My absolute max pull done in a competition without a belt was back in June 2006. Those were:
Since that time I've been doing 5 reps in those lifts. Bases on what I can do for 5 reps I figure my one rep max is greater than what it was over a year ago.
I'm coming back from two surgeries earlier this year so I have stayed clear of max singles for now. I'm hoping to compete again next year if all goes right. My goal is to squat and pull 600 without a belt one day.
Yes, I think there should be a distinction between belt and no belt competing to some degree. It's really not practical in today's powerlifting with all the different categories broken down by age, weight, raw, equipped, submaster, master, police, fire, military, etc., and it's getting a little out of control in my opinion.
It's my belief that if a lifter is competing raw that should mean no supportive gear of any kind. A lifting belt is a form of support and can easily add 40lbs. or more to the squat and deadlift. For the lifter who chooses to not use a belt then he know what he is up against...a disadvantage.
It all depends on what the no belt lifter is after. If he is a trophy hound then he should wear a belt so he can place higher in the raw category. For myself, I'm not competing against anyone except myself anymore. I have my goals and PR's that I want. I've got my share of trophies, medals and plaques and all they are dust collectors that nobody outside of lifting even cares about.
I had to find a way to make powerlifting fun again and for me that was taking off all the gear and doing what I like best - old school. It's more challenging and very few people do it. I have always been one to do the opposite of what others are doing.
For the lifter that wants to place high in the raw category or even compete against those that are equipped there shouldn't be any complaining or whining because the rules are very clear. The one with the highest total wins and that is why a lot of people are geared up to the max. It's all a matter of what one wants.