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Thread: AIWB Belt Tension

  1. #1
    Site Supporter rdtompki's Avatar
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    AIWB Belt Tension

    I've been carrying IWB at 3:30-4:00 for several years. I generally run my belts pretty tight (Kore Essentials and a slightly less rigid NexBelt. I suffer from OMSA (Old Man's Small Ass) syndrome and a bit of STS (Small Tire Syndrome) at 6', 190 lbs. thus the belt tension keeps things nicely above my hip bones.

    When I've played around with AIWB I've found it just a bit uncomfortable standing using a Tenicor Certum 3 and definitely more so sitting in a car. When I watch videos explaining how to set up AIWB it appears the belts are not necessarily all that tight which among other things allows a bit of flex when sitting. I guess it is also possible prior to getting in a car to ease up a bit on the ratchet system (Kore or NextBelt). Am I on the right track? FWIW I'm carrying a Staccato C. Once I figure out what I'm missing I'll work with the NexBelt since the Kore's stiffness looks like it will be more troublesome.

    In any event I don't think the Certum is the long term solution. I found the metal clips difficult to deal with and the snap loops don't really control the gun angle all that well.

  2. #2
    In Lead... RevolverRob's Avatar
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    AIWB is more particular than a kid trying to pick "one toy" at the toy store. I have personally found that less tension and a less stiff belt is key, to me running AIWB. Also, search here for Southnarc's discussion on pants. If you wear "relaxed fit" pants, they probably aren't providing enough support. With AIWB you do not need pants a full waist size up. Pants are cut roomier in the front than sides and back.

    A wedge and/or 'junk pillow' is usually necessary. Holster ride height matters a lot. A lot of guys find a longer holster for even a shorter gun, helps. Some guys don't.

    Your height and weight matter less than the length of the rise in your pants and they way they sit on your hips. I am 5'7" and 210 pounds. And I can AIWB an STI without a problem. Though I find a smaller gun more comfortable.

    You also may not ever find it comfortable.

    For the holster, before changing holsters. Try different "tuck" methods. And see what works for you. Mastermind Tactics offers a wedge pack and ClusterFrack's 'junk pillow' which you can adjust the fill on. You can also hit up Dark Star Gear for wedges and a Dark Wing. As for a clip vs. snap loop you might try just one clip. With DCCs one is all you really need. I personally prefer the dcc monoblock, but I'm not sure it works for the Certum3.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevolverRob View Post
    AIWB is more particular than a kid trying to pick "one toy" at the toy store. I have personally found that less tension and a less stiff belt is key, to me running AIWB. Also, search here for Southnarc's discussion on pants. If you wear "relaxed fit" pants, they probably aren't providing enough support. With AIWB you do not need pants a full waist size up. Pants are cut roomier in the front than sides and back.

    A wedge and/or 'junk pillow' is usually necessary. Holster ride height matters a lot. A lot of guys find a longer holster for even a shorter gun, helps. Some guys don't.

    Your height and weight matter less than the length of the rise in your pants and they way they sit on your hips. I am 5'7" and 210 pounds. And I can AIWB an STI without a problem. Though I find a smaller gun more comfortable.

    You also may not ever find it comfortable.

    For the holster, before changing holsters. Try different "tuck" methods. And see what works for you. Mastermind Tactics offers a wedge pack and ClusterFrack's 'junk pillow' which you can adjust the fill on. You can also hit up Dark Star Gear for wedges and a Dark Wing. As for a clip vs. snap loop you might try just one clip. With DCCs one is all you really need. I personally prefer the dcc monoblock, but I'm not sure it works for the Certum3.
    Rob makes good points. I will re-emphasize that from within one's closet, he will discover that some pants accommodate appendix carry better than others. I had to go up a pants size to carry any iwb holster. I must add that since I was never a law enforcement person and did not have a weapon strapped to me all day every day, I could comfortably use most styles. Appendix carry was my least favorite. Now that I'm older and have back problems, weight of the weapon is a big concern. J frames and my Shield ride comfortably. In a few hours my wife and I will take a very short local trip. For this I will carry the P-07 at about 3 o'clock. As a young man I went broke buying cheap holsters. Our friends here who are holster designers and makers sell some of the best holsters available anywhere, and the prices are more than reasonable.

  4. #4
    Chasing the Horizon RJ's Avatar
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    I get it, having the belt wayyy too tight was a big downside for me for behind the hip carry. For AIWB belt tension, I (5'6"/180/34 pants) gear up with my holster (P365X in a JM CK P365XL shell, MMT Appendix Carry Pillow, single PTD) in place, then sit down and adjust the belt tightness (Mastermind Tactics Specialist). Then I stand up. It's almost always "just right" at that point.

  5. #5
    keep it light...but real blues's Avatar
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    Don't give up. You may find just the right combination of placement, (between 12.30-1.30 generally speaking), belt tension, wedge thickness or thinness.

    It's definitely a process but AIWB is by far my favorite method of carrying and has been since the 80's.

    I'll bet there's a solution for you, but patience while dialing it in may be required.

    Personally, I tend to wear my belts snugger than looser, but that's my preference and it helps keep the corner of the slide from printing.

    I like the Zero belt from Tenicor and the D-Ring from Mastermind for AIWB.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how it's going. Maybe we can help you whittle it down once you get close.
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  6. #6
    Site Supporter Elwin's Avatar
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    I donít know about the NexBelt, but I have a Kore and pretty much hate it for AIWB. The infinite adjustability helps but it seems like something is always digging into me, whether itís the buckle mechanism or the edges of the belt.

