I remember a couple of years go spending time with and reviewing Kel-Tec’s KSG. I really enjoyed running that double-magazine 12 gauge around the range. Fun times. Fastforward to this week and I’m shooting a similar, but different iteration of that model: the KS7.
The KS7 is a bullpup 12-gauge shotgun and is something of a single-mag-tube version of the KSG, but it has some interesting differences. The most obvious difference is the top carry handle and fiber-optic bead at the front. This makes the KS7 shootable right out of the box. But it sure does look weird. In any event, I’ve gotten to spend some time shooting the KS7 and here follow my impressions of this lightweight beast of a shotgun.
Why Consider the KS7
You might consider the KS7 for its small and lightweight configuration, which makes it a very wieldy, easy-to-carry, easy-to-maneuver firearm. Good for home defense or other cramped or close-quarters needs. At just over 26 inches long and ~6 pounds, it’s easy to hold, easy to pack, and (unlike the KSG) simple to use.
You might also consider the KS7 for its value. Often found for less than $500, it’s an inexpensive way to get a tactical-ish shotgun with a front sight bead that makes it shoot-ready right out of the box. With its numerous M-LOK slots, there are several locations for mounting accessories like lights and sling mounts, too.
Caliber: 12 ga
Barrel Length: 18.5”
Weight: 5.9lb (unloaded)
Length of Pull: 13”
Sights: Green fiber optic front bead
Capacity: 6+1 w/3” shells (or 7+1 with 2¾ shells)
Color: Black or Green or Tan
MSRP: $495 (often found for less…and for considerably more!)
Shooting the KS7
The KS7 was easy to run and fun to shoot…up to a point. This shotgun is very light, so I felt every bit of the recoil from every round I fired. With hot ammo, this little shotgun kicks like a mule. I can say with full confidence that anyone who owns a KS7 should put a soft buttpad on it to mitigate the stiff recoil impulse. The “pad” present on this shotgun is hard as a rock.
One improvement over the KSG that’s immediately noticeable on the KS7 is the feel and function of the pump action. This feels much more like the action on a traditional shotgun than did the KSG’s action, which was rather stuff and plastic, and prone to easy shortstrokes. This action feels far nicer and it’s easy to properly cycle the gun between shots. Well done, Kel-Tec. The pump grip is also much improved over what is present on the KSG. With molded stops fore and aft, it’s easy to keep your hand safely in the proper position. I do, however, recommend against placing your thumb against the forward stop fold. When the gun fires it’ll give your thumb a stiff jolt.
Because the KS7 is so small and the length of pull rather short, it’s not super easy and comfortable to use the front sighting bead atop the weird carry handle. That said, sighting is completely doable, but of course you’ve got to get your cheek fully welded and face low to the top of the stock to get a proper alignment for accurate hits. My first shots were significantly high, but once I got a proper cheek weld and sighted down the entire carry-handle channel, hits were right on.
The trigger is, …okay. Because of the bullpup design, the trigger uses a transfer bar to get back to the far-rear bolt area. That typically means a less-than-ideal trigger feel for bullpup guns and that is the case here. It feels mushy and plastic, but it’s not terrible. Just not great. I found I didn’t care while operating the gun. Still, it’d be nice to find a way to improve that feature just a bit.
All in all, like I said earlier, this is a fun gun to shoot and very easy to run. I can imagine all sorts of roles this little shotgun could fulfill in the home or in my truck or on the hiking trail. Its size and configuration tends to stir the imagination.
Features and Components
The KS7 features mostly plastic outer construction. The important parts are steel, of course, but all of the outer contact areas and non-action structures are plastic. The magazine tube (there’s just one) holds six 3” shells or seven 2¾ shells. It’ll hold eleven mini-shells, but I’ve heard that the KS7 can sometimes have problems reliably cycling those. I did not try any.
The most conspicuous feature of the KS7 is the top carry handle which stands tall off the front half of the gun. The rear portion has a carry handle opening and the forward part of the structure has 3 M-LOK slots left and right. The front top of the structure has a length of captured fiber optic that serves as a sighting bead. There is a cross-bolt style safety in the area where a selector switch might better have been placed, and the action release lever resides at the front of the trigger guard, and can be actuated on both left and right sides. That, with the downward shell ejection, make the KS7 a fully-ambidextrous gun.
