About Leather: Features, Industries, and Applications

Leather goods are used by millions of people today. In our modern world, we walk on leather, ride on it, and still wear it.  It is with the wearing of leather that MCR Safety enters a long-sacred leather lineage. We manufacture leather armor for countless industries and a wide variety of different applications. We may not be making leather bracer armor or leather belts, as we will cover in our next section. However, we do produce over 200 unique leather gloves, with hundreds of different sizing sku's. And, like leather bracer armor of old, that once protected ancient warriors, we manufacture leather sleeve armor for those who require leather protection up the arm. Instead of protection for battle, MCR Safety keeps those who need protection at work safe from hazards. 

Leather itself is an ancient material, which we will highlight more next.

History of Leather

Man with Deer Skin

Leather has been one of humanity’s most crucial aids in surviving the elements.

Roman Legionnaire’s Leather Sandals

Leather has a sacred and ancient history. For thousands of years, leather has been the go-to material for clothing, shelter, warmth, weapons, and protection against the elements. Leather has provided man with a second skin that is unlike any other material found on the planet.  It is one of man’s earliest recorded tools, a discovery as old as the wheel and fire. Here are some examples of leather used across the ages:

  • Leather has armed warriors like those described in Homer’s The Iliad, and the Roman army wore leather-soled sandals and protected themselves in battle using leather shields.
  • Leather clothing is depicted on paintings found on Egyptian tombs, and evidence of leather was discovered in Tutankhamen's tomb from 1370 B.C. 
  • Leather is even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, Genesis 3:21, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
  • Most archaeologists believe leather served as prehistoric man’s first protective covering. In 1991, scientists discovered a fully clothed iceman frozen for thousands of years in a European glacier. Guess what he was found to be wearing? That’s right; he was wearing a leather hide coat and leather skin leggings. Scientists confirmed through genetic analysis that sheepskin was the leather worn by Otiz the Iceman.
Leather was quoted numerous times in The Iliad of Homer, which records events from over 3,000 years ago.

We’ve highlighted all these references to illustrate a critical point: man partnered with this essential material early on, and leather has gone hand in hand with humanity’s history. It has been worn by people living in empires long forgotten, by warriors in armed combat, and by people needing relief from the cold. Needless to say, leather has been an essential companion that has helped humanity survive thousands of years.

Leather has faced increasing pressure from other materials in the 20th and 21st centuries. As new fabric technologies have come of age, such as nylon and polyester, which offer users greater flexibility and feel, the role of leather has been challenged. However, leather is a product that will continue its long history well into the future due to its many inherently valuable characteristics.

MCR Safety's Leather Resources

Our goal at MCR Safety is to help every customer find the right pair of gloves to protect them from workplace hazards. To accomplish this, we develop industry pages, create education blogs, and provide in-depth summaries of the products we offer so consumers can be informed and educated about the products they are buying. It’s all part of our commitment to keeping workers safe.

Feel free to continue reading to learn more about leather. If you prefer, you may jump to our personal protective equipment (PPE) section from here by clicking the image below, which will take you directly to our glove options.

Leather Hides Drawing

Click here to go directly to our leather glove selection!

Whatever dangers you face in the line of duty, we promise we have a leather work glove suitable for getting the job done right while protecting your hands. Get ready - we’re going to take the gloves off and pound you with some leather information!

What is Leather?

Brown Leather Closeup

Leather is best defined as a material formed by tanning animal hides and skins. Today, most of the leather hides used are taken from cows and are a by-product of the meat industry. However, leather hides may be taken from virtually anywhere and made into leather. Hippo, ostrich, reindeer, alligator, and lizard, while not mainstream leather options, show the versatility and range of leather possibilities. There are no shortages in possible material that can be used.

Another significant advantage of leather over other materials is that it is incredibly versatile. It can be cut and shaped with relative simplicity, making it ideal for a myriad of uses. Just within the glove industry, the leather may be used as a reinforcement, for patched palms, to create ¾ backings or to create full backings. It’s this versatility that makes leather ideal for many needs across a wide range of commercial areas.

Leather is no longer limited to being used for clothing; its use has expanded into numerous industries, and it is the material of choice for multiple applications. Some of these applications include the residential furniture industry and the automotive industry.

Automobile Leather Seats

Automobile with Leather Interior

Titanic Ship

Leather bags and shoes are items some of the items that have survived for decades on the ocean floor.

