By Jeff Gurwitch
June 19, 2011
Last updated on 6/20/11.
Well, this last year, I finally did it; after 12 years of service, to include 3 combat tours and countless hours spent on the range, I retired my old trusty Blackhawk 2-inch nylon reinforced duty belt. I must admit that when it comes to gear, I have the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality. Even as I observed more and more of my fellow teammates and shooters switch over to the “War Belt” style MOLLE belts, I must say I have been a holdout and resisted change. But, finally, about six months ago, I decided kick in and give the War belt setup a try.
Time for an Upgrade
Although my old trusty duty belt did carry all my gear securely, it was lacking in two departments, the first being comfort; a few hours on the flat range, no issues. But, wearing one loaded down in the climate of the Middle East for periods up to 24 hours and longer, depending on the mission, I can personally attest that after about 8 hours, the stiff nylon belt starts to feel like a tourniquet around your waist. It is this “cutting into you feel” that has driven many Operators to go to chest carry with their sidearms, specifically because on long patrols, wearing a duty belt is just not comfortable at all. Reason number two: gear; just about all pouches now are made with MOLLE backing in mind, so finding the more modern pouches and holsters out there with a 2-inch wide belt clip is getting next to impossible in a lot of cases.
So, my quest for a quality belt at a descent price began. After looking around on the internet and in the local tactical gear stores, and more importantly at what a lot of my peers were using, I decided on giving the ATS War Belt battle belt-type tactical belt a try.
The War Belt has three rows of MOLLE webbing running the full length of the belt. In addition, it has four attachment points to add a suspender system to it if you want to really laden it down with gear, kind of like the old school LCE belt. What I really like about the ATS War Belt is the padding. It feels just right. One of the major complaints you hear from guys using war belts is they have a tendency to slide or shift around when shooting from different positions, or moving and shooting. I think there are two reasons for this: 1) There are some belts out there that are way over padded to the point that they don’t get a good hold around your waist like a normal duty belt, and 2) there are some belts out there that are way too wide, leading to the same thing when going to different shooting positions, such as roll-over prone and shooting around low cover the belts. Because they’re so wide, especially in the back, they don’t really get a good hold.
With the ATS War Belt, I think they got the width and padding spot on, just enough to make wearing a belt laden with gear feel comfortable and not look like a pillow wrapped around your waist. As soon as I got my first ATS belt, I rigged it up and took it with me on a 4-month trip overseas. I wore it about 3 or 4 days a week, primarily for range training, and rigged up with 3 pistol mags, two M4 mags, flash light, Dump pouch, multi-tool, knife and a drop leg holster. I must say, I’ve found it a relief over the old duty belt. Comfort is great, and, so far, durability has been outstanding. I have had the belt for 7 months now. So far, the only way you can tell it’s used is the fact that it’s a little on the dirty side. The webbing has held up; no tears, and all the padding is intact.
I can now say I’m a total convert to war belts–so much so that upon returning stateside, I immediately purchased another ATS belt specifically for 3-Gun matches. Just like with duty gear, where most pouches are MOLLE specific, makers of competition and 3-Gun gear have also recognized the benefits of MOLLE webbing, and I have had no problem finding the specific pouches I needed for 3-Gun competition.
I have worn the ATS War Belt at 2 matches, thus far. It not only has kept all my gear and ammo secure, but also just feels really comfortable. One additional benefit to war belts that I did not realize until I used the ATS belt is that, because it is padded and the pouches go on over the webbing, it gives your pouches stand-off from your body. While this would make trying to conceal gear while wearing a war belt a little on the futile side, if you are wearing body armor, it puts your magazine pouches outside the sides of the armor, making them easily accessible. This same stand-off from your body is also the ideal way you want to carry your magazines in competition for the fastest reloads possible.
The ATS War Belt does not come with an inner belt that you must purchase separately. On the inside of the ATS belt there is a Velcro backing on one side. I have tried three different belt liners: Blackhawk, Uncle Mike’s, and a $10.00 generic nylon belt they all worked great and hooked in perfectly to the ATS belt.
Riding on both my duty and 3-Gun belt set-ups are Blackhawk CQC single pistol magazine pouches. I have tried and used over the past 15 years probably a dozen different manufacturers pistol magazine pouches from kydex custom molded ones to high end leather ones. The Blackhawk CQC pouches have not only proven to be a bargain around $16.00 a piece at most retailers but have also proven to be super versatile.
I can use the same CQC double row magazine pouch for multiple 9mm pistols, specifically my Beretta M92/92FS, Glock 19 (G19) , and S&W M&P9 pistols. Additionally the belt clip that comes on the CQC magazine pouch fits not only on belts up to 1.75inch wide but also fit securely to MOLLE webbing, so not only can I use the same CQC pouches for multiple guns but also use just one type of pouch where I can move it around from belt to wearing it on kit as the situation calls for it.
Yes there are War Belts out there as low as $20, and some with a few more features that can run as high as $100. Just as the ATS War Belt’s fit and comfort level is just right, it’s $42 price is also just right. My verdict: if you are looking for a well-made, great-fitting war belt that won’t break the bank, then the ATS War Belt gets my vote for a good piece kit at a great price.
Authors Note: If you look at some of the accompanying photos, you might notice my pistol and rifle magazines are mounted on the same side. If you look at pics of me shooting a rifle, I shoot a pistol right-handed, but my rifle left-handed. While one might think this is a handicap, I find it actually makes me faster when it comes to weapon transitions. When I’m doing a classic primary (rifle) to secondary (pistol) transition, I can lower my rifle with my left hand and at the same time be beginning my draw with my right hand. In 3-Gun competition, I can starting my draw to pistol while putting my rifle down at a transition station. There’s only one limitation: Like all lefty rifle shooters, my bolt lock reloads are a little slow, as I have to hit the magazine release with my support hand (right), then grab a fresh mag. That’s why I prefer to wear my rifle mags back-right on my belt. For me it’s the fastest way to grab a new mag from a belt.
Editor’s Note: In the top pic (Gurwitch shooting with tactical AR carbine), notice the Elbit Falcon Optical Gunsight (Red Dot), Sperian Protection Impact Sport tactical hearing pro (hearing protection/shooting muffs), Arredondo AR Magwell, and Lancer Systems L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazine (Lancer L5 AWM) translucent polymer 30-round AR rifle mag (5.56mm NATO). In the second photo down, notice the Smith & Wesson (S&W) M&P9 9mm pistol and ITW FastMag 5.56mm AR rifle mag holders. And, in the third pic down (Gurwitch shooting shooting with shotgun), notice the California Competition Works Shotgun Shell Holders.
Photo(s) Credit: Jeff Gurwitch
About the Author (Jeff Gurwitch):
- Has been a competitive shooter for the last 10 years: USPSA, IDPA, and 3-Gun.
- U.S. Army 3rd Special Forces Group, Ft. Bragg, NC.
- Spent 3 years as an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School
- Spent 8 years with U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group, Ft. Campbell KY and did 3 tours in Iraq.
- Graduated the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification course in 1998 as a Weapons Sergeant.
- Spent 7 years in the mechanized infantry and Airborne.
- Served in First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division.|
- Joined the U.S. Army in June of 1990 as an infantryman.
Company Contact Info:
CAGE code: 4AN29
Sperian Hearing Protection, LLC (Impact Sport Hearing Pro)
7828 Waterville Road
San Diego, CA 92154
Email: [email protected]
7566 Morris Court,Suite 300
Allentown, PA 18106
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http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lancer-Systems/104429966286804?v=wall&filter=1 Lancer Systems on Facebook
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California Competition Works
Email: [email protected]
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