Jones Tactical 2″ FatZombie Duty Belt

by February 14, 2013 02/14/13

Today I’ll be taking a look at the Jones Tactical 2″ FatZombie Duty Belt. The FatZombie is unique and is by far the best duty belt I’ve ever worn. My hope is that this article will help you make an informed decision if you  decide  to pull the trigger on a FatZombie.

I’ll be the first to admit that until recently, I just dealt with the duty belt I was issued and didn’t give it  much thought. But like other equipment, there comes a time where it makes sense to switch to new material technology and design. If your agency is like mine, they go with the lowest bidder, which in our case is  Uncle Mike’s. Not to knock Uncle Mike’s (they are made in the USA), but the belt I was issued 9 years ago  was no different in material and technology than the Uncle Mike’s belt I was issued as an MP  in the Army 17 years ago.

I guess you could argue, “why change something that works?” For some people this is perfectly fine, but for those that are reading this, evolving with equipment and training is a way of life.

A Brief History

I was fortunate to correspond with Richard (owner of Jones Tactical) during the writing of this article  and ask a few questions about the belt. Richard keeps pretty busy between sewing and training and  this shows his commitment to putting out the best products possible and staying current in the industry.

According to Richard, the belt was first  prototyped around 2007 and was developed due to the weakness of the standard plastic buckle. The Cobra buckle was a no-brainer as a replacement to the common plastic buckles used at the time (and even currently). Using a Cobra buckle posed some design challenges, as the standard belt placement couldn’t be used due to the width of the belt and the smaller inner width of the Cobra buckle. Thus, a new overlapping design was used. Richard also saw that most belts were not stiff enough so he used scuba webbing to stiffen the belt.

I asked Richard about the name FatZombie, as this  belt was developed before the recent fad of everything “Zombie.” Richard said the name came from a friend who helped him R&D the original belt. That friend’s paintball tournament nickname was “FatZombie” and it ended up sticking.

Hardware

The FatZombie uses the AustriAlpin Cobra Buckle and heavy-duty hook and loop. Bryan has covered the specs of the  Cobra Buckle in other articles but here’s a recap:

  1. They’re made of Aluminum so they don’t rust. Anyone that’s worked around the ocean can attest to how rusty metal buckles and v-rings can get.
  2. They’re strong! a 2000 lb. load capacity is what paragear.com quotes.
  3. They can’t be opened under tension. One side will disengage if under tension, but will not release. When the tension is released the side will then re-lock.
  4. From #3, if one side of the two clasp system is disengaged the buckle will not open, both clasps have to be depressed to release.

The Cobra Buckle is leaps and bounds better than any plastic duty belt buckle on the market. The specs speak for  themself  and you’d be hard pressed to come close to exceeding the capabilities of the buckle on a non life/load bearing LEO duty belt. Overkill? Perhaps, but you’ll know your buckle won’t break or come undone.

Not without possible flaws, one of the first things I thought might pose an issue with the use of a Cobra buckle on a duty belt, was racking my pistol’s slide on it when doing malfunction drills. In my case, I find the belt buckle area to be more consistent than the lip of my holster or other area. On my old belt, I would use the webbing next to the buckle, as the plastic buckle itself wouldn’t consistently rack the slide.

With the Cobra Buckle, the top of the buckle is almost perfect for catching the rear sight of my pistol and racking the slide. The top of the release mechanism did come undone a few times, but the design of the entire system kept the buckle from coming unlatched. This is the beauty of the Cobra, you have to release both sides  at the same time and when  not under load. While nothing is impossible, it is  HIGHLY unlikely you will undo your buckle while performing malfunction drills.

The uniqueness of the Cobra buckle may bring up some other issues when being  used around people who don’t know how to operate the buckle system. If your partner, zone partners, or backup are not  familiar  with the buckle they may have issues removing your belt in an emergency situation (without cutting it). This is something to consider, as I’ve had other colleagues look at my belt and not know what a Cobra buckle is.

That being said, a buckle resembling the Cobra is used here in Tampa at Busch Gardens on the newest Cheetah Hunt roller coaster  and no one seemed to have trouble getting out of the seats the last time I was there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Looking at the overlapping design of the FatZombie, you’ll see that the heavy duty hook and loop really takes the load and tension  of the belt. The Cobra Buckle in most cases is not “loaded” so taking the belt on and off isn’t a hassel. If you’ve ever tried to release a Cobra under a slight  load you know what I’m talking about. This will depend on how you have your belt set up however.

Materials and Sewing

The FatZombie is built like a tank and has several “layers” of webbing sewn together to form the belt. We’ll talk about the materials in a second, but I want to touch on something important first.

