re: Pistol belt/duty belt questions
A duty belt is designed to be worn over another belt, not through the belt loops. The latter is often called a garrison belt or dress belt by civilians. The whole purpose of the duty belt is to carry all the tools of the trade in one package in an easy to donn/doff manner rather than looping them through the belt loops individually. With a standard belt I would not have enough room to fit all my tools, even with the duty belt and the options it offers I have it pretty filled. Having Velcro is only an option, I feel belt keepers are necessary with either as the velcro does lose its grip over time. I have both styles and found this to be true with either.
As long as you use belt keepers, the garrison belt does not need to have Velcro either. I had one when I first got the Velcro system but have gone with standard belts since. I prefer the look of them when the duty belt is off and they also do double service as an off duty belt for concealed carry. Any stiff, thick leather belt that fits inside the belt loops is fine for what I would consider recreational use where only a couple items are placed on the belt. The little I've seen of Blackhawk's products have been favorable but some venders have them much higher than an equivalent belt bought at a common store. I have not seen any 5.11 products except in a catalog and they seemed rather pricey for mass produced products. I often carry this way when hunting or hiking as I am generally only carrying a holster, some extra rounds, and a knife. For work, where I am carrying spare mags, key holder, gun w/holster, Mace, stun gun, folding knife, cuffs, baton w/holder, radio, flashlight, gun mounted light, second set of cuffs, and maybe a couple other things I can't think of off hand. It would be a PITA to have to remove and add all these items every time I went on or off duty or even used the bathroom. I wold also need a bag to keep it all in; with a duty belt I just unhook four keepers, unbuckle it to remove from my waist, buckle it back up, and now it is all kept together and can be carried easily on its own strap.
So, in a nutshell, for carrying several items on a daily basis I would go with a duty belt over a standard belt, for occasional carrying of a couple item, then using a standard belt would be fine.