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I want a new belt: Ares Ranger or Wilderness CSM?

Discussion in 'Carry Issues' started by Drjones, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. I have a 1.25" Milt Sparks - absolutely love it, fantastic belt, but I feel like it could be better. I'm getting a bit out of shape and it's a bit tight when I carry, due to this, and I feel like perhaps a wider belt would be even more comfortable.

    A friend has a 5-stitch (1.75") Wilderness, NOT the CSM, and the stiffness isn't really that impressive....hence my consideration of the Ares Ranger, which seems to be a piece of steel you happen to be able to wrap around your waist.

    When I do carry, it's a G30 or Springfield Professional. I'd like to carry the Pro more (in a VM2) but honestly, it's not super comfy, hence my search for a better belt.

    A couple points of concern/thoughts I have, if anyone could help address them:

    - I like that I can get the Wilderness in a 1.75", whereas the Ares is "only" 1.5 - not sure how big a difference that makes, if any at all. I do think that going from 1.25 to 1.75 would be more comfy though. Yes, I checked, and a 1.75 will fit my pants and maybe my Milt Sparks VM2 - if not, new loops for it are only $20.

    - I did think about getting a wider leather belt, but the ability to make unlimited adjustments in any increment is very appealing.

    - The Ares almost looks like it's got too much going on and would be a little more work than the Wilderness; I've read that many people have to remove half the buckle to even get it on, it's got an odd inner keeper thing, I dunno...just looks kinda complex.

    - I do NOT like the velcro on the Wilderness; as one guy on another forum said, when you yank it, it sounds like you're special ed. :supergrin:

    I think that's enough out of me.....what's your guys' experiences? Is the Ares just total, complete overkill for a full-size 1911, or is it just what the Dr. ordered? Or would the CSM be almost as good?
  2. vmann

    vmann Controller

    Jan 22, 2010

  3. Thanks, but I want something synthetic that has more incremental adjustments, like the Wilderness or Ares...
  4. Goldendog Redux

    Goldendog Redux Shut your mouth

    Aug 22, 2003
    I was just gonna start a new thread asking about the Ares Ranger Belt. It had better be really awesome for the cost but I am intrigued.

    I have plenty of experience with the Standard Wilderness Belt. They are great but if you are really loading them up, you gotta cinch them down pretty tight.

    The Tucker belt I am wearing now is nice but it is comically thick.

  5. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    I've never had an issue with my standard Wilderness (ie, cinching it down tight)

    I'd get the Wilderness CSM if those were your two options.
  6. samuse


    Jul 30, 2008
    South TX
    I wear an 1 3/4" CSM Wilderness.

    Ares belts look gay. Seriously. I'm not all into having the best looking gear, half my stuff is Kryloned, but the Ares do look totally queer.
  7. One thing on the Wilderness that I don't really like. If you have a little beer belly :whistling: then that buckle REALLY digs into your stomach. I have to set my buckle to the side to be able to wear that belt. Other than that, the belt is great.
  8. Blaster

    Blaster Hunc tu caveto

    Feb 2, 2000
    I wrote the following (below the ******) in February. Since then I have mainly been using my Wilderness belt because it is much easier to put on and thread through holsters.

    I am planning on ordering a 1.75" belt loop for my McDaniel II holster and then try the Ares belt again. The 1.5" holster loop won't snap over either belt but I can thread it on the Wilderness belt. It is agony to try and thread it on the Ares belt, the extra thickness is too much.


    I have been using a Wilderness 5-stitch belt for years now. My current belt is at least 4 years old and in very good shape. Only the Velcro is showing signs of wear. Recently a friend purchased a Ares Gear Ranger belt and talked it up enough to get me interested. So I ordered one and received it about a week and a half ago.

    General observations in no particular order:
    The Ares Ranger Belt is significantly stiffer than the Wilderness Belt.

    Having to take off half of the Cobra Buckle to thread the belt on through your belt loops is a minor annoyance that I haven't completely decided yet if it really matters.