Since each belt is made to the user’s specifications, the overall  thickness  of the belt will depend on how you order it. In my case I ordered the belt with no internal hook and loop. This is important to understand for LEOs’ who have different types of accessories mounted to a belt. Your OC, COBAN, or flashlight pouch may have a small mounting tolerance  compared  to your pistol holster. My rotating ASP holder has only 8mm (0.315 in.) of mounting space and is a pain in the butt to get on the FatZombie. Compare that to my Safariland Glock magazine pouch (which is now used and stretched out) that has a whopping 18mm (0.708 in.).

Most  manufacturers design their accessories around a nylon or leather duty belt, which by most standards is thin and flimsy. This is even if the nylon belt has two layers of webbing sewn together. The Uncle Mike’s belt I’m issued is two layers of webbing, but it twists with ease and isn’t very rigid. The main part of the belt is only about 5mm (0.196 in.) thick, however it’s 10mm (0.393 in.) thick near the buckles as the belt is folded over with hook and loop.

Getting back to the FatZombie: The main body of the belt is sewn with two layers of sandwiched 2″  scuba webbing and one layer of 1.75″ type 13 4088 webbing is sewn to the outside. This outside layer is what the COBRA buckles are attached to. Scuba webbing is designed to be very ridged and  usually (depending on manufacturer)  rated at about 7,000 pounds breaking strength. The type 13 webbing is typically rated at 5,500 pounds breaking strength. No need to do the math, the FatZombie blows the doors off your typical nylon duty belt.

The stitching of the belt is top notch and you can tell Richard puts a lot of time and effort into making these. Even knowing what little I do when it comes to sewing, I would imagine there’s a lot of sweat built into each of these belts and the sewing machine probably hates when one of these is on deck.

My belt has no internal hook and loop, as I  didn’t  order the inner pants belt. This is just my preference as I like to use keepers instead of hook and loop. My offhand shooting training has always been to pull the holster with my left hand to access my pistol, which requires the belt to slide and give a bit. This is just  personal  preference and I’m sure the hook and loop version is rock solid.

Since I dont have the inner hook and loop, the overall thickness of my belt is 6mm (0.236 in.) in the sides and back. In the front where the 1.75″ webbing is doubled over and where hook and loop is used to secure the tails, the belt is 10 to 11mm (0.433 in.).

So what does all this mean? As I mentioned my ASP holder is only 8mm and of course with my luck it has to go up front where the belt is at 11mm. I had to push, pull and swear my way to get it to fit. As you see in the pictures, I  didn’t  put it back on after stripping the belt for the photos. Make sure your  accessories  have the tolerance to fit on the FatZombie before you buy it.

Sizing

This is where things can get a bit interesting and you have to realize that the FatZombie is specifically designed to be used over your pants belt. Also consider that your pants belt size is most likely different than plain clothes as (depending on your uniform) you have to tuck in your undershirt, concealed ballistic panel tails and uniform shirt into your pants. My duty pants size is one size larger than my normal pants size (well I do wear one  size larger anyway  since I carry IWB off duty, but you get  my drift).  This  isn’t  a retrofit “riggers belt” that you throw your gun holster on. In my case, where I  didn’t  order the inner hook and loop belt, I ran into a issue on my end choosing a pants belt.

With my old duty belt I wore either a VTAC or 215 Gear Cobra belt as my pants belt. This worked fine as the Cobra Buckle didn’t really create any bulk up front. The problem I had with the FatZombie was the way it has an overlapping front closure system. If I wore either of the Cobra pants belts there was way too much bulk up front. I was able to slide the pants belt Cobra Buckle to the side to help prevent this but it was still too bulky. Even a standard old school Blackhawk Rigger’s Belt didn’t work well.

If you end up without the hook and loop inner belt you’ll have to either  compromise with some bulk up front  or find a low-profile pants belt. I did find the perfect solution (in my opinion) with the Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belt. The ATLAS belt is super low-profile as it uses a ITW G-Hook up front and a unique webbing system for it to hook onto. The ATLAS is also bombproof and really deserves an article of its own. I couldnt be happier as both of these belts work so well together.

You may also have to switch your keeps (if you are using them) to a longer/larger size up front. I had to switch three of my keeps up front to a longer size, but I was able to use two standard sizes in back. This will depend on how you have your belt setup. This is just food for thought though, as you may have to swtich them out and having this in mind before the belt arrives  will save you some grief up front.

Final Thought

While there are other belts on the market that use plastic stiffeners or other materials, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that is as stiff as the FatZombie. Most of those belts are designed to go in a war belt or are not specific to LEO type setups. While they may work, the FatZombie was built from the ground up to  be a “duty” belt.

