Gear Review: Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belts

The feature product of Volund Gearworks, based in the heart of the American Midwest, is the tremendously rugged yet adaptable ATLAS belt.  Volund Gearworks is one of those open secrets among serious shooters: a fantastic vendor of top-quality, made-to-order belts, backed by the promise that if you take care of your belt, they’ll take care of you.  (Just remember: Do Not Taunt Happy Fun (ATLAS) Belt.)

ATLAS G-Hook custom street/inner belt (1.5-inch)

Matt at Volund has custom-built two belts for me in 2014, the pair of which work together seamlessly as a street-and-range modular system.  I initially contacted Volund in early March 2014 for a custom version of their Atlas G-Hook belt to be used as an everyday wear item, with one twist: I wanted a discreet 1″ strip of black Velcro loop material around the outer face of the belt, with a contrasting color behind it to make it blend it with fashionable street clothes.  The Velcro was requested so that I could easily wrap an outer belt lined with Velcro hook over the top and quickly go from “sumdood on the street” to “range monster”.  (Review spoiler: Volund knocked one out of the park with my setup, for which I paid full retail.  Worth every penny.)

Volund Gearworks makes the Atlas belts using a unique design which can take a little work to get tightened up just right, but has the benefit that once their belts are set to size, they’ll stay there all day long regardless of activity level.  Unlike any other belt I own, 98% of the force to tighten the belt comes from pushing the ends of the belt together, not pulling against a buckle.  I set tension on the ATLAS belt by holding the loop side in my left hand, and pushing the loose end through the loop until the belt is tight, then squeezing the loop with my left hand while I secure the G-Hook.

For everyday wear with my (excellent) JM Custom Kydex AIWB holster, especially around the house, I settle the belt over the outside of my hip-bones and set it to be moderately tight.  This is very comfortable and, as the reader can see from the last picture in the gallery, still keeps things from printing.  If I’m headed to a competition or I need max concealment (because: California, even on private property, sigh) I’ll set the belt above my hip-bones and really tighten it up, at which point my carry gear (up to a full-size HK USP40) literally disappears under any reasonable cover garment.

VERDICT: GOOD TO GO — if you don’t have one, buy one, but see the sizing pro-tip first!

ATLAS COBRA custom outer belt (1.75-inch)  

Two weeks after I ordered my custom inner belt from Volund Gearworks, I got back in touch and ordered a custom 1.75-inch-wide Atlas Cobra outer belt.  The critical custom feature on this belt was an inner surface 100% lined with hook Velcro.  When used in conjunction with the loop Velcro on the outside of the Atlas G-Hook belt, the Cobra belt can be kept permanently strung with the Ghost magazine carriers seen in the photos above, plus other accessories (dump pouch, OWB light/laser holster, flashlight holder, etc.) as needed.

After a little tweaking to the overall setup (e.g. using Shoe Goo to put strips of loop Velcro on the Kydex belt loop of my AIWB holster, so the outer belt would grab on securely) I am 100% satisfied with how the VGW Atlas Cobra works as an outer gamer/serious-work belt.  At night this “gamer” belt sits next to my bed pre-rigged with (among other things) a handheld flashlight, spare P30 mags, and a JM Custom Kydex OWB holster for my nightstand HK P30 + Streamlight TLR-2 combo.  I can put on the VGW Atlas Cobra belt and be ready to go <15 seconds after hearing that proverbial bump in the night, which does not suck.

The one annoyance with my custom-built outer belt was that the aggressive hook Velcro around the belt ends seemed to be hanging up and preventing movement as I donned the belt.  I solved this by using a micro-torch to carefully kill the Velcro material on the loose (non-loop) end of the belt, making it MUCH easier to feed through the loop.  No problems since then.

VERDICT: GOOD TO GO — coupled with a VGW inner belt, this is a kick-ass setup that can be adapted to just about anything.

SIZING NOTE

The one tricky bit with custom belts is getting the sizing right, and this was the one area where things weren’t quite perfect.  Some belt makers go off exact fitment (i.e. a measuring tape wrapped over your pants/gear) while others track more closely to typical jeans waist sizing.  My previous foray into hard-core duty belts was a Wilderness Tactical product bought a few months earlier, which was sized according to exact fitment using a tape measure over your pants, so I figured I’d use that to pick the right size for my ATLAS belt.  Yeah… that was not the best plan.

Your humble correspondent currently wears jeans with a 33- or 34-inch waist, depending on how they’re cut, and have previously found that a 38-inch Wilderness belt fits my needs perfectly.  According to Volund’s website, the medium ATLAS belt will fit 32-38 inch waists, while the large will fit the 36-42 inch range.

PRO-TIP: Based on my experience, ATLAS belt buyers should add two inches to their average jeans waist size to pick an ATLAS belt size.  I bought my ATLAS G-Hook belt in the large size and I have to set the G-Hook to the furthest loop (yielding the smallest waist size) to crank it down to fit my hips.  It still fits great, but if Crossfit slims down my chassis much more, I may need to order the same belt in a Medium for good fit.

RECAP

Not only have I been wearing the inner belt pretty much daily since I got it in March, the complete belt system kicked ass during an extremely intense week at Rogers Shooting School.  Any fool who tries to swipe my Volund Gearworks belts is liable to end up missing some fingers, and I’ll be rocking the full rig when I shoot USPSA Limited 10 from AIWB concealment at a local match on Saturday.  Highly recommended.

Website: http://www.volundgearworks.com/
Contact email: info@volundgearworks.com

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