Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: PM leather - Hobble Belt

I little while ago, I was making eyes at a new tactical belt that had come up in my feed, and a friend of mine, Peter Martin, of PM Leather called me on it, "why not Zoidberg?" style. I was all for it. PM Leather creates a range of bespoke leather belts, accessories and such kit. I was delighted to receive a belt tailored to my measurements, and gave it a workout. The belt arrived in black, with aluminum rivets and steel furniture.

The heavy, 38mm (1.5") wide, 3mm thick belt leather is split into three distinct regions: the buckle section, the hobble section, and the tail. This is what makes the PM Leather hobble belt something special, as far as belts go.

The tail section features punched holes all the way along its length which comes in handy when the belts second use comes into play. More on that later. The tail joins on one side to the hobble section with a double riveted fold that wraps the butt end to a squared steel "ring" hardware. This bridges the tail to the hobble-section, which is a short length of leather, itself double riveted SR each end, joining at the other side to another of the square rings, and from then, on to the buckle end. The buckle is again, of hefty steel construction, along with the keeper, giving you a sturdy set of furniture and a very clean finish. The rivets are ground down, giving a rough and ready look, with very little chance of snagging due to their low profile.

The square rings offer two very useful hard-points for attaching carabiners, key chains, and looping cords through. I constantly fixed one end of my paracord multi-tool lanyard to it, Usually on the front ring, but depending on how the belt loops of the pants or kilt I was wearing sat, or having a higher or lower profile to my outfit, this was easy to swap as needed. The square rings are occasionally too large to feed through belt-loops, so some adjustment to wear might be necessary on some clothes (skipping that loop, for example.

I was also able to mount several different PALS/MOLLE pouches to the belt, which I fixed in place by feeding twin tabs on either side of a belt loop, and fixing it through a double loop of PALS/MOLLE, given the belts 1.5" width, this made for a pretty good fit. The belt was stiff enough to not sag terribly under the 1L SIGG bottle I slung in a Platatac FUP pouch whilst strolling about.

Here is where this belt shows its darker secrets. Those square rings and the hobble-section allow you to feed the tail through to form two or three loops that give you some very interesting shackle/manacle options from an otherwise innocuous piece of clothing. You can see now why the tail-section has holes punched all the way along its length; to allow the shackles to be drawn tight one pretty much the skinniest of wrists. the excess belt feeds through the buckle and then the keeper, but as you can see above, it can even be fed into itself.

Having that middle hobble section available, also means the belt can be used to create a pillory-style binding, but wrapping it around the neck of your target, in the forwards position here, but works in reverse if the hands are behind the head.  (I can almost hear the banjos playing).

As well as working on hands and heads, the hobble belt can be used explicitly as its name suggests, as a hobble. Obviously, this is only effective when the belt isn't or can't be undone by the wearer, but then again, this wasn't designed to be a high security option. Dangling by the ankles Hoth style would probably do the trick.

As far as innocuous, cool looking and rugged goes, this is some pretty slick action right here. I like mine, and have found it to be an amusing surprise to pull out when someone might least expect it. Make sure your clothes fit well, though, before whipping it out to bind someone, pants around ankles are just as hobbling!

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