WHO'S THE BEST?
With whip crackers, there is no "Best."
The top ones I know are happy to be considered among the best, because there's always someone out there who can do something they can't, or do it in a more artistic (or athletic) way.
This attitude extends to whip makers. Good whip makers work in cowhide, kangaroo, goat leather, and even nylon. The skill and craft that goes into making a fine whip is as important as the material.
What about plaits? I continually meet "plait snobs" who think their 16-plait bullwhip is better than someone else's 12-plait whip. Sure, it might be more expensive (because it was braided from more strands), and it might look a bit more snakishly smooth, but the real test is to see if it works the way a whip is supposed to. (The most intricate bullwhip I ever heard of was 72-plaits -- and no, I would not crack it if I had the chance because I'd be afraid of breaking one of those fine hairlike strands!)
In short, the truly good whip crackers and whip makers I know are not snobs. If they see a well made whip, they'll say so -- and if they see a good whipcracker at work, they'll say positive things about what they see.
So, with the Giving Season is coming up, maybe someone you know would like to have a whip as a gift. Here are a few tips:
Best to you,