Disclaimer: This item was provided free of charge by C2R FAST for testing and evaluation purposes. There has been no exchange of money, and the terms of the item being provided are that if I like a product, I review it, if I don’t like a product, it gets sent back. With this is mind I always remain as unbiased as possible, my thoughts are my own, and the sole purpose of this blog is to provide helpful information to someone who might actually need it to find the right solution for their problem.
I’ve been aware of C2R for a number of years now, tracking back to mid 2018 when I ordered some of their excellent flashbang pouches. At the time these were highly sought after during the boom of the UKSF inspired kit scene, so being able to order 12 of them at once was a pretty big deal. Given the company’s long standing habit of being somewhat closed off to the masses it was also a privilege to make the connection with them, which I am glad to say is still open to this day.
Fast forward to 2021, and C2R have grown to be able to offer their products to more than just the particularly loud breed of Hereford locksmiths, something which their owners have been pushing for for years. As part of this transition, a few of us who have supported C2R over the years were invited down to their Hereford facility to see the transformation from 2 men in a garage to a fully fledged, high tech tactical gear production company.
For me this was a true kid in a sweet shop experience, as we were not only allowed to peruse a whole host of C2R products, both public and secretive, but we also got to see the methods and machines that made them. One of these items was their Shooter’s Belt R and after seeing them go from raw materials to a finished product, we also got to take a few home with us.
The C2R Shooter’s Belt R
Upon first inspection the C2R Shooter’s Belt R (SBR) actually doesn’t raise too many eyebrows, following the now ubiquitous format of a slimline, micro MOLLE gunbelt that uses a 2 part velcro attachment system. These have been around for a long time, and are often the first product offered by small start up sewshops. This first impression is deceiving however, and the boffins at C2R decided to do things a little differently.
While many of the shooter’s belt manufacturers in the UK produce an excellent product (I have it on very good authority that the Tacbelts UK rigid shooter’s belt falls under this category), the C2R belt is designed from the ground up to be an all singing all dancing unit for the professional user. The goal of the SBR is to be lighter, stronger and more user configurable than any other, giving the end user both flexibility and confidence in the system.
Materials and COnstruction
Before diving into how the belt performs, its important to look into how the SBR has been put together, especially as we got to see this first hand.
The base of the belt itself is made from the familiar double layered row of 50mm cordura, dropping to a single layer to allow the attachment and adjustment of the male cobra buckle half. Sandwiched in-between these rows is a hard plastic insert, which helps to give the belt its formidable rigidity. So far, nothing too out of the ordinary.
Where things become a little different is in the stitching. Whereas many other belts out there are stitched together perfectly well, the C2R SBR has been treated to an absolute hammering with a sewing machine, and not just to hold the two sides of webbing together.
As a passion for engineering sits at the heart of one of C2R’s founders it’s not unsurprising that the SBR has been given the attention to detail expected from someone trained by the aviation industry, with load rating being considered from the off. The most striking visible clue to this is the hidden stitch pattern lurking below the MOLLE sleeve. This particular pattern allows the belt to be rated to EN358 for use as a restraint. The choice of pattern is then reinforced by the use of computer controlled machinery to create the belts with very small tolerances, making sure that each unit is as strong as the last.
Internally, there is the familiar strip of hook velcro used to secure the SBR to the wearer’s (included) inner belt, which is of the standard foldover design familiar to many in the British Army, as these were popularised during the Afghan conflict. The “hook in” orientation of the velcro is beneficial in my mind, as previous experiences with “hook out” inner belts has led to other pieces of clothing and equipment becoming caught and even damaged by the velcro (long time blog supporter SH, owner of the original polished turd had a very costly jacket’s lining destroyed by his belt). The “hook in” configuration also means that the C2R SBR is compatible with other inner belts, like Crye Precision’s MRB.
On the outside of the SBR efforts have been made to make the belt both visually striking and functional. I have long since been a naysayer of laser cut MOLLE after my experiences with some other products, but as the years have gone by I’ve been turned more and more onto the idea (especially with help from Platatac’s Helium Whisper range) and the SBR is just another rung in that ladder.
My main gripe with laser cut anything has always been its tendency to be warped under extreme loads, and in the case of the T-rex Arms Orion, outright floppy. This is simply not an issue with the C2R SBR. It was evident from the production level that literally every part of the SBR has been attached under extreme tension, which means that the laminate MOLLE portion is attached firmly to the core webbing of the belt. The MOLLE sleeve is sewn on vertically at intervals of 2 and 1 columns, so tightly that after a reasonable amount of deliberate ragging about the stitching portions are still sucked in so tightly that you can see and feel a depression in the belt itself.
This Catholic girl on prom night level of tightness lends the SBR’s MOLLE to handle most loads well, with the act of wrapping it around your waist actually cinching each of the MOLLE loops in even tighter and pulling your pouches into place/
The final piece of the SBR puzzle is the cobra buckle that holds the belt together when you need it most, and also provides the attachment point for your chosen lanyard. Once again you need to take a closer look at the buckle of choice to fully understand the efforts taken to stop the wearer from falling out of a helicopter.