    The one inch piece of accent webbing that is attached to the two layers of SCUBA webbing adds enough thickness that my Andrews Custom Leather McDaniel II holster's 1.5" belt loop fits extremely snug and it is rather difficult to thread the Ranger belt through it.

    Did I mention earlier that the Ranger Belt is stiff? Literally it feels like you are trying to thread a piece of spring steel around your waist and through your belt loops. OK perhaps not quite as stiff as spring steel but the thought will cross your mind.

    Where the Ranger belt overlaps you will have close to 1/2" of material. Four layers of 1.5" SCUBA webbing and two layers of 1.0" accent webbing. Plus you can add the thickness of the COBRA buckle in the center. Now you are approaching 1.0" of thickness.

    FYI, I wear a 33" Carhart pant use a 37" Wilderness Belt for OWB and IWB carry. My Ranger belt is a size LG.

    Carry Impressions:

    So far I have extensively carried my Glock 30 in a Comp-Tac OWB belt holster with on spare Mag in a Comp-Tac OWB Mag carrier. I would have to say the Ranger belt provides a more solid carry platform as compared the the Wilderness Belt however the difference is not earth shattering.

    I still need to take the Ranger Belt to the range and really check it out especially with my 5" 1911's.

    Speaking of the 1911, like I mentioned above I geared up with my McDaniel II IWB for a 5" 1911. Seen here for those not familiar with the design:


    With the Ranger Belt I had a rather large gap between the belt and the small of my back. The extra stiffness of the belt prevented the belt from conforming to the contours around my body and the holster. I noticed no advantage carrying a fully loaded 5" all steel 1911 on the Ranger Belt. IWB carry feels much better with the Wilderness Belt.

    I still need more time to fully formulate my overall conclusions. Perhaps a few classes coming up later this year will help me decide. Apparently the Ares Gear Belt does happen to be the latest offering on the high end of "Cool Gear" list if that floats your boat.

    I hope I have given you some meaningful observations.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  9. Goldendog Redux

    Goldendog Redux Shut your mouth

    Aug 22, 2003
    That is good info. My Tucker leather belt does this. Too stiff can be a problem also.

  10. ^ Yep, depending on where you wear your gear, that could be an issue.

    I wrote the following for one of my "local" Forums, where someone asked for belt advice, I don't know how helpful you may find it.


    I believe strongly that different holsters/gear and different belts just work together differently.

    Overall, a good gun belt can do well by interplaying any of these factors:

    - width
    - thickness
    - stiffness

    A wide and thick belt doesn't need to be stiff (i.e. "resist rolling" along its width) to work well, especially when it's cinched tight against your body. My typical "class" belt is a SOE Rigger's Belt. Going on its 7th year with me, the male VELCRO side has ingested plenty of fuzz and lint, but it still adheres without any issues. It's wide - at 1 and 3/4 inches - and also quite thick, but it's nowhere as stiff as the ARES: if the ARES can be compared to a metal tape measure that rigidly stands on its own, the SOE is a floppy noodle. Nevertheless, despite its lack of stiffness, the width helps it resist "folding," and in training, I have had four 19-round 9x19 magazines and a Surefire flashlight (in a V70 Speed Holster) on my off-side, plus a full-sized pistol on the other - it doesn't even shift a bit, regardless of how much I run or jump, or even when it got soaking wet. This thickness, though, makes it hard for many "non-gun" clip-on gear (i.e. things that don't come with, say, a Tek-Lok) to get a purchase. My pager and usual cell-phone holders, for example, have a hard time latching on, so this belt has been retired from EDC use. On the non-EDC side of the equation, the wrap-around nature of the VELCRO portion means that I've had to tack some female VELCRO onto the outer surface of my Raven Phantom holster, so that the belt can grab on there when I'm running slicker gear setups. My Raven Phantom, set up as an OWB for "classwork," works very well with my ARES Ranger Belt, but I much prefer using it with my SOE Rigger's Belt, because the latter's thickness of construct allowed the Phantom's belt-loops to really lock into position. Through a typical 8-hour class-day with the SOE, I never adjust or shift my holster. With the ARES, despite that belt being as stiff as it is, it's "thinner" and allows the holster to move just ever so slightly along its length, when unobstructed. And even though that little shift isn't really noticeable during the course of usual exercises, you nevertheless will know that it happens, and you will find yourself correcting your gear placement, be it consciously or subconsciously.

