Horses and sharks and elephants, oh my! Pros and cons of exotics

This is a discussion on Horses and sharks and elephants, oh my! Pros and cons of exotics within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've been doing research as I prepare to switch from a slide gun to a revolver for carry. I've been toting an XD .45 in ...

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Thread: Horses and sharks and elephants, oh my! Pros and cons of exotics

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    Member Array Balog's Avatar
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    Horses and sharks and elephants, oh my! Pros and cons of exotics

    I've been doing research as I prepare to switch from a slide gun to a revolver for carry. I've been toting an XD .45 in a Tucker kydex/leather holster on one of their bullhide belts. It's been ok, but I'm looking to upgrade both the belt and the holster. Partly because it wasn't quite what I wanted, partly because once our baby is born in August I figure the "fancy belt and holster" budget line item will be severely reduced.

    So I've been looking at the various non-cow leathers; not for decorative purposes, but examining if they enhance performance. So from the people who know, what are the actual advantages of horsehide, elephant, and shark? Stiffer, thinner, lighter, more durable, or just pretty? I'm especially interested in the belt, as it needs to keep looking good; I really don't care if my hidden IWB holster looks a little ratty.

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    kpw
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    VIP Member Array kpw's Avatar
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    The only non-bovine skinned belt I have is a shark from HBE. It's tough as far as abrasion resistance goes but it is not as stiff. It is stiff enough though and attractive to my eye. It's one of my favorites. I noticed the Beltman uses a poly stiffener on his shark and elephant belts but not in his horse or bullhide belts unless requested. He also says elephant is probably the toughest hide around.
    "In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power." -
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    Member Array Matt Del Fatti's Avatar
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    Any of the exotics have to be bonded to a structural leather like cow or horse for gun leather. That does give you the smooth side of the cow or horse turned in on a holster. As pointed out, some exotics are very resistant to abrasion. Other than that, just looks.

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    Member Array luke213's Avatar
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    Matt is right on track, you bond the exotic to cow or horsehide then construct the holster, most cases it's also sewn around the outside edges just to make certain that the adhesive stays put also.

    Certain exotics are just looks and I have to say shark is freaking tough for abrasion, takes a beating. I've heard the same on elephant but I haven't had the pleasure of making a holster out of it yet.

    Any way you turn it once you get the bug for an exotic rig it's really hard to step away from. Not to long ago I didn't care for them, but now I have to admit I'm a convert. Heck I've even been thinking about making a new IWB for myself using shark trim. I don't need it:) My horsehide rig is perfect for comfort and no one sees it but me, but I've got the bug and I can't seem to shake it now;)

    Take care

    Luke
    I am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, luke@adamsholsters.com

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    Member Array Balog's Avatar
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    Very interesting Mr Del Fatti, thank you for that insight.

    How do cow and horse compare? I'm always surprised not to see more horsehide holsters, it seems like a great material.

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    Member Array luke213's Avatar
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    Horse is usually tighter in grain and happens to be more water resistant as a result. Another byproduct of that grain is that it doesn't usually absorb dye in the same way that cow does. It's not as common to buy as cow hide and I would assume the reason is there are more cows being killed for food and as a result more of a market for the hides. Horsehide is tougher and different and as a result I haven't been able to get the same amount of detail in the boning as I have in cowhide. There may be holster makers out there that can, I know Kramer leather says they can, but when you look at their rigs they are not as detailed as the cow hide offerings at least in my opinion. The thing to note on details is that it doesn't have to be as detailed, most of that is cosmetic anyhow, there are points that are important to retention like the trigger guard.

    Reason horse isn't used more often? Cowhide makes a fine holster, it's been used for years because it's a great compromise between strength, price, and beauty. If you get good leather like Hermann Oak and it's handled and finished properly you will end up with a great holster(pending it's of a good design).

    It depends on the situations that your holster will encounter in it's lifetime but I think that our(armed citizens, not LEO etc.) needs may be different than that of someone who may be chasing down criminals and tackling them to the ground. Any holster will wear but unless your doing something above and beyond so to speak a good cowhide holster should serve you well for a long time. On the other hand so will horse;) It's mostly preference, I've found for my own purpose I built a horsehide rig and it was super comfortable so I kept it:) That is my EDC rig, but I would carry in cowhide also just gave a very slight nod to horse for comfort in this particular rig.

