Types of Leather

MTR Custom Leather, LLC offers many types of leather for the products. Such as, elephant, shark skin, ostrich, and much more. Learn about the different kinds of leather by checking out these blogs under the type of leather category.

Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow–MTR Custom Leather is making holsters with it!!

Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow--MTR Custom Leather is making holsters with it!!


Native to Southeast Asia


Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow


(336) 879-2166

10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

10 Questions about Top Grain Leather10 Questions about Top Grain Leather10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is one of the main leather grades. We have collected 10 of the most common questions about this Top Grain Leather.

1 – What is top grain leather?

Top grain leather is the second highest grade of leather. It has a uniform finish and is thinner and more workable than full grain leather, but it does not have its strength or durability.


2 – What does top grain leather look like?

The imperfections which occur naturally in full grain leather have been sanded away and the top

grain leather is imprinted with a regular imitation grain. The result is a smooth, uniformly patterned surface.

3 – Where does top grain leather come from?

There are 3 possible answers:

Where in the world does top grain leather come from?

The top six leather producing countries in the world are: China, India, Italy, Brazil, Korea and Russia. China produces 80% of the world’s leather.

Which animals are used in the production of leather?

Most leather is made from cows, because of their availability, their size and the quality of the leather. Leather can also be made from pigs, sheep, deer and horses. Small quantities of exotic leathers like a alligators, snakes, frogs and sting-rays.

>Where on the hide does top grain leather come from?

As its name suggests, top grain leather comes from the top of the hide, but several millimeters have been removed from the surface in order to eliminate imperfections.

4 – How is top grain leather made?

Several millimeters from the surface of the hide are sanded away, the leather is then buffed to create a smooth, blemish free surface.

5 – How to protect top grain leather

Top grain leather will have an aniline dye or a semi aniline dye. The leather should be nourished every three months, depending on the type of item and its usage.

Top_Grain_Leather_Duffle_Bag_Travel_Luggage_Sport_Bag_GLT082_7_1024x1024 copiaYou can also use a leather Conditioner, like the one we have in our stock, to give some more softness and care to the leather surface.

Disclaimer: You should always test any new products on a small inconspicuous area of the leather first, before applying all over, to ensure you are happy with any changes that may occur to the appearance and texture.

6 – How long will top grain leather lasts?

The life of your top grain leather will depend on the initial quality of the hide, the type of product and its usage and care. Obviously a Full grain leather will lasts longer, but top grain leather will last for a quite while too.

7 – How thick is top grain leather?

The thickness of an animal hide will depend on the type of animal. A cow hide, the most likely choice for top grain leather, is about 3/64thof an inch thick, the thickness of a coin.

8 – Can top grain leather peel?

Top grain leather which has a semi aniline dye and protective coating will peel over time.

9 – Can top grain leather be bonded?

Bonded leather is the lowest quality leather which is made by gluing scraps of leather together in the way that chipboard is made from scraps of wood. Top grain leather is not bonded, it is the top layer of the hide which has had surface imperfections removed.

10 – Common uses of top grain leather<

Top grain leather is soft and attractive and most of the common items we know are made with top grain leather.

Source: 10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

CHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman…  FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

MTR offers a wide selection of exotic leather. These leathers varies weekly. As we get in different exotic leather every week, that may not be listed below. Each exotic leather can vary in colors and what we are able to make with it. Some exotic leather only comes in small panels and can only be crafted in small items and goods. For additional questions about our exotic leather, please call (336) 879-2166 or email us at sales@mtrcustomleather.com.

CHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom Leather


Source: FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

Exotic Leathers-Whats the difference?


Ostrich leather is one of the finest and most durable leathers. Ostrich leather is luxurious, soft, supple, and thick featuring an exotic goose bump appearance from the large feather quill follicles.

Ostrich is a luxurious leather well know for its softness, flexibility and durability.  In spite of its softness, Ostrich leather is unsurpassed for its tactile strength.  It is, in fact one of the strongest leathers available.  Naturally occurring oils in the leather contribute to its durability, preventing cracking, even under extreme temperatures and sun exposure. Ostrich leather can be cut into very thin layers which remain strong and create lighter weight garments.

The main distinguishing feature of ostrich leather is the quill or feather socket markings. The “full quill” area of the leather is the most sought after and therefore the most expensive type of ostrich leather. “Half quill” or “semi quill” or “smooth ostrich” is not as highly valued, bearing less of the quill pattern. The quill pattern is the result of large follicles which each contained a feather.

Though ostrich is very soft, it will not stretch a great deal. For its weight, ostrich is one of the strongest leathers available. The characteristic large quill pattern comes from the back of the bird where the large feathers grow. Since each quill mark once contained a feather, there is an actual hole in the skin at each quill mark.


Kangaroo leather is lightweight, strong and flexible with high abrasion resistance compared to cowhide. Kangaroo leather has the best strength/weight ratio of any upland boot leather available. Australian kangaroo leather is lighter but stronger than cowhide of equal thickness. Kangaroo is a very light-weight and thin leather that is ounce-for-ounce the toughest leather in the world.  It is very interesting to note that Kangaroo is generally much more resistant to drying out than calfskin. Kangaroo leather is lighter and stronger than the hide of a cow or goat. It has 10 times the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goatskin.

