Gear, Parts and Accessories

Is a Belly Band Holster Playing Your Tune?

Woman wearing a Bravo Belt belly band holster

Among many choices for concealed carry, the belly band holster is among the most misunderstood methods. This article aims to inform potential belly band holster users of the pros and cons of this method, including safety considerations.

For most people, the hardest part of establishing a regular practice of concealed carry is figuring out a carry system. Adjusting one’s habits to include a loaded gun carried in public is no small undertaking. The different concealment methods and holsters can be mind-boggling in variety. Most who carry with regularity have gone through a trial-and-error process with different holster types.

Galco Underwraps belly band holster
Galco Underwraps. This model features a leather holster that fits many different guns, mounted to an elastic band.

In an effort to save you time and effort, this article addresses belly bands — defined as fabric band with holster that encircles the torso, designed for concealment. Within this narrow genre, there are still a couple of varieties. I’ll do my best to cover considerations regarding these holsters, based on my mileage as both a concealed carrier and an instructor.

The advantages of employing a belly band holster for carry are significant. At a minimum, most people wear them in a way that doesn’t necessitate removal of the holster or gun to use the restroom or to try on clothes at a store. There is tremendous value in always keeping the gun under your control without having to think about it much. Belly bands are among the royalty of concealment systems in this regard.

A related advantage is that belly band carry is hands-free. Compared to a purse, pack, or other off-body carry method, they don’t require you to carry something in your hand or on your shoulder.

Comfort is an important factor. If the inconvenience or pain associated with a holster exceeds the perceived benefit of going armed, the gun will be left behind where it can’t protect you when you’re separated from it. Opinions about whether belly bands are comfortable vary about as widely as hair color does in people.

Safety First

Before attempting concealed carry, familiarize yourself with the rules of safe gun handling and avail yourself of training that helps you understand how to put those rules into practice with your handgun. That class experience should include an honest evaluation of your safety habits, especially where muzzle and finger control are concerned. If you aren’t yet keenly aware of what your fingers are doing while handling a firearm, or if you’re oblivious to where the muzzle is pointing at any given time, get training and become competent with safe gun handling before carrying any firearm.

Crossbreed I.C.E belly band holster
The Modular Belly Band features a comfortable and reliable elastic band. The stretchable band snugs securely to any body type or shape, offering you the perfect platform to secure your firearm. The band can be adjusted to various heights or draw positions giving you the control to find where the holster is most comfortable for your body. The elastic band also features a sewn backup magazine or flashlight pouch, and hook and loop accessory pouch for smaller cell phones or accessories.

A safe holster does two things, at minimum. It prevents anything from penetrating the space inside the trigger guard, and it prevents the gun from coming loose from its concealment location, in the context of the physical activities typically done by the wearer.

Based on these safety guidelines, it’s likely wise to eliminate from consideration any belly band that lacks a mechanism to keep the gun from working its way out or simply falling out. Many bands accomplish retention via a simple fabric strap that goes over the backstrap and secures with a snap or Velcro.

If you plan on wearing the band under any fabric that’s less stiff than jeans, consider that the trigger guard on an entirely soft belly band may not be enough to prevent intrusion by environmental miscellany such as toddler fingers, firewood carried on your side, or dog toenails. Jeans and some coats can often provide protection of the trigger guard that soft-sided gun pockets don’t. Unless you wear a heavyweight garment over the soft gun compartment on a daily basis, avoid soft sides on the holster part of any belly band.

MAn drawing a gun from a belly band holster
The ability to get a full firing grip on the gun is a real advantage for any holster. With belly bands or any other holster, plan on investing some dry-gun practice time to master a smooth, efficient draw. And of course, always follow the rules of firearm safety.

Belly Band Construction

The classic belly band design is a long piece of fabric, four to six inches wide, with built-in slots or a structured holster for a gun. There might be pockets for magazines, money, or what-nots. There is generally elastic either throughout the product material or where the ends come together.

Bands can theoretically be worn anywhere around the torso, from just under the armpits to below the waistband. The term “theoretically” is used because bodily conformation has a definite influence on where a band can comfortably be secured. The securing mechanism is usually Velcro, but a few have wire closures akin to those on a bra. Colors vary, but white, black, and beige are common. Color can be important if you plan to wear the band under tops that are thin enough to show color through the garment.

