The 10 Best Duty Belts
10. Black Hawk 44B4
9. Uncle Mike's Law Enforcement Sentinel
8. Bianchi Accumold 7200
7. 5.11 Tactical TDU
6. Elite CO Shooters Belt
5. Uncle Mike's Law Enforcement Kodra
4. UTG Elite
3. 5.11 Tactical Sierra Bravo
2. Wolf Tactical Heavy Duty
1. Safariland Buckleless 94
What Separates a Good Duty Belt From a Great One?
The first feature of a duty belt that really makes a difference is fit. That is to say that if a duty belt doesn't sit well on your waist, it's not going to be a valuable asset. With that in mind be sure to check the maximum width on any belt you might be interested in purchasing. There are certain models that won't fit anything beyond a 42" waist.
In addition, you'll want a duty belt that doesn't bunch, or droop, or cause you to itch around the waist. Most reliable duty belts have a band that is made out of either nylon, or polyester. Be sure to read each belt's product description to confirm that the fabric and its webbing have been reinforced.
Once you've found a belt that'll sit well, the next step is to make sure that said belt features efficient pockets that won't fray or tear. Most pockets (AKA "pouches") are comprised of the same general fabric as a duty belt's waistband. Assuming that's the case, you'll want to verify that the fabric is machine-washable. A duty belt is useless if its pockets - or its waistband - begin to shrink.
The majority of duty belts come with a holster, and they also feature several pockets of varying sizes. Large items, whether they be weapons or utilities, usually sit comfortably in a tight-fitting pocket, while small objects, like pens or other stationary, usually sit better in a sealed pocket that allows them to breathe.
The final feature you'll want to take note of is a duty belt's buckle. Yes, a buckle may seem minor, but it becomes important when you happen to be carrying around a great deal of weight. Almost all duty belts come with a buckle that is made out of plastic. What differentiates one buckle from another is the locking mechanism. Ideally, you'll want that locking mechanism to fasten securely so you don't have to waste any time clicking it back into place.
How to Arrange Your Duty Belt Effectively
If you wear a duty belt as a requirement for some form of military or public service, you want to maintain a very clear and tactical organization for every utility. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which being that you may need to reach for a specific weapon in a split-second situation. If you don't know where each item is, this could have dire consequences.
Obviously, any firearm should be holstered, with that holster residing along the hip side of your belt, corresponding with whatever hand you use to hold a gun. Long, slim pockets, like those relegated for flashlights or pepper spray, should be located around the side or the back of the belt. Placing a long, solid object along the front of your waistband is not only cumbersome, it could - and probably will - result in you hurting yourself.
If you carry a lot of equipment, keep in mind that stationary (e.g., pens and notepads), and even handcuffs, can fit inside any pants pocket, thereby easing the burden on your belt. If you carry a walkie talkie, you should place the handset on whatever hip rests opposite your firearm. This way you can clip a shoulder extension to your breast pocket (or collar), allowing you to hear the walkie, while also being able to see the handset, so you can adjust the frequency, or channel.
A Brief History of The Duty Belt
Duty belts were first used in the UK during the late 1800s, when police were required to carry so much equipment that it no longer made sense for them to force items into their pockets. These early belts were made of leather, and the pouches were not detachable. A standard duty belt was made to hold a truncheon, a firearm, several rounds of ammunition, a notepad with a pencil, a flashlight, and a whistle.
Throughout the 1900s, a lot of changes were made to the duty belt. The whistle pouch was replaced by a walkie talkie clip, and certain belts were designed with built-in "keepers," that could be attached to the trousers so that a belt wouldn't sag or droop around the waist.
During the second half of the 20th Century, the majority of ammunition pouches were refashioned to carry magazine clips. In addition, the standard leather duty belt gave way to nylon and polyester. Most waistbands came equipped with detachable pockets, which gave officers the option to simply buy a new pocket (as opposed to a new belt). This was beneficial, particularly given utilities like pepper spray and taser guns were easing their way into the mix.
Today's duty belts come with more detachable pockets than ever. Certain belts come with pouches for disposable gloves, a Swiss army knife, a first aid kit, and more. The idea is to have these pockets on hand if an officer needs them. With that said, it is not uncommon for a few of these pockets to remain largely unused.