I had several questions about the  size and  options when ordering my belt. Like buying boots online and without having something “in hand” to look at, buying a belt online can be a daunting experience. Richard was able to walk me through the process and make me feel comfortable about the choices I made. If in doubt give him a call or email and he can square you away.

Law Enforcement equipment is slowly catching up to the lessons learned in the military and I feel uniforms and duty equipment will be changing over the next few years. I just had a conversation with a major armor representative and this is certainly true on the armor and load carrier industry. American small business owners like Richard are ahead of the curve and providing some of those materials and hardware right now. Don’t wait for your agency  to issue you better gear, you are just settling for the lowest bidder! It’s out there, you may have to just go get it on your own.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and thanks for checking out the Jones Tactical FatZombie Duty Belt review. You can order yours direct from Jones Tactical here.


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Guest
Guest

What kind of medical pouch is that on the duty belt? Where can I get one?

Thanks

a ruiz
a ruiz

@Mike Crellin I have a similar problem it has been 19 weeks since I placed my order. I have sent 3 emails and called once. So far all I have to show for it is the order confirmation from PayPal. Jones Tactical may have super attention to detail, but definitely falls short for punctuality and customer service.

Mike Crellin
Mike Crellin

Pulled the trigger on one a months ago...but nothing happened. Order was accepted via Pay Pal but never received any order confirmation. Waited 7 weeks, sent several emails but didnt hear anything about order received or confirmation on production. Finally logged a Pay Pal dispute and got my money back. Kinda upset b/c I would rather have gotten the belt.

Matt
Matt

That belt looks like a SOE belt. Does anyone know how this belt compares to a SOE belt?

BadMaster
BadMaster

I have owned a Fat Zombie for about six months now. The belt is bulletproof. I wear a lot of gear on my belt and with the fat zombie it feels lighter than with a traditional belt, I suspect because of how stiff it is. The belt has not begun to "sag" in the rear and I don't think it will, again because of how stiff it is. I am confident that I will never wear another type of duty belt, as I cannot imagine anyone coming up with a better design than this. The only down side I can see to the belt is how thick it is. It can be difficult to put certain pouches on and off however, it is a small price to pay for the rest of the quality. I will say that I ordered the inner belt as well as the fat zombie. I was not happy with the belt. This was no fault of the design or quality rather, I prefer an inner belt that I can "tourque" down to get it tight, as I like to wear my duty belt tightly and the inner belt that came with the belt is simply velcro that overlaps. Just my personal preference. This belt is well worth the wait, which you will do if you order one. With any of these small businesses you may have to wait for you order to be made and shipped. I would advise you to be patient, the owner of Jones Tactical is a class act and you will eventually get the product you ordered, it will exceed your expectations no question in my mind. I cannot say enough about this belt!

Richard Karnes
Richard Karnes

Kevin, it's just the reality of supply and demand. Simply put, there are vastly fewer people who need a larger belt, therefore, larger belts (or any non-standard item) autoatically costs more since there is significantly less demand.

Dave
Dave

Those are the same buckles that the Army uses for their Air Warrior flight vest. Hey, the Army Aviation Research Lab down at Ft. Rucker tested and authorized them to be used to extract pilots and crew members, they've got to be tough. I actually made my own version of the FatZombie when I came across an extra buckle on a vest that was no longer serviceable without the inner velcro. I've loved it so far, and it's something that you don't see much of. Wish I could've come up with the idea earlier.

Richard
Richard

I'm a carpenter who is always looking for new gear and tools. You think this belt would make a decent toolbelt? They make ready made pouches for a variety of belts.

I wonder how comfortable a couple of pouches would be slung on either side of your hip?

Richard
Richard

I'm a carpenter who is always looking for new gear and tools. You think this belt would make a decent toolbelt? They make ready made pouches for a variety of belts. I wonder how comfortable a couple of pouches would be slung on either side of your hip?

Ilstad
Ilstad

Have anyone tried them for diving, underwater hunting and such?