Leather is such a durable and flexible substance; it can be fashioned into shoes, bags, clothes, jackets, equipment, and leather work gloves. It is so durable that some leather shoes, leather bags, and leather pouches discovered in the wreckage of the Titanic are still intact, more than 100 years later.

Although it has a seemingly endless number of uses, roughly half of all leather produced is used for making shoes and protecting one's feet from stones, thorns, and hidden objects.

Leather Characteristics

Leather’s widespread usage is due, in part, to its excellent inherent properties. One of these is the density of fibers found in leather. Leather’s fibers are so closely intertwined that it is highly resistant to tearing. Here are some of the many characteristics of leather that make it a popular material in a variety of uses:

Durable, Strong, and Touch

When you want a pair of gloves that last, nothing beats grade A, leather work gloves. Bring on the rough materials; leather has your back to protect your hands!

Lightweight Comfort and Feel of Leather

Leather Hide Sketch

Grain leather drivers, especially goatskin and deerskin, are soft and excellent in applications where sense-of-touch is required.

Heat and Spark-Resistance

Heat Resistance Shield
Sparks Leather Glove

Leather can withstand heat, making it ideal for anyone working around flames or sparks, such as metalworkers.

Abrasion Resistance

Round Abrasive Discs
MU36244 Mustang Glove

Leather is one of the most abrasion-resistant materials you’ll encounter. Check out the abrasion scores found on our new Mustang Utility leather gloves.

Puncture Resistant

ANSI Puncture Icon

Nothing quite compares to a thick leather palm to keep objects from busting through your glove.

Flexible and Supple

Hand Leather Glove Holding Handle
Gold Color Drivers Gloves

When you want leather that is highly dexterous, deerskin leather gloves fit the bill, with goatskin being a close second runner-up.

Excellent Insulation, Warm Material

Insulated Icon Arrows
Insulated Icon
Insulated Driver Glove

When compared to cotton and knitted styles, leather gloves have greater thermal protection and will keep your hands warmer in cold environments.


Glove with Mesh Back

All leather breathes, but if you’re looking for top breathability, a nice pigskin or synthetic leather style is the answer. Add in a mesh back, and you’re ready for a hot workday.

Tensile Strength

Stretch Icon
White Driver Glove

High fiber counts make leather naturally strong. Goatskin and deerskin are among the strongest leathers available.

Shock Absorption and Resistance

Shock Resistant Icon
Big Jake Grabbing railings

Heavy-duty leather is thicker than general-purpose nylon, which means it can take a hit, absorb impact, and help to cushion hands from heavy objects.

Gripping Properties

Hand Gripping Artwork
Gloves gripping cable

The natural texture of leather provides a natural tactile grip, especially with leather palm styles.

Because of its many features and benefits, leather is an excellent choice for hand protection and is, overall, one of the best glove options available to industrial workers. When it comes to protecting against scuffs, scrapes, flames, sparks, heat, abrasion, friction, and rough surfaces, leather protection is the ideal selection. Now, let's explore some of the industries that use leather work gloves.


Construction at Sunset

Technology may be changing all around us, but the landscape of who uses leather work gloves hasn’t changed all that much. Countless industries still rely on leather work gloves, since leather stands up to some of the most rigorous tasks.

Leather gloves protect workers across a wide range of hazards, most notably from abrading one’s hand against rough surfaces and protection from sparks and heat hazards. Since these hazards show up across many industries, leather gloves remain a popular form of PPE. Here is a look at numerous industries where you will find leather work gloves:

Farming and Ranching

Cowboy Hat Rope and Gloves

A rancher handles rope, making leather gloves a perfect fit with its high abrasion-resistance. Cowboys and ranchers have relied on leather gauntlet gloves for centuries.


Leather Jacket and Gloves

Leather resists sparks and moderate heat, making it the ideal PPE for welding. Leather can withstand high temperatures: up to 430°F when untreated and as much as 600°F when tanned with chrome. This heat-resistance makes it an ideal material for MCR Safety welding gloves and for other jobs that involve exposure to heat.

4853 Leather Glove


Worker Grabbing Iron

Using hand tools, assembling, and digging trenches are several of the many reasons leather gloves are so popular in this industry. Almost any carpenter is going to prefer a nice pair of grain leather gloves for their sense of touch and ability to feel tools with ease. We highlight these gloves in our leather driver gloves section and focus on their tactile abilities that will enable you to feel the hand tools you use every day. In addition to tactile leather drivers, construction workers handle some heavy material, which means heavy-duty leather gloves, like those shown in the construction image, are also essential.

