By Roy Huntington
A holster, is a holster, is a holster, isn’t it? Well — isn’t it? In the sense a wrench is a wrench or a car is a car, I can’t debate the point. But, there can be humbling differences in quality carry gear, and while discussing the elements each may offer can be a treat — or a chore — hold the deliberation for a bit. You’re about to be introduced to a shop ranking among the best there is.
Skip and Bob Ritchie opened their holster business in 2010. But it has longer legs than that, indeed, with roots going back to the 1980’s and Lou Alessi. Alessi’s shop, craftsmanship and design acumen are legendary in the industry, and Skip and Bob were there in Lou’s shop in the very earliest days. In 1984, Skip became a partner in Alessi Custom Concealment Holster, with Lou Alessi and Matt Vassalo. According to Skip, “This is when Lou taught me the art of holster making.” Skip honed his skills until one day Lou said, “Skip, I can’t tell if you or I made this holster!”
In the mid 1990’s the government contract holster business slowed and Skip left the shop to pursue other endeavors while Lou kept the shop going. In 2009, Skip heard Lou was gravely ill and returned to help out, along with buds Bruce and Rich. Skip said, “In a matter of hours it was like old times. MaryLou (Lou’s wife), Louie, along with Bruce, Rich and myself were telling stories and laughing.” That rekindled Skip’s love of holster making.
In Feb. 2009, Lou Alessi passed away and the shop changed hands. Skip had to change gears while mourning the passing of his friend.
The Mini-Scabbard (right) and Hideaway IWB were noteworthy
for their obvious high quality. Roy found the Solo 9mm
in the scabbard comfort-able and predictable. SGM custom
grips on the Solo.
The Ritchie Leather ankle rig is classically designed,
with a thick felt padding and snugly molded hand work
to hold the J-Frame in place. A nice balance to the
synthetic spandex-type ankle rigs. Gemini Customs S&W.
Skip couldn’t let it rest, so founded his own company, using the designs he either created on his own or with Lou. Ritchie Leather’s goal is to give their customers functional, no-nonsense gear using the finest leather they can find. Being a three-man shop, they maintain the highest quality control possible and nothing leaves without meeting their standards. Frankly, their long-tenure as craftsmen shows in their products and the legacy of the Alessi touch is obvious. Fit, finish and functionality — all hallmarks of Lou’s work — are all there.
Their designs run the gamut from simple belt scabbards, like the Mini Speed Scabbard for the Solo (shown) to elegant and carefully designed shoulder rigs, including one crafted specifically for the demands of the female form. In between you can find just about anything you might need to answer your concealed carry needs, from belts and pocket holsters to accessories like the mag/light pouch shown.
Left: Tussey Custom Officers ACP. Right: The CQ-QR/SS (with sweat shield)
for an Officers .45 and a mag/light pouch.
Our Test Gear
Skip loaned me a cross section of their designs so I could get hands-on. Just like my vintage Alessi gear I cherish (Lou made my wife’s duty holster so she could, as he told me, “Be safe out there.”), the Ritchie Leather is obviously carefully handcrafted with specific attention to detail work and the application of the excellent finishes. Each product is specifically hand-molded to fit the gun it’s intended to service. Like Lou said, I can’t tell if Lou made it — or the Ritchie brothers.
There are no loose threads, awkward stitch lines or “there, that’s good enough” workmanship. Certainly, as any high quality tool should be, everything seems in its place and all questions are answered — before they’re asked.
I wore the Solo scabbard and mag/light pouch for a while and was met with no surprises. I tend toward wanting as much light as possible on-hand and found the SureFire P3X Fury at 1,000 lumens fit neatly into the pouch in spite of the fact it was intended for another model. The Ankle Rig, Hideaway and CQ-QR (snap-on/off) were of a family, and met my eye with pleasing finishes, design elements and what had by then become the expected high quality workmanship from this shop.
Simply put, Ritchie Leather fits neatly into that rarefied air of “best-quality” leather makers today; and I hold that to rank among six or eight shops. I highly recommend them for their work — and for the people they are.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index, Ph: (716) 691-6300.