Competition Reviews

Zo’s USPSA Competition Belt Rig

Folks have been asking me what my competition rig looks like for quite some time and until recently I didn’t have one. That’s changed. This post talks about the belt, the holster attachment system, and magazine pouches that I now use for USPSA.

Around this time a year ago, when folks asked me, “What does your competition rig look like?” My response was consistently, “The same belt, holsters, and magazine pouches I wear day to day.” The thing was that even though I considered myself a shooter who shot matches as a way to measure my skill improvements, I really wasn’t in it for the sake of competition. A lot has changed for me since then.

Changed? How so? 

Two things come to mind when I try to find something to blame for the change. The first was attending Ben Stoeger’s class which got me interested enough in USPSA to venture beyond my IDPA competition habit and start shooting USPSA as well. The other thing is having a small group of friends who I now squad up with regularly at local matches and keep pushing each other to do better while trying to outdo each other. I’m fairly certain that both of these things have acted as catalysts for my increased interest in being more competitive this year. As a result, I’ve made a few gear investments to level up my game while concurrently working on improving my gunslinger skills.

The first investment was a competition belt, or gamer belt. These belts are quite a bit different from the belts we wear day to day. Like traditional belts that are made with carrying a gun, commonly referred to as gun belts or EDC (every day carry) belts, gamer belts are extremely rigid in order to handle the weight from a holstered pistol and magazines in magazine pouches along with other useful accessories. Unlike the traditional gun belt, some competition belts are designed as a two part system consisting of an inner belt and an outer belt attached together via hook and loop. The Double Alpha Academy (DAA) Lynx Belt I went with is one of these two part system belts. 

As far as I can tell, the inner belt, which is a DAA Premium Inner Belt, is made from rigid nylon. It is designed so it can be threaded through traditional belt loops and  can help keep one’s pants up. The outside of the inner belt is lined with Velcro loop material. A portion of the belt is lined with  Velcro hook material on the inside on one of the ends so that it can be fastened tightly in place. 

The outer belt is made up of individual plastic links, which are just over an inch long and have Velcro hooks on the inner side, that are assembled together by the owner using the provided steel roll pins. This unique design appealed to me more than the common ultra rigid nylon outer belts for a few reasons. The first is the purported benefit that it better conforms to body shapes due to its hinged design that supposedly reduces hot spots and discomfort from extended use. Given I haven’t tried other belts, I can’t confirm the benefit but the hinged design is certainly more flexible. This is evident by being able to roll it into a relatively smaller package than one can achieve with the ultra rigid nylon outer belts. That smaller package makes the Lynx Belt easier to stow and travel with. Those initial reasons had very little to do with the appeal. The reasons that really piqued my interest were the color options and the reduced cost of size adjustments after the initial purchase.

When placing the order for the Lynx Belt, the buyer can mix and match the colored links individually however they like. The links are available in black, gray, white, red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and green. In my case, I opted for a ratio of four black links to one yellow and one orange link. The links can also be purchased individually for future customization or in the event one gets a little larger around the midsection after ordering their belt. The ability to add and remove links means one doesn’t have to purchase a new outer belt should they find it no longer fits after purchasing it. The inner belt is another story, but the ability to alter the size of the belt post purchase was important to me as I’m actively working on getting in better shape and losing several inches around the midsection.

The downside to the customization and other benefits is that the initial purchase comes at a premium that is more expensive than the typical one piece nylon outer belt and is dependent on the number of links initially purchased. More links means more money and larger folks like myself get to feel that in the pocket book. 

How does a gamer belt help level up one’s game? 

Aside from additional rigidity of the belt system, the attachments, like the holster and magazine pouches, can be secured without interference from belt loops. This allows for consistent placement and orientation of the gun and magazines from match to match and the practice sessions in between them. That consistency allows one to maximize performance efficiency through repeatability. It’s not a silver bullet that will instantly make one a superstar competitor, but will help one to be slightly more competitive. This along the lines of mission specific equipment concept and in this case being more competitive is the mission.

And that brings me to the next investment, the BOSS Holster Hanger from Ben Stoeger’s Pro Shop. I used this belt attachment system to attach a Weber Tactical USPSA/IDPA Holster to the DAA Lynx Belt. I opted for this approach rather than reusing the DOTs mount I had been using previously to attach the holster to my regular belt primarily because the BOSS belt attachment is more secure and removed the bit of remaining play the DOTs mount had. Additionally, the BOSS hanger allows for ride height, cant, and spacing customization that was not available to me using the DOTs mount. 

The standard BOSS belt attachment, while it isn’t permanent, requires more effort to attach and remove from the belt. I mention this because this is something that folks who shoot more than one gun at matches may want to consider since that usually means having to swap holsters. One option that would allow using multiple holsters with the same belt would have been to attach the DOTs mount, or something similar like a Blade-Tech Tek-Lok mount, a Comp-Tac PLM mount, or a Safariland QLS mount, to the BOSS hanger. While I haven’t tried all of the different options, I suspect all of them will leave a bit of play between the mount and the belt which may be a deal breaker to some folks. 

Another alternative for multiple gun competitors would be to set out a secondary outer belt for the second gun. This option is certainly more expensive, but it would allow for a more consistent set up from one gun to the next. Not to mention that it would allow the use of more securely mounted magazine specific pouches rather than universal pouches or swapping pouches using belt attachment systems that would introduce additional play. It’s a trade off – money for consistency.

This brings me to the last investment made (so far) which was a set of DAA Alpha-Xi Competition Mag Pouches. There are several options for magazine pouches in the market that will work well. I went with these because they are highly adjustable and thought they would look cool when paired with the colorful belt, holster, and competition pistols I use. While some will say that looking cool is important, I’ll simply add that personal preference sometimes comes into play. 

The magazine pouches themselves are quite impressive. The build quality appears to be solid. Each magazine pouch includes three different sleeves that can be swapped out to provide the right amount of retention and remove play from double stack magazines depending on their thickness. In addition to that, the back panel, which also comes in triplicate with varying thickness, allows for fine tuned tension using a leaf spring system. The magazine has multiple mounting points which allow for bullet forward, outward, or backward orientation on either side of the belt. The mount itself is a ball and joint design which allows the shooter to fine tune the magazine pouch angles individually according to their technique preference and body shape. 

While I believe that investing in a good competition belt or rig is worthwhile for folks looking to increase their competitiveness at matches and I’m very pleased with how my rig is working out so far, I think it’s important to say that it’s not essential to getting started in competitions. Quite frankly it’s not necessary to do well in competitions, the fundamental ingredients for that are a reliable gun and well developed practical marksmanship skills. So given the choice between investing in a rig like this or attending training and practice, I’d strongly recommend foregoing the rig and opting for training and practice. Shooting well looks a lot cooler than fancy equipment. 

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