Best Gun Belts for OWB or IWB Carry

Although a holster is an extremely important piece of the puzzle for carrying your handgun, our choice of gun belt is also vital. Why?

If you’ve been carrying a handgun for any length of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve had experience with sub-par belts. You know the kind — they’re thin and offer almost zero support. They sag and bend in half. You constantly have to adjust your rig and pull up the whole mess. Their comfort level sucks, and you end up fighting your equipment instead of the equipment helping you. A regular, everyday belt will not suffice as a gun belt. It will sag and cause unnecessary fatigue and general discontent.

Thankfully, we don’t have to suffer with inferior gear because high-quality gear is out there. I used to equate high-quality gear with a high price tag. However, I’m happy to report that excellent gear is available at a very reasonable cost.

Gun Belt Qualities

What qualities do we desire in a gun belt?

  • Strength. The buckle and material should be strong enough to hold up for a long time and under strain. Durability is a must because we can’t tolerate the belt breaking and dumping our handgun, ammo, and other accessories onto the ground.
  • Comfort. If it’s not comfortable, we won’t wear it. Beyond that, though, being in discomfort saps away our energy.
  • Support. This goes along with comfort. A stiff belt distributes weight more evenly and works efficiently to help us perform at higher levels.
  • Low profile. If we’re carrying concealed, a low-profile belt helps not to raise suspicion that we’re carrying.

Some belts are leather, and others are nylon or other man-made materials. I’ve used and enjoyed both. Synthetic materials are nice because they resist wet conditions well and hold up under adversity. They’re durable over the long haul. Leather is a classic material that’s been around for centuries and also tends to be pretty durable.

1791 Gun Belt

1791 is a company that always uses 100% certified American heavy native steerhide in its products. The company is made up of four generations of professional leather artisans, and it shows in the quality of work that they produce.

Their products include belts, IWB and OWB holsters, magazine carriers, cleaning mats, rifle slings, clothing, and everyday carry pouches. Their holsters fit just about any type of handgun.

1791 Gun Belt, Springfield Hellcat Pro.
A gun belt needs to be stiff enough to support the weight of a handgun, magazines, and other implements. This offering from 1791 is up to the task. That’s a Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro. Photo: Jim Davis.

The Gun Belt is handcrafted and reinforced, so it won’t split or stretch. It’s apparent the moment you get your hands on this belt that it’s very heavily constructed and made specifically to carry a firearm. The belt’s width is 1.5 inches and comes in various sizes ranging from 32/36 up to 48/52. It can be had in Classic Brown or Stealth Black. The belt is covered by a 100% lifetime warranty. The very end of the belt has the “1791” logo impressed into it, which looks classy.


The 1791 Gun Belt is made from 14-ounce leather that’s made from the top layer of the hide. The only treatment to the leather is that it’s tanned and dyed, which means it is just right for work applications. If they would sand or further treat the leather, it would soften and be less than optimal for the chosen purpose. This belt resembles leather that’s made for a horse bridle, which is very stiff and durable. The edges of the belt are nicely finished, though not highly polished.

This belt is designed to carry literally anything a user might have a need for. The primary uses that come to mind are normally IWB or OWB gun holsters, knives, flashlights, magazine pouches, and related tactical gear. But here is an angle that I didn’t consider: It’s also great for hammers, multi-tools, tape measures, and other construction or carpentry equipment.

1781 Gun Belt.
1791’s hardware (the buckle and screws) is heavy and durable. A roller on the buckle helps the belt roll through easily, which is a nice detail. Photo: Jim Davis.

The buckle is made from stout steel that is polished and attractive. A roller is located on the front of the buckle, and it helps the end of the belt roll right through when donning or removing it. The roller’s presence helps make the operation smoother and shows thoughtful attention to detail.

The buckle is secured to the belt via a loop that is held securely by heavy-duty Chicago screws. I did encounter a slight problem on one occasion with the screw; it came loose, and when I removed the belt at the end of the day, the screw fell out. It’s a good idea to occasionally check the screw to ensure that it’s not loosening up. I remedied the situation by placing some Teflon plumbers’ tape around the screw and then screwing it back in. Problem solved.

