Grips? Stocks? If we can suspend — just for a moment — which term to use when referring to the “handle” of a handgun, I’d like to explain why I’ve got these on an S&W 638, a popular J-frame for concealed carry. You’re looking at Altamont’s $70 S&W J Round BATELEUR Super Rosewood Crocback/Stipple with Crocback Backstrap and Laser Logo. You’ll find them on Altamont’s website under the “Handgun Grips” tab. Altamont refers to them as “grips” throughout.

Terms are important, but my focus today is less about technical terms and more about why I would replace the excellent two-finger, rubber-boot grips/stocks that come with the gun with a wooden alternative. Basically, it’s to go from “functional” to “functional AND good-looking.” So — looks, form, aesthetics.

Now don’t get me wrong: If I were actually involved in a self-defense situation where I had to use my gun, there’s no tactical advantage whatsoever to having good-looking grips or stocks. They just look great.

These Altamont Grips are made from beautiful red rosewood (“Super Rosewood”) and provide a nice contrast to the 638’s silvery aluminum-alloy frame. You can also get them in “Super Walnut.” They’re lightweight, strong and beautifully decorated with a laser-etched S&W logo. Besides being good-looking, they have two functional features: finger grooves and checkering.

For finger grooves, these grips provide not just two but three. The third one, for your pinky, is set slightly back and under the grips. It adds just a bit of extra height to the gun but does not detract from its concealability in any significant way. Moreover, since your entire hand is engaged in the grip, purchase then increases when drawing, aiming and shooting.

For checkering, you’ll find a wide pattern on the sides and backstrap of the grip. They help your hand lock around the grip and hang on when firing .38 or .38+P.

While much depends on the holster and your build, the Altamont grips conceal just fine, allowing covering garments to easily slide over them without getting hung up. They don’t protrude at all, and even if they reside directly against your body, they’re not uncomfortable. The finger grooves and side checkering provide the friction you need to grasp and draw.

Whether they’re functional, good-looking grips or functional, good-looking stocks, the beautiful Altamonts meet the practical requirements of concealed carry.