STYLISH, DURABLE, AND TACTICAL?
I just recently returned from a work conference in Austin, TX. Typically for these types of short-term conferences, everyone dresses formally for the first day and puts their best foot forward. After then, as most cop conferences go, the dress code loosens as the conference goes on, and by the end, most of us are in jeans and t-shirts or the typical 5.11 khakis, polo shirts, and Solomon/Merrill shoes – tactical but not-tactical uniform of the day.
Me, being in a rush as usual, forgot a couple of items, namely a dress belt. Having a slight case of OCD or a leftover vestige of common sense for a professionally-dressed male, I couldn’t present myself at the conference with a button-down shirt, slacks, black dress shoes, and no belt. Tacky. So off to the local shops I went, not relishing the possibility of having to buy a $50 dress belt, of which I have many duplicates of at home, due to me being unprepared. I stopped into the Brooks Brothers near my hotel to embrace the suck and buy a dress belt. $99 dollars for a 1″ wide dress belt that would end up in my closet looking like the other 3 black leather dress belts that I already have, none of which are stiff enough or suitable to support a G26 in a slide holster. Form, yet no function. Needless to say, I sucked up my pride and instead wore a squared-bottom button down short sleeve …which I left untucked. Tacky.
Belts, for the armed professional or EDC’er are often overlooked as an important piece of equipment. A sturdy, reinforced belt should support the weight of a pistol and holster as well as any other belt-mounted accessories the end user chooses to wear. A proper gun belt keeps the mounted holster and accessories upright and tight against the wearer’s body, allowing for repeatable grip placement and aid in concealability.
There are some off-the-shelf CCW belts made by companies such as Galco Gunleather that are a good balance between form and function, I have two of them, and have used them for well over 10 years. However now, more than a decade in, they are both faded, worn, cracked in some places, and have lost their rigidity. Others are decidedly “tactical,” the dreaded T-word, that scream “CCWer,” or “plainclothes cop,” made out of ballistic nylon with D-ring buckles and velcro. All have their space and place, but what about a happy medium?
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kilo Bravo. Kilo Bravo makes excellent leather/kydex hybrid holsters. My buddy Eric Foxtrot wrote about the ALPHA holster over at Blacksheepwarrior.com, and I wrote about the OMEGA at Guns & Tactics. I carry a G26 AIWB almost daily in my Kilo Bravo OMEGA, and it is my preferred Level 1 AIWB holster.
Noah Brown of Kilo Bravo reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in checking out their new Every Day Carry (EDC) Belt made from American Hermann Oak leather, like their holsters. Knowing and trusting their OMEGA for my off-duty and plainclothes work, I was more than interested. A few short days later, I had the Kilo Bravo EDC Belt in hand. My goodness.
This thing is STURDY. Maybe even too much.
I sent an email to Noah to let him know that I had received the belt, and asked him a little bit about his design philosophy and the components that made up the belt. Noah told me the following:
“Our EDC belt, like our Omega, was designed to fill a void in the market. There weren’t many, if any, options for your average guy who carries on a daily basis, for a belt that would look great with jeans, dress pants, and tactical pants. I wanted a belt that not only looked great regardless of style of dress, but was also capable of being used as a gun belt for OWB carry or concealed carry.
We really wanted something that didn’t scream “tacticool.” We were shooting for something a bit subtler with a quiet class. We quickly found out why no one else offers the Cobra buckle on a leather belt but, we kept reengineering it till we worked the kinks out and I think we’ve hit the mark.”
Now truth be told, a short internet search did reveal a few other companies that do make a leather/cobra buckle belt – however one was a leather/nylon/cobra buckle combo, another was specifically for firemen (turnout belt with a cobra buckle quick release), and the closest model that would compare to the Kilo Bravo EDC was a standard belt, however the tail was of standard size to a normal belt, was a custom order, and kept the tail in place with hook and loop field – which will inevitably wear out over time.
The first thing that struck me about the belt was its beauty. Kilo Bravo knows leather. If you have any of their holsters, you’ll know that their ability to meld leather and kydex is unsurpassed, and I haven’t seen anyone that can come close to their craftsmanship when it comes to hybrid holsters.
The EDC Belt, like the holsters, is nothing short of a work of art. The version that I have is double layered. The two layers are comprised of a thinner exterior layer that weaves through the male end of the cobra buckle, and a thicker, stiffer inner layer that provides an excellent level of stability and rigidity.
The belt is sent pre-fit from Kilo Bravo and affords a few inches of adjustment to either shorten or lengthen the belt, which is obviously useful for whether the user carries IWB, OWB, or bare. Unlike traditional weaving with a cobra buckle, the EDC Belt weaves in reverse, tucking the tail of the thinner layer in and away from the centerline, eliminating the need for a secondary retention loop or hook & loop fields to manage the tail. Doing this allows for an extremely clean and custom-tailored look to the belt.
Once adjusted, the belt will …not …move. The leather woven through the cobra buckle affords rock-solid lock-up, so much in fact that it takes a bit of time to get the belt exactly adjusted to where the user wants it to be. This seems consistent in the first few weeks of use so far, and even with daily use, since the belt is set in one place, the leather does not seem to give out, stretch, or slip in the slightest.
The dual-layered EDC Belt is ideal for 1.75″ paddle options. I tried running the belt in conjunction with a Safariland 6378 ALS Glock G17 paddle holster as well as some of my on-hand Safariland cuff/mag paddle gear as well as some leather belt slide holsters that I use for suit and tie occasions.
Now, here is one criticism of the belt. It’s thick and rigid as I mentioned before. Some leather belt slide holsters – the one in particular that I used was a Bianchi Holsters VENOM (Model 75), have shallow depth inside of the belt loop itself to keep the holster tight to the body. Although a 1.75″ belt loop, the Kilo Bravo EDC Belt is so thick, that it actually binds the pistol into the holster, making draw difficult. Not a deal breaker by any stretch, but something to keep in mind. As with any leather holster, there is a break-in period, but the thickness of the EDC Belt will require a few more draws to get the pistol to slide out smoothly on the draw as the belt is thick enough to push the interior wall of the holster in tightly against the pistol. Users should be aware of this prior to fielding their usual leather holsters with this belt in particular.
Once broken in however, the EDC Belt draws the holster straight up and tight against the body, which obviously aids in concealment. I think that using the single layer EDC Belt will alleviate this issue completely, and I anticipate that the lessened rigidity without the second layer will still make the EDC Belt a viable option.
This belt is good to go. The craftsmanship is apparent immediately upon inspection, and if you’re a low-riding pants hipster type, this belt is NOT for you. The belt rides exactly at the waistline, and in all honesty, is rigid enough to be used as a duty belt if one’s agency would allow for it. Comfortable and stylish, the belt is rigid for any EDCer’s needs, and looks good doing so.
The EDC Belt is scheduled to be available on Kilo Bravo’s updated website on March 1, 2017, and will retail at $99.95 in natural oil and black, the same prices as the stylish but non-utilitarian Brooks Brother’s belt I didn’t buy in Austin. Kilo Bravo will offer the same belt in a single-layer model, which I will probably buy and use specifically for my leather belt slide holsters, however at the date of this writing, the retail price has not been set.
Chris Tran is a police officer for a large municipality in the Pacific Northwest. He writes equipment reviews aimed towards the everyday user with a focus on functionality, durability, and cost effectiveness. View all posts by Chris Tran
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