• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 72: Pet peeves, that should be yours, too

Updated: 3 days ago

Regardless of how a dictionary perceives the word 'quality', it's a noun and its equivalent is 'characteristic'. One can use the word in the way that 'amazing' is used; in which case it it meaningless. So they say, 'we make quality holsters'. But does the image above prove 'quality' in the three items? We don't know that the pistol rug fits, the revolver shoots, that the ammunition fires (well, we do, this is an image of items in Witty's collection).

Ditto 'hand-made'. This phrase only means "made by hand and not by machine".

Ditto 'custom-made'. This opposite terms define it best: 'mass-produced' and 'off the shelf'. So a custom-made holster is not off the shelf; it's not ever held in inventory. In that case, a Sparks is not a 'custom-made' holster because the factory ships from inventory; one can see that on its Facebook page, promoting what it has on hand for immediate shipment.

Step one: quality. When we makers use this word properly, for our consumers, then we use adjectives with the noun. 'Finest quality', 'bench-made quality', 'crap quality' -- well, no one actually uses that last one even if that's what they actually turn out. The point is, a claim of 'quality' is a claim of nothing at all. Think of any benchmark company you personally like, and then how you would be able to quantify its claimed 'quality'.

I reckon, a maker who truly turns out the finest in gunleather is only saying what he means when he says 'of the finest quality'. True or not, this is a measurable characteristic -- there's that word again -- against another maker's. Oh, of course it's not true; who makes the finest quality compared to all others? Nobody, because the word itself is a noun describing a collection of characteristics! And the maker has neither listed nor defined them for you. Nor indicated how many of them will be included in your purchase. Or even specified who these lesser makers are so that you can compare. It's a nothing: 'we make quality holsters'.

Step two: hand-made. There are NO gunleather makers who don't use machines. Not for a hundred years! None. Sure you might have a maker who makes HOME-made gear that never has a machine involved. But I guarantee you that every maker who claims his are 'hand made' is using a harness machine to sew it; or they're not pros and you, my friend, are getting a second-quality product: hand sewing in gunleather is inferior to machine stitching: no knots are tied inside the stitch-holes on hand-stitched gunleather. So is hand sanding. Hand burnishing. Okay, maybe not hand finishing :-).

I've been in dozens of the world's makers from the very biggest (e.g., Bianchi and Safariland) to the very smallest (my one-man operation); they all use the same types of machines, and none of the real companies has machines that the others don't have. That there were 'hands' involved, doesn't make something 'hand-made'.

Step three: custom-made. The fashion industry has a several phrases that tell the tale: 'off the rack' and 'tailor-made' and 'bespoke'. This last phrase is not the equivalent of 'tailored'; that's choosing an off the rack suit, for example, and having it adjusted to fit you. Instead, a bespoke suit was still on the bolts of fabrics it would be cut from, when you commissioned its creation for just you and only you.

So when a gunleather maker claims his/her products are custom-made, but instead it was pulled from a box of others just like it to fill your order, they're lying at the very least, to themselves. Your clue: a model number and the fitment marking on the backside. If it says "Model 642" and doesn't say "Made for J. Smith and his modified Glock 17", then it was neither custom-made for you, nor custom-made for your Glock.

Don't buy it. Don't buy into these phrases. If your maker does something a different way from his competitors, let him show you how. Let him tell you which machines he doesn't have, to somehow make your holster hand-made? How, exactly, did he get a mold of your personal Glock 17, to make your holster custom-made? Which qualities does your holster have, that are quantifiable as to lesser/equal/superior to all other makers'?

Notice below, that what makers hold out to you as a measure of the quality of their leather, instead is merely its grade -- and its grade only tells them how much waste to expect in cutting. Nothing to do with the qualities in the leather that you want and even need, in your gunleather. The maker simply pays more for the A grade, than he does for the C grade; the usable parts are not any better on an A grade than the usable parts are on a C grade. Grading then is like octane in gasoline -- an engine can't use more octane than one that prevents pre-ignition. Can't, that's all octane is. Same with grading leather: very large parts to be cut from the hide might require A grade. But otherwise? No. It's a testament to nothing and your maker won't be proving to you that yours was made from a hide of that grade, anyway.

Quality? Sure, they can fall back on, "I can't define quality but I know it when I see it".

But make 'em define it :-).


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