So, Firearms, Not Politics (but sometimes accessories)…
A couple of months ago, Phil asked me if I would be willing to review a belt. Of course I would. I wear pants. I like my pants to stay up. And I like to hang things off of my waist—generally some sort of device for demonstrating applied physics.
I have worn a number of belts in my time, everything from self-made paracord, to webbing, to rigger’s belts. I’ve even been known to wear an occasional dress belt. The belt I am most proud of, though, was my very first MCMAP belt (tan) which I got while at Field Medical Service School.
Anyway, Phil told me to go on to the Lenwood Leather website and pick a belt and holster. He did strongly discourage me from choosing the “Wolverines: Days of Future Past” belt. Sigh, Phil, always with the limitations… 🙂
I ending choosing a Black Hybrid Belt and Black Spectre Holster for my XDs-45. I decided to actually wear the belt for a decent period of time, and wear it daily to see how it would hold up. (I suppose I could have done an unboxing video for you, but those are so “last year”).
Belt (and Holster) Construction
The belt is massive and solidly constructed. There is just no other way to put it. Lenwood Leather’s tag line is “Hand Made. Over Built.”
I ordered the belt two sizes larger so I could play around with different holster configurations. The main body of the belt is full grain leather. The inner layer is PVC coated polyester webbing. The two layers are then glued and stitched together before the edges are hand finished, which you can see in the below pictures. The stitching is really tight, and the knots are super solid and clean.
You can order the Hybrid in four different colors: black, brown, natural, and oil rubbed. You can also order in sizes from 30 inches up to 60 inches (though belts 50 inches and above have a slight additional charge). The only other listed option when purchasing is to upgrade the buckle and hardware to Stainless Steel (which I did not do).
The belt comes with seven adjustment holes (at an inch apart), and the buckle is replaceable, using screws to anchor the end (rather than rivets or sewing). He also sells replacement buckles if you are in the need, or want to change it out.
The Spectre holster is a single piece of Kydex that has been heated and folded over, then formed to the body of the gun. You can order the holster for right or left side, choose your weapon model, and pick from a number of color options (exotics are an upcharge; as are inclusion of suede/leather draping). It has pretty standard retention screws (which you can adjust for tension) that are used to anchor the belt clip.
The belt is great. I can confirm that it is, indeed, “over built” per their tag line (but in the “good” way; not in the “why the heck did they build it like this” way). Part of the advertising on their website shows someone standing on the belt (vertical orientation), which I duplicated. And it certainly holds up without folding or deforming. Solid.
Every other leather belt I have owned has eventually deformed from sweat (or sitting against it, etc.) In fact, in the same amount of time an earlier leather belt I had bought had already fallen apart—and that belt is one of the reasons I had transitioned entirely to synthetic materials.
I’ve had this belt on a number of hikes this summer, been to the range with it (in balmy 100 degree plus New Mexico heat), and basically gone about my day to day activities with it.
The worst thing about this belt (and this is not bad for the consumer; just for Lenwood), is that I don’t see there being a huge repeat business. I think this belt is going to last me the rest of my life (assuming I keep it clean and don’t let it get soaked) and I may even end up bequeathing it to a future generation.
Personally I found the Spectre holster to be “meh”. I want to note, this is nothing on Lenwood. Fold over Kydex holsters are, well, fold over Kydex holsters. There is just not a lot of new innovation you can do there. It does do exactly what they say, though. I can comfortably put it anywhere on the belt. It is certainly tuckable. It holds my XDS securely and was generally easy to draw from the three positions I tried (appendix, 3 o’clock, and 5 o’clock; I did about fifty draws from each position). The Spectre is in the same price point as most other Kydex IWB holsters, around $50. I get the impression that they are made as they are ordered.
I think the Spectre holster is a fine option if you want a simple IWB holster—but there is nothing really special about it—unlike the belt.
Part of the issue is probably based on the fact that I ordered the Spectre because I normally carry IWB (and the Spectre is Lenwood’s IWB holster). After going back and reviewing Lenwood’s website I probably should have tried out the “Wraith” model. They discuss the construction being an 80/20 wrap (Pareto Principle, anyone?). Basically 80% of the gun is molded into the exterior piece of Kydex and the remaining 20% on the inside piece. The downside is that it is OWB, and I just don’t carry that way (unless it is on my 3-Gun belt). The way they are making the Wraith does sound like a different construction method than a number of other holsters out there.
The Lenwood has now become my go-to belt. It really has. Regarding the holster, I wore it for a couple of weeks, but eventually went back to my Alien Gear–again, nothing on Lenwood’s construction of it.
One other thing I also appreciate is his approach to business (you can get the details on their info page). Specifically that he doesn’t do business with people that are “cranky, cantankerous, obnoxious, hateful”. The products are personally made, and that comes at the price of sometimes having to wait. For a belt of this quality, I think that is not too much to ask.
Just as a side note they do also make dog collars (and some other items) which means I may have to upgrade what my pups are currently wearing… 🙂
Hop on over to their website: http://www.lenwoodleather.com/ and check out what they have.