Field disassembly is accomplished by pushing out 2 pins in the rear area of the gun. The upper area of the grip has 2 holes where you can place those pins so that they don’t get lost when you take down the gun. I note that those pins, when fully inserted, protrude about 1/8” from the other side of the gun. This is not optimal, in my estimation. They can snag on things and could easily become damaged.
With numerous M-LOK slots on various components, there would seem to be lots of places to add any accessories you might want. It’s also worth noting that if you don’t like the big carry-handle on top of the gun, you can replace it with the KSG’s flat picatinny rail, allowing you to mount BUIS and/or a red-dot optic, and/or anything else you might choose. When I get my KS7 (and I will definitely get one), this is how I’ll configure it.
The Kel-Tec KS7 is a short, light, easily-carried, and highly maneuverable shotgun that looks like something out of Starship Troopers. Kel-Tec got the basics right on this strange looking bullpup shotgun, so the little details tend to matter less.
It’s almost small enough to put in the average backpack and will certainly fit in larger packs. The bullpup design and size make it a potentially good choice for home defense, a truck gun, a trail gun, or even just a fun range gun. With its easy reconfiguration and accessorization, there’s plenty of room for folks to set up their KS7 to suit their specific needs. I will be doing so myself soon.
I have long maintained that a Glock pistol is not “perfection,” as Glock claims, but it is the prefect pistol hobby kit. Every Glock pistol I purchase (I own many) immediately goes through a mild modification process to address issues of personal fit, comfort, and performance. This process is nearly identical across all of the different Glock models and I do not put any rounds through my Glocks until they’ve undergone these modifications.
The new Glock 48 I recently purchased will serve here as the subject for describing my standard Glock modification process.
There are three areas that I reshape on a Glock pistol (as noted in the hero-image above), using a barrel sander on my Dremel.
The forward area of the frame where my support hand thumb rests (both sides)
The transition from the bottom/side of the trigger guard to the grip (both sides)
The underside of the trigger guard
Here’s a different project, showing how I use my Dremel with a barrel sander to remove material and shape the trigger guard area.
One of my preferred grip-leverage points on a pistol is the forward area of the frame, where my support-hand thumb rests. If properly shaped and grippy, it provides a useful leverage point for mitigating muzzle rise when firing. What is required is to use the barrel sander to remove a small wedge of material starting at the top edge of the frame to create an angled shelf. Once stippled, it allows my support-hand thumb good purchase and effective control.
I find it quite uncomfortable to shoot any stock Glock pistol due to the malformed and abrupt angles and transition where the trigger guard joins the grip. Whoever it was at Glock who decided that was a good way to design that area was entirely wrong. I take the barrel sander to the 90-degree edge, flattening it, and to the underside of the trigger-guard-to-grip union. The result is a very comfortable contour that makes the Glock fit my hand like a glove.
The last place to address is the underside of the trigger guard, where I remove a rounded area to provide an index point for my support-hand index finger. This is something of an optional modification, but that few millimeters of rise helps keep my hands as high as possible on the gun. Also, once stippled, that little notch provides a point of security that helps a slight bit to keep my hands in place on the gun as the recoil impulse works to shake my grip loose. The location varies from model to model; on a G19 it sits pretty much in the center of the trigger guard. On this G48, it is well forward.
Here is my G48 after contouring and texture removal. It is now ready for stippling!
I believe that all polymer pistols used as defensive weapons must be stippled. With precious few exceptions, every polymer frame will become as slippery as a fish when your hands are wet from sweat or rain, or bloody from defensive wounds. Stippling works well to mitigate the issues and to greatly improve security during firing and manipulations.
The first step is typically to remove the texturing on both sides of the grip. Glock’s Gen 4 and Gen 5 texture can be directly stippled, but I don’t like how the result looks. So once removed, I use a pencil to sketch the outline of my stippled area. Then I take my soldering iron and completely define the outline. Once all of the necessary areas are stipple-outlined, I begin filling in the body of the stippling. My preferred technique is to use a sharp tip soldering iron and make small, shallow stipples. Larger, deeper stipples work just fine, but the aesthetics are not quite as nice when you’re done. It’s function, not form, that we’re after here so I don’t care overmuch about aesthetics, but there’s no need to make something ugly.
