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Product Review - Bandera 'Beltster' gunbelt & holster

6073 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Janq
Product Review - Bandera Gunleather 'Beltster' gunbelt & holster

As a brief recap for those of you who do not recall this product, I had been looking for a good gun belt and holster system to use for CCW (concealed carry weapon) use.
Be aware I am not a LEO (law enforcement officer) so I have no need for a retention strap nor am I looking for something shiny and pretty as when carrying concealed the point is to be hidden as in seen by no one. As such the holster component optimally should be as stealth as possible or as some folks are oft to say; 'High speed and low drag'. Yeah I know, it's such a horrible cliche but you get the point.

As far as a gun belt goes it too optimally should not have any tells.
Nothing saying "hey look at me I'm a GUNBELT!!!1!...likely with a GUN attached" nor should it be constructed like a normal dress belt as they largely do not stand up well to the weight of a fully loaded firearm along with an ammo carrier to boot.
best case scenario the belt should just belnd right in with your normal everyday clothing be it street or if preferred buisness. I'm going to say it should blend so well that it looks boring and relatively drab. That means no shiney or patent leather surfacing or material like the secutiry guys at the mall wear or like what you see military recruiters & cops sporting. IMHO the belts buckle too should be very normal average looking so as not to tip off other CCW or LEO types who might have familiarity with your belt and it's unusual/atypical buckle, or worst a wolf who's more aware and perceptive than average. Those wolves do exist so don't sleep sheep.

Originally I'd been looking for a normal seperate belt and holster to combine and make use of as a single system. OT had referred me to a great many varying choices most good with several notables including the CTAC IWB holster and the Wilderness 'Survivor' gun belt.
To be full disclosure there was a third element and condition I had which most everyone has, and it was procurement cost. I did not want to spend as much as a gun on a complete solution. As per my usual I'm looking for a best value not necessarily the cheapest but not the most expensive bling either. Oh, and I didn't want products that would end up wasted dollars hanging around in my gun closet either. I really hate to waste money especially if I can head that off by doing good research.

And with that all said and those conditions in place I wound up deciding on the Bandera 'Belster' gunbelt with integrated holster, or rather holsters (!) if you so choose.
I could try to describe this thing for you but I've alread talked enough so take a peek at the following pics of the belt and it rigged up as it would be worn on me. I don't have access to a manekin or tailors dummy so I applied McGyverism 467034.21G and made use of a wicker basket we that just happens to have the same diameter waist as I am. Now thats as measured around the pelvic girdle above the top of the glutes which is how one would properly wear a gun belt as your ass keeps it from sliding off and down your legs. This is a different fit than one might wear for your average street clothing belt.

So here goes...

Top View - Belt

Note the dual holster 'pockets' one in the 5 O'Clock kidney position with an FBI cant and the second at the 11 O'Clock weakside appendix position.

Top View - Holster Pocket / Kidney

This is a close up view of the kidney position holster slot where the gun is actually placed and carried, very securely I might add.

Top View - Holster Pocket / Reverse Kidney aka 'Anti-Carjacker'

As an option the Beltster can be outfitted with a second holster slot basically anywhere around it's circumference. In specific though they offer an option called the 'Anti-Carjacker' option. It's a reverse holster grip on the weakhand side allowing for a righty to access their weapon while seated & belted up in the car. It works well, I've tried it.

Front View - As Worn & Holstered

The belt is set to notch one as I normally would wear it when having two guns holstered. With on gun I'd then cinch it down to the second of five notches.

Top View - Strongside Kidney

This a 4.5" 1911 CCO style which is a commander slide on an officer frame.

Side View - Strongside Kidney

Note this Belster fits & carries like a Yaqui slide style holster.
As such the slide is exposed with just the trigger assy covered as shown here.

Top View - Weakside 'Anti-Carjacker'

Note that the grip face is facing frontal and toward the belt buckle.

Side View - Weakside 'Anti-Carjacker'

High Frontal View - Fullpack

This is a fully loaded Belster along with a Blade-Tech single mag carrier as well as a Blade-Tech custom molded OWB holster with a fullsize Govt. model 1911. Do know the full size is a heavy ass gun as it's full steel with a tactical rail.

Frontal View - Fullpack

Side View - Fullpack Strongside

Note position of the OWB Blade Tech holster. The belt as shown is rigged exactly as I would wear it on my person. There is plenty of room for the two sidearms on the same side and in theory I could likely fit another OWB on my weakside and likely and IWB too (eg. CTAC). Of course no one needs to carry five firearms at once but it just goes to show how flexible this system can be as well as integrate with product you might already own.

