As our every day carry discussions evolve beyond the obvious topic of firearms, one subject that will arise is wallets. I don’t know for sure, but I’d imagine that the vast majority of GunsAmerica readers carry some type of wallet or pocketbook. And at the risk of sounding even more presumptuous, I bet you carry a specific wallet for a specific reason, which I hope you’ll share in the comment section below — I’m always interested to hear what other like-minded individuals carry.
Before I highlight the two wallets I mentioned in the title of the article, I want to briefly discuss what one expects from a wallet. I’m not sure if anyone has ever said it better than inimitable George Costanza, who famously quipped, “A wallet is an organizer, a secretary and a friend” (see clip below). Indeed!
To explicate, a wallet must hold your money, your ID, your credit cards and if you’re like the neurotic Mr. Costanza, a bunch of other stuff as well including but not limited to: Irish money, “free save the tiger poster” rebate, Sweet’N Lows, spare change, “free guitar lesson” slip, hard candy.
I must admit, I’m a bit of a minimalist in terms of the contents I keep on my person and in my wallet. I try to keep my wallet filled with just the basics: credit cards, cash, ID, but I do — like George — from time to time toss in a receipt, especially if I’m traveling for work. Yet, regardless of how much stuff you put in your pocket, there’s no escaping the fact that a wallet is one of the most useful items a man can carry. And if you move beyond the mere utility of the wallet, there is also something to be said for the style, which brings me to Saddleback leather and Hell-Bent kydex.
Saddleback Leather Co. was introduced to me by my girlfriend. It was a year ago. My J. Crew “magic wallet” was in tatters after a solid ten-year run and I was clearly in the market for a new pocket organizer. When my birthday came around she made the decision that she was going to buy me a wallet. She had heard about Saddleback from a coworker, who exclaimed that it was the best (leather) wallet-maker on the market given the company’s “100-year warranty.” She checked em out, was duly impressed by their products and ordered me a brown, small billfold wallet.
I’ve carried the wallet for over a year now and I have to say that I’ve got only one complaint: it’s a little too big for my tastes. Just a little bit. I’ll discuss this a little more in depth below but let me first share with you the specs and details of the wallet:
Closed: 4” W x 3” H
Open: 8 ¾” W x 3” H
Weight: 0.15 pounds
In terms of craftsmanship, this wallet is impeccably made. The stitching is fine and straight and the dark coffee brown, full-grain leather is classy, and since I’ve had it for over a year, it’s starting to develop some character from traveling with me on a day-to-day basis: scratches, nicks, and a softer brown patina in some spots. It’s really a nice-looking wallet. And I’d be lying if I did’t say I feel more sophisticated carrying it (back in the day, I used to just take a rubber band and wrap it around a wad of cash and my ID).
Part of the Saddleback approach is to make an item using as few pieces of leather as possible so that the integrity of the item is more sustainable over time. Makes sense. Two pieces of leather stitched together will probably last longer than four. Four will last longer than six, etc.
From the looks of it, the small billfold is made from a total of four pieces of leather, the back strip, the inside strip and two little strips that make up the card slots. I can’t imagine this wallet breaking down anytime soon or, actually, at anytime in my lifetime. It is a really solidly designed and constructed wallet.
As I noted before, my only complaint is that it’s a bit too large, a bit bulky. When I carry it in my front pocket it certainly prints. Anyone with a careful or thieving eye can see exactly which pocket I’ve placed my wallet. Obviously, that’s not good.
In hindsight, I wish my GF would have bought me the smaller and slimmer front pocket ID wallet, which Saddleback sells for around $39.00. That is more my style, as I rarely carry cash anyhow. Yet, despite this compliant, I’ll hang on to the billfold for the foreseeable future. It’s only going to get more comfortable and more broken in over time.
Recently, I attended a gathering of Youtube personalities that represent the gun community. While there, I ran into a little outfit called Hell-Bent Holsters. I quickly learned that in addition to making holsters, they also made wallets.
The spokeswoman there showed me their Black Carbon Fiber Combat Wallet, a very cool and very sleek looking kydex wallet. Part of its appeal to me is obviously it’s size, which is perfect:
Wallet Price: $35.00
Money Clip: $50.00
Size: 2.875″ x 3.875″
Weight: .125 lbs
Materials: Kydex, Black Carbon Fiber
What separates this kydex wallet from others I’ve seen is, well, two things: (a) the notch for the optional titanium money clip and (b) the clipped slot that allows for easy card retrieval. See, with the retention pressed straight into the kydex, one can easily thumb out one’s cards in a fanning motion to get to the right card quickly. It works great. I love this wallet.
One thing I will say about the money clip and wallet combo is that when placed into the notch, the money clip has a tendency to scratch the the surface of the wallet. Not a big deal, but a cosmetic issue for sure. If one is worried about the appearances, then it might be best to keep the money clip and the wallet separated.
They do have a bunch of different options for the money clip in terms of color, design and style. The one they gave me has a non-trademarked “Star Wars” character. I’m not sure which character it is. That was a joke. How do they get the designs on their clips?
According to the website, “Anodized color on the Titanium versions is produced by light refraction and interference of wavelengths. The film thickness is very thin and can actually be polished out with a commercial steel polish. The anodized layer is durable though; it takes heavy polish and rubbing to remove. The anodized layer may change color due to the oil in your fingers but the color will return with a light cleaning with Windex or a similar cleaning product.”
Pretty cool. In terms of durability, kydex is about as good as it gets. It doesn’t break down the way leather does over time. But, it also doesn’t have the mystique or character leather has, in my humble opinion.
I have to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either Saddleback or Hell-Bent if you’re in the market for an every day carry wallet. In fact, I’ll gladly be a return customer to either company. Obviously, do your own due diligence. Check out their websites (here and here) and read their stories to get a sense of their company ethos. I think you’ll find that they’re great people making great products.
As for myself, sad to say that I will be giving away my Hell-Bent Combat Wallet, the one you see pictured in this article. In full disclosure, the folks at Hell-Bent gave it to me free of charge. Instead of keeping it for myself (which I’d love to do, I thought about doing a seasonal change, Saddleback in the winter, fall when it’s colder and I’m wearing a coat or jacket and Hell-Bent in the spring and summer when I have just a t-shirt and shorts) I’ve decided to give it to one of you guys for the benefit of GunsAmerica. I know, I’m a nice guy.
For details on the giveaway, check out our GunsAmerica Facebook page.