S.O.E. 1.5″ Rigid Cobra Duty Belt
If you’ve read my earlier post about my Uncle Mike’s instructor belt debacle, you know my feelings on cheap, flimsy gun belts. And if you’ve ever tried to lug around a full-size pistol, spare magazine, BUG, and BUG-reload, plus miscellaneous other EDC items, you know what a craptastic belt can do for your ease of carry. I had been looking for a quality gun belt with a Cobra buckle for some time when Original Special Operations Equipment (S.O.E.) introduced their 1.5″ Rigid Cobra Duty Belt. I got a little excited. Ok, I got a little, jump-up-and-down excited. While I respect the quality and usefulness of belts modeled after the Ares Gear Cobra belt, they seem too thick to easily thread through a lot of my jeans and holsters, and the thick layer of webbing under the buckle might distract from my natural bulge–I mean, it might be uncomfortable.
The Rigid Cobra belt from S.O.E. is made from a double-layer of 1.5-inch webbing, with a layer of loop velcro lining the inner portion of the belt for added stiffness and mounting options. The Cobra buckle gives the belt strength, length adjustment, and the ability to unbuckle the belt much faster than a traditional riggers or instructor-style belt.
I wanted a riggers-style belt that was thinner, didn’t overlap under the buckle, but still had the rigidity to keep my G17 from flopping like a polymer tail on my side. The belt from S.O.E. seemed like just the ticket, so I ordered one a few weeks ago while they were 10% off–you know I loves me a deal. At a regular price of $65 plus shipping, the belts are still a good price for a quality piece of gear, and 10% off was just the motivation I needed to finally buy a new belt.
The turnaround time from oder placement to shipping was impressive. I received an email update from John Willis, owner of S.O.E., advising that my belt would have to wait for a shipment of Cobra buckles. Within three weeks, however, my belt was completed and I received this awesome email notification: “Box of AMERICAN BAD-ASSERY Shipped To You!”
When the package arrived, I squealed–and probably jumped up and down a bit–then I rushed inside to open it. The first aspect of the belt I noticed as I removed it from the box was its weight, or lack thereof. The thing didn’t weigh an ounce compared to my leather gun belts. Obviously, my leather belts don’t weigh a ton, but the difference was striking. Even with the Cobra buckle in place, the belt weighed less than any of my gun belts, including the Uncle Mike’s. This fly-weight initially made me nervous–if it’s this light, how is it going to hold up Roxanne (my G17) and all the other stuff I carry every day?
I then unrolled the belt and held it several inches from the buckle. The only word to describe the image was erect. My Uncle Mike’s belt looks flaccid in comparison–really, check out the pictures. I then put on the belt; threading it through my jeans’ belt loops proved very easy, once I remembered to thread both the tail and the start of the double-layer of webbing through each loop. Threading the belt through my Eclipse holster was also easy–there was enough friction to keep the holster from shifting, but not so much that I needed a clamp and winch to pull the belt through the loops.
S.O.E. uses standard pants waist sizes to size their belts. If you wear 32 jeans, order a 32 belt–as you can see from the pictures, there is more than enough loop velcro to allow several inches of adjustment. That being said, I’m on the small side of a 32 waist, and I found the belt a bit loose in one pair of my cargo shorts, perhaps because the shorts sit differently than most I own. But I found I did not need to cinch the belt nearly as tight as my others to keep everything on it from flopping. Once the belt is fastened, it truly lives up to its rigid name–this belt will not fold over, and even fully loaded, it kept my gear in place. I was impressed.
I’ve only worn the belt for a handful of days, so this review gives only my initial impressions. Still, the belt is a win so far, as it holds all of my gear in place but manages to be comfortable enough for all-day wear. And I love the length adjustment of a riggers belt with the ease of buckling provided by the Cobra buckle. When I’m rushing to the bathroom with a code 10-200 J-nasty, I know I can ditch my pants in a hurry. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this criterion for a gun belt . . . right?
Finally, I wanted a belt that would be well-crafted and hold up to several years’ worth of abuse. S.O.E. has a reputation for making bomb-proof gear, and this belt is no exception. Stitching is reinforced throughout, and the webbing is melted and smoothed at the end. The quality of craftsmanship was apparent immediately–compared to my Uncle Mike’s belt, which isn’t a poorly made belt, just a floopy one–it is easy to tell the S.O.E. belt was made by the hands of a skilled individual using higher quality materials.
For the price, quality, and quick-turnaround, I don’t think I could beat the S.O.E. belt. Production times at S.O.E. fluctuate with the volume of orders placed, but communication was prompt. I knew a few days after ordering that there would be a delay until buckles were delivered, but I still received my belt in less than half the time of many other custom belt makers. After I give the belt several more weeks of wear and abuse, I’ll give an update, but I hope this initial review gives many of you an idea of what you can expect from the S.O.E. Rigid Cobra Duty Belt.
Check out my long-term update here.