Holster Material; Horsehide or?

Someone stopped by searching for “cow or horse hide holster.”

Which reminds me of a story I heard about the early days of homesteading. There were no trees and the homesteaders needed fence posts. So enterprising young men would “go back east, to Iowa or Missouri, and buy car loads of white oak or red oak fence posts. Naturally both types of posts had their adherents, and when it came to fisticuffs at Sunday services, they called on Old Mr. Wallace, the oldest man in the county, to settle the issue.

So Mr. Wallace was duly squared up at the store and the question put to him. “Which will last longer, red oak or white oak fence posts?”

Mr. Wallace listened carefully, pulled out his pipe and knocked the dottle out of the bowl, carefully recharged the pipe with cut leaf, found a match and deliberately lit it, carefully and judiciously lit up, took a couple of puffs, and delivered the verdict to the small crowd that had gathered for the great event.

“Red,” said Mr. Wallace.

And of course, a crestfallen bunch of white oak supporters you had never seen, before or since. Finally, one of the deflated white’s approached Mr. Wallacke, excused himself, and asked how much longer a red oak post would last than a white oak post.

“About ten minutes,” was the prompt reply.

Really, the critter matters less than the tanning and handling. Run of the rack horsehide tends to have a denser grain than cow hide, and may take a better polish. But even that is not a hard and fast rule.

The main thing is that the tanning leave the leather resistant to water incursion since that will promote rotting, as will the oils that occur naturally on human hands. Other than a proper tan job, it is important that the leather is thick enough and stiff enough to hold its shape for long periods of time.

Given the many variables involved, I would not be unhappy if a good holster turned into a floppy leather funnel in ten years or so, nor would I be shocked if a good holster lasted thirty years as someone’s duty wear. I have known holsters that fit both descriptions.

In one case, I well recall a town marshal who was issued a .32 Clot and holster by the Kansas City police department, and wore it for almost sixty years. He was wearing it when the pallbearers lowered him in the grave – and it looked only slightly worn. And that was from a local leather butcher whose holsters usually did not last long. But that was an unusual lot of leather.

So the bottom line is buy a holster than fits your needs, keep it polished, and wear it in good health. These days, if you are extremely lucky you may live to wear it out.


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Extranos Alley is a Collaborate effort to provide up to information on the relationship between restrictive gun laws and violent crime; as well as other related topics. While emphasis is on United States gun laws and crime, we also provide data on crime trends world wide.
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