Sponsored by SENTRY
By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff
After wearing the old, heavy leather Sam Browne duty gear for 15 years, I was admittedly anxious to try out SENTRY’s Gunnar Belt and pouch system. When I went through my first basic SWAT course, nylon was getting better, but still had a long way to go. To put the belt and pouch system to the test, I tried it out for a month and a half and even wore it to my statewide, annual, firearms instructor’s training seminar where I used it during courses. The gear is light, strong, and extremely versatile. And as if that wasn’t enough, the gear is also comfortable.
Belted for success
SENTRY has set up a winning belt system with the Gunnar Inner Belt. Made of high-strength nylon webbing, the base is a 1.75-inch inner belt that fastens simply by pulling the tail through a D-ring and folding it back to some strong hook and loop. I was surprised how low profile and supple the inner belt was, especially given how other brands I’ve tried had an extremely rigid and even scratchy feel to them. And even though the inner belt was soft, it gripped the outer belt extremely well. It also did not have any rough or unfinished edges as I have seen with other older nylon products.
The Low Profile Operator Belt by SENTRY is another 1.75-inch outer belt that attaches to the inner belt through a hook and loop system. The connection is extremely strong, so you have to be careful to make sure they’re aligned before donning it on. The benefit of this strong grip is a complete lack of having to use keepers of any kind, whatever your loadout is. The genius of this belt’s mounting system is the sections of double-oval laser cutouts that allow you to affix pouches MOLLE/PALS style. Because of the ovals, you can mount pouches horizontally, vertically, even at angles if you prefer. Optionally, you can use integrated belt loops on the pouches to any standard duty belt. Plus, the belt closes very securely with a Cobra Buckle.
Not just any old pouch
SENTRY also sent along some great accessories for their belt system that showed a mindfulness-bent towards pouches of different sizes. These pouches shared some features in common which I will discuss here, but I will break down each of the individual pouches below. First, each of the pouches was laser cut nylon, strong, yet flexible. In addition, they had external ovals allowing me to potentially stack multiple pouches on top of each other. Depending on your mission, you might be able to stack a couple of M4 magazine holders on top of each other and still get a comfortable ride in your patrol car. The pouches also came with toggle loops or some other type of retention device.
SENTRY seems to understand what happens when heavy gear is only held in your belt with gravity, take a tumble and when your stuff spills out it’s a law enforcement yard sale.
SENTRY engineered methods to lock your gear in place until you need it. Also, the plastic mounting tabs are pretty easy to route and secure in place. Here’s how the belt fared with different pouch sizes:
Single pistol magazine pouch – I mounted a spare mag holder just to the outside of my normal double mag. This pouch was very handy and also had a tensioned pull tab I could place on top of my pistol magazine to keep it secured in place. Despite all the jostling and running around at my training, I did not lose this magazine. When I needed to access it, I simply rocked the tab to the side and withdrew the magazine.
AR-15/M4 magazine pouch – Much like the single pistol pouch, this wider one accommodated an AR-15 magazine. This pouch also had a secure tab and I used it frequently. During rifle/pistol transition drills I was able to use both of these pouches handily. The staggered laser-cut ovals on the exterior of this pouch made the possibility of mounting still yet another mag holder very possible.
Shotgun ammo pouch – This unique design was a slightly deeper pouch than the M4 magazine holder and came with a snap on the top. After clearing the retainer, I was able to draw forth a U-shaped piece of nylon with 10 shotgun shell loops. A convenient tab assured clearing the shell holder from the pouch. This cool piece of kit makes it possible to carry 10 more rounds of shotgun shells, in whatever configuration you like, without a whole lot of bulk on your belt. With built-in belt loops, you can also mount the shell carrier to a belt or sling.
Single handcuff pouch – I mounted the single handcuff pouch strong-side just after the Cobra Buckle. This unit contained a single snap in the middle and a shroud that covered the bottom and sides of the cuffs without taking up much room. A simple tug upward freed the handcuffs but they did not otherwise come out during running around.
Tourniquet pouch – Without a doubt, one of my favorite accessories was the tourniquet pouch. At first blush, this looks like a normal nylon pouch with a hooded flap closure. However, there is a drawstring with some knurled knobs hanging down from the flap. During training, I did not notice this string, but I knew it was there. Pulling up on the draw actually opens the flap and ejects the tourniquet halfway out of the pouch. This is an awesome feature that could be accomplished with gross motor function should it become necessary. In addition, the staging of the tourniquet makes it a whole lot easier to access from various positions, even if an officer is still seat belted in a car.
When nylon beats ancient leather
I remember the days of leather duty belts. I recall having to back up to the dresser and either throw it on or shrug it off with a thud. I would wrestle it into place and snake a few strategically placed keepers on to keep it secured. Whenever I had to add or remove a component, I laid it all out and mapped the route for the belt. Even early nylon products I used were barely better.
Those days are gone.
SENTRY has produced a smart system built on tough nylon that is so much lighter than leather. You can mount accessories, or remove them, one piece at a time. The pouches have an intelligent design with an eye towards both retention and customization. Users can stack or nest pouches how they see fit. The end result is a low-profile belt that is far more capable than any duty gear I’ve ever experienced. Lightweight and flexible, SENTRY has a wide array of pouches and other accessories in colors from black, to coyote brown and multi-cam, enabling you to design your own rig to fit your needs, whatever they may be.