Practical Impressions

The moment I held this belt, I was impressed, knowing that it was thick, stiff, and sturdy. My impression was not mistaken, as the belt has proven to be everything that I want in a gun belt. In fact, it’s knocked a normal EDC belt out of the lineup (more on that later).

1791 gun belt with Hellcat Pro.
In use, the 1791 Gun Belt works like a charm, distributing weight as it should. Even carrying full-sized pistols is not a chore with this belt. Photo: Sue Davis.

I normally carry a handgun IWB on my belt, along with a knife in a pouch or a multi-tool. Sometimes, my carry includes an extra magazine or two for the Springfield Armory Hellcat or Hellcat Pro that I often carry. I occasionally carry a Glock 19X, which is not a small pistol at all. 1791’s belt is up to the task, supporting the weight easily. It’s not fancy-looking, but it’s all business, and I like that. When I picked this belt up, it became my everyday use belt. It’s that good.

Wilderness Outfitters Frequent Flyer Gun Belt

Wilderness Outfitters is a solid company and I’ve used their products for years. Specifically, I’ve used their Frequent Flyer belt for a couple of decades.

Why did I choose the Frequent Flyer, and why is it so special? As the name implies, it has something to do with people who frequently fly. It’s attractive from that aspect because this belt is completely non-metallic. For those passing through TSA checkpoints on a regular basis, a non-metallic belt is a huge plus because it won’t set off metal detectors. People have enough drama passing through those checkpoints without unnecessarily setting off metal detectors.

I used to work in prisons, and setting off a metal detector while entering such a facility is about as much fun as a poopie-flavored lollipop. Especially when you have to take off your belt and accompanying pouches. Being able to pass through that metal detector is golden unless you enjoy excruciating drama in your life. Yes, even employees must pass through metal detectors to enter correctional facilities.

The twin ring buckles on the Frequent Flyer are made from polymer. The end of the belt has hook-and-loop material, which is passed through the twin buckles and secured with a hook-and-loop panel.


As mentioned, the buckle rings are polymer.

The belt is made of durable nylon webbing in 1.25- and 1.5-inch widths. It is standard with a 3-stitch or a reinforced 5-stitch. I elected to go with the 5-stitch because it makes the belt stiffer.

Practical Impressions

Although this is not a very thick belt, it is sufficiently rigid to carry a handgun and accessories, such as spare magazines, a knife, etc., for one’s daily travels.

Wilderness Outfitters Frequent Flyer Belt with Glock 43X, DeSantis holster.
Wilderness Outfitter’s Frequent Flyer Belt uses synthetic materials and will pass effortlessly through metal detectors. Here, it is paired with a Glock 43X in a DeSantis Inside Heat holster. Photo: Sue Davis.

The Frequent Flyer belts that I have used have held up for many years. The fact that it won’t set off a metal detector was a big factor for me because of my profession. However, even after I left the prison service, I still continued to wear this belt simply because they are excellent pieces of gear.

The hook-and-loop fastener makes it easy to don or remove the belt. The buckles are plenty strong for the given task. I’ve even carried a full-sized pistol, such as the Glock 19X, Sig P228, or H&K USP Compact, and the belt was up to the task.


We’ve examined two belts that are excellent choices for carrying handguns and other tools. Both are priced very reasonably and readily available. They exhibit quality workmanship and will last a long time.

You’re probably wondering if I have a favorite belt and which I like more. That’s a fair question, and I do have a favorite: the 1791 Gun Belt. I love the heavy build quality, the stiffness, and the hardware. It’s obviously a serious belt intended for heavy-duty performance and lives up to that description well. It’s my current go-to belt, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.

If you want to peruse more belts, I recommend heading over to GunMag Warehouse. Just follow this link, and it will take you to their gun belt section, where you can check out the full lineup. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find something there, and their prices are quite reasonable. Good hunting!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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