Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Security Measures to Take While Traveling Unarmed
- Top Five Revolver Myths
- Top Five Types of Revolver Grips
- Top Five Questions I Get as a Gun Owner
- Top Five Glock Enhancements
The problem with some gun and gear reviews is, at times, they’re based on way too little actual use. Or, similarly, there’s no review of how the guns or gear perform over a significant period of time. So, I think you’ll be pleased to know that I not only own all of the products in this review but have used them on a fairly regular basis over several years’ time.
Belly bands and their associated variants have been around for a long time. Traditionally a deep-cover option for a backup gun, today’s belly bands can accommodate guns of a variety of shapes and sizes, including full-sized duty pistols.
Moreover, different belly bands accomplish different goals; while some are meant mainly for undercover police work, others are geared toward runners or other outdoor enthusiasts looking to safely and comfortably pack a pistol for self-defense. With that, here are my top five belly bands, all used for more than five years.
1. DeSaintis Belly Band
DeSantis gets two mentions on my list, only because I’ve used two of them over the five-year time period. The company’s Belly Band model incorporates three pockets into a 5-inch-wide elastic band. One pocket is for a gun and comes with a hook-and-loop retention strap. One pocket is for a reload and the other pocket is for handcuffs or whatever else you’d like to carry.
The Belly Band comes in black or natural and offers the traditional means of installation: wrap around your waist and attach the-hook-and-loop closure. One of the strengths of this DeSantis rig is its outright durability. After five years of use, the elastic is still strong. But this is also a potential weakness. With such a durable material, you’ll want to wear a layer under it — preferably a comfortable cotton T-shirt — to avoid chafing. This one retails for $57.99.
2. DeSantis Sky Band
The second DeSantis belly band is the Sky Band, which has been discontinued in favor of Sky Band II (product info coming soon, according to the DeSantis website). But let me tell you about Sky Band, the early edition. This is the belly band you put on when you need to be loaded for bear.
Meant for law enforcement officers, the Sky Band not only carries a full-size duty gun and a spare magazine but also offers additional pouches for two more spare magazines, a knife, handcuffs and a collapsible baton. The Sky Band goes on via hook-and-loop closure and all the pouches have a hook-and-loop retention strap.
So, while you can carry all that gear, you deal with not only the weight of the gear but the need to undo the retention straps (which you don’t have to use). Similar to the other DeSantis band, you’ll want a comfortable layer underneath this rig. Back in the day, the Sky Band retailed for $99.99. Hopefully its successor will be available soon because this rig is super capable.
3. Pistol Wear PT-One
What the DeSantis belly bands lacked comfort, they more than made up for in functionality. Balancing these two features out is the Pistol Wear PT-One, a $49.95 belly band from a company that bills itself as “The Running Holster Company.” That means the intended buyers for these holsters are runners — runners who want to be armed while they’re out running.
Pistol Wear holsters are made from a strong, stretchy fabric that feels like neoprene. It is exceptionally comfortable, even directly against the skin. And that’s true when you’re running or just wearing the holster for daily concealment. A large pouch with integrated mag pouch does the work of carrying your gun and, in fact, completely encloses your gun. It doesn’t bounce when you run and you can carry the gun “round the clock’ — meaning at any carry position you deem most comfortable. And there’s a slot for a spare magazine too. One gun, one reload, maximum comfort, even while exercising.
4. Falco Elastic Belly Band
Falco’s Elastic belly band offers the basics in carry functionality — one elastic holster, two accessory pockets and one quite large accessory pocket, useful for storing money, ID and more. The belly band uses a hook-and-loop closure and does a good job of carrying a gun and reloads. I don’t ever carry anything in the large accessory pocket, mainly because accessing it would be difficult if I’m trying to maintain the concealed part of concealed carry. But at $28.95, this is a great value option and has been for years.
Recently, Falco introduced a Breathable belly band that takes all the goodness from the Elastic belly band but upgrades the elastic that goes around your waist to a material that is not only stable and secure but also extremely comfortable. It too retails for $28.95. I haven’t had it for five years, but I’m sure I will.
5. Galco Underwraps
Finally, the Galco Underwraps belly band retails for $61.95 and sports elasticized nylon with two leather holster pockets that will fit most handguns. Additionally, two accessory pockets allow for carrying spare magazines and/or a flashlight or knife. Like most of the belly bands, the Underwraps can be carried on your waist, allowing for your gun to be strongside, crossdraw, appendix or small-of-back.
With this belly band, I almost always carry a J-frame revolver in the appendix position (and I could carry two if I so desired.) Of interest, the Galco Underwraps gun holster areas use leather on the outside of the band; I like to flip the band so the leather is on the inside, against my body, which is simply more comfortable.
As you know, there are many other belly bands on the market today and many different ways to wear them. Some of these can ride high and low on your torso, offering varying levels of accessibility and comfort, depending on your build and preferences. It’s always best if you can try one out before you buy. But whichever you end up with, they’ll likely prove worthy rigs — for at least five years.
Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.