Cowhide verses Horsehide

This is a discussion on Cowhide verses Horsehide within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Can anyone tell me the big difference if there is any in a holster?...

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Thread: Cowhide verses Horsehide

  1. #1
    Member Array GeorgiaGlocker's Avatar
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    Cowhide verses Horsehide

    Can anyone tell me the big difference if there is any in a holster?
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    Array Ben Hennessy's Avatar
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    The holster that I own are cowhide. What I am told that horsehide is stiffer and more rugged. They are made to last longer. They are also more expensive. You have to pay for what you get. I hope this helps and is not the wrong info.

  4. #3
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Horsehide will be both thinner and typicaly stiffer . also way more expensive , part of the cost is the material and part is the pains the holster maker has to go thro to bone it ect... Its a difficult material , but ounce for ounce a stronger one .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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  5. #4
    New Member Array nativebrave's Avatar
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    I have a horsehide Galco RG IWB . I love this holster! It's actually
    my second one. They are stronger and thinner which works
    best for me.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array cockedlocked01's Avatar
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    I believe that horsehide stands up better to moisture, uh good old sweat. And because of that, they're usually not dyed because they don't absorb the color as easily.

    Obviously, someone very skilled can bone & color them well (Look at Nossar's work). But it takes more work & skill.
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  7. #6
    Member Array ltc-usa's Avatar
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    My Kramer horsehide holsters are dyed burgandy but horsehide does not take the color as evenly as cowhide. I like them, they are more moisture resistant and very thin. They may be a little stiff for some folks.

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Horsehide is trouble , and many wont pay for that trouble . Once it is done tho it is a more long lasting than cowhide imho . Many makers tho are just too busy to mess with it as it is somewhat an " exotic leather " They have all they can do to stay up with demand as it is . If you truely want it many will do it , but consider it as a " cost plus " option . In the long run even at a slightly inflated cost it may well be a better choice than cowhide . But when you find a guy to work it , be prepaired to pay extra for it ... not only the materials cost more but depending on his experiance he may well have 1/3 more time and possibly a failed attempt or two to get it out the door to you . This is the reason only some makers offer any exotic leather , be it horsehide or a fine snake skin overlay to make a bbq holster .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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  9. #8
    Member Array Gary Brommeland's Avatar
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    Howdy!
    The following is copied from my website, in the "Materials" section:

    A lot has been said about horsehide as a holster material, and there are several very competent holstermakers using it in their products. However, I’d like to point out something: have you ever examined a really worn out holster? More often than not, it is the stitching that gives out, way before the leather does. One of the beautiful qualities of premium cowhide is that it moulds up very firmly, yet is still fairly flexible. It is also just soft enough to allow the stitching to be pulled tight below the surface, where it is protected from abrasion. Horsehide is so hard that the thread sits on the surface of the holster where it is easily damaged. For this reason, I believe that a holster properly constructed from a premium cowhide is actually going to last longer than a comparable one made of horsehide. The other consideration that favors the use of cowhide is the issue of comfort. A holster’s job is to act as the “interface” between a block of steel and the human body. A holster made from cowhide will “break - in” and soften up just enough to mould itself to the contours of your body, which greatly enhances the level of comfort. Horsehide is almost as hard as Kydex when it is new, and will remain so for a very long time. The only solution is to oil it, which makes it too soft to properly support the weapon and makes an oily mess on your clothing. In the defense of horsehide, I will say this: The available supply of truly premium cowhide is rapidly dwindling. If it becomes unavailable, I will certainly employ horsehide rather than use a poor quality cowhide.


    This is my opinion, but other equally qualified folks may not agree with it...

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post gary , You as you should explained everything well . The only horsehide i have owned is an alissi pancake for a smith auto , it was an awsomely durable holster . I can only give an opinion in line with my experiances .. and on reflection horsehide is as you say closer to kydex than the leather we typicaly think of . Personaly with my limited experiance i think its an awsome material to make a holster from , but then again I dammed shure wont pay for your time to make every holster i use from it lol .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Array torrejon224's Avatar
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    I have several horsehide holsters made by Ales Nossar from Peru and they are certainly the thinnest, most comfortable rigs I won and they are also highly detailed. Maybe there is a difference between South American materials and what is used here but I for one totally disagree with Garys post.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Torre There is a differance in the tanning proceedures from south of america and usa and north .. Down there for one thing they can use chemical processes that no longer are avalable up here . Point is ( imho ) horsehide is a denser , normaly thinner material that takes experiance to work with . Hell i have two pair of elkhide chaps , one pair is butter soft and get used as " costume " chaps when i ride in parades ect.. but i would not trust them to actualy hold up , the other pair is stiff as hell but you couldnt cut them with the famous ginsu knife . Both elk I killed , but they went to different tanners using different methods . Gary is right as far as that goes .. and every year good " cow " leather gets harder to find .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