Bill Smerdon
Bill Smerdon

Like I said above, I have two Fat Zombies, one is set up as a traditional LEO duty belt, full size 1911 (with rail & light) chemical agent, two sets of cuffs, asp, radio, glove pouch, two flashlights, multitool pouch, (no tazer I am a reserve and not qualified on it) and I run that belt with the inner belt and keepers. The keepers are not necessary however, I just have them because I ran my Bianci belt that way and got used to them. But the Zombie is awesome, that thing is so secure and can hold all that weight with ease. My other belt is rigged for when I am running classes, I have it set up with a Raven Concealment 1911 holster, a trauma kit from ITS tactical, kydex mag holder dump bag AR-15 mag pouch from Bravo concealment, flashlight holder and a multitool holder. I run that belt with the inner belt but no keepers. I is absolutely secure and I tell you what, when I run a class my students all want to know where I scored the belt. I am a firm believer that a proper gun belt makes all the difference in the world. For everyday, I run an Jones Tactical EDC belt with the Cobra buckle, it is awesome for sporting my EDC Phil Skeleton Holster with my S&W Shield or my commander sized 1911 with an outside the waistband Bravo Concealment kydex rig. You can't go wrong with Jones Tactical. My only concern is my belts are 44's and I have been on a diet, can I get Jones to shorten them up if need be?

Phil
Phil

Eric,

While I understand your reasoning, I really think you're missing out by not at least trying a Fat Zombie with the inner belt/hook & loop system.

I've been running one for almost 2 years as a LEO and haven't had a problem. At first I was skeptical about not using keepers, but decided I'd take the challenge and see if it'd work. I was pleasantly surprised. I had two concerns: one was security - I didn't want the belt moving freely or able to be released by anyone in a ground fight. My other concern was the belt sagging under the weight of all the junk we tend to stick on our belts. Nearly 2 years later, and neither have been a problem. It's refreshing not to have to undo 6-8 keepers to remove the belt after work, during emergencies, etc.

I recommend you take the same challenge. Talk to Rich and see if you can't get one set up as the system. If you don't like it, hey - you can either do a give-away here at ITS or I'm sure you can move it quickly on one of the various forums.

Stay safe

Phil

Phil
Phil

Eric, While I understand your reasoning, I really think you're missing out by not at least trying a Fat Zombie with the inner belt/hook & loop system. I've been running one for almost 2 years as a LEO and haven't had a problem. At first I was skeptical about not using keepers, but decided I'd take the challenge and see if it'd work. I was pleasantly surprised. I had two concerns: one was security - I didn't want the belt moving freely or able to be released by anyone in a ground fight. My other concern was the belt sagging under the weight of all the junk we tend to stick on our belts. Nearly 2 years later, and neither have been a problem. It's refreshing not to have to undo 6-8 keepers to remove the belt after work, during emergencies, etc. I recommend you take the same challenge. Talk to Rich and see if you can't get one set up as the system. If you don't like it, hey - you can either do a give-away here at ITS or I'm sure you can move it quickly on one of the various forums. Stay safe Phil

Jim
Jim

I've actually used a Fat Zombie for my ERT Rig for the past 18 months or so, I ordered the inner belt. Took me about a week or 2 to get used to it, but a year and a half later, I would NEVER use anything BUT one!! !!!!! This thing is the SHIT!!!!! Got some shit from my chief because it wasn't the "style" we're issued,

However this thing has proved itself many a time. Yeah they cost a few $ more, but its WELL worth it!!!!!!!!

Jim
Jim

I've actually used a Fat Zombie for my ERT Rig for the past 18 months or so, I ordered the inner belt. Took me about a week or 2 to get used to it, but a year and a half later, I would NEVER use anything BUT one!! !!!!! This thing is the SHIT!!!!! Got some shit from my chief because it wasn't the "style" we're issued, However this thing has proved itself many a time. Yeah they cost a few $ more, but its WELL worth it!!!!!!!!

Jones Tactical
Jones Tactical

First off thanks to Eric for the stellar review and thanks to Bryan and ITS Tactical for the support over the years. I wanted to touch on a couple of points that I noticed in the article. The design of the belt with the overlapping ends has been around a lot longer than 2007 and I do not lay claim to that, I did however refine it to what you see here. The belt is designed and made to work with the Inner Belt that goes through your belt loops. The way to reduce the bulk up front is to put the overlap of the inner belt on your support side away from your holster, say around 10:00, that way the overlap of the Inner Belt and the overlap of the outer don't stick out so far.

One of the points Eric touched on was the overlap of the riggers webbing at the buckle and that it could interefere with some pouches, this has been an issue for some time due to construction and materials. The only way I have been able to fix this was to change the outer material to a thinner 17337 webbing, same webbing used thoughout the industry for pack straps and such. The construction is the same and allows you to butt pouches right up to the buckle, only downside is the webbing strength drops off and the abrasion resistance is not going to be as high as with riggers webbing. That belt is the 2" Cobra Duty Belt for those interested.

