Monday, January 30, 2017

A long overdue review... Dennis Badurinas Dragon Leatherworks Custom Holsters... Damn fine holsters, damn fine man.

Back in 2011, I was still a reasonably popular blogger... and still a gunblogger in particular, with a couple thousand unique readers every day. I was still posting almost every day... still doing megaposts... and at the time, I thought the cancer hadn't slowed me down too much yet.

I was very much wrong about that last part... but it took me a while to figure that out.
Also back in 2011, Dennis Badurina was just getting Dragon Leatherworks going, and starting to make a... very well deserved... name for himself... and as it happens, he was sending out review samples to a few gunbloggers.

One day, I emailed Dennis, jokingly saying "Hey, where's my review holster?"... and being the good guy he is, Dennis wrote back and said "I didn't know you wanted one... Just tell me what you want, and I'll send it to you right away"... which kinda blew me away.

I wrote back saying I was just kidding... but he wasn't... he insisted on sending me a holster to review, so long as I wanted to review it. At that point, he was busy enough that his delivery times were out about three months, but he said he would have me the holster in less than six weeks, so I would have plenty of time to review it before bad weather in North Idaho made it difficult.

Well... I couldn't turn that down... I had seen the pictures and videos the other gunbloggers had posted, and read their reviews, and I was thrilled to get a piece of Dennis's work.

I took a good look at this website, told him what I liked, what I specifically didn't like, and the pistols I had on hand at the time... and I asked him to send me what HE thought would be a great holster based on those parameters.

Five weeks later... I'm sorry to admit, I skipped ahead in the line more than a little bit... Dennis emailed me to let me know the holster had shipped... A couple days after that, I had this beautiful piece in hand; a custom Dragon Leatherworks Talon.

Unfortunately, I was also in the middle of travelling for contract work at the time, commuting from Sagle Idaho, to San Francisco California and back, every week...

I would leave home every Sunday night to catch either the 2250, or the 0510 Monday flights from Spokane to SFO (sometimes direct, usually through salt lake, but sometimes other cities), work all week in the city, then head back Friday afternoon on the 1550 or the 1715 flights back up to Spokane.

...Because I was a stubborn and prideful idiot, who "wouldn't let cancer slow me down", and I just had to abuse and exhaust myself to prove it. That abuse and exhaustion would catch up with me a few months later... but that's another story...

I had the holster in hand for almost six weeks before I could actually test it, and take pictures and video. I took about 50 pictures both indoor and out, and made a five minute video... but I wasn't very happy with any of them... The lighting wasn't right, the focus was off in several important shots... in general, I just didn't think they showed the holster off properly, or made it looks nearly as good as it was.

I intended to just scrap the pics I took, and take an entirely new set of interior pics with a new lightbox setup I snagged off of Amazon, and a new set of exterior pics in better lighting and weather.

... and then things kinda exploded...

...Both for my family and I, mostly in a not so great way, but some things very good (like the birth of our son)...

...and for Dragon Leatherworks, in a very good way...

In the five and a bit years since Dennis made me this custom holster, his business has grown massively, and he has been recognized as one of the best makers of custom leather gear out there. He's even made holster rigs, and other props and items for several very popular movies and television shows, like NCIS and Jurassic World.

But, as far as why this review is so delayed... What it comes down to, is that the holster, and the original photos and video I took for the review, were both lost for most of that time.

I just found the original files a few weeks ago while going through old external USB drive... and Dennis just happened to message me a few hours ago, which got me to get my butt in gear, and post the review and pictures.

So... at this point, I'm just going to post the video review, and some of the pictures of the holster... because this is about the review, not about my tale of woe. If you want the rest of the story, you can read the rest below... or you can just enjoy the review and the pretty holster...

My disclaimer here... I don't think that the video or pics are good enough for a review of the product. My focus and lighting weren't great, my commentary is somewhere between wooden and dead... but Dennis said he just wanted me to post my honest review... that he wasn't worried about the rest...

So, without further delay, my already more than five years delayed video review, and photos, of Dragon Leatherworks custom Talon holster, for my commander length 19lls.

Honestly, my pictures and video really don't do justice to the piece. The lighting, color, focus, and background leave a lot to be desired... but they're better than nothing.