  13. #12
    Member Array Mark Garrity's Avatar
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    I've addressed this before on other forums, and probably here too, but here goes again.
    There are alot of myths about horsehide. First off, it is NOT thinner than cowhide. I can get horsehide that is 10-12 oz., as thick as the thickest saddle-skirting cowhide. Horsehide is denser than cow, with more tensile strength. What that means is that a thinner cut of horse can be used for the same application as a thicker cut of cow, hence the misconception that horse is "thinner" in and of itself. There are also two types of horsehide, hard-rolled and soft-rolled. Soft-rolled horsehide is, as the name implies, buttery soft; so any claims touting firmness go out the window; but I doubt you'd ever see it used for a holster application.
    Horsehide is also not much more expensive than cowhide, especially at currently inflated cowhide prices. I do not charge any more for a horsehide holster. The price difference lies in the fact that horsehide is sold in strips that average about 3 feet long, six inches on the edges with a swell of about 12-16 inches in the middle. These strips are not concistent thickness throughout, with the ends much softer and thinner. So there is alot of waste, which is why some makers charge a premuim. Horsehide is sold by the pound. Cowhide is priced by the square foot; but I personally don't see much square foot price difference in what I pay for horsehide when I break it down. It's pure marketing on some makers parts. But you'll never see a piece of horsehide as large as a tanned cowhide side.
    As to application, I don't see a lot of difference overall between really good quality cowhide and horsehide as far as basic holster construction is concerned. I keep some on hand for those that request it, and I use it for certain holster applications where I think it shines. All of my mouthbands, such as on my Changeling IWB, are horsehide, to keep it thin but stiff. I like using it for IWB straps because it doesn't soften as readily as cowhide with prolonged used. And I use it for my compact mag-pouches and horizontal mag-pouches, to keep the back of the pouch flat and stiff and the cowhide front contoured and molded. All of this unadvertised usage.
    As to degree of difficulty in working, I personally don't find it much more difficult. It cuts smoothly, and is no more difficult to sew. As to the thread abrasion issue Gary cited; I cut a stitch groove in everything anyway, so all my stitches are laying at or below the surface regardless of the material used. Since it is denser and less porous than cow it is actually easier to get a glass-smooth bevel edge on it, since the fibers are more compressed. As to being more difficult to mold, you just need to wet it longer, and let the initial pressure mold in the press do the work. I'll then lightly sponge wet it before detail hand-molding it; a process you don't have to do with cow. So yes, it is slightly more water resitant, but most all maker's finished cowhide holsters are treated with a clear acrylic which also offers water resistance, so that pretty much negates any perceived benefit there.
    I will agree that Alex Nossar's holsters are the thinnest I have seen (3-4 oz) and very impressive work at that. I have split hard-rolled horsehide that thin and it is still not as stiff as his final product. So there is more to what he's doing than just the fact that he's using horsehide.
    "He who makes things with his hands is a laborer, he who makes things with his hands and his head is a craftsman, he who makes things with his hands, his head, and his heart is an artist."
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  14. #13
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Well now that our forum experts are chiming inn , its time for me to " stfu" before i embarass myself further lol . Thanks guys for taking the time out of your day to explain stuff to us who dont deal with leather issues tho .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

  15. #14
    Member Array GeorgiaGlocker's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your replys. Your input has helped a great deal.
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  16. #15
    VIP Member Array JimmyC4's Avatar
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    I always thought this response to the question from Milt Sparks website was pretty informative:

    What is the difference between cowhide and horsehide?

    One of the more notable properties of horsehide is its natural ability to repel moisture. This is due to the dense cell structure of the hide thus limiting its porosity. This natural ability to repel moisture makes it very useful for certain applications, particularly for use inside the waistband. Unlike with cowhide, horsehides non-porous nature reduces its ability to fully absorb the casing solution during the forming process, making it much more difficult to get good crisp detail of the weapon when molding around the gun. Also for the same reason horsehide tends not to absorb the dye and finishing materials as evenly making it in my opinion, somewhat inferior in that respect to good cowhide.

    On the durability issue there has been much BS circulating on the mythical wear characteristics of horsehide. I will not argue that a well made horsehide holster will give you many years and possibly a lifetime of good service, but with proper care a good cowhide holster will last just as long.

    Some of our holsters combine the use of both horsehide and cowhide, taking into advantage the desirable attributes of each material. So which material is better?? That is a personal preference issue. Where horsehide is available as an option, the choice is yours.

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