Best Belts for Concealed Carry

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Selecting the Ideal Concealed Carry Belt: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to carrying a concealed firearm, there’s more to consider than just the holster and the gun itself. One often underestimated but crucial component of your concealed carry setup is the belt. In this detailed guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of choosing the perfect belt for your concealed carry needs. We’ll start by talking about the best belts for inside the waistband (IWB) and appendix carry holsters (also called AIWB, for appendix inside waistband). 

In the second half, we’ll discuss belt features and recommendations specifically for use with the PHLster Enigma, as there are some special considerations to know to optimize comfort and concealment.

Understanding Belt Stiffness for Concealed Carry with a Traditional Belt Holster


Let’s start by addressing a common misconception: the idea that a stiff belt is always the right choice for concealed carry. While this may hold true for carrying your firearm outside the waistband (OWB), it’s not necessarily the case when you’re carrying inside the waistband (IWB), especially in the appendix position.

Appendix carry, for those unfamiliar, involves carrying the gun inside the waistband, on the front of the body, typically between 10:00 and 2:00 positions. This method of carry presents unique challenges that necessitate a different approach to belt selection.

The Pitfalls of a Stiff Belt for AIWB

  • Body Shape Matters: One significant drawback of using a rigid belt for AIWB carry is that it tends to resist conforming to the wearer’s body shape. If your body isn’t a perfect circle, the stiffness of the belt can cause it to arch away from your body. This results in the gun being pulled away from your body, which is counterproductive for effective concealment. Ideally, you want the gun to lay flat against your body, not protrude awkwardly.
  • Holster Features Interaction: Many AIWB holsters come equipped with concealment features like wings and wedges. These features work best when the belt maintains full contact with the holster. Unfortunately, a belt that’s too stiff can pull away from these elements, undermining their effectiveness. Consequently, your gun may print more, meaning it becomes visible through your clothing.

Finding the Perfect Balance

So, what should you look for in an AIWB/IWB belt? The key is striking the right balance between rigidity and flexibility. Here’s what you should aim for:

  • Vertical Rigidity: The belt should be sufficiently rigid in the vertical dimension to prevent sagging. This is important to maintain a secure and stable platform for your gun.
  • Horizontal Flexibility: However, the belt should also be flexible in the horizontal dimension. It should bend comfortably from side to side without easily collapsing when pressure is applied from top to bottom.

Recommended Belts for Traditional AIWB/IWB Carry:

These are a few belts we’ve personally tried and think are good for carrying in the appendix or strong side IWB positions.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you may find other brands that suit your preferences better. 

Links are for informational purposes only. We are not affiliated with any belt companies, and we do not receive any kickbacks or compensation for recommending these products. We just think these are good products that will set you up for a successful concealed carry experience. They are all made in the USA.

  • The Foundation Belt by EDC Belt Co. This belt has variable flexibility – it’s stiffened where the holster sits, flexible elsewhere. Very comfortable to wear, with the necessary structure for carrying inside the waistband.
  • The Zero Belt by Tenicor. This belt has a simple design and a low profile buckle. Great flexibility for AIWB. Low signature under your shirt.
  • Easy-Fit LowPro EDC Belt by Wilderness Tactical. (the three-stitch version). Wilderness belts have excellent craftsmanship and materials. This model is low profile, easy to adjust, and a good balance of flexibility and vertical rigidity.
  • The Swift Belt by Wilderness Tactical. Similar to the LowPro EDC above, but with a quick on/off buckle.
  • The Grip6 Belt. These are a single layer of webbing with minimal structure (but enough to support most IWB holsters). Many buckle and color options.

Belts for the PHLster Enigma

Now, let’s turn our attention to belts for those who use the PHLster Enigma. The Enigma is a different story, as it holds the gun independently of your clothing. This means your pants belt serves primarily to keep your pants up, with no responsibility for supporting the gun, as with traditional belt-mounted holsters.

Special Enigma Considerations:

  • Choose a Belt with Stretch: Your pants belt should have some stretch. This allows for a comfortable fit and ease of movement.
  • Minimal Belt Pressure: Use just enough belt pressure to keep your pants up. Avoid overly stiff or tight belts, as they can negate the concealment benefits of the Enigma, making it less comfortable and less effective for concealment.
  • If your belt lays directly over the muzzle of your gun, be aware that it can pull the muzzle into your body, causing a pressure point, and cause the grip of the gun to tip away, causing printing. To negate this, use a wedge, or adjust the ride height of your gun.
  • In addition to choosing the right belt, remember that the fit and ride height of your pants also play a significant role in comfort and concealment. Avoid wearing pants that are too small, as they can end up under your gut, which is not the ideal position for either your pants or your gun, for most people.

Recommended Belts for Enigma Use:

Links are for informational purposes only. We are not affiliated with any belt companies, and we do not receive any kickbacks or compensation for recommending these products. We just think these are good products that will set you up for a successful concealed carry experience. Country of origin for the belts below is indicated when known.

  • Arcade Belts. These belts offer a combination of stretchiness and substance, ideal for holding up men’s pants. **Not made in USA.
  • The Intrepid by Unbelt. Lowest profile, ultra-slim buckle. While more stretchy, it may not provide enough support for heavy pants. Made in Canada.
  • Braided Elastic Belts. Widely available at various online and brick-and-mortar stores, these belts can offer the right amount of stretch. We recommend buying in person so you can test the amount of stretch yourself.
  • Any Comfortable Belt. As long as it’s not overly stiff, choose a belt that feels comfortable and doesn’t interfere with your carry setup. Comfort is key, especially when using the Enigma. We recommend looking for a belt with a low-profile buckle that suits your personal style.

In conclusion, selecting the perfect belt for concealed carry is a nuanced process that depends on various factors, including your carry method and holster choice. Take the time to explore different options and find the one that suits your needs and preferences best. With the right belt, you can enhance your comfort and concealment, making your concealed carry experience more enjoyable and effective.

Do you need extra holster length?*

*If you’re carrying a longer-muzzled gun or a revolver, adding extra holster length may not be necessary for you, but for short semiautomatic guns, it’s often helpful.

Guns with short muzzles can be top-heavy and difficult to conceal comfortably. To solve this, some holsters have extra length added to the muzzle end. Like the keel on a boat, the extra muzzle length helps balance the holster, making it more comfortable and easier to conceal. This is especially true if you have a bit of a belly, which tends to push the grip out more and make the muzzle dig in.

Note that while extra muzzle length reduces grip printing, it can increase muzzle printing, which can be a concern with lower carry positions and tight fitting pants such as leggings or yoga pants. 

Learn more about the Keel Principle here.