You don’t “need,” or have to have a hundred dollar gunbelt.
As most of you know, I’m one of many Makers here that build custom leather gunbelts. I don’t pretend to be an “expert,” as I seem to learn something new, or some new trick or method almost every day. All I can tell you is what I do, and what I know...or think I know. That shouldn’t take more than a minute. Other folks do things differently, and they’re most welcome to jump in here.
There have been several posts I’ve noticed lately that ask why these things cost the better part of a hundred dollar bill. Eighty to a hundred bucks or more for a “Plain Jane” gunbelt.
What I’ll discuss, and what I can relate to, is the small shop with one, maybe two folks making your belt. In my case, it’s me. From there, we get into the raw materials.
I only use leather produced by the Hermann Oak Leather Company in St. Louis, Missouri. American leather, from American steers. I never worry about imported issues, toxic waste or God knows what being used to tan the leather I use. Hermann Oak’s been around since 1881, and they’re one of the few tanneries still operating in the United States. Their website is Home | Hermann Oak Leather. As long as they exist, they’re the only producer I’ll use. They’re also expensive.
Add to that the leather dyes, 100% pure neatsfoot oil, thread, buckles, glue, edge finish products, tools, stitchers, hand-sewn keepers, shipping costs, etc., and you wind up with a pile of materials and equipment necessary to make a gunbelt. And, at this point, you haven’t even gotten started. Somewhere in the mix you have to add weeks, months, and sometimes years of experience via trial and error. That never goes away.
I won’t bore you with all the minutiae of belt assembly and finishing. I will say, for me, there are at least 25 steps involved, and these occur over a two-to-three-day span of time (this includes drying times). That’s for a plain, black dual-layer 1.5" leather gunbelt. I can have several in-progress during that period of time, but from start to finish, it takes me nearly three days to make a single belt. If it’s stamped, crosscut, or floral carved, each take progressively longer.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to jump in. I know I’ll learn something, and hope something I know helps you out when you’re trying to understand the sticker-shock of a custom gunbelt.