John Willis the owner and lead thread injectionist at SOE Belts is a character like no other. With over a decade of experience making custom tactical gear he made thread injection cool when people still called it sewing. His combination of experience, over the top personality and dedication to his true customer base is what makes him stand out in a crowd of companies fighting for business.
The biggest difference is John does not fight for your business LOL. If you have followed SOE gear on Facebook you will notice he does not tolerate stupidity or rudeness from his customers. In Customer service emails that get shared on the site that look like a digital version of the soup nazi you will see John quickly put people in their place. This type of customer service is usually the type I would write bad about in a bad light. However when you make the best product out there and have a line of customers who understand the quality of SOE over the others I can appreciate the desire to weed out some chaff.
Let me start with my interaction with John before I knew anything about him. He responded to a person who never placed an order with him before in 2 hours and 45 minutes. His response was courteous and helpful as I was unsure of which model belt I needed. I did not get a face full of screw you as I have from some other belt manufacturers. Instead when I outlined what I needed it for and what I thought looked cool John informed me that I had no idea what I was talking about. The funny thing is this attitude is what I hate at gun shops. Mainly because in a gun shop I know what I want and 2 the reasons they tell me I don’t know what I am talking about is not factual it is inventory and profit margin driven. In this case John actually talked me out of a more expensive belt and into the one that makes the most sense. He used real facts, and fitting information to explain to me the EDC belts he make are much more logical for my needs over the Cobra belts.
Only after my interactions with him did I begin to follow him on Facebook and start to really appreciate this mans humor and love for his work. You see his attitude does not come from the same lack of caring that causes a McDonalds server to forget to pack your fries in your bag. John knows more about making battle tested gear then any person I have spoken to. He has made tactical clothing manufacturing his life and provides a product that EMS, Fire, Police and Military men pay out of pocket to own. His caring and deep emotional attachment to his product are what make him such a D*%^ to the public at times.
John puts more work into one belt then most of his competition puts into 3 or more. For his EDC belts for example he uses between 2-6 times as much material as his competition. The sewing is impeccable and the rigidity on the belts I have seen from him are astounding.
EDC Low Profile Belt With Velcro Lining
We received one of these belts to test against several other manufacturers. Needless to say this one came out head and shoulders above all the others we tested. As noted above I had asked for the Cobra Buckle originally and was told the following:
We make 75 to 100 belts a day. We sell EDC belts 30 to 1 over the 1.75″ cobra belts. For EDC belts the EDC belt is a better belt than the belt you listed.
Ok lets dissect this sentence and see what we learn. SOE Belts is making 75-100 belts a day. Holy crap! These are not being made in China right next to the Nike factory. These are American made by American labor here in the Camden TN, USA. Now the EDC belts sell 30 to 1 over the cobra belt according to John and this blew my mind. If you recall yesterday we released an article on the RCKS Holster for Appendix Carry. I had not carried Appendix until getting that rig and I knew I would be testing the rig with the belt since I need 30 days on each before I can do a review. What I learned when using another belt is Appendix Carry is very difficult if you have a large buckle on your belt. I was unable to locate the video now of Travis Haley talking about running his belt to the side when using appendix carry due to the buckle.
I can tell you without a doubt John was right. One of the other belts we got was Cobra Buckle and frankly the buckle got in the way and made carrying appendix uncomfortable. While originally the buckle system on the EDC belt looked cheap in pictures it is not. It holds up very well is solid metal and have had no issue with it working loose and that involved PT as well as EDC and intentional misuse.
As for rigidity this thing is solid. I mean solid like a brick. There is no chance of this belt giving you the issues found with low quality leather belts or even poorly reinforced leather belts. This is by far the most rigid belt I have ever owned and that includes belts with Kydex reinforcement. This belt will take any amount of EDC you can throw at it. So if your belt needs to carry a duty rig as a LEO or you just like to have a gun, backup gun, mags, pepper spray, stun gun, knife, backup knife and maybe a kitchen sink then this is the belt for you.
We got the Velcro lining version due to wanting to use this belt in competitions. 248Shooter is looking to field a team for some local matches and having a quality inner outer belt for these matches was a necessity. In hindsight we should have gone all black with ours so we could have our LEO reviewer run this as a duty belt but frankly I like OD Green.
There is one trade off with this style belt and the thickness associated with the SOE Belts EDC Low Profile. While adjustable outward they are not really designed to adjust inwards easily. For example if you are a 34 inch waist (I wish) you will want to buy the 34 inch belt. It can adjust out a several inches but does not really adjust down well due to the shape and rigidity of the belt. If you are like me and on the constant quest to loose weight you can buy a belt a bit smaller so that you can adjust down when the day comes you actually get the weight off.
SOE Special Operations Gear
SOE stands for Special Operations Gear. These guys make the best products for the real deal users. This is not airsoft goods or low end products found on clearance that rip in 30 days (I’m looking at you LA Police Gear) . SOE makes a lot more then just belts.
- Chest Rigs
- Micro Rigs
- Mag Pouches
- Christmas Stocking’s
- Combat Cocks
Yeah I said Christmas stockings and combat cocks. If you have a LEO or military person in your family seriously consider buying one of these Christmas stockings. These are Molle webbed heavy duty stocking for the most tactical operators!
As for Combat Cocks they are too cool to even talk about here. They will need an entire article on their own. So keep an eye out for more great news coming out of TN and SOE Belts.