The results of the shaping and stippling is a glove-match frame grip that is very comfortable and very grippy.
Glock sights on a defensive pistol must be replaced. The stock sights are just fine for use, but since they’re made of plastic, they’re not up to the punishment that gunfighting and continual training may require of them. So I replace with good iron sights.
My choice of replacement sights has for years been the Truglo TFX Pro set. They’re good for both day and night and have good physical properties for durability and one-handed manipulations. However, there are some light conditions and target texture/colorations that tend to render these sights a bit difficult to pick up (especially for my old-man eyes). So given this mild deficiency I’ve recently tended toward the Trijicon HD XR set for my Glocks. That’s what I used on this G48. The rear is blacked out and textured with points of Tritium. The front sight is very narrow and in addition to a Tritium dot has a large, BRIGHT fluorescent orange ring. The result is a very effective sight picture that is easy to pick up immediately no matter the lighting or background.
I confess that I prefer a flat trigger shoe on my pistols. I don’t mind the curvature front-to-back, but Glock’s rounded/bladed trigger shoe is problematic for me. I prefer a flat rest for my finger as it helps me remember to press straight back rather than off to one side.
Because of this preference I often replace the trigger shoe & bar with some aftermarket product. My fave replacement is the McNally trigger, as it has a polymer shoe that will not destroy your frame, like many aftermarket aluminum-shoe models (it’s the safety tab that does the damage). As for an aluminum option that does not damage the frame, the FACTR trigger shoe/bar works very nicely. I can recommend nothing other than these 2 products for trigger replacement on a Glock. For my G48 here, I installed a McNally trigger. Love it.
Because I’m using Shield Arms’ 15-round magazines made for this G48, it is required that I replace the mag catch with a metal one that will not be damaged by the metal magazines. I opted for the Shield Arms model. Works great.
That’s it. That my modification process for all my Glock pistols and the specifics for what I did with my new Glock 48 shown here. I am really enjoying my new G48 and I’m giving it a couple months to convince me that it should replace my longtime-EDC G19. Time will tell if it fits the bill there, but I do enjoy training with this new one. Fits me like a glove.
My Glock 44, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, is an important training tool and vital to my weekly regimen. I purchased the pistol specifically as a training tool. While I’m not using it precisely as I thought I would be, it has been an interesting learning process and I’m still using it to benefit my technique and my ammo budget, as I’ll describe here.
The Glock 44 is something of an odd bird that seems to lack some features common to .22 pistols, but it has some interesting and important characteristics that I think make it a gem of a gun.
Why Consider the Glock 44?
There are many reasons why one might want to own a .22 pistol, but because of the specific characteristics of the G44, the more relevant reasons are narrowed and somewhat different. This is not a carry gun, so its purpose is best found as a training aid, as a plinking gun, and as an onboarding tool for new shooters.
You might consider the G44 because its dimensions are exactly those of the G19 and G23, which allows for some interesting opportunities for training and for fun without changing your grip and manipulation fundamentals. You might also consider this pistol as a means for new shooters to get used to “real” pistol fundamentals without the daunting factors of a 9mm pistol’s weight or sharp recoil. You might also consider the G44 because of its relatively low price and/or because it’s a Glock!
All these considerations are worthy, and all factored into my decision to purchase one of these pistols. After having put more than 1000 rounds through mine I’ll share my observations and some things I’ve discovered along the way.
How I Use My Glock 44
The most pressing reason I acquired my Glock 44 was so that I could use it in training to save money on ammo. I shoot my pistol Glock 19 several days every week and the price of 9mm training ammo is quite stiff as compared to .22 ammo. Since the G44 has the same dimensions and works exactly like a Glock 19 (my everyday carry pistol), I figured it would be a good placebo that would not corrupt or disconnect my deeply ingrained manipulation habits. As it turns out, it is an effective tool for some components of training, but not all.