Rear View - Fullpack

Side View - Fullpack Weakside

As you can see the Belster is one system that offers two solutions both as a belt and as a gun holster which in my case includes the optional Anti-Carjacker slot toward carrying a second arm if you so choose.
Folks have asked me about retention and the belt holds very tight, in fact it might even be overly tight for some. The holster pocket is actually a second piece of leather materail stiched to the interior surface of the belt. Both surface that touch the gun are rough calfskin. Without having the belt cinched the guns are in their respective slots tight as the leather is as I understand it's wet boned to the shape of a given make gun in order to provide a friction fit. The fit is tight and gets tighter as you actually wear it and cinch it down.
Removing a weapon is no problem alhough my GSR with it's non-conventional design just doesn't fit. No surprise their. The other two fit well and fine while removal is easy enough too.

Now you might be wondering how this system feels when loaded up.
As the holster slots are built into the interior surface of the belt as opposed to hanging the gun on the outside, like a Yaqui slide holster, the gun is literally held right up against your flesh. This makes for excellent concealibility especially on folks like me who are tall, lean and/or have wasp waists. There is no tell tale bulge even when worn under a thin t-shirt or dress style shirt. Heck I even wear this while runnign my dog around town and moving vigorusly. The sidearm stays put not moving at all.
For a person with a belly or who might have a waist that overlaps ones pantline the same effect would occur as again the sidearm is pulled tight right into your body as per the systemd design.
When no gun is holstered in a given holster slot the slots just collapse against your jeans as the belt is cinched and it wears like a regular belt looking as much to someone on the street. No removal of a hloster necessary when entering off-limit zones (e.g. school, courthouse, police station, etc.). This is very handy as removing and then reinstalling ones holster is annoying never mind if you have to go into said places on more than one ocassion per day.
When I'm not using the secondary Anti-Carjacker holster slot I've found that when cinched to the second notch that slot will hold one standard and loaded mag of ammo without losing it. Thats handy too as a mag carrier is bulky and adds to ones profile never mind getting past hugs and close proximity people brushing.
I've taken this rig with me everywhere in my daily adventures including even to the local courthouse. I was told to remove it because the buckle is metal and did so expecting the security gurads to review it and ask questions. I got nothing as they just glanced at it and let go. I've done this twice now. again very handy. Additionally as per the construction of the belt the buckle itself is removeable with just a phillips head screwdriver. So that means if you have ocassions where you need to dress up or down and due to clothing you need a speciic style of buckle then you can just swap out from one to another with relative ease.
This leads me to one other item, the width of the the belt. The standard size iis 1.5" wide with an option toward 1.75" which is what I selected. When I ordered the gentelman strongly suggested I go with the latter for street clothes wear and I agreed, and now definitely agree. The 1.75" provides just enough more material to cover the trigger completely. If you take a look at my pics and then compare them to those from the mfrs. website you'll see there is a significant difference. The pics from the website are 1.5" belts.

The bottom line is this:
I'm very pleased with this product and have no revisions or changes that I would prefer or advise toward it's construction nor functionality.
In fact I've taken to wearing it all the time as my normal casual belt even when not carrying.

I'm sure folks will have questions so in the mean time if you need more info go to my post here from January;

The website of the manufacturer can be found at;

- Janq

Note: Do know that I am not in anyway affiliated with Bandera personally nor professionally. I paid straight retail for mine and am not recieving any kickback of any sort for writing this review muchless a positive one.
This is a clever and highly unusual system solution that works excellent for CCWs and I'd guess plainclothes LEOs as well.
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I want one, could you give a URL where I can order one?
Thanks for the writeup and the pics Janq! Try to bring it next monday, I want to check it out in the flesh, so to speak. :p

Have you noticed if it does indeed cover the trigger entirely as you wear it?

By the way, here is the URL:
Shad - At the bottom of my review there is a link to a thread I made on this in January with mfr. pics and a link to their website.
I'll be adding more information to this review later today as I had to crash last night. I'd taken Nyquil hours earlier and was fighting it to get the pics produced and write this thing out. I had to stop as I began falling asleep at the keyboard. I've been fighting a flu since Tuesday. :(

Jamz - I'll definitely be wearing it on Monday.
It does cover the trigger 95%. As depicted in the pics the only metal visible is the far rearward edge of the trigger and thats only because 1911s tend to have a slightly long/lengthy triggerguard.
It's secure and snagging the trigger while holstered (properly!) is not going to happen.

There is more to tell about this and I'll do so later.
I just woke up and got out of the shower, but unfortunately continue to feel like crap. I may try to drag myself outside to walk the dog or even get a haircut as I feel bedraggled like a street person. :(

- Janq
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I've updated and finallized the review above.
Additionally the following is a post from another thread regarding a singular experience I had with the Beltster...

Chuck33079 said:
Janq, please tell me it's an IWB holster for a 4 inch barrel 1911. I haven't found one that feels right yet.

