Southern Pride Leather
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a fan of the 1911 platform firearm. I have been very fortunate to have some nice 1911's over the years and even carried a couple as duty weapons. I never could bring myself to stick one in a kydex holster though. I always thought a 1911 deserved to be placed in a leather holster. In my business ventures, I came across a gentleman by the name of Mike Crouch, the owner of Southern Pride Leather. Mike makes handmade leather goods including holsters. I had always wanted a nice, matching holster, mag pouch and belt set so a few messages were exchanged and an order placed.
A few weeks went by, some update emails received to keep me informed of the progress, then shortly after the new year I received a much anticipated box from Southern Pride Leather. Inside I found a well packed holster, mag pouch and belt as ordered. I had given Mike free reign to pick the color and was pleased to find a rich, dark colored leather. It should be noted, these products are all hand made. That means they are not machine perfect and I would suspect no two items are exactly the same. That isn't a bad thing, its a style some prefer and some don't. I prefer it. I am old school and have a great deal of respect for a product made by hand. His products start out as a raw cut of leather and are cut, formed and stitched all by hand. As I am sure you can imagine, this is a painstaking process that takes time.
The leather appeared to be of good quality and reasonable thickness. When I ordered the set, I requested the holster to be made to fit a Government sized 1911 with a dual mag pouch. I retrieved my Dan Wesson PM7 and a couple 10 round magazines and slid them into their new resting place. I tried the belt on and similar to that of a new, good pair of boots, it was a little tight and will need some break-in. Again, I am used to this with leather products and know the belt will stretch to fit easier with time. The belt has a nice buckle that is replaceable if someone wishes to add something more personalized. I didn't ask for any fancy tooling or special features because I tend to like things a bit more simple.
I decided to start wearing the set right off to see how it would do. I noticed one thing straight off that is a matter of preference. The cut of the leather for the holster is intended for the comfort of the wearer. It is a bit oversize and designed to keep a beaver-tail or hammer from digging into your side. While this made the holster very comfortable, it did provide challenges in being able to get a good initial grip on the firearm. I suspect with a little time and wear, this will become easier. Also, Mike would likely make the holster specific to your needs with a simple request.
As mentioned before, the holster was very comfortable and provided an appropriate cant for a smooth draw and is rigid enough for an easy re-holster. I was also pleased with the retention of both the holster and mag pouch. They seemed to firmly grip the firearm and magazines however, as with all non-retention type holsters, I am sure a bad fall would send my firearm bouncing across the ground. I know Mike offers a thumb-break option of one desires to prevent this from happening, I prefer to go without.
I tend to wear loose fitting clothing and typically an in-the-waist style holster. I have also started carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P for off duty use. I always worried about loosing one of my 1911's to evidence if I was forced to use it. The thought of my M&P relocating for a while doesn't sting quite as bad. Spending some time carrying my favorite sidearm is making me rethink the thought... I was pleased to find the holster and mag pouch concealed easily under a loose fitting T-Shirt. the leather did not grab the fabric and I felt I could wear the holster for extended amounts of time without discomfort. This holster would conceal well under a shirt or jacket but is nice enough to be worn exposed in a more formal fashion.
There is something that should be mentioned about Mike. I have a theory when it comes to spending money, I am not just buying a product but also customer service. I will spend more to go to a restaurant with great service than one I have to chase staff around to get a refill. I suspect Mike understands this train of thought because his communication has been great. He kept me up to date with photographs of the progress and was quick to respond to emails. Plain and simple, he just strikes me as a good guy. He also stands behind his work, offering a lifetime warranty for his product.
In the end, I think your personal thoughts on Mikes work at Southern Pride Leather will depend on your preferences on other things. If you prefer the thought of living in a condo high above New York City, I suspect this isn't the type of holster for you. If you think a cabin on a few acres in a remote location sounds like the things dreams are made of, this may just be right up your alley. Take some time to look Southern Pride Leather up on Facebook or Instagram, he has lots of pictures of his products and I am sure he would be happy to speak with you.
I will be offering his products for sale in my shop or you can reach out to him if you like. Please keep in mind, most items are likely made to order and may take a few weeks to get.