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Where Does This Go? | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Where Does This Go?

One of the more frequent questions I hear as both a firearms and defensive tactics instructor is “Where does this go?” as the officer asking the question holds a piece of gear in one hand and their duty belt in the other. Unfortunately, despite what many officers and even instructors would have you believe, there is usually no simple answer. Your duty belt is not a complex piece of machinery which only works if you put widget “A” in space “A” and so on. The fact of the matter is most pieces of duty gear can be carried in a wide variety of locations or positions and the “best one” is the one which works for you.

Although I cannot offer a diagram of where every piece of gear should be, I can offer some advice and suggestions to take into consideration when making your own determination. Unless of course your department mandates where each item will be placed, in which case you can skip to the next article or pass this one along to your training department.


Of all the equipment an officer carries on their duty belt, the firearm is the one item which offers the least flexibility regarding where it is worn. Of course it needs to be accessible to the strong, or primary, side hand, so this eliminates the possibility of carrying in a cross draw (though I doubt any department would allow this). Most departments also require a specific holster, eliminating even more placement options. Even so, individual officers must ensure that its final placement allows smooth draw without interference from outer garments, body shape etc.

Spare Magazines

The carrying of spare ammunition is probably the biggest area of disagreement among officers and instructors alike. I prefer to carry on the weak side front in a horizontal position. Others prefer a vertical carry or strong side placement. The argument for and against each are numerous and each has its advantages. The key is you need to be able to reach your magazines with either hand and deploy them rapidly.


This is another area of frequent debate, which usually centers on not carrying them in the small of your back. This advice is based upon two theories related to potential back injury. The first cautions against back injury during a fall and the second concerns reports that prison inmates have practiced to hit an officer in this area to disable them during a fight. As far as where you should carry handcuffs, it is similar to your spare ammunition – you want to be able to reach it with either hand and deploy it in a variety of situations including when you are prone (laying on top of a fighting suspect). This may require carrying two different pairs of handcuffs in two different locations depending upon your body shape and flexibility.

OC Spray

Years ago, I attended OC training and learned I was the only officer in the class carrying my spray on the weak side, opposite my firearm. I had never really thought about it, that was simply where I had always carried it. First, there was the simple issue of space – only so many items could be carried on the strong side. Second, this placement allowed me to have OC in weak hand and still protect or access my firearm with my strong hand.

Collapsible Baton

Like your firearm, the collapsible baton needs to be accessed by the strong hand. I prefer a weak side front canted position, but my department mandates it be on the strong side behind the firearm. Although this works well, it does have the possibility of sliding into a position which interferes with drawing my firearm if keepers are not used to prevent movement.

I would like to wrap up by explaining why I will not be offering an opinion on the placement of a taser – I do not carry one. This is not because I have anything against tasers, it is simply because I work on or near the water almost 100% of the time, which is an environment not compatible with the use of such devices. While there is plenty of debate on where each item should be placed on your duty belt, it really comes down to personal preference and department mandates. Feel it out for yourself and develop your ideal placement over time.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

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