Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pistol grips that work and grips that don't: Pretty wood vs. ugly rubber

There are grips that work and grips that don't. Just cause a set of grips looks good has no bearing whatsover on whether they actually work, that is feel good in the hand when you do what you're supposed to do with a handgun, shoot it.

Exhibit 1: Smith & Wesson 29-3 .44 Magnum. Came with a beautiful set of factory walnut checkered target grips.

The beauty lasted until I touched off the first round of .44 Magnum. Ouch! The checkering dug into my palm and the steel frame bit the web of my hand. Off came the factory grips and a set of square-butt Pachmayr Decelerator took out the bite completely. Not as pretty, but a lot more comfortable.

Not having any need for the factory grips, I donated them to the cause at the gun shop when we got a S&W 29 that had a set of hand-carved factory grips courtesy of the previous owner. Factory target grips sell S&W revolvers, anything else, including custom-carved factory grips, detract from sale value.

So I traded grips and brought the hand-carved ones home for a try. They had been slimmed down to finger-groove grips on the front and smoothed down from the aggressive checkering. Look a bit weird but they passed the big test. I shot them last Saturday with some full-house .44 Specials and they felt great. Haven't tried .44 Magnums yet, but so far so good.

Exhibit 2: My Charter Southpaw .38 Special came with a set of factory rubber grips. Shot fine. But I had this set of Charter wood grips I bought just because I saw them on the Charter site and they looked good.

So I tried them on the Charter Southpaw last Saturday same time I shot the S&W 29. Fail.

The knuckle of my middle finger took a beating. I might need that finger for obscene gestures, so off came the wood grips and back on go the rubber grips.

Just cause it looks good is no good reason to have grips that don't shoot good. But now I have no idea what I'll do with the Charter wood grips.

Wait, I got an idea. Charter makes .22 revolvers. They even have a convertible .22LR/.22 Magnum in a 4" barrel target model. I bet those wood grips would look good and shoot good on a .22 Charter, whataya bet? I predict there's a Charter .22 somewhere in my future. But not right now until I can get though my S&W Nightguard obsession phase.

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