American Leathers is a small, family-owned business based in Idaho. They produce exceptional gloves and armguards for traditional archers and bowhunters.
I purchased a “Big Shot” archery glove from them about a year and a half ago, opting for the elk leather model. It has proven to be the best shooting glove I have ever owned. Of course, “best” is a highly subjective word, so let me explain why “best” in this case comes down to two primary factors for me:
Durability – This glove has served me through thousands of shots over the past year +, and I can honestly say that this glove is merely worn in, not even close to being worn out. Not all leather is created equal, and it is evident that American Leathers doesn’t just pick any old scrap to build their gloves, nor do they build them with cost-cutting in mind. Great attention is paid to glove assembly, based on thickness, grain and other inherent characteristics of various parts of the hide. In addition, the nylon tips haven’t begun to fray at all in this time. They continue to provide an extremely smooth, flawless release.
Fit: The folks at AL encourage the buyer to fax in a tracing of their hand. This way, they can ensure that the glove will fit the buyer’s hand perfectly. Expect that the glove will feel a little snug at first – it should. But with use, like all good leather, it will stretch and conform to the contours of your hand until it feels like it was custom-made for you. I have found no awkward seams, or pinch points with this glove at all, as I have experience with some other, cheaper gloves. Another key detail – the wrist strap is deliberately angled to pull the glove on to your hand and keep it snug, rather than developing a loose, sloppy fit over time. It’s this sort of attention to detail that has sold me on the Big Shot glove.
The elk leather “Big Shot” glove from American Leathers.
The underside of the Big Shot glove, showing the reinforced finger stalls.
I have used a number of leather gloves with nylon stalls by other manufacturers in the past, and none of them have lasted more than a few months of frequent shooting without the tips starting to fray, the seams starting to part, etc. And none of them have proven to have the excellent fit and comfort of my Big Shot glove. Based on past experience, I would have gone through a couple lesser gloves in the past year, and the Big Shot shows no signs of wearing out any time soon. As a result, despite the higher initial cost, this glove has turned out to be a great value in the long run.
American Leathers offers several other options, include a full-coverage glove, bison and cowhide versions, and a neoprene glove (for bowfishing and really wet conditions). They also offer a nice kid’s glove/armguard combo for a very reasonable price (<$25). If you have a young, aspiring archer, do yourself a favor and purchase this high-quality combo, rather than the typical cheap junk found in big box sporting stores.
For those interested in learning more, there is a great profile of the American Leathers crew, and the extent of their fine attention to detail, in the Dec ’12/Jan ’13 issue of Traditional Bowhunter magazine.
All American Leathers products are handmade with pride in the USA.
(By the way, all American Leathers products should be occasionally treated with Montana Pitch Blend leather treatment)