Reading reviews and product specifications are all well and good (and a necessary part of product research), but it was being able to listen to Dennis Badurina of Dragon Leatherworks interact with and describe his product process to the gun owners on Vicious Circle that ultimately decided me to buy this product instead of continuing to look.
Only after having completed the sale did Dennis and I exchange e-mails that concluded with the following:
That being said...the VC logo will be made available on the Quantums later this evening (when I finish up the first one and get to taking pictures of it...), so I'll extend you the offer to stamp the logo onto your Quantum, free of charge.
I accepted immediately, of course, and look forward with excitement to having the first Quantum VC holster! Dennis and I continue to discuss the second holster I wish to buy from him entirely due to his decent treatment of someone who he didn't know and had already gotten the money from. All of which is perfectly consistent with the man I listened to with such enjoyment over the past few weekend's podcast. With his patient explanations of the limits of his craft and materials, I'm certain we'll arrive at a mutually satisfactory version soon enough. Illustrative of that process, the following exchange between us is quoted in it's entirety (less address headers) with the authors' permission:
So, I was just going to reward your earlier generosity by dipping into the savings and ordering a second, OWB fancy dress holster. Coming as absolutely no surprise to me, you don't offer what I really want. :)
A standard Flatjack in black leather, cut for a 2" belt that has the sanded Stingray (would love to read Labrat's review of that whole process; I was in the USN, I've heard Stingray's response - or it's generic equivalent*) material inset with the VC logo pressed into it, with the logo further highlighted by contrasting colored (maybe a light shade of blue?) stitching in the logo depressions. Call the basic design Alan's Consternation. The kicker is, I want it fitted for a Smith & Wesson 325 Night Guard, the "N" frame version of one of these:
JayG not being with us, the N frame is the largest of the four frame sizes S&W offers (J,K,L,N), so you'll have to arrange for a blue gun first (though I can't imagine there won't be a sample N frame you could do a trace-and-measure from available at the upcoming NE blogshoot - I'm reasonably certain both Weer'd Beard and JayG has mentioned owning an equivalently sized gun). From what I can see of the Flatjack design it shouldn't matter, but my gun has Crimson Trace sights fitted as the added grip width helps to alleviate some of the recoil impact along with the more usual laser sight benefits.
So, possible? My birthday is in late October so we have time to fumble around with potential problems/options. Assuming you've no objection to the above, what will my present to myself cost?
Bonus: mention all this on tonight's 100th VC show and hear Alan be sooo unimpressed.
OK...a few things about what you are looking for....
The stamp for the VC logo has to be impressed on what is called *tooling leather*, or *carving leather*. Its the only leather that has gone through the tanning process in such a way as to accept embossing or hand-tooling.
That being said, the only tooling leather is Cowhide or Horsehide, and the tanning method must be vegetable tanning, not chemical or chrome-dipped. All my holsters are made from veg-tanned leather (as are almost all holsters, regardless of manufacturer), and during the process of making the holster, I take steps, after the dyeing and stamping, to stiffen the leather so that it will properly support the pistol.
Ergo, the logo cannot be embossed onto stingray (or anything else that isn't veg-tanned cow or horse). Stingray skin has calcium deposits on it. That's what makes stingray skin so tough once its tanned. The Japanese Samurai used Stingray skin as an armored layer atop a softer hide, because stingray skin is practically indestructible. A razor-sharp sword WILL NOT slice through stingray. (I should know...I have to actually cut all my stingray pieces by hand with a pair of sheet metal shears, the damned stuff is so frigging hard....all my regular leather cutting tools don't even mar the surface of stingray.)
As for stitching into the depressions of the logo, it would take a very fine needle (too fine to punch through stingray), and to do decorative stitching, the stitches need to be very close together. What happens in veg tanned leather is that the stitching perforates the leather so badly, the leather literally falls apart when you try to stretch it around the gun during the molding/boning process. Chrome-dipped or chemical tanned leathers, either calfskin or another such supple leather, can take the fine needlework, but not the veg-tanned leathers I use in my holster making.
Lastly...I've yet to be able to find an *N* frame model...the best model-maker out there is BlueGuns, but the stuff they do is LEO-based, or military-based weaponry. They have J and K frame models, no L or N. There is another modeler called Duncans Customs, but their models aren't of the quality and exacting standards of BlueGuns. I've used their models before in holster making, and had to refund the money to clients because the holsters were too loose, even though I used the exact same technique as with my BlueGun models, where all the holsters made off BlueGuns are balls-on-perfect for fit. I have also tried using tracings, but the fit, again, isn't exact, and will wind up too tight or loose, and a refund gets made. So, I now stay away from using tracings...if I don't have the actual gun or a BlueGun model, I politely decline the work.
So...there's the reasons you see limits on what I offer. Part of it is a physical or technical impossibility, and other (such as more of a gun selection) are because the best models made are only offered in a limited amount of popular LEO/Military model handguns.
I like the way you're thinking, though...a holster like that would be unbelievably cool. :-)
Since my N-frame wheel gun is apparently out, it's back to my Commander. Maybe the sanded Stingray as highlight trim for the VC logo in some (contrasting to the holster) shade of dyed cow/horse hide but without the stitched highlighting of the logo itself. Have to think on it some more.
This post is characterised as a "product review", but it's really more of a producer review. Go see for yourself.
*Edit to add: Begins with "Fuck ...", features "... gonna need a whole lotta help ..." and concludes with "... will not live to see the results!", or words to the same effect. Feel free to insert pretty much whatever combination of obscenity, slang, curse or insult (added points for anatomically unlikely combinations) anywhere in the discourse you think most entertaining/pertinent and you'll pretty much capture the spirit of the response I think.