Ahhh the ole’ Belly Band, for some it ranks right up there with the Fanny Pack and the “shoot me first” 5.11 gun vest for out-dated, corny and just plain impractical CCW attire. But, maybe, just maybe, in our progressive, “fashionista” haste we have overlooked some perks the belly band gives us.
I came upon this epiphany the other day when getting ready to go into town on a “wife” errand. Instead of going “heavy” and donning my AIWB Holster and G21SF plus an extra mag in a horzontal carrier, I tried something different. I wanted to go “light” and carry my new S/W “J” Frame Model 340PD I had bought as a BUG last week.
I searched through my closet, finding the ambiguous “holster bag” (we all have one, a bag full of holsters and other gear we insist on keeping for a rainy day). I quickly found my Desantis Belly Band, which funny enough had been a gift from a member of the family one Christmas.”The guy at the gun store said this was the one all the pro’s use” I remember my relative saying. I had to hold back from spewing my egg nog all over her reindeer sweater. Friggin Gun Store salesman.. some of them are worse than used car salesman if they need to make that sales quota, I swear!
Donning the belly band, I had to wince as I fastened the velcro panel..I absolutely HATE velcro on any CCW or Field gear; (Stay Tuned for the “WHY” on that story next month!) I slid the gun pocket around to the AIWB position (around 1:00) and slid my J frame inside. It fit like a glove. I could tell, the pockets were designed for small pistols or revolvers, it would be a tight squeeze with a full size Glock. The pocket also had enough elasticity to position the grip how you wanted it. I positioned it where the grip was just above my waistline with a slight cant to the left, this allowed my hand to find purchase on the gun without looking; simply clear the cover garment and grip the gun.
Positioning my jeans where about 1/4 of the band was visible at the top, I cinched my belt tight. This put the grip right above my waistline and my T-shirt covered it with no printing. Having learned valuable lessons in the past about guns falling out of holsters at in-opportune times, I did some quick “check” drills to make sure everything would stay put.
- Trunk Twist
- Toe Touches
- Sit down/Stand Up’s
Thankfully, The gun stayed put after my Richard Simmons workout. I then worked on some very basic presentation drills, clearing the cover garment and presenting the gun and then re-holstering. Re-Holstering proved to be awkward, since you are using a pocket of stretch material and not a firm lipped holster, typically one hand has to stretch the pocket while the other hand holsters. I did however manage to do a “hasty holster” where the gun is simply shoved into the pocket and then covered..is it perfect? no..will it do in a pinch if you have to have both hands? yes.
The other con I could readily identify with the belly band was sweating and irritation. Being that most bands are made from some sort of polyester to be stretchable, this is an inherent flaw unfortunately. Luckily, it was Fall weather outside (around 55 degrees) so it did not give me many problems that day.
A word about the 2-3 extra pockets on most belly bands. A good friend of mine who worked security for many years used to use a belly band for a way to carry extra mags for his G19, in which he would carry in an AIWB rig. Some food for thought if you are ever going into a place where you think the combat loadout should be more than the standard 2 mags. Also as food for thought, if that WAS the case, it might be worth carrying another pistol, as it is always faster to just draw another gun than to reload one.
In closing, is the belly band a worthy substitute for your AIWB Holster? Overall, I would say NO. Is it something you can use for those quick trips into town when you want to carry a smaller pistol or revolver? Yes, I think it is. Since you are not changing your position of your carry, only the WAY you carry the gun, it is not interfering or changing any training. Yes, it does have it’s cons in regards to re-holstering and overall comfort, but for what we are talking about here, carrying smaller guns for short periods of time; I think the Belly Band deserves another look.