AWS SMU Belt: Rigid Platform For a Solid Base

The Special Mission Unit (SMU) Operator Composite MOLLE Belt by Advanced Warfighting Solutions offers the company’s two-part belt design for interested shooters or professionals seeking to invest in a solid professional belt fit within any field environment. As is, the SMU Belt utilizes an outer nylon duty belt (with laminate nylon bands to mount pouches and accessories) that is secured, via hook-and-loop, to an inner belt worn through the trouser belt loops to provide a solid foundation.

Inner Belt

Selectable at the time of purchase, the inner belt of the SMU comes in either a rigid 1.5” or 2” single layer Type 13 nylon belt (using TACWEAVE™ webbing) with A-A-59826 (V-T-295E Type I, Type II) nylon thread. AWS maintains this gives the belt a 5,000lb tensile strength in its materials. On the inner belt’s exterior a corresponding band of hook-and-loop (female) material mounts to the corresponding hook-and-loop (male) field on interior of the outer SMU belt.

This inner belt for the SMU is worn through the belt loops and sizing is adjusted via overlapping the inner belt that does not include any buckles to avoid unnecessary pressure or pinching.

Outer Belt

The outer belt of the SMU consists of 1.75” Type 13 nylon (with the same TACWEAVE™ and A-A-59826 threading) that is folded back to create two layers with a AustriaAlpin Cobra buckle (w/optional D-Ring) to secure it. Sizing is adjustable, with the excess material secured using the available elastic nylon band.

Along the inward-facing side of the outer belt is a 1.5” wide hook-and-loop (male) continual band that runs the length of the belt and is used to mount the outer belt to the corresponding (female) hook-and-loop field on the inner belt.

Along the exterior of the outer belt is a continual band of 0.30” thick laminate nylon that is polymer coated and laser-cut to create MOLLE/PALS-compatible spacing, then stitched accordingly to create the BERRY-compliant mounting segments for pouches or other accessories. Each MOLLE segment has a continual line of nylon stitching ran across the belt three times to add reinforcement.

Editor’s Note: Supplementing the SMU Belt review was augmenting holster and pouches other vendors, but those items did not play a factor into the review of the performance of the belt itself.

The Special Mission Unit Belt is available in Multicam (featured), Black, Ranger Green, Coyote Brown, and other popular colors, and comes in wait sizes noted above.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): The overall cost of the Special Mission Unit Operator Composite MOLLE Belt varies due to the configuration, color, and accessories selected at time of purchase by the end-user. As a stand-alone the SMU featured (in Multicam) ranges between $137.70 and $138.70, and is a two-part belt (inner/outer belt) with either a standard  AustriaAlpin buckle or COBRA buckle (with D-Ring). In contrast, similar belt setups include the CHLK Belt ($199) from Blue Force Gear, the Tactical Duty Belt ($164) from Lead Devil, the Operator Belt ($159) from T3 Gear, and the Delta Belt ($115) from Parsec all illustrate the SMU is appropriately (or of average) priced for the market given its design and materials.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The donning of the SMU was comfortable and easy, thanks in part to its thick and rigid structure. However the SMU was unpadded, and more in the traditional design for load-bearing belts with a near-linear cut that minimally contoured to the hip. So potential Meralgia Paresthetica issues or symptoms could arise (though rare) if worn for extended periods, and under high load. The inner belt itself was otherwise comfortable when worn as a regular trouser belt on/around the range. Worn through the belt loops, the wide 2” inner belt also provided a solid foundation that securely held the 1.75” outer belt, with enough size to ensure full seating of outer belt despite the various pull/push forces of magazine draws. The density of the nylon material for both the inner/outer belts left zero excess for any sagging, rolling, or bending of the SMU as a belt system. The outer itself belt was likewise easily adjusted to fit, via the excess nylon material securing the AustriaAlpine buckle, to find the appropriate comfort level around the waist.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): From a durability aspect the SMU belt excelled in its design, with almost every aspect completely reinforced with either double, triple, or even quadruple stitching or bartack along the length of the belt, horizontally at the MOLLE segments, and at key stress points. The AustriaAlpine EDC buckle also translated to significant durability as the buckle is rated to sustain its locking mechanism against an 18,000 pound load. This translated to a high degree of durability and strength on the range that would make the SMU at home in either a professional or competitive setting.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally; AWS’ two-belt system performed exactly as intended, giving a solid performing platform on which to hang a variety of pouches and accessories including; magazine pouches, IFAK, dump pouch, and more using a variety of attachment methods compliant to MOLLE/PALs systems. The inner belt was even functional as a stand-alone daily wear belt (despite the lack of any style of buckle) that could make immediate reaction to a threat as easy as reaching for the exterior belt and quickly donning it. Donning and removing the SMU belt was very easy when appropriately sized for the waist prior (meaning now something you want to attempt on the fly). The spacing between the exterior facing laminate nylon bands provided an appropriate ability to mount MOLLE/PALS accessories without the need to bend or fold the material to allot for passage of the mounting material. Perhaps the only functional element for suggested improvement to AWS would be to integrate a paracord loop near the front of the belt for gloves/carabiner clips rather than relying on attaching a clip through one of the laminate nylon webbing slots. This would free up the belt from an awkwardly attached clip on the beltline and move it under.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At 18.9 ounces for a size 38” SMU (with no mounted pouches or accessories), the total weight of the belt was determined by the type and quantity of nylon material used. Still, use of the various nylons and other materials to the SMU helped to keep the two-part belt system relatively light in weight without sacrificing any of its designed durability or function. Additionally, the belt sat appropriately on the hip without being off-balancing or particularly fatiguing. Comparatively, the CHLK Belt (13 ounces) from Blue Force Gear, the Tactical Duty Belt (22.08 ounces) from Lead Devil, the Operator Belt (20.32 ounces) from T3 Gear, and the Delta Belt (20.8 ounces) from Parsec all illustrate that the SMU is at an good weight for the material and design selected. These aspects, while avoiding unnecessary weight, as found in more traditional systems in either leather or thicker nylons, gave the SMU belt a solid scoring.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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