Don’t Let Yourself Be Fooled
Don’t let yourself be fooled with sales pitches like “Genuine Leather” or “Bonded Leather” when you are looking for quality leather goods. If you are told that an item is Genuine Leather, they are probably telling you the truth. What they aren’t telling you is that Genuine Leather is the next to the lowest leather grade. The only leather grade worse than the Genuine Leather grade is Bonded Leather.
I bet that by now I’ve got your attention if you have ever looked for or are currently looking for quality leather goods. You are probably wanting to know the various grades of leather so that you can identify products that will last the longest and will function the best.
My business, "Locked and Loaded Gun Gear” (LockedandLoaded.us) is a custom leather manufacturing company. We manufacture highest quality leather goods and therefore use a lot of leather from what we have found is the best supplier in the United States. We have been in business for nearly 40 years. We use only the best grades of leather available in the United States. However, I performed a considerable amount of research because I wanted to make sure that my statements are the most accurate that they can be. I found that there are basically three grading systems. Virtually all leather is split to achieve a certain type and thickness of leather. I encourage you to do your own research. For your reference I have listed below a condensed version of what I found pertaining to leather grading. Knowledge is valuable.
A or #1 or Full Grain
This is the best grade of leather. It is the strongest leather available and will provide a longer life of the product. It can handle more abuse than other grades. You might find a scratch mark or other blemish. This just adds a little “character” to the item.
B or #2 or Top Grain
This letter grade is in essence a “Full Grain” leather that has been “corrected” to remove scratches, blemishes and other imperfections. The surface is usually embossed with a more appealing design. Some strength and toughness is lost in the process.
C or #3 or Split Grain
Split grain leather doesn't contain any of the hide's grain structure like found in the “Full Grain” and “Top Grain” leather’s. Suede is a good example of “Split Grain”. It is used mostly for backing for higher grades of leather.
D or #4 or Genuine Leather
Genuine Leather and Bonded Leather pretty much shares the lowest grade of leather available even though the bonded grade actually is the lowest. If someone describes their product as “Genuine Leather”, I suggest you run away as fast as you can. This material may be enhanced to look good but will not have the strength or longevity of higher grades of leather.
This inferior material is made from bits and pieces of scrap leather which is bonded together with adhesive. The only time you should purchase products made of this material is when you absolutely have to have something and cannot afford anything else. It might last until you get something better. But by then you will have paid double for the product you’re looking for.