheaper designs but is more thought out and better made. Made of elastic nylon and leather, the Galco belly band is available in four sizes, two colors and are made to accommodate a wide variety of makes and models. These come with two leather pockets intended for the firearm of your choice as well as several nylon pockets for whatever else you may want to carry. MSRP is $64.
Crossbreed’s belly band is a modular design, and it can be purchased either as a package or parted out separately. The reason it’s modular is that this style uses Kydex holsters that are specifically fitted to your model of gun. While this limits what kind of gun you can carry in it, it provides the best retention and draw of any of the styles listed. Holsters for different guns can be purchased individually and then installed on the modular belly band system. These can be ordered as either left or right-handed and have a choice of an extra mag carrier. MSRP for Crossbreed’s belly band starts at $69.95 and goes up depending on options.
Alien Gear Low-Pro
The Alien Gear belly band is similar to the Crossbreed in that they both use Kydex holsters, but the Alien Gear model sits at a different angle. Designed for cross-draw, Alien Gear’s belly band is better suited for carrying above the beltline than other models are. For more of a torso-height carry, this will likely provide the best draw of the bunch. Like the Crossbreed, this belly band can be ordered for a variety of weapon models, different band sizes and a right or left-hand draw. MSRP is $87.88.
Belly band holsters certainly aren’t the ideal method of concealed carry for most individuals, but there are certain people and situations in which they work extremely well. Whether your lifestyle dictates that this will be your primary way to conceal a firearm or you want one just for mowing the lawn, it's worth getting one that will be comfortable and support your specific gun well. Belly bands aren’t without their uses, and for some, they may be perfect, but for most people in most environments, a proper belt and holster setup will remain the superior alternative.
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