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Pizza Bob

Handgun Grips (Long - lots of pictures, not text)

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One of the easiest ways to enhance both the function and/or the aesthetics of your handgun is with custom grips. The beauty is that it is easily reversible or changeable if, down the road, your tastes change. I have been working through my S&W revolvers and either changing to the Smith smooth target offerings, or custom offerings.

Smooth S&W grips are usually goncalo alves, but rosewood and even maple have also been used. Here's an example of smooth grips (these are presentation grips - meaning they are relieved on the R/S to show a custom roll mark on the side plate...


They made them in configurations for the various frame sizes and grip frames. Here is a set of what are called "banana" grips (for obvious reasons). They are shown on a Model of 1953 22/32 Kit Gun...


And then there are the all-out custom grips. I've installed elk stag grips on a number of my guns. Ken Driskill is the maker and he does terrific work at more than reasonable prices. However, you can't place an order with Ken. This is a hobby for him and he makes what he wants, when he wants, so it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time to get a set of his grips. He advertises them for sale on the S&W forum and also on Gun Broker (GB ID = bigmtnman). Here's a set of Ken's stag grips on my model 25-14...


As far as custom grips in wood, there are three makers who are the pre-eminent craftsmen of S&W grips. They are Craig Spegel, John Culina and Keith Brown.

Craig Spegel makes boot grips, however he also makes an extended version of his boot grip, which, in essence, are full size grips. Craig is 63 and currently has a two year waiting list for revolver grips. I was fortunate to purchase a gun that turned out to have Spegel grips on it - unbeknownst to the seller (a large gun store in the Pacific NW). These are ebony boot grips on a model 25-3. If they look familiar, Craig did the design of the Uncle Mike's rubber boot grips...


The Culinas, John and Jennifer, make grips in the style of the stock S&W grips, but better shaped, better quality and some beautiful woods. Here are two examples of John's work. The first is a Target grip and the second is a Combat grip (both on models 24-3). Both are made with "bubble" maple - a variety of birdseye in which the "eyes" look three-dimensional (very hard to capture that effect in a picture)...



And last, but certainly not least, is Keith Brown. Keith also has a two year backlog and is not accepting new orders at this time. He is a master at both the carving of the grips and the checkering. He may be best known for his Roper style grips with Roper's iconic ribbon checkering pattern. I just got these today (there are some available through brokers or private parties) - I will say that I have paid less for some Smiths in my collection than I paid for these grips, but I so love the Roper pattern that I just had to have the best. I passed bidding on a scarce Model 28 so that I could buy these grips...


There are lots of commercial manufacturers also. Some of the best known are Hogue, Altamont, Eagle, Badger, Pachmayr, Nills, KSD and others. The truly custom makers are dwindling. Ahrends and Herretts are both out of business, hopefully others will pick-up the mantle.


Pizza Bob

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