One of the ever-pervasive issues that police officers have to deal with is our duty gear. Having been in the profession for over a decade now, my frontline duty gear and duty gear set-up has changed several times as I’ve moved to different assignments with different equipment requirements.
When Traditional Duty Belts Go Wrong
Most officers, when they start off will slap everything they possibly can onto their duty belt. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it, right? Fresh out of the academy, my first patrol belt had the following on it: G17+ duty holster, a key ring keeper, a glove pouch, double cuff case, double mag pouch, ASP pouch, OC pouch, radio pouch, flashlight pouch, and a mount for my full-size SL20X flashlight. Considering that back then I had a 28” waist, there was virtually no space on my belt at all.
Of course, once the realities of actual patrol life set in, most officers gravitate towards functionality and most importantly, comfort. Back issues plague officers; the constant in and out of patrol cars, foot pursuits, fights, standing around on traffic details for hours on end – all the weight around the waist causes bruising, pain, and discomfort.
Back then, I had two options for duty belts; traditional leather basketweave, or the newer Bianchi Accumold nylon webbing belt. Neither of these options were terribly comfortable, but they were what we had, and they worked.
Flash forward twelve years, and you’d think we’d have migrated away from this trend, right? Unfortunately not.
With 21stcentury policing come 21stcentury problems. Nowadays, new officers coming out of the academy are already issued Taser X2s. Add those as a less lethal option, body cameras, and portable microphones synched with our in-car camera systems, IFAKs, tourniquets, Naloxone, and so on…and it seems that we’re now required to carry more than ever before.
High Speed Gear’s “Duty Grip” System
High Speed Gear sent me a “Duty Grip” belt system to wear for a media event earlier in 2018, and I was intrigued by it enough to give it a go. The belt system is geared towards law enforcement, so I was personally and professionally intrigued. So what is the “Duty Grip” system, and why is it relevant?
The “Duty Grip” belt system is comprised of the belt pad, and user’s choice of belt itself. The system that High Speed Gear sent me was a Black Multicam pad, and a 1.75” rigger’s belt. The pad system is a pretty slick affair, and not unlike several other models of belt pad systems that High Speed Gear already offers, however it is more subdued in execution, which makes it more appealing for duty use. First off, the Cordura pad itself is 2.75” tall, so it’s a little less obtrusive than some of their taller battle belt systems.
The pad itself comes in two different configurations; the first simply has a series of vertical laser-cut cuts, creating dozens of beltloop-like sections that cover the entire length of the belt pad, and the second is the same, but with a molle section in the center of the pad. The loops are approximately .25” wide, which comes in handy. The beauty of this system, is that the end user simply weaves the belt through the loops on the pad, exposing only as much belts as is needed to secure belt accessories. If properly spaced and placed on the belt, the “Duty Grip” system ensures a 100% repeatable belt platform, as the mounted accessories stay exactly in the place where the user intended; and they cannot move as they’re captured between the loops.
The backside of the pad is covered in a grippy, subtly-padded neoprene surface. While not overly-bulky, the padding is quite comfortable and creates a malleable cushion between the belt system and the user’s underbelt. I was quite impressed with this feature; not only does the pad provide a great deal of comfort when secured around the waist, but the depth of the neoprene padding itself creates a “bedding” of sorts – contouring itself around the user’s waist and underbelt, which provides a surprisingly secure platform.
I paired the pad that High Speed Gear sent with two “Double Decker” tacos (the AR and pistol pouch combo), a single pistol taco, and a single AR taco. Since this was to be a range belt, I mounted my go-to Safariland rig with a UBL/QLS base so I can swap out holsters as necessary, a Snake Eater Tactical dump pouch, and a Blue Force Gear Micro TKN! in case of emergency. I chose to go with a 1.75” Rigger Belt.
After four months of use, including a 2-day carbine course, I was pretty darn impressed with the “Duty Grip” system. That being said, I had some concerns about the “Duty Grip” moniker, especially with an advertising tagline from High Speed Gear that claimed that there were “No keepers needed!” Now in all honesty, I was not in any knock-down drag-out fights while wearing my “Duty Grip” system, it was a training/range belt. The system DID hold up well to sitting, squatting, kneeling, and prone positions, however that was normal, non-dynamic movement.