It's an OWB system that rides and wears like an IWB (!) being held right close to the body not projecting at all.
In fact it's so close and good that this past Monday I ran the ultimate risk test, by accident, and hugged Mrs. Janq upon return from the range that night.
She hates guns and doesn't like the fact that I CCW so our deal is I do whatever and she doesn't see or know about it. :p
So i roll in from the range Monday night at just after 10P thinking the girls would be in bed asleep. I'd had two 1911s on me an SA CCO style 4.5" in the kidney position and a Colt Defender 4" in a reverse grip (grip facing forward) at the weak side kidney position. A Blade-Tech single mag ammo carrier was in the traditional strong side position but I wear it reversed behind the belt rather than in front, for more stealth. All units were fully loaded down including the spare mag and I was in Condition 1.
For clothing I'm wearing regular Gap jeans along with a tucked t-shirt, a DCMO style stripey shirt and my favorite jacket an oversized fitting corduroy shirt jacket that has a light denier interior lining with a pocket. My cell phone was in that pocket.

I come in through a side door near the living room and walk right into both Mrs. Janq and BabyJanq. Immediately BabyJanq runs over and goes to hug me at the waist so I bent over and caught her just before contact and picked her up. I think to myself; "Phew! That was close."
Next thing here comes Mrs. Janq so I put the baby down and push her off toward mom hoping she'd run interference. Wrong.
BabyJanq banks left to go hug the dog through the fencing of his X-Pen and Mrs. Janq comes in dead on for the hug bust.
Nothing to do now but go in, stick my ass out, and hope for the best.
She gave me a full on woman hug, you know the one I'm talkin' 'bout, and I'm standing there thinking uh oh I'm in trouble.

I got no reaction other than a kiss and wave goodnight as she graped on to BabyJanq and they went shuffling off up the stairs.
From my perception the kidney position gun was fine and not at all brushed or felt by her as her hands went to my back. If she were more of an ass grab kind of gal it's possible she might have brushed the barrel as the guns ride in the system Yaqui slide style with most of the frame & slide exposed.
The Defender was tougher and I was sure would get me busted but what I did to play that off was twist at my waist slightly throwing my strong side into her now 6 mo. pregger belly. I figured she would assume the magazine would be my cellphone but as it turned out her body never touched it as it stayed right with my abs. Score!

Today is Friday and she's not said a word about that night so I'm going to figure this as one for the win column and as my dad was oft to say to me as a kid; "You got over didn't ya!". :D

- Janq
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I've been wearing the Bandera 'Belster' as my primary street dress belt over the past 90 days whether or not I'm carrying.
As a belt alone it works very well and has surpassed two of my my old trustys as my favorite go to for any given purpose belt.
Thats just a side benefit though.

Primarily as a holster system it continues to function exactly as advertised and fit excellent. The holster leather has worn in against the shape of the frames and upon experimenting with different fits and belt hole selections I've found that best is the exact hole setting set and based upon the waist measurement I provided. keep in mind that this is a custom made product specific to the buyers waist as well as their sidearm. I'd been wearing the belt tight at the second belt hole and found that though to my mind it felt 'safest' with the system cinched tightly as possible as one might do with any normal system. Such is not the case or requirement with the Beltster.
In fact wearing it 'loose', which isn't actually loose at all just not Batbelt tight, is the best way to go allowing the frame to clear the holster evenly with a mimimum of drag and in the case of my Springield with it's taller frontsight it does not hang up in the holster upon a quick/emergency draw.

As I mentioned in my original post and I'll repeat here the very best thing about the Beltster is that I can wwear the lightest of cover clothing and even a fully open button down cover shirt and not at all give off an outline/print of the sidearm when standing or walking.
I'm sure folks might be thinking come on there has got to be a downside to this thing. Well there is one. I get odd looks from folks when at the range and wearing my CCW or a second such as a range gun. Becuase my particular setup has not one but two holster slots I can wear two pistols at once and this is very handy when at the range just for moving around nevermind general stowage of a sidearm when not in use. Folks have asked me about it several times to whihc I have to explain the product and as usual with other crap I buy or am into they give me the :huh: look of not understanding and/or wonder.
A second downside is that my Blade-Tech Kydex mag carrier even at it's largest adjustable belt size setting will not fit around the belt at the position of the holseter slot. Now this would not be a problem for those who do not choose to add the 'Anti-Carjack' weak side appendix carry holster slot. As I did the position of it is right where most people prefer to carry their spare mag holder just on/behind the hip bone. myself I never liked that position adn prefer to carry it either up front at mty strong side appendix or further behind my weak hand side hip. In fact I'll carry their most often as I can slide it back and forth along that poiont with a deft and nnoticed movement of my hand as far back as my mid back and forward just up to the point of my hipbone. An upside to the second holster slot though is that when not used it works great for carrying a spare mag. So in effect one can carry 1 spare mag with no need for a traditional carrier and then add a stand alone 1 or 2 mag carrier to the belt for additional supply as hung on the belt.

