difference between horse and cow hide

Horsehide vs Cowhide Leather

Shopping for a leather belt of good quality, be it a leather gun belt or fashion belt, one is likely to run across different types of leather, such as cowhide and horse hide. It's all leather, in reality, but some people wonder if there are any benefits conferred by selecting one over the other.

Largely, cowhide is going to be the most widespread, as it is far and away the most common leather in production, on any scale. Therefore, you'll find it more easily. However, that's not to say horse hide isn't valuable.

A Guide To Horse Hide

horse hide leather

Some people might see the odd horse hide gun belt and wonder if it confers any sort of advantage over cowhide for this application, or a person might wonder if horse hide is better than cowhide for any leather application. Naturally, if a person is looking at investing in a quality piece of leather like a good gun belt, the qualities of different types of leather should factor into their decision; every type of leather is different and has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Anyhow, what is different about horse hide compared to cowhide? Naturally, horse hide leather is made from the skin of a horse, rather than that of a cow.

Skin that's going to be used as leather, whether horse hide or cow hide, has qualities that are influenced by the creature the skin came from. Horses, being (by and large) much more athletic than cows, are more heavily muscled. Their skin is going to be a bit tougher than some cowhides, such as steer (the most common leather), heifer or calfskin. Bullhide is similarly tougher than the previously mentioned cowhides, sharing many qualities with horse leather.

A lot of horse hide leather is from the front quarters and the back, as the rear quarters are often best suited for heavier applications such as shoemaking. For instance, Cordovan leather shoes are a very popular fashion item made from horse hide; fine examples command hundreds of dollars per pair.

Advantages To Horse Hide

cleaning leather

Horse hide leather isn't necessarily stronger than cowhide; both are strong, durable leathers and are perfectly suited to working applications. Horse hide, though, is often more rigid than cowhide, making for a longer break-in. Horse leather also has a coarser grain than cowhide and many feel it has a brighter, more shiny appearance.

Horse hide is also less porous than cowhide, so dyed horse leather tends to appear less uniform in color than cowhide. Some might think this makes horse leather impervious to water, but it isn't. Horse leather, though, will require somewhat less care than cowhide in some cases, so less regular applications of leather care products such as neatsfoot or mink oil or perhaps saddle soap may not be needed at the same frequency. However, fine leather is fine leather, so make sure to observe proper leather care if you buy any horse leather product.

That said, neglect - as with any leather product - will lead to damage, so you still want to take care not to damage any piece of leather gear.

No Reason To Steer Clear Of Cowhide Leather Gun Belts

cowhide belt for ccw

As far as any real reason to avoid cowhide leather in preference to horse leather, there isn't any real compelling reason; it's really down to personal preference. Some find horse leather more attractive than cowhide leather, and some don't.

Would a horse hide gun belt be better than a cowhide leather gun belt? It might be a bit stiffer (and not by a lot) but either horse or cowhide belts are going to be stronger than belts made from exotic leathers such as crocodile, lizard or ostrich.

Additionally, construction makes a large difference. A single-ply belt is by nature less rigid than a two-ply belt; what animal the leather was sourced from is not going to matter as much. A reinforced gun belt is going to be stronger still, regardless of what kind of leather is used.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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