    The Hank's "Amish Belt" also fits that "thick and wide" description, above. While it lacks the rigidity of more formal "gunbelts," its thickness more than makes up for it. my el-cheapo Amish Belt actually locks-in my PureKustom Black Ops Pro holster, my true-EDC holster, better than my pricey The Beltman belt because of this thickness. The Beltman's leather is nearly as rigid as the ARES synthetic and offers amazing support, but it's much thinner than the Amish Belt - and it's that thickness that allows the leather tuckable loops on my PureKustom to "friction lock," and thus further mitigate shifting. More recently, I obtained a dual-layer leather belt by Dan, of the local (to-NE-Ohio) Zlogonje Gunleathers. This has become my favorite daily-wear leather belt because it is what everything The Beltman is (and to be honest, Dan's stitching is even better than The Beltman's), but it's also just a bit thicker, which makes my EDC holster "lock-in" better.

    A stiff belt doesn't necessarily need to be thick in order to hold up the same weight - since thickness can also affects holster/gear, as you've seen above, this becomes an even bigger issue for some. For example, the J-clips on my CrossBreed SuperTuck can't even be pried open far enough to get themselves around either the Amish Belt or my SOE Rigger's, but they're a perfect fit for The Beltman double-bullhide and the ARES's single thickness of "scuba" webbing. The ARES Ranger Belt is super stiff, but it's very thin, compared to others on the market. At 1 and 1/2 inches wide, it appears less so because of an overlay of a different color on top (yes, you can also get it completely black, or reverse the fields, or even get the belt entirely in one color). This "overlay" variation in thickness also allows, those J-clips on the CBST to ride only on the black backing, thus making it disappear even more from view. The Cobra Buckle makes it very easy to adjust (and within sizing limits, "infinitely adjustable"), particularly on days when I must arm/disarm multiple times. Yet, despite this convenience, I don't tend to wear this belt with any of my "slip on" holsters, as that means that I'll have to clear the buckle.

    All this is to say: look to your personal needs - check out the belt-loops on your clothing, check out the loops/clips of your holster.

    Most men's jeans will actually take belts up to 1 and 3/4 inch width, and decently thick (i.e. the various "tactical nylon" belts: Wilderness, Original SOE Gear, HSGI, Maxpedition, etc.) - but dress pants and shorts may present distinctly different restrictions, as will if you're a female shooter.

    It'll do you no good to get a belt that either you won't be able to wear with your clothing or, alternatively, looks all-out-of-place.

    Sure, a "tactical nylon" belt may be a great accessory with your jeans or khakis, but with dress pants? Yeah..... :p :lol: :p

    For those whose lifestyle demands more discretion, thin leather "dress belts" can be every bit as "gunbelt" worthy as a thicker and/or wider counterpart, provided that some considerations have been made in terms of its construct. Internal plastic "stiffeners" and/or ones with VELCRO lined on the inside (ostensibly to allow use of VELCRO clips on holsters, for discrete carry) can make for a thin and narrow leather "dress belt" that can easily support a full-sized steel pistol with a full load of ancillary gear, all day long, with excellent comfort and minimal shifting.

    Pay attention to hardware considerations, too. "Chicago screws" that you can replace can also allow you to change out the buckle for more dress versatility, but you have to be sure to tighten them occasionally. Similarly, while VELCRO may be easy-on/easy-off, look to see that it's in the right place (and that there's enough of it) to properly fit your gear, and that it fits your usage needs - remember, if there's one thing VELCRO is afraid of, it's mud. Those cool "Cobra Buckles" can make adjustments easy and the entire pants a quick-on/quick-off combo, but you will have to re-thread the buckle every time you change your pants (hopefully, only once a day) or change gear (if the gear does not snap-on/off, itself). Is it annoying? maybe - but honestly, it comes off and goes back on very, very easily.

