A couple years ago, Magpul Industries – a company we all know and love – decided to expand their offering lineup to include other items you wouldn’t expect to see from a business that built its foundation on extremely durable and cost-effective rifle accessories. The recently was introduced – and it brings a unique innovative spin to the classic leather gun belt model.
Would you expect anything less from Magpul?
The Tejas “El Original”
The Magpul El Original belt is Magpul’s first entry into the gunbelt fray – and they came out swingin’. At 1 ½” wide and ¼” thick, it has been designed to be compatible with most big-boy holsters. (the El Original is also available in 1 ¼” thickness.) The exterior of the belt is good, solid old-fashioned bull hide leather, which is bonded and sewn to an interior layer of a flexible version of Magpul’s famous indestructible polymer.
This hybrid combination of materials produces a classy-looking belt that is unbelievably rugged. The hardware – buckle, and fasteners – are chrome plated for durability and snazzy appearance. The fasteners are removable via C-clips and have the Magpul logo branded on them…so you can pop the fasteners out remove the stock belt buckle, and put your favorite six-inch on with no problems. Thanks, Magpul!
Available in black, “chocolate” brown, or light brown, from lengths of 32 to 44 inches, the El Original should fit most users with zero difficulty. Price through the Magpul website is currently $84.95, placing the price level equivalent to other high-end leather belt offerings.
I have been wearing my personal black Magpul Tejas El Original 1 ½” belt almost daily since the day it arrived in the mail. Here’s what I’ve discovered about the belt.
The (admittedly borderline trivial) “bad” first: Though I followed Magpul’s measuring instructions to the letter, I found that once I put the belt on, I had to cinch the buckle through the second-to-last hole…at the outer end. This left me with barely enough tag end material left over to shove back through the buckle. When the belt was loaded up with gear – my – I often had to go to the last hole on the belt, which I did not like.
I’m planning on grabbing a in the future, and when I do, I’m going to go to the next size up to give myself a little adjustability and wiggle room in the length department. Might help me later in life, too, as I descend headlong into middle-aged tubbiness, fight it though I may.
The other item on my “bad” list is the fact that after about six months of daily wear, one of the removable fasteners removed itself and disappeared into history forever, leaving the El Original with but one fastener to hold the belt together. To Magpul’s credit, the belt still performs admirably with just one binder keeping things together. However, you might want to order the – $12.95 will net you a new buckle and two new fasteners. Cheap insurance to ensure your belt stays in fighting trim.
Time to gush over the good – and it is GOOD. As someone who generally eschews wearing any kind of “tactical tuxedo”, I shy away from rigger’s belts and the like for two reasons – they are specialized products that are almost a dead giveaway that whoever might be wearing one probably has a gun on their person; also, rigger’s belts use hardware such as the Cobra buckle that are a complete and utter bitch to run through fixed holster loops, necessitating clip-on holsters and accessories. I like fixed holster belt loops, thank you very much, so I want my holsters to be able to work with my belt.
The Magpul Tejas El Original belt plays nice with holsters that are set up for 1 ½” or wider belts. (1 ½” is a standard.) The belt is (barely) flexible enough to wrestle through two holster belt loops, but if you’re like me and like to run the belt through one holster loop, then down through my 4 o’clock pants belt loop, and then through the second holster belt loop, you’re gonna have an ugly time due to the rigidity of the belt.
But it can be done, and once you get your gear distributed where you like it, the El Original belt is a dream to wear. The inside polymer layer resists binding and bending, so the belt stays completely flat against your body and does its job – namely, holding your pants and gear payload up and distributing the weight evenly. This belt is unbelievably comfortable, even with a 2-pound loaded pistol and two extra magazines thrown into the mix.
If you yank your pistol out of its holster like you mean it, the reinforced polymer portion of the belt resists any vertical movement and keeps your holster where it belongs while your handgun goes where it belongs. This is the essence of any gun belt’s mission…and the El Original accomplishes that mission perfectly.
The belt is very plain and attractive; I wear mine every day in a business-casual work environment. Though it sometimes needs to be worked and wiggled a bit to fit through khaki or dress pants belt loops (dress pants are usually meant to accommodate useless 1” dress belts), the belt is innocuous enough that it fits right in, and nobody has given it a second glance. So if you’re into the “Gray Man” thing, this belt is right up your alley. If you’re into the “I just want an awesome belt that works for everything”, this belt is just what the doctor ordered.
Wear and Tear?
After a year of constant use and gun duty, the belt does have its fair share of battle scars and scuffs – as to be expected with any heavily-used leather belt. The buckle’s chrome plating is wearing off at high points to show a copper-colored material underneath – but I defy you to find a buckle that doesn’t do the same after a year of daily use.
The wear on my particular belt is minimal and doesn’t bother me in the least – nor does it affect the usage or the belt’s ability to perform its required tasks. Also, I have found the exposed edges of the bullhide leather have slightly started to abrade, especially in areas where my pistol’s holster lives, and in the buckle area. This is normal aesthetic wear and tear for any leather belt and is to be expected if the belt lives a useful life.
I’m willing to bet that for 99.999% of people who buy this belt for its intended purpose – a damn GUN BELT – any wear after a year of hard use won’t faze them. As I said, the wear is truly minimal, and could be expected from any leather belt…even if you don’t use it as a mounting surface for a holster and pistol.
I will say that this belt resists cracking and splitting better than other leather belts I have used in the past. My old Bianchi unlined leather belt cracked vertically at the most commonly used buckle hole; Magpul’s polymer liner of this El Original belt assures me I’ll meet an honest politician before the belt cracks or fails structurally.
Down to the Brass Tacks
Overall, my experience with the Magpul Tejas El Original belt has been nothing short of stellar. The hybrid leather/polymer is a game changer – the leather outer surface ensures that you’ll have a belt that is formal enough to wear to work, whether you’re a concrete worker or a high-end lawyer. The polymer human side of the belt guarantees rigidity, longevity, and utility, all while rendering the belt impervious to sweat and other human-produced clothing maladies.
With 100% confidence, I can say without hyperbole or subterfuge that if I only could have one belt, the Magpul Tejas El Original would be it. Hell, I have six or seven belts and it’s the only one I’ve used for a year. The El Original is hands down the best gun belt I’ve ever owned, and is quite likely to continue to hold that title for a long, long time.
But honestly – did you expect anything less from Magpul?