For live-fire training, mine consists of two basic components. The first is indoor-range precision fundamentals. In that training I stand mostly statically in a range lane and work my stance, grip, sight alignment/picture, and trigger-finger fundamentals. The second is dynamic, practical, defensive scenarios at varying distances from 1 to 50 yards, all done with my EDC loadout and live-fire draws from concealment in the appendix-carry position.
I found that the G44 is perfectly suited to static, precision practice. In fact, it provides an experience something akin to dryfire practice, due to the almost nonexistent recoil. In that training with the G44 I get to practice my precision fundamentals without developing the habit of trying to manually mitigate or manage muzzle rise and recoil. This helps me to practice a more proper trigger press and related physical habits.
When I got the Glock 44 onto the practical range and began using it to run defensive drills from concealment, however, I discovered one of the shortcomings of the G44’s ultra-lightweight construction. Yes, the Glock 44 is very lightweight. It’s ridiculously lightweight. In fact, even when fully loaded, it doesn’t feel like a real gun at all. It feels like you’re holding a $3 toy. It’s so light, in fact, that it is a bit disconcerting, as this is a very real gun with lethal capability. In truth, I find this one feature of the G44 a bit off putting.
In any event, the lightweight construction of the pistol makes it behave differently on the draw from concealment in the appendix position. Specifically, in appendix position from a holster with a single belt clip. It is my experience that with a real carry gun, like the identically sized G19, the weight of the pistol keeps it static and in place as my hand slides into position for the draw, even though there is but one belt clip on my holster. The G44’s lack of weight, however, allows the motion and friction of my hand sliding into draw placement to affect the position and angle of the pistol just enough so that my grip is not the same grip I’m accustomed to; nor is it the same grip from draw to draw. It feels different almost every time I bring it out of the holster.
This difference and inherent inconsistency in hand placement and security on the pistol created a very unpleasant training experience for me. I found that instead of training tried and true muscle memory, I was continually adjusting and having to fight poor or unfamiliar hand placement nearly every time I ran a training rep. Obviously, this was an unacceptable state of affairs and I decided that I would not use my G44 for dynamic training from concealment. Instead I’d relegate this pistol to static precision practice at the indoor range where, as I’ve previously mentioned, it excels as a training tool.
Here’s video showing a few reps of a drill where I’m drawing from concealment:
Having said all of that, I have to believe that if carried at the 3 o’clock to 5 o’clock position in a holster with 2 belt clips the behavior I’ve described would not occur. I have not tried this, however, so it’s pure speculation, but it seems a sound likelihood that one could have a far better dynamic-training experience with that sort of setup.
I’m very happy to use my G44 for the bulk of my precision practice, especially since it allows me to save hundreds of dollars a month in ongoing-training ammo costs.
Much was made by Glock, Inc. just prior to the release of the model that the G44 was a highly reliable gun that would eat just about any ammo without complaint. Once it got into owners’ hands, however, a different story was told. The general experience, mine included, is that the Glock 44 runs great on hot, quality ammunition, but tends to malfunction from time to time with low-power or cheap ammo.
My experience is that with hot, grid-packed ammo it runs flawlessly. With hot bulk ammo it runs well, with a malfunction about once every 3 or 4 magazines. With lower quality and/or low-power bulk ammo, mine tends to malfunction at least once every magazine. So I stick to the better ammo and do just fine.
As I’ve mentioned, this is not a carry gun so I’m not terribly upset by the relative lack of reliability with some ammo. In fact, as a training tool, the occasional malfunction is a boon to forging good defensive-manipulation habits. That said, if you feed it hot, quality ammo I expect you’ll have very little in the way of malfunctions. As for me, I’m perfectly happy with how my G44 runs, especially with my specific mode of training use.
Features & Components
The Glock 44 is put together nearly identical to any other Glock pistol, with the same mechanisms and engineering, all except for the slide construction and the components specific to running a .22 caliber round. The result is a pistol that will be 100% familiar to Glock owners, that is field stripped and disassembled the same way as any other Glock pistol. The only difference for disassembly is the need for a small, flathead screwdriver (instead of just a Glock tool or punch) for pressing down the striker sleeve in order to remove the slide’s back plate.