It has been stated that Kangaroo is the best footwear leather available. Kangaroo averages about two ounces in thickness.  The skins are very supple, will flex readily, but will not stretch much because the fiber structure is very fine, concentrated, and tight. These leathers are normally dry, they contain few oils. Expect the vamps to be well matched; there will be slight color variation on the analine finished hides. Since the skin are glazed and plated, there is virtually no distinguished grain. Almost all kangaroo has scars. Expect to find some in your boots~this is your assurance of the real thing.


Elephant is a very strong leather. It resists cracking and tearing because of the relatively long fiber structure under the grain. Because the fibers are open, the leather is somewhat soft and breathes well. Liquids will penetrate very easily from the flesh side but since elephant is between 3 to 5 ounces thick, a good deal of perspiration will be dispersed by it.

Elephant is an exotic leather that is thick and very durable with a course, rippled texture.  Elephant and Hippo leather have as much grain, texture and toughness as you would expect but are surprisingly comfortable wearing.




Crocodile and alligator skin renders a very attractive and fashionable leather. The leather is strong, supple, durable and very expensive. A bony layer within the skin adds a protective shield, while a dimple on each scale makes a very exotic look. Alligator and crocodile will not stretch very much. The scales are hard, some have a bony material on the back of them, and will not stretch or flex. Most all stretch or flex takes place between the scales and places most all stress on the underlying membrane.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR: Hailing from the Southeast USA and frequently harvested from farm-bred gators as well as from wild animals, American alligator skin is a classic, durable and versatile leather.  The American alligator’s hide is the soft and more pliable material. This is because the skin of this reptile is less bony than the skin of crocodiles. This softness makes the alligator’s skin easier to work with than the skin of other reptiles, making it easier to work with for cutting, stitching and folding.

CAIMAN CROCODILE: Caiman crocodiles are also used in the fashion industry by many. Hailing from South America and Central America, the caiman crocodile’s skin is taken only from farms. While caimans might be cousins to the American alligator, the hides of the two animals are worlds apart. Caiman hides tend to be stiffer than alligator hides. This is because the Caiman has distinctive calcium rivets in the center of each scale. These calcium deposits also give the caiman’s scales a patterned effect that is not seen in alligator hides, one that may even persist through the dyeing process.


Shark skin, one tanned, has a very high resistance to abrasion. Shark also has one of the longest fiber structures of any leather which gives the leather a strong tensile strength. The grain is very well defined, but will be smoother depending upon the size, species, and area of the skin that is cut. The leather will tend to be boardy, however, since it is vegetable tanned. This leather is very dry. Shark will not stretch much. The finish is usually a hard finish that will not withstand the abrasion or flex that the leather itself will. Certain part of the skins are more brittle than others; for example, the chin is not cut into the vamps because it cracks more readily than the sides or belly. The grain should always match in linear grain direction and color, grain character will be close.


Snakeskin is typically produced from venomous sea snakes which are commercially farmed. The leather is delicate, thin, soft and flexible, while the fine small hexagon scales produce exotic detailed grains.

Snakeskins are very desirable for boots because of the unique grain, scales, and color patterns. Snakes are skinned in two ways, cut down the belly scales leaving the small scales in the center, “belly” or “front” cut python, and cut down the back leaving the wide belly scale in the center, called “back” cut python. The scales were the snakes protection from the elements and are essentially like a callous, dead skin. The size of the scale will vary depending upon the area of the skin cut and the age of the snake.  The scales have a “lip” open toward the tail will grab and aid the snake in crawling. This lip is your assurance that the snake is genuine. Snakeskin is very dry after tanning, especially the glazed skins. The solid colored skins have been bleached to remove the natural color pattern. They are then drum dyed so the ·color penetrate’ the skin and does not lie on the surface, analine finish.

Source: Exotic Leathers

Different Types of Leather

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Types of Leather

The major difference between all types of the leather is there density, thickness and texture.

Cow Hide-least dense, less scaring (full grain leather products will likely show some minor markings)

Bull Hide- increased density (when dye compares to horse hide)

Why does bull hide have more density than cow hide?

Good question. Bull hide also known as steer hide (old cow) that has been compressed between high pressure chrome or stainless rollers to compress and increase density. The back of the bull hide is pasted to retain the density as well.

The process as which it takes to receive the density of the bull hide is similar to that of the horse hide.

Horse hide is slightly denser than the bull hide. A horse hide may be more repellant to moisture than that of the bull hide and cow hide. When comparing a horse hide belt to a bull hide belt the horse hide may be slightly thinner (1-4oz). However, horse hide may be shiner when dyed compared to the bull hide due to horse is more oiler.

Exotic leather like elephant, caiman, sting ray and shark are great durable leathers. There texture is much more define than the others leathers. Exotic leather is a dense material is also helps with the resistance of moisture. Seasonal changes, fashion trends and price of meat (by product) can affect the production of exotic leather.

All the different leathers can be assembled to be part of a high quality gun belt.

How to choose which leather is best?

The major factor in choosing which leather is your own personal preference.

Check out our Color Chart

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