Thats about it folks those very minor issues if you want to call them that are all I've come across thus far and really are nothing to complain about.
I'm a very satisfied customer and would in fact buy this product again if for example I wond up deciding to buy the S&W M&P40 as featured in last weeks review, whihc also will be bumped soon with an update of it's own. :p

- Janq
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The pants thread reminded me about this.

Still wearing it? How's it holding up? Any issues?
Yep...I'm still wearing and using it.
In fact I'm wearing it right now. :p

I've got no complaints, isussues, or even design suggestions toward it.
I wear it as my primary holster and put simplest it just works, exactly as marketed. I have run around and jumped at the park (public space!) with my daughter wearing it and have not had it lose my sidearm or even slip. I wear it with everyday clothing (jeans & shirt/sweater) as well as with clothing when I go out at night to clubs and such. I've had no problems or complaints.

There are just two items to be aware of with it although it is not a design issue so much as it's a function of it's design...
1) Because it has a slide style holster(s) the slide of the pistol is exposed. As such if you bend over at the waist or stoop at the knees and do not have a long enough/proper cover then your slide will be exposed to public view. This again is not a design problem or shortcoming. It's just a function of it's design. One has to be wearng cover with this product and that means a shirt with a long enough tail and not a waist length t-shirt.

2) Because of the design of the product being an OWB holster system, one has to _remember_ that their sidearmis in fact OWB.
I had a funny incidient toward this last summer while at a bar. No I don't drink anything but water with lemon and gingerale/Sprite when carrying.
Anyway I'd been dancing and my sister inlaw who was out with me came up behind me from the rear and grabbed my hips. As she did this she wound up grinding her tummy into my 1911. I could not see her face but before I could twist away I felt her hands spring off my hips and by the time I turned around she had a look of 'what the fuck!' on her face. She is one of the few people in my regular life who knows I carry (I've taken her shooting before) but I don't think she thought I'd actually carry for real muchless out while dancing.
I do just that though and aside fromthat incident I've had no problems, gaffes, or oops incidents thus far.

<Knocks on a real wood desk surface>

I do suggest that anyone looking at this product to go withthe taller 1.75" height belt profile, whihc is what the mfr. suggested to me at time of order.
The reason I suggest this is because you get maximal coverage of the trigger although for a firearm like mine (1911) and others with a non Glock style trigger safety it's not mission critical. I just like it personally as it makes me feel more/most safe.
One thing that folks in the OT thread of old had thought was that the safety might could be switched off without having a guard over it. That has never happened thus far, and yes I do check. Funny thing though is that this has happened with both my Bladetech UCH and the CTAC holster Jamz gave me.
I think the reason for this happeneing is because those other two place the sidearm righ up against my body and skin/clothing resulting in general movement with friction switchign the safety off. It doesn't happen everytime but it has happened more than once with those other holsters,maybe a 9 times or less total.

Bottomline it works, I like it alot, I'd suggest it to others and I would buy another if this one went missing.
This jeans product though is another tool in my CCW toolbox as it would allow me to wear a tucked shirt, tank top, and more in the way of clothing flexibility beyond that of the OWB Beltster and a conventional or even 'tuckable' IWB holster.

- Janq
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Extremely appreciated Janq. Thank you for your detailed reviews/tips.

Last night I decided to wear the Bandera to my Basic Hunter ed. course, boy was that a mistake!
I had been wearing a Bladetech UCH IWB holster to this event only because it conceals the sidearm best.
Well last night I decided to give the Bandera a try and wore a longer than normal tailed shirt for purpose of concealment.

The problem with the bandera was that being seated for nearly ~4 hrs (2.5hrs. seated instruction time not including two 15 min. breaks and ~40 min. commute time one way) and the sidearm being positioned in the kidney position and as the barrel is exposed it hits & rubs against your chair.

Normally I don't sit for long periods while carrying nor do I tend to sit in crap chairs.
Class uses those generic plastic mold chairs you find in grade schools whihc are wholly uncomfortable. I found myself writhing around and every time I'd do so there would be a clunk/bump from the exposed end of my barrel banging against the plastic of the chair under my shirt. Likely the others sitting near me heard it and assumed it was my cell phone.
As well with the gun positioned at my low back/kidney being seated for as long as we were I was very much uncomfortable, to the point that I actually considered getting up during the second break and walkingoutside to put the gun away in the glove box. I didn't do it though as thats very illegal in MA and generally not wise or advisable either.
I just sat, writhed, and suffered through class then same all the way home.

I will not do that again.
As no one thing is excellent for all things do know that the Bandera with a commander length 1911 is not comfortable to wear over extended multiple hour long periods of being seated.

Even still with that newly discovered I still very much like this product.

- Janq
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