The most conspicuous component difference is found with the slide. The G44’s slide is made mostly of polymer, with steel rails and rear interior assembly. The change to a polymer slide was made to reduce the weight, so that the blowback system could work to cycle the pistol with the relatively small .22 report. The magazines, though they retain the basic dimensions of the G19’s, is somewhat skeletonized to hold 10 rounds in a single stack. The magazines have pull-down tabs on either side to allow you to load by compressing the spring to open space for each round you load.
The mechanisms and construction are consistent with the Gen5 series and the barrel rifling is consistent with Glock’s Marksman barrel characteristics. All in all, it is an exceptionally light Gen 5 Glock pistol. Anyone familiar with Glock componentry will find the G44 entirely familiar. And at the low price, why not get one just for fun!?
I confess that before spending some time with the Taurus G3 I had never even touched a Taurus firearm. Over the years I had heard some less than flattering things about their quality and customer service. Recently, however, I had begun to hear good things about the G2C compact pistol, as well as some inklings about Taurus turning over a new leaf.
Lately, I’ve come across a couple of flattering reviews of the Taurus G3 pistol and, to my surprise, it was suggested I do a first-shots review of the G3. I’ll further confess that I didn’t have high hopes for this rig, but handling and shooting the G3 has been a surprising experience from start to finish. While this isn’t an exhaustive examination and cannot account for issues of reliability or longevity, I’d like to share my impressions from having spent time this month with the Taurus G3.
Why Consider the Taurus G3?
I supposed the best reason to consider the G3 is for its value. As my review here should indicate, the price vs. features and performance is about as good as I’ve ever seen on a pistol. The price (typically somewhere under $300) is as low as I could ever imagine for a pistol like this, so if you are a fan of Glock or Springfield or Sig medium-sized pistols, but don’t want the $500+ price tag, the G3 would seem to have been made for you.
Roughly the same length, height, and width of a Glock 19, this pistol feels and behaves like many of its more expensive brethren. And with few discernable shortcomings.
Taurus G3 Carbine Specs:
Height: 5.2” with flush magazine
Safety: Manual thumb lever (left side only) and trigger tab
Action: Single Action w/Re-strike capability
Sights: 3-dot: Front fixed, rear drift adjustable
Weight: 25 oz w/empty magazine
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Stainless steel (black matte ??)
Capacity: 10, 15 or 17 rounds (with extended magazine)
Price: ~$345 (often found in the mid-to-high $200s)
Shooting the Taurus G3
Despite the fact that it’s a “budget gun,” I really enjoyed shooting this pistol. The overall experience was virtually as nice as shooting any similar Springfield or Sig! The very first thing I noticed, however, was that the trigger takeup to the wall is looonnnng. Length of travel aside, it’s quite a nice trigger; very soft up to the wall and then a less-than-5lb break. Were the takeup shorter, I’d take this trigger on my EDC gun any day (but it is so very long).
Here you can see the rather long trigger takeup. The second iamge shows where the “wall” is, prior to break. It may not look long here, but it is longer than most other pistols I’ve touched.
For the first couple of shooting strings the long trigger press led me to shoot rather low (owing to the fact that my trigger mechanics are deeply ingrained muscle memory specific to my EDC gun’s triger), but once I fixed MY flaw, things evened out and I had no trouble at all keeping rounds where I wanted them.
The recoil impulse is about what I’d expect, no different from my G19 really, and despite the fact that there’s no serviceable “gas pedal” ledge for my support-hand thumb the muzzle rise was not bad at all. The pistol is comfortable to hold and run and is easily controllable for fast shooting strings. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume I was shooting a far more expensive gun.
Components and Features
Something I immediately noticed is that the grip is slightly fat. The G3 is a pistol perhaps not best suited to folks with smaller hands. My medium-sized hands didn’t have any trouble with the grip, which has a rather fantastic texture on it, by the way. No kidding, the texture on this pistol makes it the ONLY production pistol with a useful grip texture. I wouldn’t care to stipple this one, and I’m something of a grip snob. Very well done, Taurus!
