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.


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