Big Jake 1700 Gloves



Linemen are always pulling wires and cables, which require the highest quality leather glove available. Any lineman will tell you that leather gloves can take a beating when handling cables. If you are looking for a durable glove, check out our new 962, designed specifically for grabbing abrasive rope. Leather is also naturally flame-resistant, making it a top choice among linemen and electricians who need to protect themselves from flames. Our MU3644 is one of those gloves! This long leather glove is designed to protect workers well up the arm.

FR Mustang Glove

Oil and Gas

Refinery Background

Roughly 6% of the workforce in the oil and gas industry is made up of construction and extraction workers. As we discussed in our construction section, these workers wear a variety of leather work gloves. Check out the brown leather gloves worn in the image below. Our new Mustang lineup of brown leather gloves are some of the best leather gloves available on the market today and are covered on a separate leather glove page.

Mustang FR Gloves

Metal Fabrication

Mustang Glove TPR Back

Blacksmiths and ironworkers having been utilizing leather protection for millennia. Why? They select leather because these workers know how easily one can get burned when working around heat and flames. Leather is the go-to material for protecting against sparks and heat. Across the metal fabrication industries, you will find workers needing protection from rough metal surfaces, hot metal objects, and heavy metal that will quickly bang-up one's back-of-hand.

Buffing Metal

Forestry and Lumber

Camo Gloves holding wood

Cutting down trees, handling wood, and cutting lumber in the sawmill requires the highest abrasion-resistant leather work gloves available.

MO100 Camo gloves

Landscaping and Gardening


Leather gloves are perfect for light- to heavy-duty yard work, from mulching, digging, and shoveling, to general yard work. A nice pair of thick leather work gloves keep hands free of abrasions, scrapes, and cuts.

Cream Drivers Gloves


Bulldozer Mining

Heavy cleanup work, handling materials, and welding are all applications performed by miners. Leather work gloves protect against the hazards these activities present.

hardhat and Gloves

General Labor and Handyman

Most every industry will have workers that require the protection offered by leather gloves. From moving debris, rock, and gravel to keeping the grounds clean at an industrial power plant, leather gloves are an essential part of many workers’ PPE.

Measuring tape Saw Hammer

Mechanics and Racing

Race Car Changing Tire

Did you know, leather driver gloves were first developed to help early race car drivers grip their wooden steering wheels? Since then, leather driver gloves have become standard issue for racers. Today, you’ll commonly hear the term “mechanics gloves” used to describe the gloves a race teams wear. We cover these more in our Leather Driver section.

Law Enforcement

A nice pair of police leather gloves for searches and handling weapons goes a long way to keep law enforcement officials safe on the job. Our new 962 gloves, shown in the image below, are made with super-stretch material and are available in muted colors.

Firing Gun with Gloves

Industrial Manufacturing

Industrial Machinery

Maintenance workers, keep things up and running in industrial settings, such as in industrial manufacturing settings.  They need protection from a laundry list of applications they are required to perform. We highlight many of these applications in our next section.

Maintenance Image

ITC Performance Stats


MCR Safety's ITC Testing Lab

So, what are the best leather work gloves? Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the type of work performed and the protection needed. However, we are living in the age of data, so we have some insight to share. In July of 2016, our commitment to excellence led to our very own ITC lab becoming one of the first North American testing labs to receive ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for Hand Protection, an international standard that requires companies to demonstrate a high degree of accuracy and consistency in testing protective equipment. We highly value knowing the performance of our products and ensuring that our customers are wearing safe products. Check out our ITC testing results for leather gloves across three of the primary buying factors: abrasion, heat, and puncture.

Abrasion Test
Contact Heat Test
MU22644 being tested for abrasion in the ITC Lab (left). 1700K being tested for contact heat in the ITC lab (right).
Performance Cog


Notice how lower-grade leather options don’t stand up to the scores of higher-grade leather options. The old saying rings true: you get what you pay for when it comes to leather PPE.