I could find no information on what the finish process is used for the black matte slide, but it is made of stainless steel. Some models come silvered and others matte black. The slide serrations are front and back and they are very sharp and grippy. The sights are 3-dot and they’re okay. There would be no necessity to replace the sights (like you must on a Glock), but I would choose to put something more visible were I to carry this pistol. The thumb “safety” lever is unobtrusive enough without being difficult to manipulate. If you must have a “safety” gadget on a striker-fired pistol, this is a good example of how to do it. The rest of the controls are well located and never tripped me up as I was running the pistol.
The frame is black polymer and there’s an accessory rail up front. There are indentations molded into the frame, back where the thumb might (but doesn’t and should not) rest for 1-handed shooting and up front where you might want to index your support-hand thumb. These features are cheaply done and the front index point does NOT work as a “gas pedal” rest for mitigating muzzle rise; cycling the gun just causes my thumb to slip out. I suppose that the front section might work if one stippled that area, but it just seems like an afterthought here.
The trigger has a weirdly wide safety tab in the middle of the shoe, but it is flat and disappears completely into the trigger upon press. I found no discomfort at all from the tab and I quite enjoyed the flat face of the shoe. Combined with the smooth action (albeit quite long), it’s a very comfortable trigger.
Interestingly, the G3 has re-strike capability; meaning that if a round fails to fire with the first trigger press, there is a double-action trigger press available to try it again. I suppose that this could be a positive feature, but I have to say I’d never use it. “Click” means one thing and one thing only to those of us who train, and that is tap, rack, bang (as a first option, at least). This re-strike capability seems like a very odd feature.
As a near-full-size medium-sized pistol, it is at the outer size limit for what most folks would consider an everyday-carry model. It’s a tiny bit taller than a Glock 19 and almost exactly the same width, but a full 4 ounces heavier than the G19. Depending on which version of the G3 you get, it comes with either 2 flush 15-round mags or one 15-round and one 17-round extended mag. I noticed that when depressing the magazine release, the mags pop out of the grip with gusto. That’s always a nice feature to see, as some more expensive pistols have lazy magazine ejections.
Just about everything tangible about this pistol is positive. The slide design and serrations are well conceived, the features are comparable with any good pistol and the grip texture is best in class. The smoothness of the trigger is a plus, as is the energetic magazine ejection.
There are few tangible cons to cite on this pistol. The trigger takeup is longer than you’re apt to find on other pistols, the sights are just okay, and the frame is a bit trite in its design; but these are nitpicky things. People with smaller hands may not like the grip size. What I have to wonder, though, is where the cost savings comes.
My assumption is that there may be expediencies built into some of the components that are not noticeable without many thousands of rounds to reveal them. But that is just my assumption based in the fact that this pistol really does seem a bit too good to be true. When internal components do wear out, I have to wonder how easily available the replacement parts might be…and if they’re replaceable by the owner. Food for thought.
The Taurus G3 is just a surprising pistol and it’s very difficult to impossible to see how the sub-$300 price is justified. Yes, there are nicer features on more expensive pistols, but the G3 gets most of the basics right and, with practice to learn that trigger action well, it seems every bit as good on that score.
If one were looking to get a good, basic pistol for carry or home defense on a budget, I have absolutely no reservations in recommending giving the G3 a try. Bet you’ll dig it.
Your everyday-carry belt is the foundation of your whole EDC system. As the foundation, when your belt is solid, your carry experience can be solid: comfortable and confident. Yet when the belt is deficient in one or more ways, not only is your carry experience going to be bad, carrying, concealing, and deploying your handgun will be far more difficult, dysfunctional, and likely dangerous.
Here I’d like to touch on what makes for a proper everyday-carry belt—and what makes for an improper or negligence choice. Luckily, choices abound, but your choices should be relegated exclusively to the optimal sort of belt system. To further narrow the scope of this article, I’m going to deal primarily with concealed carry rather than open carry.
Note that I’ll not be discussing tactical belts or any that have cobra fasteners. Those are not EDC belts unless you’re a warfighter or a law-enforcement officer. Moreover, they do not work with normal pants’ belt loops and other accessory-pouch loops for quick and easy everyday donning and removal, which completely disqualifies them for everyday carry. Instead I’ll be dwelling here only on everyday-carry belts for ordinary citizens.
