I have been corresponding recently with Bob Ewing of LE Spurs about their line-up of spurs, knives, and holsters. Bob's company has been in business for a couple of years but is a very small enterprise.
The metal for their line of spurs and knives were originally horse rasps. For those who don't know what horse rasps are let me quickly fill you in. They are really big, course files
that are used to file down and shape a horse's hooves.
These are large and thick chunks of metal.
Now you may well be asking yourself, "What does Average Joe know about holsters, knives, and spurs?" and that would be a great question! I used to be an avid knife collector and as I sit here in my office I am surrounded by seven display cases filled with 97 knives. That is the bulk of my collection and while I still like them I am just not as excited about them as I used to be. Similarly I have had a lot of experience with holsters and whether it be open carry in the woods or concealed carry in the city I have used most types of holsters at some point in time. So that leaves spurs...and I've got to admit that I've got nothing for spurs. Having lived the bulk of my adult life in Chicago and Los Angeles (before living the good life out in Boise and now Minnesota) riding horses just wasn't a part of the urban lifestyle.
While I don't know much about spurs I do know about quality and the spurs in the photo below reek of style, functionality, and exceptional quality.
While highly usable I would imagine that more than a few people living in the Southwestern United States might buy these just as interior decorations for a den, home office, or living room.
Bob lives in Southern California's historic San Fernando Valley home to Universal, Warner Bros, and Disney Studios where Bob worked in the motion picture and television industry prior to retiring about 10 years ago. While the Southern most cities in the San Fernando Valley have been urbanized and suburbanized over the past 50 or 60 years there is still a fair amount of open area in the northern and fringe regions of the valley that contain working ranches where horses are still very much a part of the daily life.
After Bob retired he began making walking sticks which makes me wonder how I didn't bump into him before as I started collecting walking sticks in the early 1990's and still do. During this time Bob began to make a knife here and there for himself and then would occasionally make one at the request of a friend. Eventually he realized that there was a demand for the knives he produced and he turned his attention solely to handcrafting knives and later he added spurs to his product line.
Horse's hooves are hard objects and eventually the rasps used on their hooves wear out. Bob realized that he could recycle the discarded rasps into usable knives and believe me it takes a lot of work to turn those old, dirty, and worn out pieces of metal into a beautiful satin or mirror finished knife blade. I want to stress that there is no CNC blade cutting or machine polishing in the process of making these knives. These are handmade and hand finished knives that probably soak in a fair amount of Bob's sweat during the process.
Once he cleans the rasp up a little Bob uses a water jet to shape the rasp into a knife blade whereupon the hours of grinding and sanding begin. He starts with course 36 grit sandpaper and slowly transitions to finer grits until he gets to the final polishing stages in which he finishes the blade with 1000 grit sandpaper and a lot of personal pride.
After having spent more than a few years making walking sticks Bob knows his way around wood and woodworking. He selects choice exotic woods from Peru to fashion the scales on his knives.
After finding just the right piece of wood Bob then spends a lot of time cutting and shaping it into the proper handle for each blade. He then expertly sands, polishes, stains or oils the wood to best bring out the grain or accent its natural burl.
Bob's best friend and partner Paco Chavez handles the leather working end of the business and produces the straps for the spurs, the sheathes for the knives, handgun holsters, belts, bracelets, business card holders, eye glass cases, purses and anything else a customer might want.
Along with the handsome knife that Bob forwarded for me to examine for this review he also sent along one of Paco's hand made holsters.
This is an attractive two-tone brown revolver holster with an interesting pebbled texture and a plain dark brown retention strap secured with a metal snap. It it fully lined with the interior leather being dyed dark brown to match the exterior trim. If you are tired of tactical Kydex and nondescript nylon holsters Paco's offerings are a welcome change.
The styles from Paco on their website, http://www.rjewingranch.com/, tend to be a little retro and that's perfectly OK by me. For instance I really like this belt, holster, and bullet carrier featured in their online catalogue.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article LE Spurs is a small company and has only been in business for a few years. There are larger more established makers that consumers can buy from but let's examine the pros and cons to see if what you get from them is actually what you want.
With a larger, established maker you will get:
- Perfection honed through years of experience
- Name brand prestige
- High prices
- Looooooong wait times
- No latitude for personal customization because they don't have to. They know everything they produce will get sold so they don't need to take the additional time to do a "one-off" piece for a customer.
With LE Spurs you will get:
- A much more reasonable price
- Shorter wait times
- A product that may not have the artistic perfection of the larger, established company but makes up for it with the pride and sweat equity that goes into each and every item they make.
- The status of knowing that the spurs, knife, or holster that you have received was handcrafted just for you. Let that sink in for a minute...it was individually hand made just for you.
I think I just convinced myself that I need to order that holster, belt, and bullet carrier for my small revolver.
Again, you can reach LE Spurs at http://www.rjewingranch.com/