    To each his own:)

    Luke

    EDIT: Just re-read my post and it sounds like cowhide can't do the deed for LEO's and that isn't true. Law Enforcement does end up wearing some gear more but cowhide has proven itself effective since it's what the vast majority are carrying right now.
    I am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, luke@adamsholsters.com

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    Member Array Balog's Avatar
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    Speaking specifically of belts for a second...

    I've heard horsehide belts can actually be too stiff, decreasing concealability and comfort. Any truth to that? Does anyone pair the (softer but more abrasion resistant) shark and elephant outer with a horse inner so that a plastic stiffener is not needed?

    Also on belts, why are the holes never less than 3/4in apart? Reduced structural integrity, looks funny, not felt to be needed?

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    Member Array T. Kanaley's Avatar
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    Below is an illustration from the tannery showing the strip of the horsesí hide that is commonly used by holstermakers. The rest of the hide (minus the butt strip shown in the illustration) is generally chrome tanned and used in the garment industry. You will notice that the ends of the strip depicted in the diagram extend down into the belly of the hide which like most belly leather, is too soft and spongy for most practical use. At least in our opinion. It just so happens that the ends of those strips, where the flank and belly occurs, fall into the hardest used part of the belt which would be the buckle and billet ends.

    Horsehide is sold by the pound and we go through well over 1,000 lbs every year. We also throw away several hundred pounds of it every year. Before we begin to cut into a horsehide strip, we start on the flank ends and move towards the center by folding the hide back onto itself to see where the hide transitions from fat wrinkles to firm and tight and that is where we trim the hide. Out of a strip 45"+ inches long we may only end up with 2' or less of what we feel is usable material. Not quite enough for a full length belt.

    Not saying you canít make a good belt of horsehide. Just saying that the flank ends of the hide are in no way as firm and strong as the hide is in the center (where we cut our holsters from). Since itís the ends of the belt that get worked the most, I feel that is reason enough not to use horsehide in that capacity.

    On the second question, holes too close together can wear into each other over time.

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    Senior Member Array Mardet65's Avatar
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    I've got one exotic holster in alligator, one in shark and two in rattlesnake. All were purchased for their great looks. All are additional skin stretched over a leather base and all are top quality. They seem to wear and take abuse as well or even a little better than plain leather. I have many leather holsters but the exotics are all unique.
    "Kimbers are the guns you show your friends, Glocks are the guns you show your enemies."

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    Distinguished Member Array Madcap_Magician's Avatar
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    I have a pet peeve- IWB holsters with decorative panels of exotic leather.

    Who exactly is going to see that!?!?!?

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    Member Array luke213's Avatar
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    I had the same irritation but when you look at where they are located you can also see that the high points are where the holster will wear more on the pants itself so something like sharkhide there that is super wear resistant could stop some of that wear. Also they are there for looks;) Someone made the comment that holsters can be compared to womens underwear sometimes you are the only one who cares what it looks like;)

    Most of my holsters are not seen daily but I still like them to look good, took me a long time to admit that:)

    Luke
    I am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, luke@adamsholsters.com

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    VIP Member Array jwhite75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamRudolph View Post
    I have a pet peeve- IWB holsters with decorative panels of exotic leather.

    Who exactly is going to see that!?!?!?
    My fiancee has some pretty sexy fine underwear and lingerie. The everday public doesnt get to see it. But her and I do.

    Same way with my IWB cow and Shark rig from HBE. Nobody sees it but I know it is there, and a little nicer than most.
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    Member Array Jackawala's Avatar
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    I have shark holsters from both Matt and Sparks plus a Sparks sharksin belt.
    Not only are they beautiful, they wear like iron!

  15. #14
    Distinguished Member Array Madcap_Magician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwhite75 View Post
    My fiancee has some pretty sexy fine underwear and lingerie. The everday public doesnt get to see it. But her and I do.

    Same way with my IWB cow and Shark rig from HBE. Nobody sees it but I know it is there, and a little nicer than most.

    So when you and your fiancee go to bed, she wears a lacy something, and you put on your sharkskin belt and holster...?


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