You can carry all day, every day only if your system works well, conceals well, and allows you to be comfortable and confident while wearing it. Carry skill aside (yes, it is a skill), the most important component in that equation is a quality EDC belt.
A quality EDC belt will help your one to two-pound+ gun feel lighter; will help keep your holster in position; will keep your holster in the proper orientation; and will not decline in function or comfort when several other items are also carried on the belt. Conversely, a belt that is not up to the task will prevent you from concealing well—no matter the holster you’re using—and will make the experience of carrying and deploying your pistol into uncomfortable drudgery. Not to mention dangerous.
A true EDC gun belt differs from a normal belt—even a thick leather non-gun belt—in many important ways. Let’s go over them!
EDC Belt Qualities
A belt for everyday carry of a gun and other items has to satisfy several important needs at once, elegantly.
Your EDC belt should be 1.5” wide. Unless you’re carrying specialized equipment that requires a 2” belt, you need to stick to the standard of 1.5”, which works perfectly. A bet that is less than 1.5” wide is unsuitable for EDC use.
Your EDC belt should be quite rigid. It must not just be hard to compress top-to-bottom, it should be impossible to compress top-to-bottom. A 1.5” belt that can be compressed with your hand into a curve is wholly unsuitable as an EDC belt. Never use such a belt. Additionally, when the belt is off your pants and buckled into a loop, you should be able to hold it up by the buckle without the loop of the belt drooping more than very slightly if at all.
But rigidity must be tempered by a wearable pliability. Note that competition-style gun belts that are entirely rigid are inappropriate for everyday carry. That degree of rigidity will quickly offer discomfort and will distort into unslightly shapes when you sit or bend over or move while going about your daily business. Stick with purpose-specific EDC gun belts. I’ll cite some examples below.
Your EDC belt should allow for very small buckle adjustments (as shown below). A typical belt with a prong and set of holes is not optimal as an everyday carry belt. These types of buckles do not allow for the necessary degree of adjustment. Instead, opt for an EDC belt that uses a ratchet system for closure. This is proven tech and is up to the job of daily carry of heavy items while at the same time allowing for important small degrees of adjustment that can make huge differences in comfort, confidence, and concealability. I advise you to completely avoid EDC belts that use a traditional buckle. Note that many proper ratchet-system belt buckles look exactly like a prong-and-hole-style buckle. It is an elegant deception.
Here’s the back of a Kore belt, showing the ratchet system that is sewn into the back of the belt.
Your EDC belt should look just like a normal belt for the type of clothes you’re wearing. This means it should typically be made of or covered in leather or nylon or fabric of appropriate finish and fashion. Nothing about your EDC belt should communicate “tactical”. A good EDC belt is one that looks appropriate with jeans and with dress slacks. Note that because leather and nylon and fabric are not rigid enough by themselves, true EDC belts have a rigid core material that turns them into useful kit.
This Nexbelt gun belt looks like a normal, everyday prong-and-hole belt, but it has a proper ratchet buckle.
An inferior belt is one that lacks a rigid core, so it is soft and floppy. Even when the belt is worn tight, your pistol (OWB) will cant outward because the belt lacks proper integrity. Therefore, it will never allow you to conceal properly. An inferior belt is either slightly too loose or slightly too tight when you wear your handgun holstered to it. With an inferior belt, when you go to draw your handgun quickly, it may have moved position slightly or changed its degree of angle because the belt cannot properly support it. This means that your draw will be slower, clumsier, and more dangerous than with a proper belt.
A tactical-style belt looks odd and draws unwanted attention to you when others see its incongruity with your clothing. An inferior EDC belt is not aesthetically appropriate for formal dress – or – a soft, formal-style belt is in no way up to the task of providing the proper foundation for carrying when you’re dressed up. Moreover, an inferior formal-style EDC belt gets marred and marked up too quickly by holsters and pouches to be aesthetically appropriate for formal-dress carry.
Examples of Proper Kit
Disclaimer: No belt manufacturer has ever given me any swag and every belt I own I’ve purchased with my own money.
