Shell cordovan is a leather produced in the process of horsehide manufacture. It is not a surface leather hide but actually made from the muscle underneath. It is most commonly used in the manufacture of expensive men's dress shoes, most notablly from a company called Arden. The colors are dense, uniform throughout, and luxurious in their ability to take a shine and it is very tough as far as elasticity and tensile strength are concerned. But keep in mind, it is a "dress" leather. It is very thin (2-3 oz.) as opposed to the standard 8-9 oz. holster leather. Therefore, like most other exotics, it must be laminated onto a piece of cowhide or horsehide to make a holster. It also does tend to scuff or scratch easily; the nice part being these are easily buffed out, but keep in mind do occur. If you're looking for a flashy holster to show off with a nice custom gun, go for it. If you're looking for a 12 hour a day "working" holster; invest the same dollars (or less) in good cowhide, horsehide, or sharkskin,IMO. Lou, your thoughts?....
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mark Garrity on 2001-11-21 02:31 ]</font>
Mark, I couldn't have said it better! Shell cordovan is a beautiful material, but as Mark said, it is very thin, so must be laminated to a heavier leather or horsehide
which serves as the foundation for the holster. It makes a gorgeous belt when backed up with a stiff liner, and will last just about forever with a light buffing to keep it's shine.
Actually the same points apply to Shark, and all the other exotic leathers. Although some of the exotics do serve as a very tough surface that wears well. Shark, and Sting Ray fall into the catagory.
If I wanted a belt that would last as long as possible, and look good for as long as possible, would shell cordovan be a good choice?
How does it compare to shark in terms of durability and price?
I'm assuming it would last longer than a cowhide belt but would it last that much longer to justify the price difference?
I'm not sure of availability any more, but I know that elephant hide makes an EXTREMELY tough leather. I've got a pair of Tony Llamas sitting at home that had about 4000 lbs of pipe come down on the very tip of the toe. Damage? A crease about 1/32" deep. TOUGH stuff.
I think an elephant belt (and maybe a matching holster) would look really sharp....
Harrydog, I would not recommend a Shell Cordovan belt. As Mark said it scratches easily. If you are planning on using it will a belt holster (pancake) you will be polishing the belt every time you wear the holster with it. If you were planning on wearing an IWB that slides on or has snaps, then you would be Ok. You would only have to polish the belt about once a week
Another thing to consider is that Shell Cordovan pieces are quite small, about 6-8 square feet (football shaped). This means that you cannot make a belt from one piece. The belt must be sectioned together. Depending on who makes the belt, this could look really nice or really ugly.
If you are wondering, the best polish to use in Venetian Cream, or if you cannot obtain that, Meltonian Cream works well too.
Shark would be a better alternative for durability and price.
Josh Bulman gave some good advice. Personally, I would never make a belt for myself out of Cordovan. It's too high maintenance, and I don't like belts pieced together. Josh is one of the best makers at doing this and his look beautiful.
I think shark is probably one of the best materials to go with for durabiity, looks, and length of service. Keep in mind, all the exotics must be laminated to a leather foundation for structural strength, so they can become bulky. This is not a problem on belts, but on some holsters, the added bulk can effect the comfort, and concealability factor. Shark will look good longer than most other exotics with minimal care.
There are differences in shark also. Some skins are short, and require that the belts be pieced together. The larger skins are expensive, but the grain pattern is much more defined, and they tend to make up into beautiful belts. Some of the cheaper skins aren't much more than regular cowhide, but they don't have the pronounced grain and ridge pattern that the premium skins will have.
I recently bought three skins and the cost was over 600.00. I had to send two shipments back because the skins were too short for normal sized belts, and there were holes in the skins right down the middle where I cut the belts from.
I have two pairs of elephan boots from Lucchese and they wear like iron...at 550 each they should, huh..? I have shark for a watch band and replace it every several years...very tough material. Would consider a holster from such material...but not elephant.
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