Comment(s)

The addition of a synthetic grip to a defensive-style handgun can make all the difference in regards to handling, controllability and performance.

In my earlier years, I always preferred to carry my revolvers equipped with wooden grips. I preferred the way that revolvers looked, and since I had no problem with recoil at the time I had no reason to transition to rubber grips when they became more widely used. The fact that I carried them for self defense also motivated me to carry my handguns equipped with the smallest set of grips possible. I also field-tested enough handguns equipped with rubber grips to know that not all rubber grips are alike. However, in later years I transitioned to using rubber grips due to the presence of arthritis in my hands. As a result, I am a firm believer in the old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention.”

9mm-colt-defender-compact-1911
Some synthetic grips add generous finger grooves on the frontstrap, such as the grip on this 9mm Colt Defender compact 1911 pistol.

Transitionary Phase
The first handgun that I permanently equipped with Pachmayr brand rubber replacement grips was a 5-shot J-frame Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver. Later on I tried using a pair of Hogue rubber grips on the same wheelgun. I also equipped my Smith & Wesson Model 67 (4-inch barrel) with a pair of Uncle Mike’s Square Butt Rubber Grips, my S&W Model 64 (2-inch barrel) with a pair Pachmayr Compac Professional Grips and my S&W Model 66 (2.5-inch barrel) with a pair of Uncle Mike’s Square Butt Rubber Grips.

As comfortable as these grips felt, the real test came when I fired these revolvers with modern .38 Special +P-rated hollowpoint ammunition and was able to do so without feeling the harsh effects of recoil. Furthermore, I also had absolutely no problem with recoil when I field tested a S&W Model 686 with a 2.5-inch barrel and a S&W 686 with a 4-inch barrel using .38 Special Plus and .357 Magnum ammunition while these revolvers were equipped with a pair of Hogue Bantam rubber grips and a pair of Pachmayr Decelerator Grips. I am now an avid user of rubber replacement grips on all of my revolvers and on my Sig P229 pistol.

uncle-mikee28099s-square-butt-rubber-grips
The author found that the addition of the Uncle Mike’s Square Butt Rubber Grips made managing the recoil of this Smith and Wesson Model 67 with +P ammunition very easy.

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