by Robert F. Kay
Welcome to another piece in our ongoing Christmas buyer’s guide. In the very near future we’re going to do a special series on tactical pants. However we realized we couldn’t very well do a story on tactical pants without first paying attention the belt part of the equation.
If you’re serious about using tactical pants in the line of duty, you’re going to need a belt that’s built to withstand the rigors of law enforcement, rescue operations or even special warfare. Of course the average guy is not going into special ops but a good belt is a good starting place for even the most basic task– providing a platform rigid enough to support a holster.
We had the chance to look at three belts from a company called Wilderness Tactical Products out of Phoenix. This is a company that’s been in business since 1981 and has been producing first rate gear for a long time.
One of Wilderness Tactical’s flagship products is its Original Instructor Belt. Developed in 1983 it was designed to clip into a “secure system” while instructing others for mountain rescue training. That means if one of the students takes a fall, the Instructor’s belt will be secure enough to keep a neophyte from tumbling into some abyss. It’s also sturdy enough to be used for emergency rappelling.
Not only is this belt useful to keep people from dropping into ravines, the manufacturer suggests that it be used where there is a risk of falling out of a helicopter. The website states that its been standard issue for the Phoenix Special Assignments Unit (SWAT) during airborne or skid-riding ops. In lab testing it has withstood a minimum of 5,900 lbs. of static stress without failing, to more than 8,000 lbs. of static stress without failing.”
The second item we looked at was the Frequent Flyer model, which is a 100% non-metallic, “security-friendly” belt. (We checked out two versions of this model— the 1¼” and the 1½” width size). It’s dubbed Frequent Flyer because it’s designed specifically not to set off metal detectors. The manufacturer adds that it is not going to damage your car’s paint job if you’re leaning on it. (Keep that in mind when you next plan to wash it).
It will not only hold up your pants, it’s rigid enough to support your side arm, ammo and a tactical flashlight. The FF belts also come in widths of 1¼”, 1½”, “1¾”. (The manufacturer says that 1¼ is the best seller). For jeans I preferred the smaller width. For tactical pants I thought the 1½” was the most pleasing.
The 3-Stitch is standard, but they are also available in reinforced 5-stitch and Combat Shooters Model (C.S.M.) for better load-bearing. The FF belts are also available in in black, Wilderness Coyote, and Wilderness Olive Drab. Price: $30.95.
Conclusion: Both of these are great belts—both for duty or everyday wear. The company’s motto is “Overkill Never Fails” and it’s clear they are high quality.
Which one to choose? If wearing a tactical belt that is built strong enough to keep you from falling out of a helicopter gives you peace of mind, go for the Original Instructor Belt. If you travel a great deal and want a belt solid enough to handle a holster bearing a full sized handgun and then some, you’ll be happy with the FF model.
Both are aesthetically pleasing and look pretty darn cool.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff.
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