Finally, after some not-inconsequential (and completely incompetent) delays by the USPS, my Endeavor Stitch Works 1.5″ Cobra Gun Belt arrived on Thursday, and I have been wearing it pretty much ever since. So, preliminary review time!
What It Is:
Kary, the proprietor of Endeavor Stitch Works and the man who makes all the belts, is a firefighter, paramedic, and helicopter crewman out in Kalifornistan, and periodically heard of other helicopter crews taking the retired/DRMO’d seatbelts from other helicopters and turning the webbing material into remarkably durable, strong belts. Exercising true American entrepreneurial spirit, and recognizing the demand for such a product, he realized he could probably turn a pretty penny by fabricating similar belts out of virgin materials, and thus was born the Wildland Firefighter Belt – 6500lbs-rated military-grade parachute webbing tied together by a 2000lbs-rated military-grade V-ring buckle, with all of the materials and work being created and done here in the good old USofA.
From there, Kary expanded into his V-Ring Gun Bel (a Wildland on steroids, with laminated stiffeners), the Cobra Gun Belt and Riggers’ Belt (employing the Cobra buckle rather than a V-ring, and being more of a “duty”-style belt), and even some hardcore dog collars and leashes, but today we are here to talk about my 1.5″ Cobra Gun Belt.
Take one 18kN 1.5″ Cobra Buckle, loop coarse-grained 1.5″ webbing through the female end, laminate a mild stiffening strip between the two layers of webbing using seven passes of #69 nylon thread, and leave one end free to thread through the male end of the buckle, and you will have the basic idea. The end product comes out having an amazing amount of vertical rigidity, while still being fairly easy to wrap around your waist and buckle into place, and when coupled with a few elastic loops wrapped around the webbing to hold down your loose end, no one will be the wiser as to the type of belt you are wearing… so long as they do not really notice the buckle, that is.
Fit and Finish:
When it came time to measure me for this belt, Better Half and I abided by Kary’s instructions of measuring around my waist where I wanted the belt to lie, but we also took the additional step of measuring my old belt, from the hole I most-frequently use to the crossbar of the buckle. Both measurements indicated that I typically have a 34″ waist, unless I an IWB carrying, in which case it bumps up to 36″, so I asked for a range of adjustment between 32″ and 38″ on my Cobra belt.
The belt I received on Thursday appears to have an adjustment range between 32″ and 42″, which is certainly large enough for both IWB and OWB applications, as well as general-purpose wear around town. With this particular design and style of belt, there is really no upper limit to how long it is (I imagine Kary might charge you extra if you went completely overboard), just be aware that the tail will either have to be secured by the elastic loops or your belt loops, and it might get in the way of your holster if it is on the same side. In any case, looking back, and looking at the belt on my waist, I probably would have asked for 34″ to 40″ adjustment, but hindsight is 20/20.
As for finish, this thing looks like it rolled off an assembly line – no frayed edges, no rough patches in the stitching, and no discernible flaws I could pick out anywhere. The stitching is doubled-up where necessary (specifically on the closing of the loop around the female buckle) and its color blends in perfectly with the webbing – we will see how the respective dyes fade over time. Even the loose end of the belt had some pretty significant attention given to it, with not only a sloped edge, but also a two-angled termination, which does make threading the belt through your loops a lot easier.
Speaking of, though, those elastic loops around the belt to hold down the loose end have a tendency to catch on belt loops, I discovered – the webbing is a full 1.5″ tall, and when coupled with its three-ply thickness, the elastic loops add just enough additional material in all directions to make things… snug. The good news is that they are easily removable, and your pants’ loops will hold down the free end as well as any other belt.
While I have probably thoroughly established this belt’s ability to hold up my pants, how about its effectiveness at its actual purpose – a concealed/open carry gun belt? Well, the only way to examine that is to actually do it, of course:
By way of comparison, here is the same arrangement with my 5.11 Tactical Leather Casual Belt (which also measures in at 1.5″ tall, and is comprised of a three ply design – two of leather and one of a “permastiff” material):
As you can see, the webbing belt holds up the rather heavy rig (the 686 weighs in at 38 ounces, unloaded and without a holster) just as well as the leather belt does. So why am I considering the former to replace the latter?
Simple, 5.11 belts have an inherent, unavoidable defect, and after having been worn long enough, and put on and taken off enough, they will fail. On the other hand, the buckle on the webbing belt is rated to support just over 4,000 pounds of force and a tensile strength of 2000lbs, with ANSI tests to support it.
Unfortunately, that enhanced durability and weight support is not without a cost – in order to put on or take off this belt, you must first unthread the male end of the buckle, and then thread it back on when you are done… and, no, looking at the design of the buckles and how thick they are (and I guess they would have to be), the 1″ buckles on the Ares Gear and Jones Tactical alternatives will not allow you to get away with threading those belts with the buckle still attached either (at least not on “normal”, non-“tactical” pants). If you are a person like me, who wears the same pair of pants multiple days in a row (hey, I only pretty much wear them outside of the house), this is not going to be a significant problem fro you, but the whole unthread, put it on, rethread thing is just something you are going to have to come to terms with before you purchase this kind of belt… if you cannot, though, V-Ring Gun Belts offer you much the same functionality (no clippy-buckle) without assembly concerns.
I will say that unbuckling this belt to take off my pants or use the head is a hell of a lot easier than my alternatives, and the construction of it is pretty much impeccable, but the annoyance of having to effectively dismantle it every time I completely take it off or put it on could be too much to deal with on an every-other-day basis. If, however, you have come to terms with that aspect of the belt, I can definitively state that you could do worse, and you could likewise spend far more and wait far longer to get something not substantially different… or necessarily better.
At the very least, having a belt that is capable of acting as a tow strap for a very small car seems like something that would be randomly useful at the most opportune times…
(For those interested in such things, my attire for the photoshoot consisted of the following:
– Eddie Bauer Travex Shirt [Which seems to be unfortunately discontinued - it is one of the most awesome button-down shirts I have seen.]
– 5.11 Tactical Covert Khakis [Previously reviewed here.]
– Dragon Leatherworks Celtic Flatjack [Previously photographed here.]
– Smith and Wesson 686 SSR [Previously photographed here.] )
(NOTE: While the webbing and buckle are rated for being able to support more than your weight, this belt is NOT designed for, recommended for, or rated for actual rappelling/climbing/safety work. Given the choice between plummeting to my death and getting creative with the belt, my answer would be obvious, HOWEVER, this is NOT a harness, this is NOT a “back-up belt”, and this is NOT something you should regularly risk your life on. Neither Endeavor Stitch Works nor I can or will be held responsible if you go and do something completely idiotic with this belt.)
(FTC Disclaimer: See how this post is in the “For Hire” category? Kary gave me a discount on this belt, but I still had to pay for it, so I am giving you nitwits the benefit of the doubt here [as in I doubt you can figure out that "discount" does not equate to "sponsored by"].)