I honestly can’t remember when it was that I first first started talking to Dennis Badurina of Dragon Leatherworks, but I do remember why.
Everywhere you turned in the gun blogosphere at the time, there was one gun blogger after another writing rave reviews about this (then new) holstermaker and his original holster designs. It was a pretty gutsy move to send out his products to strangers who didn’t know him from Adam, but Badurina was confident that he had a quality product that could stand the strictest scrutiny… and the various shooters reviewing his different holster designs universally agreed.
Once I finally got my hands on an beautiful version of the Dragon Leatherworks Quantum holster, I finally understood all the fuss. Both the raw materials Badurina selected and the quality of his work are that of a consummate craftsman with a keen eye for detail.
Early this year, Dennis offered to send over a DLW Gunbelt for review, and I jumped at the chance.
I’d been unimpressed with the ability of regular leather dress belts to comfortably support a holstered gun without sagging, and the tacti-cool nylon rigger’s belts that look so at home on my tactical pants at the range made me look like a schmuck (well, more of a schmuck) when I wore them with my customary jeans and cargo shorts around town.
When the package arrived, the first think I noticed was the weight. It was a lot heavier than I expected. Opening it up, I quickly came to understand why.
The picture above that offers such an exquisite view of my living room carpet/photo studio also shows the two belts that typically hold up my pants when I’m packing a gun.
Well, they show the belt that did, and the belt that does.
The belt on the left is a simple, decent-quality full-grain leather 1.5″ dress belt. It holds up a pair of pants with a guy’s load of normal pocket stuff (wallet, keys, cell phone, pocketknife, etc) just find. When you added a gun, though, things got… questionable.
The wrinkles in the belt in the photo are from where the weight of holsters has broken the belt down over time. It is still fine for holding up pants, but trying to carry a gun with it is now just an exercise in annoyance.
The DLW gunbelt on the right is much thicker in the working part of the belt (from in front of the left hip, around the back, to in front of the right hip), featuring two full-grain layers with a reinforcing nylon layer carefully sown in between that refuses to allow the already stiff belt any stretch at all. The result of this over-built construction is an extremely strong and durable belt that refuses to give way or collapse with something as piddly as a two pound pistol handing from it.
Or a two pound pistol with a spare pistol mag pouch hanging off the other side.
Or an a two-pound pistol, two spare pistol mag pouches, and a 30-round AR magazine in a FastMag, etc.
You get the picture. The DLW gunbelt simply isn’t going to yield.
While the toughness and quality of Dennis’s work was expected, the resulting comfort went far beyond what I was expecting.
When you try to wear your average leather dress or work belt with even a top quality holster for any length of time, the weight of the gun steadily pulls the gun down on the belt on that side of the body, and the top of the belt tends to want to try to fold. It sags and sinks, and no matter how tight you cinch it up to try to keep it in place, it inevitably gives way. The net result is that you are constantly tugging up a stretching belt holding a flopping holster in sagging pants, and if you carry concealed with an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, you can often add chafed red skin to the mess as well.
Not so with the DLW gunbelt.
The extra thickness and stiffness of the gunbelt means that the vertical weight of the holstered handgun is entirely supported and transferred horizontally around the rest of your waist, similar (so I’ve been told) to the way a good mountaineering backpack’s waistbelt transfers the weight of the pack off a hiker’s shoulders and onto his hips.
The DLW gunbelt does such a good job of distributing the weight around your waist that even after carrying a full-sized handgun like a 4″ Springfield Armory XD around for 8-10 hours, you’re just as comfortable as when you left the house that morning (and if you feel the need to wear a gun for 8-10 hours at a time within your home, you might want to consider contacting a realtor).
I’ve now had my Dragon Leatherworks DLW gunbelt for going on ten months, from the bitter Carolina winters (it’s not the cold, it’s the humidity) through the summer (it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity), and it is just as strong and solid as it was when I first got it. Indeed, other than the slight wear where the buckle fastens, the hardware and leather still look brand new, without so much as a single thread out of place.
At a base price of $95, the DLW Gunbelt is a solid bit of gear on which all your other gear can reside, and I expect it to last longer than I do.
That’s a good thing, right?