Ares Gear Ranger belt
Aug 13th 2013
Recommended? - yes
Company Website - www.aresgear.com
Manufacturer - Ares Gear
1.5" double layer scuba webbing
1" colored webbing
quick release AustriAplin Cobra buckle
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August 13, 2013
• 06:51 PM
This is my second attempt at this review. My computer crapped out on the last one that I spent a couple hours (on and off) writing so it didn't post. Anyway, this is my initial thoughts review of the Ares Gear Ranger belt.
For the last 5~ months I have been on a journey to reduce my weight, which up to this point has been a huge success. I have dropped 50 lbs to date and with that I have also lost about 2 pants sizes. It was finally time to retire my 5.11 Instructors belt that I had been wearing since December since I pretty much maxed out how much I could cinch the belt down and it was no longer serving its purpose. I scoured different forums and reviews for quite a while to get a general consensus of a good style of gun belt for every day wear and finally decided that a cobra belt was what I wanted. So now that I narrowed down the TYPE of belt I wanted, it shouldn't be so hard to pick one, right? WRONG! I was overwhelmed with the number of companies who offered this style. I read up on SOE, HSGI, Boxer Tactical, Jones Tactical, and even 5.11s recent entry into the cobra world to name a few before I finally came upon what will be the topic of this review. Enter the Ares Gear Ranger belt.
Ares Gear introduced the world to the cobra style belt in 2007 with the Ranger. As the original cobra belt, this style got a lot of funny looks at the start. The wilderness style instructors and riggers belts were the bees knees in the tactical shooting community at that time but it didn't take long for the cobra belt to take off. Since its introduction, many tactical nylon companies have made there go at the cobra belt *see list above* with varying results. Some of the more well known companies do a very good job while some other companies just don't seem to care about anything other than getting their name in the cobra belt game. Of all the options I looked at, the Ares Gear Ranger took the cake. Aside from being able to say I am a proud owner of the original cobra belt, it had every single feature that I wanted and none that I didn't. When it showed up, a few things really stood out and assured me that I made the right choice.
The first was the build quality of this thing. When I took it out of the package (which was very professional and a pleasure to receive) the first thing I noticed was how friggin stiff this thing was! And I mean STIFFFFFFFFFUH! Try to fold this belt over by hand width wise...go ahead...I'll wait...that's right. You can't! I remember when I got my 5.11 Instructor belt and thinking "man, this thing is stiff". Yea, what a joke that was. It is like a wet fettuccine noodle compared to the Ares Gear. This is ideal for us cool guys who load our belt with kit each day for whatever reason. With a typical rigger/instructor type belt, while they can still be very high quality, many just are not cut out for donning heavy equipment. That is why many individuals who wear these belts in a field or range setting also wear an outer belt specifically designed for loading up with kit. I usually always carry in one of our IWB kydex holsters. The reason for that, other than the fact that they are amazingly comfortable (there is my shameless self promotion), is due to the belt. When carrying IWB, the belt doesn't play such a large role because it doesn't need to bear as much weight. Since the holster is sandwiched between my body and my pants, the belt really just needs to snug down to keep the holster in place. OWB holsters are a less suited for those flimsier belts because since the grip of the gun is typically the heaviest part and they sit a good amount above the belt line, they tend to want to torque out away from the body. Also, if you ever carried in an OWB holster on these type of belts you have probably experienced the gun and holster flop over all together when you went to drop trou. These issues can be remedied slightly by cinching the belt to the point where you feel like you are going to cut yourself in half at the waist but who wants to walk around like that? These problems are eliminated with the Ranger belt to its construction. I want to point out that the rigidity of the Ranger belt does not at all compromise comfort. It is still very flexible length wise and conforms perfectly to the body. They accomplish this extraordinary feat by stitching two layers of 1.5" wide scuba webbing together as the backer. On top of that is a thinner 1" wide strip of nylon which comes in a variety of color options and it is this strip that allows the user to adjust the fit of the belt. Note that the 1.5" backer is only available in black as this is the only color that 1.5" scuba webbing can be found in. I'll go over a way around this near the end of this review.