The ubiquitous Cobra buckle comes in all shapes and sizes, but the Austrialpin Cobra Pro Style D ring variant was chosen for the SBR. While all Cobras are strong, this variant also features a hard coat anodising which helps to protect the buckle in maritime environments, and a 22kN rated D ring to allow the wearer to lash themselves to an airframe. This buckle is ANSI rated, and far exceeds the necessary requirements for EN 358. As a point of reference, in order to break the 22kN D ring you would have to drop a little over 2 tonnes of mass onto the belt, and another tonne on top to break the buckle connection. As far as a safety belt goes, this is more than enough. If you ever did find yourself falling out of a chopper with 3 tonnes attached to your body somewhere, it’s probably more likely that the body part will come off long before the belt breaks.
Finally there are a few stylistic choices on the belt that serve zero purpose, other than to make it stand out from the crowd. Reverse folded MOLLE columns, a small C2R logo window and a colour coordinated and branded tie down for the D ring complete the overall aesthetic.
The C2R Shooter’s Belt R In practice
First and foremost, I have not been able to put the “R” (rated) portion of SBR to proper practice, as I do not have any airframes handy to fall out of while wearing it. I have however been using it as a swing on several occasions by hooking a couple of retention lanyards between it and a pull up bar, putting a foot onto the belt and bouncing around on it like it’s a one legged pogo stick. I am pleased to report that it has shown absolutely zero signs of abuse, and I only stopped as it seemed the doorframe would give up before the belt would. This is hardly a scientific test, but for my uses this is confirmation enough that I can use the belt and lanyard combo as a seat belt of sorts.
Moving on from me swinging around like Harambe’s less hairy cousin, the C2R SBR has been a dream to use, especially when considering the heavier items I like to carry on my belt line.
The most notable of these items is my NICO trainer “Police Impact” grenade, which I carry in an ACS trigger pouch. On my MRB this pouch had some flop to it, despite the angled nature in which I had mounted it which tightened it down to the MOLLE. On the SBR, there is no wobble. By tucking the arms through the top left loop of a double column and forcing them to come out of the bottom right, I have managed to not only mount the trigger pouch into a comfortable deployment angle, but also have tightened it to within an inch of its life. The rigidity of the belt, and the outward squeezing action of wearing it means that the trigger pouch is secured solid as a rock, with absolutely no outward lean.
This is however the area that I’m expecting to see the first real signs of wear on the MOLLE, as I suspect I have actually pushed it a little too far. Up to now there have been no warning signs and I’m confident that the belt will hold up to whatever I can throw at it, but for a professional end user I think I would advise the use of a 45 degree MOLLE adapter to achieve this, instead of forcing what is still just a thin bit of laser cut laminate to make some pretty horrible turns.
The other area where I have failed to put the belt to a proper test is in the water, as I don’t spend a lot of time recreationally diving around enemy waters, but the SBR is geared up to handle this at least in short bursts. Salt water degrades everything, and no amount of special treatments and coatings will ever save nylon products from the inevitable, but in short bursts this belt is designed to shed water, rather than retain it. The ANSI buckle and laminate MOLLE are both clear signs that while not intended for regular use underwater, if you do happen to take a dip the belt is ready for it.
The final point to note from using the C2R SBR is that it is very comfortable to wear, especially when loaded down. Other shooter’s belts that I’ve had in the past have been prone to sagging under heavy weights, putting pressure down onto the wearer and causing unpleasant rubbing, along with a sense of being unbalanced. With the SBR the in built rigidity keeps the belt both upright, and also evenly balanced. While it will never have the load spreading ability of a fully padded set of tailored webbing, it does absolutely hold its own when done up properly. On my current setup I carry a grenade body, pistol and rifle magazine all on one side, with my holster attached to my inner belt. This thoroughly off balance setup should feel wrong, but the SBR just spreads the weight around itself drawing support from the opposite hip.
At this point it should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of the C2R SBR, as it has made it into a review which means I like it. It’s a very comfortable and capable platform that takes a common and well saturated type of product and just does it properly. Whilst it may not be the cheapest out there, if you’re an end user actually relying on your belt to keep you attached to whatever vehicle is dangling you several hundred feet in the air, then you should probably invest in the best.
I am excited to see some other products that will soon be materialising from C2R, which are designed to work in conjunction with this belt to give the user even more flexibility in their load carrying, but if they’re not talking about them yet then I won’t. Rest assured, the guys down there are not resting on their laurels.
The C2R Shooter’s Belt Rated is the first in a line of products that will soon be far more available to the general public, and for those still pouring over UKSF pictures to build a representative kit you may find a lot more of these cropping up as time goes on.
I’d just like to say another enormous thanks to the team at C2R Fast for not only hosting us for the day, but showing us the ins and outs of how their products are made and being totally transparent not just about the strengths of their products but also the weaknesses of their pasts. It’s great to see a business that has developed a huge cult following now being able to break out into the public eye and give the people what they want.
Obviously I’d also like to say thankyou for the belt, which will remain a mainstay on my kit for the forseeable future especially as the new products keep appearing from the production line in Hereford. If you want to get one for yourself… you will have to wait a little longer. These are not yet publicly available (as of October 2021), but will be very soon.
If you’ve got any questions about the SBR or any other items, just shoot me a message on my Instagram account @thegeardocrow. If you want to call me a cunt, feel free to use that link as well.