Concealed carry without belt loops offers a unique problem to the concealed carry world. How does one safely retain a firearm on body in gym shorts, leggings, skirts or dresses without the security of belt loops? While a host of belly band style options exist on the market, there’s one more that’s recently entered the scene – Tactica Defense Fashion’s Belly Band Holster.
The Tactica Belly Band brings a slightly different take on the belly band style touting itself as a more comfortable and secure concealment option; but does it stack it up to other models and will it make for better on-body concealed carry?
Tactica Belly Band Basics
The Tactica Belly Band brings together fabric and a hard-shell molded design, spinning them into one, complete concealed carry design. The belly band offers an elastic, neoprene band fitted with a molded shell in the effort of providing a more secure alternative to the classic fabric belly band. Fastened to the front of the belly band, the shell is canted in what the company says is a more natural grip. The band wraps around the carrier then loops through a strap ring before fastening and securing with hook and loop. The addition of this extra security measure, the strap ring, continues the Tactica Belly Band’s move towards security and retention.
The neoprene band features a steel spring which adds structure and stability while allowing the carrier to tote a gun without that familiar, fabric floppy feeling. Like most belly bands, sizes are specific – starting at small and running to XXXL. In order to ensure a proper fit, Tactica does list its sizing information on site so gun owners can measure for precise fitting. Due to its molded holster, the Tactica Belly Band also requires gun owners to input gun manufacturer and whether they are right or left handed.
The list of gun makers is rather small with most of the popular concealed carry handguns – Glock, Kimber, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Springfield and Walther – represented. However, the company is fairly new, so it’s likely that more gun makes and models will broaden that list in the future.
Concealed Carry with the Belly Band
Having tested and evaluated a slew of belly band models in the past, I was curious how the Tactica Defense Belly Band would stack up against competitors. Initially, I noted that its band seems smaller than other belly bands, occupying less space around my midsection. A plus if you tend to get hot and sweaty under loads of fabric, the smaller width feels less constricting.
The addition of a molded shell also elevates this design. Demonstrating the seriousness with which Tactica takes safety, the molded shell protects the trigger while safely retaining the firearm. Retention itself can be adjusted through a set of screws and key wrench, all provided in the nifty zippered pouch the belly band ships within. When the Tactica Belly Band arrived, its retention was a little too tight for my liking. Struggling to remove my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield from its grasp, I adjusted the retention to a healthy balance of security yet access.
While we’re on the topic of the molded shell, it’s important to note that its design differs in that the shell is canted. While wearing, concealed carriers pull the gun from an almost horizontal angle versus a straight vertical draw. The aim is better concealment and what the company says is a “more natural draw” for the carrier. While beginners venturing into the concealed carry world for the first time might be satisfied with this draw, those of us accustomed to no cant in traditional AIWB will find the draw takes some time to feel comfortable and familiar. This is definitely a system owners should train on, putting in time to draw and dry fire before committing to carrying.
Due to its canted design and lack of a claw, wedge or other accessory, the Tactica Belly Band won’t work with every outfit in the closet. Despite providing a deep concealment style, the shell and orientation brings with it some bulk. I wore the Tactical Belly Band in a variety of outfits during the course of testing, eventually learning the holster worked best with looser fitting clothes. In t-shirts and more fitted blouses, the grip of the gun stuck out too far causing an odd-looking protrusion from my midsection. Moving it lower, below the belt line helped some, but negates the purpose of the belly band which is designed to be worn a little higher.
This lack of concealment in tighter fitting clothes is common among belly bands with a kydex or molded shell. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak, when adding extra layers to a system; however, the safety of a molded holster design far outweighs the fashion limitations. It’s also worth noting that when partnered with looser clothing or patterned fashion styles, the Tactical Belly Band excellently conceals the firearm. With a looser blouse, the belly band covered my Shield with no one the wiser.
Though I experienced difficulties concealing the Shield in every outfit in my wardrobe, the Tactica Belly Band worked exceptionally well at staying in place. Jogging after my kids, running errands and just generally moving about my house, the Tactica Belly Band stayed put, not straying from its original position. I credit that to the company’s decision to add a steel spring embedded into the band material in addition to its strap ring. The belly band’s fabric feeds through the ring and doubles back on itself partially to secure with hook and loop. This tiny addition makes all the difference in adding structure to the belt, which helps it maintain some rigidity even with a loaded 9mm in place.
Entering into a crowded concealed carry holster market is dangerous business, but Tactica Defense Fashion does so with the backing of a holster that meets the needs of female concealed carriers. Blending safety, retention and the ability to wear yoga pants into one holster, the Tactica Belly Band serves as a good option for those looking for versatility without belt loops. The Tactica Belly Band retails for $69.99.