Leather Style Leather Type Leather Cut Leather Grade Part # ANSI Abrasion Scores Abrasion Cycles ANSI Contact Heat Score ANSI Puncture Scores Puncture Newtons
Leather Driver Goatskin Grain Select 3603 4 5300 2 3 81.69
Goatskin Grain CV - Competitive Value 36133 4 3700 2 2 57.84
Pigskin Grain Premium 3410 4 4750 2 3 93.36
Pigskin Grain Select 3400 3 2885 2 3 74.86
Pigskin Grain CV - Competitive Value 3402 3 1000 2 3 69.64
Cowhide Grain Premium 3200 4 4800 2 3 98.86
Cowhide Grain Select 3211 3 2800 2 3 91.26
Cowhide Grain CV - Competitive Value 32113 3 1600 2 3 69.45
Buffalo Grain CV - Competitive Value 3313 4 4750 2 3 79.43
Leather Style Leather Type Leather Cut Leather Grade Part # ANSI Abrasion Scores Abrasion Cycles ANSI Contact Heat Score ANSI Puncture Scores Puncture Newtons
Leather Palm Cowhide Premium Side "A" Grade Premium 1700 4 9550 2 5 176.5
Cowhide Select Shoulder "A" Grade Select 1400 4 4500 2 4 137.99
Tensile Strength Test

Goatskin being tested for tensile strength in the ITC lab.

You can tell from the stats above that premium leather hide gloves are designed to perform. We hope these numbers help prove why you might think twice before trying to save a buck and instead select to go with a higher quality leather glove. While these may only be lab test results, they translate to a leather glove that breaks down after just one day or one that lasts much longer.

We also hope these numbers demonstrate how MCR Safety is dedicated to manufacturing top-quality leather work gloves and educating you on the differences. Can every glove company produce this type of data for you? If not, you might want to start questioning whether or not you’re paying for lower quality leather at a higher price point. Before we leave this section, take a look at this image of our goatskin drivers being tested against pigskin drivers.

Goatskin gloves achieve 38% better tensile strength scores compared to pigskin. Not only did goatskin score better, but it also took more power to break it. When we suggest that goatskin is super strong, we’ve got data to back up that claim!

MCR Safety and Leather

MCR Safety Logo on Leather

Leather work gloves remain a staple MCR Safety product that we supply to industries all over the world. We are known for having one of the most extensive selections of leather work gloves and welding gloves in the market. With over 40 years of experience producing durable and reliable leather work gloves, we’ve built a reputation for making leather gloves with consistent quality and at competitive prices. Not all leather glove companies can make that statement about consistent quality, but we can! You’ll see just how vital that claim is after reading up on leather grading.

Known initially as Memphis Gloves, MCR Safety has been designing, supplying, and manufacturing leather work gloves since 1976. Memphis Gloves consolidated with its two sister companies, Crews Safety Glasses, and River City Garments, back in 2004, and thus, MCR Safety was formed. This consolidation offered more PPE buying choices for our customers under one roof, rather than having to place multiple orders with different companies.

Global Business Logo

Today, we operate leather manufacturing facilities worldwide, operating in the U.S., Mexico, and China. A more in-depth look at MCR Safety’s manufacturing can be found here. With over 280 styles to choose from, you’ll love the quality, fit, and protection of the leather work gloves we offer.

We are proud to be associated with one of humanity’s oldest industries, and we treat our role in protecting people with great care.

Our Leather Work Glove Brands

You might have noticed that we’ve been consolidating our glove brands into some of our most iconic brand names. When you manufacture and supply gloves, the best leather work gloves for over 40 years, you come out with a wide assortment of gloves. Our goal is to help users quickly identify MCR Safety leather work gloves and the different types available.

Each brand typically serves a different purpose, which is why different brand identities are established. Here are MCR Safety’s leather brands.

Mustang Brand
Road Hustler Brand
Big Jake Brand
Blue Beast Brand
Side Kick Brand

There is nothing quite like a nice brand-new pair of brown leather gloves. Have you seen the new additions to our Mustang glove lineup? The brand has been on the market for some time now and is recognized by numerous industries as the best work gloves available. Check out the video above that highlights our new Mustang utility leather gloves.

Leather Glove Categories

Leather Glove Categories

There are many choices when it comes to leather work gloves, which means we’ve got a lot of information to share with you across all our leather protection pages. With that said, we know many of you may want to dive directly into the products of interest. So, click on any one of the three category images below, and you will be taken directly to that specific type of leather glove. Across these three sections, you’ll find our best leather work gloves showcased, from heavy-duty leather to thin leather gloves, to leather touchscreen gloves, we cover all your options across these pages.

Leather Drivers


Leather Palm Work Gloves


Leather Welding Gloves

As you’re looking over specific pages, you can quickly navigate around the entire Leather Protection page by clicking on the leather page map at the bottom of each page.

Everything you need to know about Leather Gloves

Click one of the links below to learn more about that topic.

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