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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Horse-hide definitely does not look as good as some other
hides used for gun leather. For all its nice properties,
horse-hide looks so much like plastic.

I guess shark-skin is attractive and tough.

What hide do you think makes the most attractive gun leather?

thanks

Jae
 

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Stingray looks great!
Elephant is named to be super tough too, like sharkskin, looks great also.
Alligator can look very nice, depending on holster style and hide texture.

There are big differences in the quality of the exotic leathers regarding texture, namely shark skin which you find going from a decent more even surface pattern to very prominent structures.

www.mitchrosen.com

www.usgalco.com

www.raftersgunleather.com

only to get the impression, there are many other fine holster makers!

Quickloader
 

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None of the "exotic" leathers is actually used as a foundation for a holster nowadays.
(Shell cordovan, that is, horse muscle fascia, is an exception, being used full-thickness in holster manufacture. This is a very fine-grained leather which wears well, and looks quite nice. It isn't typical shoulder "horsehide", but a non-hair-bearing layer of tissue.)

Rather, the foundational leather used in making the fancy rigs is typically cowhide (steerhide, actually), with a thin layer of the exotic skin over that, bonded and/or stitched.

Alligator, crocodile, "lizard", ostrich, stingray and shark all have interesting textures and patterns.
Shark and elephant are very tough, stingray is a bit less so, while the others are rather more delicate.

Obviously, it's a personal taste issue in a CCW holster, since nobody should be seeing the rig but you, most of the time!

Of course, for a "barbecue gun" worn exposed at your next wingding, you may want a fancy setup with silver conchos, turquoise, and those fanciest of holster leathers, full-quill Ostrich Labia (apologies to Lou Alessi) or frog scrotum (apologies to Matt Del Fatti)!

I have Bull Shark and Shell Cordovan holsters and belts, and they're sturdy and serviceable. I think I've actually scratched drywall with the Shark belt by mistake a couple times. It's REALLY tough.

Best.
 

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SAWBONES said:
None of the "exotic" leathers is actually used as a foundation for a holster nowadays.
(Shell cordovan, that is, horse muscle fascia, is an exception, being used full-thickness in holster manufacture. This is a very fine-grained leather which wears well, and looks quite nice. It isn't typical shoulder "horsehide", but a non-hair-bearing layer of tissue.)

A minor correction to your description. Shell cordovan is too flimsey to use as a stand alone material for holsters and belts and must be laminated to either a cow or horsehide backing to obtain the needed firmness. Some makers refer to their horsehide as shell horsehide, but it is NOT the same as shell cordovan. If you are ever up in Boise, Sawbones, I'd be happy to show you a hide and you will see what I mean.

Tony
 

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I know there are some holster makers who don't think shell cordovan is particularly well suited to holster or gun belt use and isn't worth the additional price that it commands. I was interested in it myself until I spoke to some people who had worked with it.
 

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Shell cordovan? I wouldn't say it wasn't well suited, it just doesn't quite live up to the hype, IMO. The material itself is extremely expensive and is reflective in the cost of the goods made from it.

TK
 

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"A minor correction to your description. Shell cordovan is too flimsy to use as a stand alone material for holsters and belts and must be laminated to either a cow or horsehide backing to obtain the needed firmness."

Hey, Tony, you mean I been misled by Ken Null's descriptions all these years? Here I thought it was all the same piece of leather! Thanks for the correction.
 

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Asking this question strikes me a bit like asking a waiter for his or her opinion of the best entree on a menu. I never understood why someone would do that- it is personal taste. I like stingray, not fond of ostrich, but there are many willing to spend $800 for ostrich boots. You get the picture.

I really like the appearance of Cordovan, but genuine shell cordovan is not easy to come by.

Olympic archers use it for finger tabs, and it is ideal for this purpose. I can see why it would not be suitable for a holster on its own, too supple.

Mine comes from the sole source in the US, a midwestern company which selects it for me by thickness and grain direction.

I get about a square foot of the material for my personal use from this company every year.
 

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SAWBONES said:
[BHey, Tony, you mean I been misled by Ken Null's descriptions all these years? Here I thought it was all the same piece of leather! Thanks for the correction. [/B]
I don't know. I can't find anything on Nulls website that suggests shell cordovan is the material he uses. But I have heard other makers use the term shell horsehide and since shell cordovan also comes off of a horse, it could get confusing. :confused:

TK
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Archer said:
Asking this question strikes me a bit like asking a waiter for his or her opinion of the best entree on a menu. I never understood why someone would do that- it is personal taste. I like stingray, not fond of ostrich, but there are many willing to spend $800 for ostrich boots. You get the picture.

Well ... I'm sure liverwurst or Haggas would not get many votes
if that similar question is asked of a waiter. I sometimes ask
a waiter "What entree is your favorite". Then, it's not
so ambiguous. If she always says that the daily special is
her personal favorite, I take that suggestion with a grain of salt, but if
her eyes sparkle and she suggests with genuine gusto a
particular dish, I'm tempted to try her suggestion.

thanks

Jae
 

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My Cordovan tanned cowhide VM-2 for my Sig P239 is a prety snazy looking holster, if I may say so myself. :)

Really, the color is exceptional.
 

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I went over the Pistolsmith thread and there, someone talked about Arden shoes, which I believe should be Alden shoes.

I have a couple of dress pairs circa 1985 of shell cordovan from John Alden Shoe Company and I can honestly say that that the leather, tho this day, is in top condition and is beautiful to look at and wear.

Here's a bried summary from Alden's page:

"Using the centuries-old method of pure vegetable tannage and hand finishing, the single tannery still producing genuine shell cordovan today is indeed practicing a rare art. The tanning process takes a full six months to complete and produces leather that is soft and supple, yet very durable. Alden's classic patterns take on a unique character when made from genuine shell cordovan.

By virtue of their long experience, Alden stands as the acknowledged master in working and finishing this special leather into extraordinary footwear. The crafting of shoes from shell cordovan recalls, indeed depends on, shoemaking of the old school. The special qualities of the leather are elusive, unresponsive to high volume production methods. Cordovan demands the measured pace of hand shoemaking and patient finishing, responding to such careful work with unmatched luster.

Over time, the patina in Alden's genuine shell cordovan shoes will only improve, deepening with each polishing and showing to full advantage the especially rich character of the leather. As durable and comfortable to wear as they are beautiful to look at, genuine shell cordovan shoes truly are Alden's masterworks. "
 
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