Better Fit Equals Better Performance

Oct 28, 2013
Editor's Note: Tomorrow, many of you will receive the Tactical Wire's Special Edition on Concealed Carry. It will give you great features from instructors Mike Seeklander, Claude Warner, and Tiger McKee as well as informational pieces from Michael Bane, Rich Grassi and Paul Erhardt. One of the keys in concealed carry is fitting, whether it's choosing the correct caliber or how the gun feels in your hand, on your hip, or however you choose to carry it. Today, a look at three items that may make your handgun carry more comfortably, and you perform up to your rifle's potential. If you're one of the increasing number of Americans choosing to exercise your right to concealed-carry, you know a number of issues seem to work against "comfort" with your "comforting" sidearm. Several ingenious new holster designs have helped, but the belt is always a hassle. Regular belts just don't cut it. Rigidity and strength just aren't there. And the alternatives are the shooting world's equivalent of sensible shoes. Wider, heaver and designed to carry heavy loads, they don't fit every size belt loop. And if something isn't comfortable, you'll find reasons not to carry it. More than one person reading right now knows exactly what I'm talking about. So I'm always interested in belts- especially if I'm told it offers comfort, and an exact fit- with or without a holster. Haven't found it- yet, but I think I'm very close. That's because I've been wearing three different belts from Nexbelts ( They've offered two of three things I've wanted in a belt: a good fit and a modicum of style. They're very, very close to having the rigidity just right, so I'm comfortable talking about them. And all nexbelts have a cool factor. These belts have no holes. Nope, no arbitrarily placed holes evenly-spaced one in ch apart. They use a unique ratcheting system that is adjustable in quarter-inch increments.
(Top) Nexbelt's ratcheting system. The buckle's sturdy, the teeth are solid, and the hold's reassuring-even if you need to slightly adjust it in either direction for an better fit. (Below) Shooters have a choice of dress or casual belts in leather or the very casual canvas. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photos.

You can sit down at the dinner in a Nexbelt with the assurance that your perfectly fitting belt is capable of giving you the little bit of room that enables a second pass at the desserts. PGA TOUR player Kevin Na wears a Nexbelt-and his buckle (along with all the belts in their wide golf line) flips down to reveal a hidden ball marker. Cool, but I can't think of many times I'd need that feature in a belt. Nexbelts are available in two ranges for the ladies: regular sizes 00 to 16 or Plus Size/Waist Size 24" - 40". The men's lines fit waist sizes 30"-50". How's that done? The backsides are marked in one-inch increments. You cut the belt wherever you fall along that range to get the fit that's just right. That's the feature that makes these belts promising for concealed carry. In casual carry, you may elect to go with a full-size firearm. In dress clothes, you may opt for a smaller backup-sized firearm. And when you're out in summer heat, you might elect for a pocket pisol kept in-you guessed it- your pocket. That's at least two inches of adjustability needed in a belt. Nexbelt can help. Instead of cutting for an exact fit, I added approximately two inches. That two inches was perfect for the M&P pistol I sometimes carry. It also worked with a Shield and with no gun at all. And no contextual clues that I might have a little extra something inside my waistband courtesy of the absence of holes. I've been a willing guinea pig for the belts, trying to see if they're sturdy enough to serve for concealed carry. Today, my answer is a qualified yes. If you're carrying a small pistol it's fine. Moving up, the belts seem to be a bit flexible and turn out to "print" your pistol, especially when you're a "husky" build like me. Their canvas belt is more rigid, and I carried a M&P Shield on it with no problem. Since I don't carry a full-size in anything but a shooting scenario and never carry small-of-the-back, I can't speak to those applications. And they might be perfectly fine if you're slender. Their belts are available on their website at prices ranging from $49.99 to $89.99 in the men's lines. Ladies range from $45.99 to $59.99. They're a stylish alternative to the stodgy "sensible" belts. Have a fitting problem on AR and AK -style rifles? Seems you're not alone. They're designed for the "average" sized hand. Unfortunately, my hands aren't "average". My fingers are long, and my finger goes too-far into the trigger. At that point , my "squeeze" is a "jerk". Fitting problems are one reason lots of people really don't like AR-style rifles: they simply don't their hands. The Army's anthropometric data suggest that we might not be in the minority. Apparently 65 percent of the rest of men and 20 percent of all women don't fit the "average". That means "adjusting to the gun" and it may be causing some people to avoid them. Compensating isn't so tough when making precision shots. You put your finger in the correct position and your shots break smoothly. But in practical competition, a quick transition may lead to problems. "Squeezes" turn into "jerks" and simple A-zone hits turn into misses. In Oregon this summer, a fellow shooter took pity and shared a secret that's worked for me. Now I'm really spilling the beans.
The Magpul MOE sitting on top of the Accu-Grip where the spacing between grip difference is obvious. The shooting difference was miraculous. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
I'm using an Accu-Grip ( A two-piece grip assembly that replaced my stock grip. It magically helped my AR shooting-from the first shot. All I did was remove my stock AR-grip and replaced it with the Accu-Grip's mounting block (the safety spring goes inside a matching hole in the block- you can't put it on wrong if the spring works). I tightened the mounting block, then slid the actual grip along the block until I found what felt "right" for my hand. I tightened it down and I was done. The difference was eye-opening difference. For the first time, my AR-rifles (I put them on more than one) fit like a favorite bolt gun. I was squeezing shots smoothly, even in a "pickup and shoot-quickly" scenario. The only place I know to get Accu-Grip is from the company and pricing (for all colors) is: $39.95. If you just can't figure what doesn't feel right with your AR or AK- it may be the secret. And it might be the best pair of twenties you spend on anything other than ammo.
Caldwell's AR-Brass Catcher. Once you get it fitted, there's no effort to using it. Simply shoot and empty the bag when you're finished. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
Finally, one last inexpensive item I've added that has made my range time more pleasant. A brass-catcher for my AR. I've always laughed at them, but when the guys at Caldwell offered to let me try their newest AR-15 Picatinny rail mount catcher, I decided to give it a try. It's not without it's shortcomings, but it has performed as advertised. My rifle fires and cycles cleanly and the nylon bag catches the brass-although I can't speak to an advertised 100-round capacity. But it'll catch hundreds of .22 LR cases with no problem. It's a simple anodized-aluminum clamp and a steel frame holding a nylon bag that slides onto the clamp and into one of the detents that allow for different width guns. Once mounted, it performed as advertised, but the "simple mounting" wasn't simple. One of the Torx head screws had too-much paint in the Torx slots, so my bit didn't fit. After several infuriating minutes, I took the caveman approach and simply banged the mount into position with the heel of my hand. Then I locked down the other screw and it was fine. Fit is important. Try different things until something fits you. Then stick with it. --Jim Shepherd