A variation on the theme of a fabric slot or pocket for the gun is a band that has a sewn-in or Velcro-on Kydex shell over the gun. These add bulk but also add safety and retention. They are gun-specific and, when made correctly, entirely cover the trigger guard.

Belly band holster with Kydex modular unit
The Kydex shell of this belly band holster protects the trigger guard. However, only one model of gun will fit these holsters.

Other advantages of a Kydex shell over a plain slot, with or without a Velcro slot closure, include a quiet draw that doesn’t involve the infamous Velcro RRRRRRRRIP, and the greater probability of being able to re-holster the gun while the band is on the body. Soft-sided holsters or slots sewn onto fabric, for instance, go flat when the gun is removed.

Re-holstering safely for holsters with soft pockets means removing the holster entirely and reapplying the holster to the body with the gun in place. Repeated live fire practice is therefore inconvenient to do safely with a soft-sided holster. Never use the muzzle as a digging tool to get a gun back into a holster that’s on your body!

There are other types of torso-borne holsters that aren’t covered here due to space. Much about them can be inferred, though, from understanding more about belly bands as defined in this article.

Wearing a Belly Band

Belly bands offer great concealment, but access to the gun often depends on the user’s choice of covering garment. The ability to draw quickly is a tremendous advantage when life is at stake. Consider the style and arrangement of shirts, pants, and skirts accordingly.

The level of tightness required to keep the gun in place depends on how a person’s shape and physical activity interfaces with the band. Most people work out the perfect band tension over time. If you’re someone who doesn’t like being constricted or having sweaty patches on a hot day, a band may not be for you.

Fabric belly band holster being poked to show the vulnerability of reaching the trigger through the fabric
This belly band is unsafe under most fabrics. Outside objects easily penetrate the trigger guard, and the gun can fall out even with minimal physical activity.

Do not wear the band so loosely that it allows the gun grip to flop outward or allows the gun to rotate around the torso. Some people find a snug band comfortable for limited periods but experience digestive interference if it’s worn all day.

If you have sensitive skin or are using the band during repetitive activities, seek a band that has rounded corners and no bumpy knots where lines of stitching come together. Or, plan on wearing an undergarment under the band — again, usually this represents an option only for the heat-tolerant or during cold weather.

Drawing from a belly band can be a pleasure or chore depending on the overall setup. Concealing garments are of course up to you, but my advice for any holster is to find one that allows you to obtain a full firing grip (with the trigger finger straight and on the frame), with the gun fully holstered. Seek that first, as well as a system that meets trigger guard protection protocols as described here, and you should have a successful belly band carry experience.

Belly Band holsters are not for everyone, but they certainly have their place for those who use them. Do you have a belly band holster? What do you consider to be the advantages or disadvantages of a belly band holster? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Woman wearing a Bravo Belt belly band holster
  • Man lifing his shirt to exposr a handgun in his waistband
  • Fabric belly band holster being poked to show the vulnerability of reaching the trigger through the fabric
  • Belly band holster with Kydex modular unit
  • MAn drawing a gun from a belly band holster
  • Crossbreed I.C.E belly band holster
  • Galco Underwraps belly band holster
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. What I find attractive about belly bands is that if it is the simpler type, you have a universal holster even if the holster or pocket is sized for small, medium and full-sized pistols, the owner can try different pistols, play with how high or low they want to wear it and by sliding it around they can try different locations. This is good for people on a budget and not sure how they ewant to carry.

    But after reading this article, I would consider one with the “shell” due to the ease of draw and re-holstering and better protection. Performance and function will vary from one brand to another.

    I think a belly band achieves the main goal which is to provide a way to carry that is simple and affordable. The fastest draw would be from an exposed holster, but I think most of us are concerned with having a pistol when we need it and being able to get it out quick and easy.

  2. I own and use a belly band, but it is definitely not my primary method for CCW. I use it for going to the gym/working out, at the beach, and for short runs to a store in summer time. I carry a S&W Bodyguard .380 in it because it is lightweight and very small and, I feel, is a safe pistol when carried in the belly band. The Bodyguard. 380 has a heavy 9.5lb DA trigger and also, at my option, a manual thumb safety to prevent a mishap. I DO NOT choose to carry my primary CCW pistol, a Springfield Hellcat, with my belly band because it only has a trigger safety and I do not feel confident that the spandex-type stretch material provides enough protection for the triggerguard area. The bellyband I use also has a pocket in it that carries a spare magazine securely.

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