I Carry Spotlight: Customizing Your J-Frame Revolver Grip

posted on November 22, 2019

Today’s "I Carry Spotlight" is on some of the many grip possibilities possible with the Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver. Let’s take a look at these options.

Smith & Wesson’s ubiquitous J-frame revolver has been a concealed-carry staple for generations. Released in the ‘50s, the three main iterations of exposed hammer, enclosed hammer and the shrouded hammer we have here today have ridden on belts, in pockets and on ankles for nearly 70 years. These guns are reliable, proven and lightweight, and make excellent backup or “grab in a hurry” guns. One of the advantages of the J-frame is that grips – more-precisely called stocks – are easily replaced, allowing many options for anchoring the gun in the hand. Here are just a few ideas from a broad range of categories.

Wood Grips

We have Altamont’s Basketweave grips for the round-butt J-frame here, and many other options from Altamont and other manufacturers are available. In addition to the aesthetically pleasing look, wood grips can be had with texturing or smooth in a wide array of finishes. Wood grips do require a certain amount of care, such as removal before cleaning to avoid damaging with chemicals. If you’re looking to dress up your J-Frame, though, it’s a simple and inexpensive option.

G10 Grips

VZ Grips offers a number of nearly indestructible G10 grips for the Smith & Wesson J-frame. The advantages to the G10 composite material are its longevity and resistance to weather- and chemical-related damage, in addition to the varying degree of texture that can be added. When I first installed these grips on my .357 Mag. Model 360, I was concerned the texture would be more punishing than the rubber grips they replaced. Instead, the grips anchored the J-frame to my hand and helped reduce the felt recoil. Of course, it was still a .357 Mag. out of a 12-ounce revolver, so ouch nonetheless.

Rubber Grips

Hogue’s monogrips are OEM on many Smith & Wesson revolvers, and for good reason. They’re inexpensive, largely impervious to damage and really help anchor the gun in the hand. The one downside, though, comes from that same “tackiness” of the grip that makes it so easy to shoot – it catches on pretty much every cover garment. If you’re carrying the J-frame in a pocket, belt holster or on your ankle, it will take some practice to avoid catching the cover garment on the rubber material.

Laser Grips

One of the most-practical additions you can make to your J-frame revolver is adding a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips. One of the tradeoffs of the small, concealable revolver centers on the sights: in most cases, the front sight is a simple blade, while the rear sight is little more than a notch carved out of the top strap. In a high-stress encounter, achieving proper sight alignment can be quite difficult using these rudimentary options, so having a laser adds a highly visible alternative. Crimson Trace’s instinctive grip-activation system ensures you won’t have to fumble with a button or switch at this critical time. And, for those who scoff about electronics failing when you need them, that’s why we practice and train. As with all things, getting quality training with these specialized tools is always a good idea.

Polymer Grips

The use of polymers for grip construction opens up a whole world of custom options. In this case, we’ve opted for the clever Pachmayr Guardian grips, which have a surprise option. When carried, the grips are in what is commonly referred to as a “boot grip” configuration, where the bottom of the grip matches the bottom of the pistol’s grip frame. However, when a firing grip is achieved, a button in the middle of the grip activates a hidden pinkie extension that drops out of the bottom of the grip, allowing a full, three-finger grip. It’s an innovative compromise between concealability and shootability.

We have barely scratched the surface of the grip options available for the Smith & Wesson J-frame, of course. In each of the categories above, multiple options abound, often from the same manufacturer. Whether you’re looking to improve the handling of your J-frame, want to make it look a little better or want an edge on the firing line, chances are pretty good that the answer to your problem is only the turn of a screw away.

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