Thanks again,

Richard

Jones Tactical
Jones Tactical

First off thanks to Eric for the stellar review and thanks to Bryan and ITS Tactical for the support over the years. I wanted to touch on a couple of points that I noticed in the article. The design of the belt with the overlapping ends has been around a lot longer than 2007 and I do not lay claim to that, I did however refine it to what you see here. The belt is designed and made to work with the Inner Belt that goes through your belt loops. The way to reduce the bulk up front is to put the overlap of the inner belt on your support side away from your holster, say around 10:00, that way the overlap of the Inner Belt and the overlap of the outer don't stick out so far. One of the points Eric touched on was the overlap of the riggers webbing at the buckle and that it could interefere with some pouches, this has been an issue for some time due to construction and materials. The only way I have been able to fix this was to change the outer material to a thinner 17337 webbing, same webbing used thoughout the industry for pack straps and such. The construction is the same and allows you to butt pouches right up to the buckle, only downside is the webbing strength drops off and the abrasion resistance is not going to be as high as with riggers webbing. That belt is the 2" Cobra Duty Belt for those interested. Thanks again, Richard

Steven Tidwell
Steven Tidwell

Can you please send me information on what appears to be a first aid/ trauma kit on the front of your duty gear?

Ragnar Danneskjold
Ragnar Danneskjold

I do like that buckle. But I have to say that my favorite duty belt to date is the EMDOM with the MOLLE strips on the inside. One of the biggest problems I've run into running a duty belt setup in the military is pouches and gear sliding around on the belt. Belt keepers help, but don't entirely fix the issue. Having a single row of MOLLE running all the way around the belt lets your run gear straps through the single columns and secures the pouch in place. Not as much of an issue for LE since they don't use MOLLE pouches on belts that often, but for military, the EMDOM is amazing.

Kevin Stone
Kevin Stone

Great review Eric, but why do larger people have to pay up to $15 dollars for a larger belt. I know its logic to say, well its more money because it costs more for extra material, but really? $5, $10 and $15 dollars for a few inch increments? I am sure the folks at Jones Tactical can eat a few inches of material. It just gets me. I'm 6'6" and I have a 44 inch waist and I have to front an $10 extra bucks cause I am an extra large guy?

Weak.

Kevin Stone
Kevin Stone

Great review Eric, but why do larger people have to pay up to $15 dollars for a larger belt. I know its logic to say, well its more money because it costs more for extra material, but really? $5, $10 and $15 dollars for a few inch increments? I am sure the folks at Jones Tactical can eat a few inches of material. It just gets me. I'm 6'6" and I have a 44 inch waist and I have to front an $10 extra bucks cause I am an extra large guy? Weak.

Bill Smerdon
Bill Smerdon

I own two Fat Zombies and they are fantastic I use the velcro inner belt, (I use the same inner belt for both), and the system can hold a ton of weight very comfortably. You would need a blow torch to get one of these rigs to fail. It takes a while to get one if you are ordering, but they are well worth the wait.

a ruiz
a ruiz

@Mike Crellin I have a similar problem it has been 19 weeks since I placed my order. I have sent 3 emails and called once. So far all I have to show for it is the order confirmation from PayPal. Jones Tactical may have super attention to detail, but definitely falls short for punctuality and customer service.

Matt
Matt

I use a similar belt for my pouches and it works great its a SOE www.originalsoegear.com/

Jones Tactical
Jones Tactical

Of course brother, just let me know what you need and I will get you squared away.

RJ

Jones Tactical
Jones Tactical

Of course brother, just let me know what you need and I will get you squared away. RJ

Ryan
Ryan

Steven, in case it did not get sent to you, the tourniquet pouch is from 1110 Gear (www.1110gear.com). They are good people and all of his stuff is outstanding. All American made (local to Cleveland, Oh) and if you are in the market for one, he has several options for different models etc. Highly recommended.

Henry
Henry

Hmm if you are using a tactical belt it would make since to be in better shape.

I am 6 foot 7 with a 36 inch waist....

Work out man

in shape guru
in shape guru

how about you quit complaining and lose the wait and lower your wasteline

Eric S.
Eric S.

Kevin,

I have no information about the price increase for the larger sizes.

Henry
Henry

Hmm if you are using a tactical belt it would make since to be in better shape. I am 6 foot 7 with a 36 inch waist.... Work out man

Eric S.
Eric S.

Kevin, I have no information about the price increase for the larger sizes.

GT
GT

@a ruiz  Similar experience:  order placed end of November and no word / no belt after 18 weeks...

BadMaster
BadMaster

I may be giving you a call about his as well, I was unaware you were able to shorten these belts. Top notch in every way!

Bill Smerdon
Bill Smerdon

My belts are good for now, but if I can maintain the discipline and lose enough, I will have to get with you on that!

Eric S.
Eric S.

Ryan is correct. That one holds the SOF®TT-W.

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