Finding all of the imperative qualities of a proper EDC belt is not difficult. When citing examples here, I’m going to reference my own experience of trying different belts over years while carrying all day, every day. Therefore, it is going to be impossible for me to refrain from mentioning specific brands and models, citing both the good and the bad from those brands and models. So here I will be somewhat less than objective, because I don’t want to speak to brands with which I have no experience, and possibly mislead you.
Here’s a Nexbelt gun belt model that looks very nice, appropriate for fancy-dress occasions. Still, it’s a stiff, strong gun belt with a ratchet buckle.
The overall best EDC belt in my experience and opinion is one of the models from Nexbelt. Their core material is the best I’ve found and does not break or suffer the shortcomings found in other similar brands’ belts with ongoing daily wear. Nexbelt offers a variety of belt materials and buckle styles, and you can order belts and buckles separately, which is a handy benefit if you ever encounter a failure with one or the other (I have!).
One caveat I can offer is to avoid the buckle offered with the “Titan” model that has a dark, rough finish.* I had one of these buckles break after less than 1 year of being worn only at home every day. The metal for that buckle was of inferior quality and it broke at the perpendicular attachment pin area, where the buckle material was thin. It’s possible they’ve amended the design or materials lately, but I don’t know this for sure. However, I have had good luck and no problems with several other buckles that have a shiny finish.
The leather models look great and wear very well, showing little to no damage after years of repeated on-off of holsters and other belt-worn kit. The Nylon-webbing belts are excellent, too. Stiff and with the normal-looking buckle they don’t put out a “tactical” vibe.
Here you can see the ratchet insert sewn into the back of the belt. The measurements shown are there because these belts are shipped one-size-only and you trim the buckle-insert end to fit your waist. The buckle then clips on with a toothed lever, and some models feature additional compression screws for added security.
The belt lineup from Kore is also pretty good—better than almost anything else on the market. I wore Kore belts for a couple years and they have many fine qualities that put them ahead of most other companies’ products. What I mentioned about Nexbelt is generally true for Kore too, with one important difference: the stiff-core material used by Kore is slightly inferior. I find that the belt core material tends to break in half right at the middle of my back after 1+ year’s wear. The belt is then still usable and this break doesn’t necessarily compromise the belt’s function, but it is a bit unsightly and I just don’t like having a broken belt. After paying ~$70 for a belt, I’d like to get more than 1 year out of it.
Here’s a sampling of Kore’s leather and nylon-webbing gun belts. Notice how they all look like normal, everyday kinds of belts. Nothing “tactical” about their appearance.
Why am I mentioning Kore here if they have inherent problems? Well, because they’re nearly as good as Nexbelt and companies typically work to continually improve. I have no doubt that Kore will amend their issues, if they haven’t already (I just haven’t checked in a couple years).
The point is that Nexbelt and Kore are at the top of the EDC belt game because they understand the actually important factors of successful daily carry and have created belts that, unlike those from other brands, can properly serve as the foundation of a daily carry system.
Surely there are other brands that make proper EDC belts, I’ve just never seen any and can’t report on them here. Just keep in mind that if their belt doesn’t have a rigid core material and/or doesn’t have a ratchet buckle, they’re not worth the expense or your time. They will not provide an optimal platform for your carry system.
Note that these gun belts come in many varieties of appearance, from slick leather to alligator pattern to suede to nylon webbing and more. Most manufacturers have lots and lots of buckle styles, too, so there’s going to be a proper gun belt to suit your preference and style and various needs. We’re not relegated to plain, chunky cowboy-leather or military cobra belts anymore.
For comfortable and efficient everyday carry of a firearm and other vital items, it is best that your belt be utilized for as many of those items as possible. At minimum, I’d recommend that your handgun, extra-mag(s) pouch, fixed-blade knife, and either phone or tourniquet (or both) be carried on your belt. This frees up pockets for other items, like folder knife, flashlight, etc… (for some good organization options, see my article on this topic). Only a proper belt can allow you to comfortably and confidently carry these items on the belt.
There several holster manufacturer companies that market gun belts, but I’ve never seen one that properly measures up to the task. If you prefer not to go with my brand recommendations, at least now that you know what to look for you can do your own scouting without wasting your money on inferior products.