Unfortunately, the exterior shots I took were all unusable, as they were almost all out of focus, and had poor sharpness and contrast... these interior shots were at least OK, but really, the holster is a lot better looking than these photos.

To my mind, as far as active custom and semi-custom holster makers go... I think you can't go wrong with Dragon Leatherworks... Veteran owned, 100% hand crafted in Oak Ridge Tennesse... you should check them out.

They have several standard models, of everything from deep concealment holsters, to pocket holsters, to duty holsters, in every kind of leather and finish you can think of... and of course they do full custom original designs as well.

If you like the Galco combat master, or the Safariland agent series holsters... you'll love the Dragon Leatherworks Talon.

If you're one of the many folks out there who loved the original pre takeover safariland 568 and other 500 series paddle holsters (and their companion models, with j-hooks or belt tunnels replacing the detachable paddles)...

...and I am, in fact I think they're just about the best paddle holster ever designed, but I miss the now long past days when they were actually made of leather...

...then you should check out the Dragon Leatherworks Valkyrie. It's everything good about the classic Safariland paddles, only better.

... In fact, I think the next time I order a holster, it's probably going to be a Valkyrie, to replace one of my lost Safariland paddles.

... and that concludes the review portion of the piece... 

...So... if you are actually interested,  the rest of the story is under the break...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Update and a plea for help

So last I wrote, we were dealing with a major issue. Due to some administrative screwups Chris lost his insurance for October through December, aka The Bad Times. This left us with $300k in debt to MGH and assorted docs and froze the treatment plan.
Problem is, he's still got cancer and at least one lump.
The good news is I've managed to salvage the relationship with his PCP and endocrinologist. New insurance started on the 1st of January so we can go forward as soon as we get a new cancer treatment team and get the cash for the deductible and most likely out of pocket max.
We're going to (hopefully) get his case transferred to the cancer treatment center in the same city we live in so we can continue life-saving treatment. Since he's going to do several targeted radiation treatments this will save us much in time and hassle.
So that's the good part. PCP and endocrinologist are managed, so he still has his medications (including the very important pain meds) and we've got insurance so we can continue treatment, even though it will be at a new place.
Also good news, we've picked up a second vehicle (paid for in cash), a 3/4 ton truck to act as our work horse. Ever since the spinal injury Chris has been unable to drive the Blazer and finds the passenger seat excruciating. A big truck allows his big frame enough room to not compress and restores some of his independence, since it's something he can drive.
The bad: the truck needs a few replacement parts, an inspection (it will pass), an oil change, some good tires (vs the questionable ones on it at the moment), and to be registered.
That wouldn't be such a pressing concern if it weren't for the other bad news, in that we've had to take the Blazer off the road for a laundry list of reasons, including brakes literally falling off of it. For all that getting the truck current will cost around $900, getting the Blazer road worthy would be much more intensive. The parts would be less, but between taking care of the two Chrises and taking care of the house, I'd have to pay someone else to do the work and... it's cheaper to get the truck road worthy, plus more useful.
On top of that we need to pay the deductible for the new insurance since we'll probably blow through that walking into the new cancer center, AND the out of pocket max for the same reason. We're also paying out of pocket for his meds until we meet the deductible (around $1200 a month for the meds alone).The out of pocket max is $10k.
After paying the month's bills and making sure we have transportation for both of us in the form of the truck, AND buying meds, AND buying equipment for Chris to work more (he's been requested to do something that requires infrastructure, and though he's working more paying days doing it, as a contractor we paid for the materials out of pocket)... we're pretty much broke. I couldn't even pay for meds a few days ago.
Obviously we need to get Chris back on a treatment plan ASAP so we can keep fighting the cancer as soon as possible, and there's those tiny things called food and gas.
So I must beg financial assistance, so we can get over this rather massive hump. After we clear the out of pocket max our medical costs will nosedive, but first we need to actually get to that point. And we're kind of attached to having food in the house and keeping Christopher in pull-ups.
So please, anything you could spare would help.
I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, PayPal to always works (and is immediately available unlike GoFundMe), and I can always be reached on Facebook.
Thanks all,