Magpul offers a new take on a classic gun belt, while Safariland provides a one-size-fits-almost-all injection molded nylon holster.
When you carry a gun every day, how you carry it can become as important as what you carry. If your carry system isn’t comfortable or secure, you’re going to be much less likely to carry on a regular basis. Two of the defining factors in figuring that out are your belt and your holster.
The Safariland 578 GLS Pro Fit Holster
If you’ve been carrying a gun for any length of time you probably have a drawer full of holsters. Good holsters can be expensive and the more guns you have, the more holsters you need. Or at least that’s how things used to be. Safariland has managed to design a holster that safely and securely carries a wide range of weapons without modification, meaning you can use one holster for multiple guns. Their 578 Pro Fit series is a rugged nylon injection molded holster that will fit 178 different guns in the same holster body. Have a couple favorite carry guns? No problem. Use a different gun off duty than when you’re working? They’ve got that covered too. How about one gun for carry and another for practice or weekend combat shoots at your gun club? There’s a good chance a 578 GLS Pro Fit will have you covered for all of them.
The list of compatible weapons is extensive and includes all of the standards like Beretta, FN, Glock, Ruger, SIG, Smith & Wesson and Walther, but also goes well beyond that with guns like the Bersa BP, the Caracal F, the Century TP9, and the various Tanfoglio and Sarsilmaz imports as well. If you have a hard to fit modern pistol then there’s a good shot the Pro Fit will work for you.
The 578 is a modern injection-molded design that comes in basic black and flat dark earth finishes. It ships with both a paddle and a belt loop attachment so you can set it up how you prefer. Their proprietary nylon material—SafariSeven—is lightweight and non-abrasive to your gun. The holster locks the weapon in via Safariland’s Grip Lock System (GLS), which is disengaged with the middle finger of the firing hand during the draw. It’s fast and secure, and the release lever is close to the body to provide increased protection from a weapons retention standpoint.
You may think that a multi-fit holster would be rather shapeless and blocky, but Safariland has managed to keep the 578 very compact and streamlined. It looks good and rides close to the body for concealment, yet still allows you to get a full grip on your weapon for smooth draws. The belt loop is adjustable for cant and allows the shooter to use it in the cross draw position. I have been using my 578 off and on for a couple months now, and I’ve found that I can carry my issued SIG P229 in it during the day and swap out and carry my Glock 27 in the same holster if need be. It’s handy on the range, too, since I can strap on one holster and then switch out my various guns throughout the day as I practice. MSRP is only $55, which makes the Pro Fit very competitive in the holster market; especially since it will fit a wide variety of weapons.
“El Original” Tejas Gun Belt
It might seem odd to hear that Magpul is making a gun belt, and maybe odder still that it’s a high quality leather belt and not some sort of polymer offering, but fear not, they still manage to mix some of their modern material magic into an otherwise very traditional belt. The “El Original” is the initial release in the Tejas Gun Belt line and it’s a solid entry. I wear a gun belt every day in my capacity as a plain-clothes detective and I’d been overdue for a new belt. Daily carry for eight or more (sometimes many more) hours a day puts a lot of finish wear on a belt and, with traditional leather, eventually stretches it out as well. I seem to be in a perpetual state of limbo between adjustment holes and I can never quite decide whether I need to lose some weight to get down to the next hole or just keep eating and move up a notch. I’ve grumbled for years that I need a belt with a better range of adjustment, but I always liked the look of a classic leather belt and you can only place the holes so close on those without running into stretch or tear issues. When I saw the press release for the Tejas, it jumped out at me that Magpul was advertising closer hole spacing for a wider range of adjustment. I took a look at their website to see how they managed that and ended up ordering a belt on the spot.
So, how does Magpul manage to do what other gun belt manufacturers have not? Well, they start with a sturdy hunk of bull hide leather but they back it up with a flexible strip of polymer. This both stiffens the belt and eliminates stretch, allowing them to put in a series of 8 holes spaced at only ¾ of an inch apart to permit a much greater range of adjustment than on most belts.
At 1-¼ inches wide and ¼ of an inch thick, the El Original is a substantial belt, but it should still fit through most belt loops. It comes in black, chocolate and light brown, and it’s available in even sizes from 32 to 44 inches. The polymer backing is securely stitched to the leather and the removable chrome plated buckle is securely fastened with a set of tool free snaps. I chose a chocolate-colored belt that fits in with most of my daily wear khakis and neutral tone dress slacks, but also transitions well to off duty use in jeans. I also didn’t have any issues with the belt fitting through the loops of my dress slacks even though it’s slightly wider than the previous dress gun belt I had been using. The 8-hole adjustment proved just the thing for me. The belt wears comfortably while it supports my carry gun and a spare magazine without having to snug it down so tight that it becomes uncomfortable. I’ve been wearing the Tejas for a few weeks now and I think the highest compliment I can say about it is that I don’t realize I’m wearing it. It provides plenty of support for carrying a firearm without having to be too tight or digging in. It looks pretty good in the process, too, and doesn’t stand out as an obvious gun belt to the uninitiated.
The Tejas gun belt is made in Texas by folks who know a thing or two about leather and retails for $84.95.
Versatile Takes on Age-old Concepts
While there is nothing new about the idea of a dedicated gun belt or multi-fit holster, Magpul and Safariland manage to put new twists on both and have come up with solid designs that are practical, affordable and extremely useful. If you’re looking for better ways to make sure you have a gun with you when you need it, I’d take a close look at both solutions; they may be just the thing to ease your carry conundrum.