The center piece of the belt which gives this style its name is the AustriAlpin Cobra buckle. These buckles are tanks in themselves. They are rated for all kind of insane weight limits and other cool stuff that I, personally, would never even imagine needing, but hey, it's cool! The key feature of the buckle that makes it special is the fact that you can put the belt on, adjust it to fit, and fasten the buckle and then, when you need to undo your belt for whatever reason, you simply unfasten it without losing your adjustment the next time you fasten it. This has been a god send when I get sent on those super stealth tactical restroom missions (it really is convenient). The buckles are also available in a couple of colors as well which is cool, but I just stuck with black.
The final thing that really locked in my opinion of the Ares Gear Ranger belt was its availability and turn around time. When I was shopping around for a belt there were a few companies that were advertising crazy lead times and most were only available at a couple vendors, if not just through the manufacturer themselves. Ares not only has the option to order direct from there website but also has a decent sized list of authorized dealers carrying these belts. They also had the shortest wait time out of all the companies that had a lead time at 4 weeks although many sources that I referenced stated that they were getting their belts straight from Ares in a much shorter time, most around 2 weeks. There were some companies with gear ready to ship but most of these were the ones that are mass produced and not the best quality or had a feature, or lack thereof, that turned me off from them. I ended up ordering through the Larue Tactical website and I am glad I did. They shipped my package off within an hour of me placing the order and it arrived on my doorstep in just 4 days. WOW! This is just a little bonus and has nothing to do with the belt, but when I opened the package I was thrilled to see not only was my belt and a couple of Ares Gear stickers, but also a bunch of Larue Tactical goodies that they threw in which I later learned was the norm with them. What a treat that was. The only downside of ordering through a vendor and not Ares directly is that you are stuck with the options they have in stock which is usually black/black or black/coyote colorations, though you may find others here and there. This was not a problem for me as the black/coyote was what I wanted anyway.
Now we go into the draw backs. It should be no surprise that something this well built and packed full of awesome has a few minor bug-a-boos. Most notably in my eyes is the cost. At 90 bills, the Ares was the priciest of the belts I considered. For me, this was a gift to myself and a necessity due to my weight loss so I went into the subject knowing I was going to spend some money so the cost wasn't a big deal for me. Another thing is the complexity in putting the belt on. Unlike traditional belts that you can just zip through your pants and gear loops, the size of the cobra buckle requires the wearer to take off the male portion of the buckle prior to weaving through your pants and gear. This can take a little getting used to and can be a little awkward at times. Those are really the only couple of things that I feel could turn people off in my opinion. You may differ.
There are a few variations of the Ranger belt that may vary cost by a few bucks up or down. One of these variations is the Ranger lite. This set up will save you about $10 as it replaces the Cobra buckle with a more basic Cobra frame buckle. This buckle is still very heavy duty and it eliminates the need to remove the buckle to thread through your pant loops. It also takes away the benefit of being able to buckle and unbuckle the belt without having to fiddle with adjusting it each time you undo it. Another option is the Enhanced Ranger. This addresses the issue that I mentioned before about the 1.5" backer only being available in black. The Enhanced Ranger opens up more color and pattern options by the way of sewing a thinner 1.5" wide nylon strip on top of the black backer. This also attributes to a slightly stiffer belt (as if the original isn't stiff enough. PSHH!) The Enhanced Ranger will run you an extra $5-$10 depending on the color way you choose.
All in all, this belt is a total win. I have only been wearing it for right at a week now but I have loved it since I took it out of the box. I have no doubt that this belt will last me for many, many, many years and I have even confirmed through Ares directly that should I get smaller than the belt can be adjusted for, it will take a mere $5 and a few days to have it sent in, resized, and sent back to me. Ares also has an amazing warranty that states if anything happens to the belt that causes it to cease to function, they will fix it, bottom line. Having a similar warranty myself, this really helped Ares secure a place in my pants (see what I did there) for years to come. If you can stomach the cost and the extra 30-45 seconds a day it may take to rig this belt up, you really can't do much better than the Ares Gear Ranger belt.
Price Payed: $90.00
Pros: built like a tank
supports holsters and gear efficiently
can be time consuming to equip
Synopsis: Review of the Ares Gear Ranger belt
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