    Iíd recommend something like the MMT D Ring or the new Tenicor Zero - infinitely adjustable with appropriate stiffness for AIWB, for most people (meaning not too stiff).

    I probably run my belt tighter than others for AIWB because Iím fighting roll out that tends to happen with a steel frame 1911 - thatís a heavy grip to keep from tipping out over the belt. That said itís still not as tight as what I gave to do to make strong side IWB work, which is plain painful now that Iím not used to it. Like, Iíll leave the house unarmed instead of putting up with it painful.

    I donít adjust tension for sitting down, but I know some do. I think using a more flexible belt potentially alleviates the need for that.

    If an AIWB-specific belt doesnít fix all the problems, it may be time to start adding to the holster drawer. Tenicor holsters specifically seem to have a reputation for being either 100% awesome magic fairy dust or terrible torture mechanisms, depending on the person. Iíd recommend trying their Velo if the Certum continues to be uncomfortable after trying a different belt and maybe a muzzle wedge. Then thereís also the multiple AIWB options for 1911s from JM, and Tony will be happy to help you pick between them.

    With each holster, Iíd also experiment with type and placing of the loops/clips. Adjust cant and ride height, try one instead of two, try a different kind, etc. With AIWB thereís a lot of really small variations and the options can be almost maddening. That said once you find your thing and get your holster perfectly dialed in, itís bliss.

    With the Staccato C you have a short gun and an option to run it in multiple length holsters. Which size of Certum do you have? Like Rob mentioned some people like longer even for short guns. I carry a 4Ē 1911 in a government length holster, and before that carried P99s in 5Ē PPQ holsters (the equivalent of a G19 in a 34 holster, which is fairly common).

  7. #7
    Chasing the Horizon RJ's Avatar
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    Just remembered I tried something this week which seems to have helped a lot with comfort.

    I have double-sided Velcro pretty much up and down the holster body, so I can play with various attachments (like the MMT ACP I mentioned). It occurred to me to take a previous Dr. Scholl's Women's Gel Heel Pad (the Melody Lauer "Holster Hack") and attach the upper part near the top, then trim around the kydex to remove the excess:

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    It was a bit surprising how such a thin layer of kinda squishy silicon gel helped. Before, it was just the kydex sitting against my middle area, which was a bit hard. It feels a lot better now.
    Last edited by RJ; 01-18-2022 at 08:27 AM. Reason: tai poh!

  8. #8
    Site Supporter rdtompki's Avatar
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    I have one of the Mastermind inner belts that I use on range days so I don't have to change belts. It's very flexible and may be more accepting of the Tenicor metal clips (which offer more adjustment range than the rubber loops). I can use that setup to play around with position and belt tension. I don't have a problem eventually buying the right holster for AIWB but I'll sneak up on it and will also depend on whether I decide to carry with a light. We all have a drawer full of $100 mistakes. For example, I bought a Garrett OWB for the Staccato; nice holster, good fit, but the drag of slide on the leather liner changes the timing. The Staccato slide serrations are fairly aggressive and that probably contributes. Doesn't help that I'm so accustomed to competition where I don't need much retention.

  9. #9
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    Are you wearing the Kore Tactical Nylon belt? That belt is rated for 8lbs carry and is definitely stiffer than necessary for AIWB - though I wore it for AIWB for a good while and didn't have insurmountable issues with it. The Kore Dress gun belt is rated at 4lbs and I only use it for carrying a G26 OWB strong side under a suit jacket when the front of the belt is visible.

    Kore also has a not too stiff, not too floppy, just right (for me) option that is my favorite of any belt I've ever used. It's their "Western" line full-grain "belt only" mated to their X7 AIWB buckle. It's strong enough to carry a full size (G17 or G19 for me) AIWB with a spare mag and light carried at ~9-10 o'clock while being pliable and flexible.

    I use either a JM Custom Wing Claw 2.0 or 2.5 with wide hole spacing with either the stock wedge or Dark Star's Teardrop muzzle pad.

    If it were me in your situation, and you know you like the Kore micro-adjustment ability, I'd try their Western gun belt with the X7 buckle if you plan to try a different belt. Other belts have been mentioned, but my experience with the D-Ring belt is that I had to snug it up throughout the day, which is maybe different than other's experience.

    Lastly, take all advice into consideration but realize there can be a little hype and placebo whenever equipment is discussed. It takes a little work to find actual objective reviews discussing both pros and cons.
    Last edited by Larry T; 01-18-2022 at 09:59 AM.
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  10. #10
    keep it light...but real blues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry T View Post

    Lastly, take all advice into consideration but realize there's a huge amount of hype and placebo whenever equipment is discussed. For some reason, it takes a little work to find actual objective reviews that don't use the term "game-changer" every other sentence.
    In fairness, one man's "game changer" may be another man's "fail", but it doesn't make either statement hyperbole, as long as it isn't provided as a "universal" truth. Otherwise, there's not much sense in sharing our experiences and points of view.

    I think most of us here realize that each of us has different preferences, comfort zones, physiognomy, and tolerance for the pokes and prods which AIWB incorporates.

    What "rolls out on one guy" is "perfect" on another etc etc.

    I think we all have boxes of "game changers" tucked away. The needle moves incrementally.
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