Generally I like to give a quick heads up to the reader that if they want they can skip the review and just know the product is a solid purchase. I realized that’s a bit pretentious because most of you don’t know me, so my word on a product isn’t going to mean very much, you just want the details of my experience with said product. If its good you’ll generally want to know why it’s good and probably have a few distinct details you want to find out before you buy. If something sucks or breaks you’re going to want to know that too, but again you’re going to want to know what caused the product to be terrible and determine for yourself if you’d feel the same way. It may be surprising to hear that I’m not really going to review a product if I think it sucks. I don’t make money writing reviews and with my wife and 3 Chaos Units, a part time job, and my own shooting pursuits taking more time to investigate and test a product I already think is terrible is not high on my list for ways to spend my free time. That’s not to say every product reviewed is going to be amazing, I’m not sure there will ever be a completely perfect review, but I just wanted to keep it in perspective for the reader. Black Beard Belts did not pay me for this review, there’s no kickbacks or anything like that. There was an opportunity to review one of their Ranger belts and after giving the other writers time to speak up I requested one and received it a few weeks ago.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way we can get to the belt, which honestly I wasn’t really in the market for a new carry belt. I have a few very good nylon options, EDC Belt Co., Blue Alpha Gear, Tenicor, Ares Gear, all great belts you can’t really go wrong with. A few had some greater strengths than others but I was happy with what I had and the deign of Black Beard’s gun belts were something I’d never tried before. I do realize though that the nylon belts aren’t everyone’s style and had heard good things about Black Beard and a few other brands. Always trying to help those trying to carry more comfortably or capably getting to experience the features the belt offered first hand might help in telling friends whether or not it was a worthwhile purchase. I figured I’d wear the belt for awhile, get a feel for it, and then go back to my normal belt that I was quite happy with. I fully planned to stick to that plan, I spent two months with the belt and then switched back to my normal belt when I figured enough time had passed. Then about two hours later I had the Blackbeard Belt back on and I haven’t used anything else since.
Rather than just list the specs I think matter the most I’ll simply provide a link to their website with the full description here. It’s essentially a polymer coated nylon belt with a lifetime warranty and Blackbeard has yet to have any of their belts wear out to collect on the warranty. The belt buckle is made of some high quality metal and engineering, I’m not going to pretend I know what’s good metal and what’s not so check out the description for more detailed information on the specifics of the construction.
The belt arrived in a small plastic bag with the company logo and a brief statement that Black Beard Belts is a small family owned company with belts made in the USA. The belt was rolled up far tighter than I expected would be possible, I figured it would be a stiff leather belt that wouldn’t be flexible enough to roll nearly as tight as it was packaged. Clearly it was just the first thing I would be wrong about during this belt review. The belt roll was secured with a ranger band and a koozie with the company logo and a clever quip on the other side. I figured if nothing else ranger bands are always useful and the koozie wasn’t bad. As I mentioned the first thing that struck me was how tightly the belt could be rolled, unusual for a belt that couldn’t be as flexible or as comfortable as the nylon belts I was used to.
Somehow the belt offers the most solid foundation of any belt I’ve used, between the rigidity of the leather and security of the ratcheting system this belt secures even my heaviest handgun, my 92 Elite LTT, with no problem. With this type of rigidity though you generally have to sacrifice some comfort or concealability. The belt is either going to be so stiff that it wears on your hips and leaves you raw or with hotspots after just a few hours. Stiff belts also have the tendency to create their own circular shape around your body, instead of your pants naturally fitting to your waist it now appears as if you have a tire around your waist. Somehow this belt offers a sturdy foundation without sacrificing comfort or concealability. The belt still molds to my body to aid in concealment, it actually aids concealment even more because with the rigidity it keeps the gun slightly more upright. It’s very slight, think the difference between using soft loops vs. DCC clips on a holster. With the loops you have a secure gun but the flex of the loop allows the gun to tilt ever so slightly. With DCC clips you have a rigid clip that holds the gun firmly upright, this is how the Ranger belt feels. You can conceal perfectly fine with nylon, I’m not trying to convince anyone otherwise, but especially for heavier guns with me that polymer reinforcement keeps the gun just tucked slightly more so than my normal belts.