I am a firm believer that ANY duty belt that is fielded out in real life, especially a cop’s belt, where we can be engaged any day and any time by a determined attacker trying to get to our sidearm, that keepers are a must. Non-negotiable. A determined attacker WILL be able to unseat the “Duty Grip” belt from the underbelt in a life or death struggle.
Fortunately, High Speed Gear sells belt keepers specifically sized for the “Duty Grip” belt system. Knowing this, I figured there would be no better way to really run the “Duty Grip” system through what a cop goes through on a daily basis than to just wear one at work.
Since my department will not allow for Black Multicam, I bought a second “Duty Grip” system in black, and instead of the Rigger’s Belt, I bought the High Speed Gear “Cop Lock” Duty Belt; which is a 2” nylon belt, and features a Tri-Lock buckle that most of us are familiar with. I wanted my evaluation duty belt to look as standard as possible to other duty belts that were out there, so I chose to use my pre-existing duty gear (mostly Safariland Group Accumold web gear) as well as a Zero 9 custom kydex radio pouch.
Weaving duty accessories onto the pad system proved to be a little more challenging that weaving on the Tacos, as I had to be a bit more precise with what loops I exposed to fit each accessory. Once I had everything where I wanted it though, the system performed very, very well. My patrol loadout on my duty belt consists of the following: G17 and holster, OC spray, IFAK, radio, AR mag, 2 G17 mags, handheld flashlight, and a set of cuffs. This is a pretty standard loadout for most officers, give or take a baton, or a Taser, for example.
Daily wear was no problem at all; there were no pinch points, no hotspots on my hips, and no numbness after repeated nine and sometimes eighteen hour shifts. The system shed water well in the rain, and at a glance, doesn’t stick out as terribly different from any other duty belt out there, if uniformity is an issue in your department.
The belt keepers are narrow, unobtrusive, don’t take up a ton of space on the belt and are sized properly so there’s no up and down slop on the belt. Simply stated, the belt system stays put, and does not move for the entire course of a nine hour shift. I am very impressed with the comfort and durability of the system.
Observations and Conclusion
There were a few points that came up during my evaluation wear of the “Duty Grip” system, both on and off duty.
Pay attention to the High Speed Gear website and sizing directions. In order for the system to fit and work as advertised, it is up to the end user to read the directions and choose the properly sized belt pad and corresponding belt. High Speed Gear has written sizing instructions and recommendations, as well as a sizing video for those more visually-inclined. Take the time and do it right. I found that it’s worth the real-estate and comfort to buy the size “Duty Grip” pad that allows for the ends of the pad to touch up front. Not only does this allow for 360°padding coverage, but will add a couple extra loops for maximum accessory placement flexibility.
Get the keepers if you intend to use the “Duty Grip” system for uniformed duty. The system is secure and sturdy, it really is. I have friends that wear this system in both LE and .mil/fed capacities and have no issue at all for regular duty use. I have ventured out on a uniformed off-duty job with no keepers myself just to see how repetitive getting in and out of a car and sitting/standing reps would do, but I played the odds of not getting into a physical confrontation while I monitored a Christmas Mass service.
All that being said, I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone wearing a uniform wear an unsecured duty belt when out in the “For reals.” Get the keepers. Even though the system boasts excellent retention capabilities, get the keepers.
All in all, the High Speed Gear Duty Grip is an excellent system, and I will continue to use my purchased system on duty after the evaluation period is over.
Consider that the “Duty Grip” system that I bought, INCLUDING the upgraded Cop Lock 2” duty belt cost less than $100, and it really becomes a no brainer. Do you get bruises on your hips from your current duty belt? Do your hips and hip flexors go numb after standing on a traffic detail for a few hours? This system will help. I am very pleased with this system and have no problem recommending its use both on and off duty.
Want to see more previous reviews. Check them out here.