I have always been a belt wearer but often its been a love hate relationship. Working as a pro shooter I need a belt capable of carrying heavy kit while remaining wearable and comfortable. It needs to be just as comfortable when I’m at the office or out to dinner with clients. Previously I have found this to be virtually impossible as the dedicated gun belts were bulky, restrictive and many would not even thread through the loops of jeans or casual trousers. I got around the issue by having a dedicated range belt and one for normal wear. Then Kore Essentials came along and all that changed.
I had previously worn belts from a number of tactical manufacturers. While most of them were capable of carrying load they weren’t particularly comfortable. Some of them looked overly tactical and pretty much all of them were a struggle to alter in terms of size. Many tactical belts are built with uniform in mind. You alter the overall size based on your body and the uniform and then buckle them up. When your in a civilian role your clothing changes and so does your waistline if your going out for a big dinner. Being able to change the belt size quickly and easily to fit your situation is really important. There are belts that use a classic buckle system. These tend to be pretty coarse in terms of adjustment. The guys at Kore Essentials have implemented a completely different fastening system allowing fast adjustment most importantly fine adjustment when needed.
Kore Essentials are a U.S. based company that specialize in Belts for both EDC and Duty carry. Unlike most “Tac” belts they are only 1.5″ wide which allows them to slide easily through the loops of Jeans or smart trousers. They come in a range materials and buckle styles to suit all occasions. In short the belts seemed to tick all the boxes for me on paper – A rugged gunbelt that I can keep on when I leave the range without being uncomfortable or looking like a Molle infested wannabe Operator.
Kore Essentials currently offer 2 main material types. A leather option which would suit those who want a smarter or more covert belt. The leather belt could be worn with a pair of smart trousers and go totally unnoticed by those around you. The Tactical range has a Nylon webbing outer which will be familiar to most range users. There are two belt options within the tactical line up, the standard range and the heavier duty Garrison range. Garrison belts are wider (1.75″) and are rated for a 10lb load carry. The standard X range are rated for an 8lb load out and the leather option 4lb.
I settled upon the X5 variant in the tactical range in a Tan colour. Kore Essentials also offer the belt in Green, Black and Grey. The X5 denotes the choice of Buckle which all share the same functional design but differ aesthetically. I figured Tan would suit either Jeans or range gear. The belts come in one size which requires a little explanation. Waists from 24″ to 54″ are catered for, allowing the customer determine the perfect overall length themselves.
Markings defining the length can be seen on the inside of the belt. On receipt you just cut the belt to the desired length. The buckle is then attached to the cut end with jaws that grip the belt and can be fastened down using the two set screws and the hex key provided. Its a 2 minute job that gives the exact length that suits you.
The Tactical belts are twice as stiff as the leather variant. Gun Belts have to be stiffer than a standard dress belt to prevent sagging when loaded. A stiff belt also allows you to draw a holstered pistol rapidly. Drawing from a soft saggy belt allows the holster to be pulled upward. If the belt moves it leads to unwanted retention of the weapon. While I don’t load out to the max 8lb I do regularly run a dump pouch (full of used mags or shells) and three quick loaders for 12g. The outside of the X5 is hard wearing Nylon webbing which is stitched and bonded to a fibre inner and proprietary “Power Core” centre. Kore say the powercore centre is rated to 500lbs tensile strength! It feels really strong and most importantly it feels well made.
My favourite part of Kores design is the ratchet type fastening system. It really sets it apart from the competition. The belts feature a toothed track which is countersunk into the rear of the belt. The belt is done up by simply pushing the end through the buckle. It ratchets up with a pleasing CLICK CLICK CLICK… Depressing the spring loaded lever on the buckle releases the ratchet and the belt can be swiftly loosened. I have never used a quicker, simpler and more efficient method than this! On the range I can just tug the end of the belt to tighten, then quickly release it to a more comfortable level. Once I used this system for a day I never wanted to go back to traditional buckles again.
I have seen a few forum comments questioning the strength, reliability and longevity of a ratchet system. These were from people who clearly haven’t worn a Kore Essentials belt. I have been wearing it for a year and the track looks as good as it did on day 1. That year included 2-3 range trips per week, shooting prone and practical and plenty of time in the woods.
Over the last year the belt has been used every day. As mentioned that has included range trips and hard use in the Woods and workshop. I’m not the hardest user in the world but I don’t baby my kit either. I carry a lot of lumber around and this would normally cause fraying on a webbing belt. So far the Kore Essentials Tactical remains unmarked with no fraying. This is in part thanks to the excellent build quality and materials but also the perfect fit.
On the range the belt really shines. Shooting prone had been annoying as many buckles I had used dug in to me. One of them actually used to pinch flesh which did nothing for accuracy! The Kore buckle has been totally comfortable and I don’t even notice it when going prone. Once I’m done at the range I just slacken the ratchet and it’s fine for general wear. Although the belt is substantially stiffer than the average dress belt it remains really comfortable. I have had no issues at all with the belt and will continue to wear it for daily use.
The Kore Essentials Tactical belt comes in at $59.95. I am in the UK and as far as I am aware I couldn’t find a retailer over here. The good news is that Kore will ship to the UK for a very reasonable $18.95. Even with the shipping, I still think that is a great price for a truly comfortable and functional gun belt. Kore provide a 1 year warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee. They are confident in their product and are willing to put their money where their mouth is.. The only tiny bit of wear can be seen on the picture above. Just a little bit of paint that’s come off of the buckle from. I would not hesitate to buy another belt from Kore. I will probably never buy a belt from another brand again. It really is that good…