Monday, July 27, 2009

Ghetto Grips; Not Pretty, but Comfortable

Having mentioned these grips in my previous post I thought I a least owed you a couple pictures of my experimental "Ghetto Grips" for my Dan Wesson .357mag. Well, here you go.
I took the factory rubber finger groove grips from my Charter Arms Undercover .38spl and mated them to the grip of the Dan Wesson using Kneadatite Epoxy Modeling Putty (Green Stuff) as the filler. I modeled the backstrap similar to how Trausch grips are for the Ruger SP101.They have held up and feel really good in the hand. I was always bothered with how cheesy they looked though so that is why they were replaced with the very pretty custom shaped wood grips.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting a Grip! Reshaping Revolver Grips

I don't profess to be a revolver guy. I like them for all the obvious reasons; reliable, powerful, simple to use and reload, and yes - cowboys used them. The very first handgun I ever touched was a very beautiful and manly stainless steel S&W Model 19 Combat Magnum. That began a very healthy respect for revolvers, but for some reason they've never really "fit" the same way many semi-autos sat in my hand. Most of the reason for this problem is that it seems that many revolvers sport very unergonomic grips. Traditionally they come with oversized "target" grips that are skinnier at the top (where your fingers are longest) and WIDE at the bottom (where your little pinky finger is). For me, not only are these kind of grips hard to get a hold of they are also very hard to conceal. Last year I bought a Dan Wesson Model 14 that I wrote about before. It came with large rubber Pachmayr Presentation grips that did a good job of reducing recoil, but still weren't the easiest to hold on to not to mention they'd seen years of hard use and showed it. Granted the gun itself shows a lot of the same use, but even old men need new shoes from time to time. I first tried an experiment with a spare set of rubber finger groove grips from my wife's Charter Arms .38 special. I liked the shape of those grips and wondered if I could get them to fit. Dan Wesson revolvers use a different method to attach grips than most other revolvers such as S&W, Taurus & Charter Arms. Instead of separate grip panels the grip is a single piece that slides on and is secured with a single screw from the bottom. To try to attach the two separate grip panels from the CA revolver I trimmed off a bit of the side grips and used a two part epoxy putty to fill in the gap. For the bottom screw I affixed a metal washer inside. Because I could get creative with the putty I added a bit to the top of the back and a bit between the trigger guard and the grip to better fit my hand. The experiment worked in giving me a better functional grip, but it looked pretty ghetto. The putty is green and the grip is black and though the putty could be sanded flush and then maybe painted all one color, I gave up on trying to make it pretty because lets face it rubber grips just aren't supposed to be pretty.

On to my next grip project. I wanted pretty grips that also felt good when held. I had picked up one of those oversized target grips I mentioned earlier (like the wood ones pictured above) and thought I might be able to reshape them into a more hand-friendly shape. I don't really have much woodworking experience outside of whittling sticks as a boy scout in my youth, but I was up to the challenge. I've seen a lot of custom grips out there with finger grooves and though I'm not totally against them, I do see the arguement that they may not fit everyone. I wanted to make grips that my wife would be able to comfortably use as well as me so I nixed designs with full finger grooves. Instead I came up with a design similar to these Pachmayr compact grips that add a pinky groove, but in a pretty walnut.Here's the final product after hours of sanding & shaping with a bunch of Dremel sanding drums, a lot of hand sanding and a bit of Tung Oil (great stuff).

Now I'm not into OC (open carry), but I would be happy to OC with these pretty grips showing. They are compact enough to where I might work on an IWB holster and try carrying this .357 mag concealed. I'm really happy with how they turned out and I won't have any problem reshaping my grips in the future. I hope my experience inspires some of you to do the same to renew your old revolvers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spare Mag & Knife Back Pocket Carrier

I'm probably like a lot of you and take advantage of whatever pockets I've got on my pants. A number of years ago I stopped carrying my wallet in my back pocket. My problem was the same one that George Costanza had in Seinfield. My wallet always got about two inches thick which is not conducive to sitting on so to avoid the sore butt I switched to front pocket carry or cargo pocket carry if my pants had one. From then on I've been happily sitting on empty back pockets...until now.

Since it's the summer I've been shying away from my typical two gun carry (Sig P239 IWB & Kahr PM9 in the pocket) and just wearing one (typically the PM9) along with a spare mag. A while back I had made a horizonal mag carrier that was tuckable and while it works it's not the easiest to put on so I've found myself dropping the spare in a pocket. We all know that's not the best way to do it. If I dropped it in my back pocket it would fall any which way and wasn't comfortable to sit on. In any other pocket I never knew which way it would be when I yanked it out. So I need a solution.

For my birthday this year I got treated to a new EDC knife - a SOG FlashII (thank you nutnfancy for his review on the blade). While it has a wonderfully low carry pocket clip I prefer to keep it as out of the way as possible. I've had the unfortunate car scratch from a similar clip. So my solution for my mag can also be a solution for my knife.

Here it is.
You'll notice I used a single rivet on the mag side. The reason for this is that there is no retention on the mag except for the little bit of friction of the kydex so I wanted to keep that tight. The knife has all kinds of little protrusions so it needs a bit of looseness so that it'll draw cleanly. I kept the clip on the knife so that I have the option to use it if I ever need to. You can see I angled them slightly away from each other so that there won't be any interference. You may also notice that it's been a while since I've molded kydex and I scorched a little bit on the mag side. That heat gun gets HOT! The whole thing measures 4 1/4 inches wide, under 5 inches high and less than 3/4 inch in thickness. I wear it in my weak side back pocket with the flat side out so it just looks like a wallet. The knife and mag stay where they are until I reach in and pull them. I can even "reholster" them without having to take the carrier out of my pocket. Sitting down I can tell it's there, but since it's pretty thin as long as I'm on some kind of cushion I'm comfortable.

All in all a success.