Belt buckle types

Updated April 17, 2017

A belt buckle features frame pieces made from metal or plastic. Some types of buckles act as a focal point, while others can look inconspicuous. Most belt buckles come with a belt. To create a custom look to coordinate with an outfit, you can purchase a belt buckle separately at a fabric or notions store.

Tang Buckles

Tang buckles feature a metal frame or ring attached to one end of the belt. One or two tangs, or hinged flaps, attach close to the frame's base or bar. These flaps are typically made of metal or leather. A belt with buckle holes passes through the ring. The buckle's pin inserts through the buckle hole, and the tang secures the belt. This tang buckle style is popular on leather belts.

Buckle Trim or Slide

A buckle trim, or buckle slide, features a buckle without a prong or pin. The slide is a frame with two openings and a central separator bar. This buckle trim includes metal, plastic or decorative rhinestones. The width of the central bar determines the finished width of the belt. An exception is a wider fabric belt that feeds through the two openings and creates a gathered or puckered look. With no prong or pin, the belt requires no buckle holes. The belt slides easily for a custom fit.

Buckle Clasps

The buckle clasp style features two sections. One part has the decorative section and a hook or clasp on the underside. The other part includes a slot. Each end of the belt attaches to a buckle section. The two sections join as the hook or clasp inserts through the slot on the other half.

Snap Buckles

Snap buckles often include pieces: a hollow piece with open sides; and the spring-driven clasp. Each piece attaches to a belt end. Squeezing the clasp allows it to attach to the inside of the hollow piece. Releasing the clasp interlocks the two pieces. The clasp expands and fills the hollow sides. A snapping sound usually indicates a secure fit. This snap buckle type often works with woven belts. Hip belts on backpacks usually feature these snap buckles.

Clip Buckles

Clip buckles are popular on western-style belts. One belt end has a thin metal plate with a rail on the back or underside. The second belt end threads through this rail and loops back on itself. Small snaps or closures secure this end. A magnetic clip or spring secures the belt. This buckle type allows clipping along the belt length for simple adjustments and a custom fit.

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