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Cowhide vs. Horsehide Holsters

Years ago when I purchased my first Crossbreed Supertuck holster, I had heard from many sources that the horsehide version was the best in hot climates because the horsehide wasn’t as absorbent as cowhide, and because of this it would keep sweat off of your pistol.

After wearing the horsehide Supertuck for 3+ years I never noticed it really repelling sweat, so when I won a free Crossbreed holster at a match, I just went ahead and ordered the cowhide version. I’ve went on record on the podcast saying that I didn’t think there was really any difference between the two, and for the most part, there isn’t.

Earlier this week I spent several hours outdoors with temperatures in the mid 90’s, and for the first time I noticed the difference between the cowhide and horsehide:
That is sweat. In 3 years of carrying with the horsehide Supertuck, I never had this much sweat on my pistol when drawing it from the holster. Ever.

So, if you don’t live in a hot climate, or you don’t care about getting your pistol sweaty, just go ahead and get the cowhide version. If you don’t want to get your pistol sweaty, go horsehide.

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.


  1. If the construction is rough-side towards the body there is little you can do to correct that situation. It is one (of many) reasons we construct our IWB holsters smooth side out. Horsehide is naturally a little less porous than cowhide since the grain is marginally tighter, however, much of the moisture resistance is due to the horsehide (like the bullhide we prefer to use) being a compressed leather with a semi-finish done to the “rough side”. Humidity sucks.

    • I was secretly hoping you would chime in when I posted this.
      Does being smooth side out really help keep less moisture from getting onto the gun? I would think if the moisture is making it through the leather, it would make it through either way. Weird.

      • The flesh side of the hide Is far more permeable than the top grain side, and top grain side can be sealed with wax giving far more moisture resistance. On a well waxed leather piece water will bead up and run off (for a while – LOL). Unfortunately, humidity and constant moisture will permeate almost any leather if given sufficient time. Even better than your horsehide would be two thin layers sewn top grain out on both sides. This would also be far more costly to make, which is probably why it isn’t being done. That is how we used to make our “old school” 3-way Paddle, worked great.

  2. I agree, humidity does suck!

    Thanks for posting the holster info.

  3. I loved my Crossbreed for about six months, until I noticed that because of the all leather side, it kept popping the mag release on my M&P compact when I was shifting around in the car. Tried a CompTac CTAC and have used that very happily for three years since. The Crossbreed was more comfortable, but the mag issue is for me, obviously, a deal breaker.

    • My horsehide Supertuck I trimmed down around the mag release so that wasn’t an issue. Works well enough that I can carry with an extended mag release and it never comes undone.

      Mind if I ask how you found us?

    • Cut it. Crossbreed doesn’t properly finish their edges anyway, just cut rivet and ship. Might as well trim it as you want.

  4. I Live in a Very Humid area that gets hot during the Summer and I have never had a problem with my Supertuck Cowhide Holster I love it and recommend it to my students.

  5. There are other differences as well. Horse tends to be a tougher hide, and sheens more easily giving it a glossy look, which some find unpleasant. The finish on cow tends to look a lot nicer. Also, due to horse being a tougher hide, it also tends to squeak a lot when being worn, so if you want a quiet holster, stick with cow. If you really want to understand the differences, speak to someone who works with leather every day, all day, and really understands this sort of thing, like the owner at A Better Belt USA. I learned a lot speaking with him about materials when I was shopping for a good gun belt. I wound up buying two belts from him as a result.

  6. Can I suggest checking-out the N82 Tactical Professional series. It integrates a moisture barrier… I live in Florida, so I know heat and humidity. I have NEVER had that kind of sweat on my sidearm.

  7. It’s only an issue if you get a certain set of criteria together, like using a completely unfinished/unburnished piece of leather flesh side to the body. Holsters that are skin side to the body (i.e. all leather holsters except for hybrids) and don’t do any proper finishing/burnishing to at least give some moisture resistance. Put a good coat of even something as simple as mink oil paste, or better yet a good neastfoot oil/beeswax mixture (like crossbreed SHOULD have done) and you’ll notice a big difference.

  8. The function of sweating has more to do with the method of tanning and the orientation of the layers than the type of leather. However, having used both cowhide and horsehide holsters for >35yrs.. your holster bag will reveal that properly made (think Kramer) horsehide holsters will hold their original shape and flexibility (lack of), where cowhide within the first 5yrs will become flaccid and useless.

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