The buckle and ratcheting system have worked flawlessly, there’s no loose metal parts to make extra noise, no noisy hook and loop, and the buckle is not some oversized monstrosity to print on its own or cause pain if you wear it offset from your centerline. The buckle is also very solid, while I don’t do any extraordinary levels of abuse during my testing and prefer to keep things realistic, Blackbeard has a video of one of their belts laid out over some rocks and being run over by a truck and then backed over again by it, and then demonstrates that the belt is still perfectly fine. I’m sure there’s some way the belt can be broken, but short of deliberate and targeted negligence I can’t imagine it becoming an issue. While it has only been two months with the belt and I can’t truly cover the durability aspect, between that video and how well the belt is built I have no doubts it’ll last me for many years. While only an aesthetic point to make, generally black metal buckles get scratched pretty quickly with guns and mags constantly being carried and used in the same vicinity. So far the only wear on the buckle has been from where my pistol optic has been rubbing against the buckle when I get into awkward positions. Aside from that small wear point it looks brand new nearly two months into the review.
Adjusting the ratchet is effortless and there’s plenty of range for fit with 19 holes spaced 1/2” apart giving you the ability to simply wear the belt, conceal a holstered handgun, or whatever else you might stow away along your waistline. For measurement ordering I am a size 32, I ordered a size 34 belt, and I have 7 or 8 holes left to get to the widest adjustment position. There is a measurement guide on the website, please use it or at minimum order a size up from your waist size. I almost wish I had ordered a 36 to give me a broader range for letting friend’s try the belt out, but I enjoy not having a large tail to deal with. Their sizing chart is available here.
I’ve had multiple range trips with this belt, and at first I thought the only hinderance to my normal set up would be placing my spare mag pouch. The doubled up bit of belt where the tail runs through is far too thick for the DCC clip on my mag pouch so I initially settled for a slight offset of the buckle to run both mag pouch and holster on the same side. Thankfully I quickly realized the mag clip can be run behind the tail of the belt, allowing the buckle to remain centered and retain consistency with my mag pouch placement. I’m not going to try to sell anyone on some idea that I suddenly drew or reloaded faster or more efficiently now that I had a different belt, I noticed very little difference between using this belt and others while shooting. In fact I probably didn’t think about the belt very much at all while shooting, and that’s what you want, gear that lets you work and not have to think about while you’re trying to do the thing. I had planned on a final test being running the Ranger belt in a USPSA match in Crotch Optics, however family comes first so I had to miss my last local match of the season for a family adventure instead.
This is a belt that can be utilized for range work, overt carry, but I’ve been using it for concealed carry so what truly is the best test of a belt for concealed carry use? I missed the local match but I spent the day at an amusement park with my family. 4 hour round trip in the car and about 6 hours walking around with a concealed hand gun while carrying one or two of the boys at various times throughout the fun day. No issues with the belt, no pain or wear, no printing. The belt just did what it was supposed to do, hold up my pants and help conceal the handgun I was carrying. There was no point where I was looking forward to taking the belt and gun off or wishing I’d worn a lighter or smaller belt. It just worked and let me focus on my family and having fun while keeping my gun safely concealed.
If you’re in the market for a new belt, or maybe you don’t yet own a proper carry belt, give Black Beard Belts I look. I’m not saying you need to sell everything you currently have and buy one, everyone has a different style and interpretation of essential needs and comfort. But I can say this belt is of fine quality and would be a fine choice for anyone in the market.
Cost: 4/5- To be clear, it’s not a 4/5 because I thought it should be cheaper, it’s simply that way because I know a lot of people are going to find spending that amount on a belt outside of their budget or what they think they should spend on a belt. The belt is listed on Black Beard for $99, honestly for what you can do with this belt I’m surprised it wasn’t quite a bit more. It’s a great belt and I think the belt is worth it, you just have to pay for the quality.
Aesthetic: 5/5- I think this belt looks great and it’s not screaming “TACTICOOL” at you in every way possible. The buckle is functionally simple and the slim design aids not only the function but the aesthetic of the belt overall. Noiseless adjustment with the elimination of hook and loops is big style points alone.
Comfort: 4.5/5- Comfort is going to be very dependent on the user, their build, and what they’re carrying and expecting from the belt. There is only one belt I own that is slightly more comfortable to wear, hence the .5 deduction, but the Ranger can handle far more than that one can.
Durability: 5/5- This belt shows nearly no wear, and while two months isn’t a long time to test a product to be used for years, the construction and design of this belt leave me no doubt about it holding up.
Functionality: 5/5- Need an inner belt for a “battle belt” set up, done. Need a carry belt with plenty of adjustment, done. Maybe something that can support a heavier gun and still conceal well and comfortably? Done. I can’t think of anything more you’d expect from a belt that the Ranger can’t do.
Overall: 23.5/25- A perfect score doesn’t exist, and that’s not to say I find any true faults with the belt. A perfect score is far too subjective to the reviewer and would be suspicious for any kind of review. This is an extremely solid belt, it surprised me in many ways, and is now my go to belt every time I put my pants on.