First, I have a bit of a confession to make: I am not generally a lover of leather holsters.
My first holsters as a young gunnie were of the "one size-fits-most" variety; generally lower-quality nylon holsters. From there I graduated to poorly-finished and thin split-grain leathers that weren't comfortable, shifted position, collapsed upon the the draw and quickly fell apart.
Once kydex and other polymer holsters came out, I was finally content. Sure, they weren't beautiful—they had no warmth or character. But they worked without fail, and that was enough for me. Later on, when leather-backed polymer-hybrid holster designs came out, I was thrilled, and they have been my go-to holsters for several years now. Besides, I carried mostly inside the waistband (IWB), and was more concerned with fit and function than aesthetics.
A quality, affordable leather holster simply wasn't on my radar until I kept seeing one name pop up again and again on the Internet. If you're an avid reader of gun blogs, the name Dragon Leatherworks might ring a bell. Dennis Badurina has made holsters for quite a few of the top gun bloggers, asking for nothing in return save an honest review of the holster on their blogs. This non-typical approach to marketing has paid off well, as the universally positive reviews—to which he links from his website—consistently speak of a quality, well-made product.
Shortly after a friendly conversation with Badurina, a Quantum IWB-OWB combination holster arrived at my door.
At a base price of $90, the Quantum was only $20 more than my favored Crossbreed SuperTuck, and it added the ability to reverse the clips and wear the Quantum outside the waistband (OWB) for those occasions where I didn't want to carry concealed.
Many shooters flock to Dragon Leatherworks because it has options that go well beyond "base," and Badurina didn't send over his base model. Instead, I received a functional and rugged work of art.
The Quantum I received was black with a burgundy burst (a $5 option). An exquisite stingray leather inlay (an additional $40) with a black leather border brought the price up to a still very reasonable $135.
An initial inspection showed the Quantum to be of solid, heavy-duty full-grain leather, unlike lesser leathers used in some IWB holsters that collapse as soon as you draw your pistol, requiring an awkward two-handed re-holstering. The stitching of the holster and rich evenness of the dye showed first-rate craftsmanship and added to the character of the Quantum. The personal attention to detail that went into creating the holster was obvious.
My question about the Quantum was whether or not one holster could be used satisfactorily both as an IWB carry holster—where the pressure of the belt and sweat of the body can become a factor—and as an OWB holster, where dings and scuffs can reveal where manufacturers skimped on the quality of dyes and finishes. Comfort, of course, factors into both equations as well.
Molded to fit my 4-inch Springfield Armory XD 9 mm, the Quantum-as-IWB was stiff at first, but gave just enough to be comforting, if not comfortable. I tend to wear my holster at the four-o' clock position behind the right hip, and the steel clips held the holster firmly in place. The Quantum cinched the gun in tight, and I could wear it with just a T-shirt as a cover garment. The "wings" of the holster were absolutely rigid and did not allow the gun to shift at all, while the holster mouth was very resistant to closure. This is imperative in a fighting holster (which IWBs necessarily are), where using both hands to secure your handgun may not be an option. The draw angle is almost perfect for where I chose to carry the pistol, and the draw itself was relatively smooth once I practiced with it a bit.
If I had one suggestion to make about the holster, it would be to scoop the front .5 to .75 inch of the holster to speed the draw just a tiny bit, as I seemed to be dragging the front sight just a hair upon drawing. That may very well be a shooter issue and not a holster issue, as I have that same problem with other holsters as well.
As an OWB holster, the Quantum is allowed to strut itself as a true trophy holster. It looks like it was made to be admired, and indeed, everyone I showed it to seemed very impressed by its rugged good looks. My one small suggestion for a future version of the holster is to have an an option to build in belt loops into the Quantum's wings so the clips can come off entirely for those who prefer a belt-secured holster. I hasten to add this is purely a matter of preference; the spring steel clips held the Quantum securely in place and made it preferable for me as someone who likes to be able to remove or put on a holster without threading it through a belt.
The Quantum held up without complaint through the steamy North Carolina summer into the fall, and is still going strong in January. It turned out to be resistant to sweat and scuffing alike, a testament to the quality of the leather used and how it was constructed. Badurina's goal for Dragon Leatherworks was to provide made-in-U.S. craftsmanship at a reasonable price.