    As with anything else concerned with concealed-carry, it's a compromise. Nothing's perfect. Pick what's right for you.
  11. Hey Blaster; thanks for posting that.

    I believe I had read that post already when doing an internet search...

    Anyway, can you please comment on the Ranger vs. Wilderness when carrying a 5" 1911, as that's one of my primary carry weapons?

    Also, you say that you've primarily been using your Wilderness belt for the past few is it your conclusion that the Ares really is a little too much of a PITA for you for every day use?

    I kind of get that feeling...
  12. Blaster

    Blaster Hunc tu caveto

    Feb 2, 2000
    Unfortunately I haven't been carrying the 1911 much lately. I kind of got on a G30 kick this winter and it has carried through.

    My two 1911 holsters are the Andrews McDaniel II and a Comp-Tac Belt holster that I use primarily for classes and the range. I can make a full size 1911 vanish under a t-shirt with the Andrews holster. Like I said earlier the darn belt loop for the McDaniel is too small for the Ares belt. I actually only carried the 1911 twice with the Ares belt.

    Saturday May 5th I am headed to a one day class and I plan on using the 1911, Ares Belt and the Comp-Tac OWB belt holster. Perhaps after a full day of presentations I might have a better idea. Sorry I just haven't been using that Ares belt enough to give you any good data. But you just might infer something from that last sentence.

    Also if you have any holsters with a split belt loop; where you can center a pant belt loop between the holster's loops. My Comp-Tac belt holsters are made that way and I always put a pant loop in there to lock the holster in place. I even move the loops on pants to get them where I want them. The Ares belt is a Pain in the Butt to thread through the loops due to the addition of the piece of accent webbing. The equivalent of threading a piece of spring steel with a wet noodle laying on it. The scuba webbing goes through fine but the accent webbing can be difficult to keep in place and get through.

    I may still fall in love with the Ares Belt who knows? For now the jury is out. The Wilderness belt is much easier to deal with.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  13. At Vogel's class (one day seminar) this past weekend, the split was about even, between the Wilderness and the ARES.

    At the upper levels, there seems to be more "standardization" in gear, and outside of war belts or race gear, that's usually what I see.

    At the local-level classes I've attended, while there's still quite a few Wilderness and ARES wearers, really, anything goes.

    In the end, it comes down to personal preference. I actually find it easier to thread the ARES Ranger because it is thinner and stiffer, but again, YMMV, as I also like to stuff my "1.5-inch loop" items through a 1 and 3/4 inch belt. :rofl:

    For me, that gap that opens up at the plumber's crack doesn't really bother me since I neither EDC there nor have any gear running that far back when I'm in training classes. Overall, the small shift in the holster (currently, I favor Raven Phantom, with a wing loop on only the rear half only) is something I wish it can be without (not a problem on my support side, because I usually run a rack of 3 magazines or a set of two and a V70 speed-holster for my flashlight, as well as my cell-phone holder [don't laugh, I've seen guys repeatedly try to insert their cell-phones into their magwell...since that's where I keep my phone in my every-day life, that's how I practice to ingrain muscle-memory, so that won't happen to me], that takes up a lot of real-estate). But yes, it has become my favorite, despite this shortcoming.

    It's really about playing things to how *you* like it - width and thickness can more than easily make up for stiffness. If you think a "floppier" but wide/thick belt works better for you, be it that it conforms to your body better or it locks-in your gear better, then why not?

    A part of the reason why I've taken to the ARES for EDC (I usually only do leather if I'm going out, or during the weekends) is because it is thin enough that it allows my everyday gear - my pager and cell phone - to clip to it without the clips bending or just popping off.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012