I started shooting defensive and combat handguns back when nearly all of them were steel with wooden grips. Combat revolvers of the era shipped from the factory with service-style wooden grip panels, usually checkered walnut. Service grips were totally minimalist and generally did not extend beyond the metal grip frame. They were mostly designed to enhance deep concealment on smaller-framed guns and to provide a basic grip in the days before ergonomics. They were thought to be adequate for most shooters, and they were. Eventually, adequate was no longer good enough.
The main problem with old-school service grips was that the shape of the revolver grip frame, which was normally square-butt shaped, did not accommodate the shape of the human hand. The grip frames on both the Colt revolvers and the medium- and large-framed Smith & Wessons were shaped like the bell of a trumpet, with the widest portion of the bell at the base of the grip. That shape puts the largest part of the human grip (index and middle fingers) at the narrowest part of the revolver grip so the fingers encroach on the hand. The smallest part of the human grip (ring and pinky fingers) was at the widest part of the revolver grip, where the short fingers couldn’t provide enough control because they fall short of enclosing the grip. The result was that revolvers with service-style grips often had poor controllability and accuracy.
The development of rubberized synthetic and custom grips has addressed the issue of poorly shaped service grips. The Smith & Wesson grips have been switched from square-butt grip frames to more ergonomic round-butt grip frames. But there is another product designed to solve the problem of the revolver “grip gap” without changing the attractive factory walnut grips: the Tyler Manufacturing T-Grip adaptor.
Tyler’s T-Grip adaptors have been around forever. My first law enforcement duty handgun was a blued steel Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum with square-butt service grips. About that time, Smith & Wesson was offering their optional square-butt Magnum stocks. Those stocks made matters worse by overlapping the frame and increasing the size of the trumpet shape. There was no way the ring and pinky fingers could wrap around the bottom of the grip. I opted instead to carry my Model 19 with a Tyler T-Grip attached.
The “T” stands for “Tomahawk,” which aptly describes the shape of the curved aluminum and bronze inserts. The T-Grip is very easy to use. After purchasing the correct size and finish T-Grip for your revolver, remove the service-style wood grip panels, place the adaptor in the top of the grip gap and put the grips back on. The T-Grip is held in place by a pair of copper tabs that sit against the frame under the panels. The beauty of the T-Grip is that it closes the gap without enlarging the grip itself. It fits in the front strap behind the trigger guard, allowing the revolver to fill the hand and making it much more controllable during firing.
I purchased a T-Grip for the vintage Colt Cobra I recently wrote about. I selected the shiny black finish to match the black anodized aluminum Cobra frame. The improved feel and enhanced overall appearance made all the difference in the world. Best of all, I was able to retain the classic look and compactness of the checkered Colt walnut grips with their silver Colt medallions. Rubber aftermarket grips would have destroyed that.
However, you don’t necessarily have to have a vintage revolver to use Tyler T-Grips. Their webpage features a modern scandium-framed Smith & Wesson Airlite and a stainless-steel Model 649 fitted with ivory service grips and matching T-Grips. Both are classy and effective deep concealment snub-nosed handguns. T-Grips would also be a perfect addition to one of the re-issued classic Smith & Wesson blued Chief’s Specials now on the market.
Tyler T-Grips are available with a shiny black finish as well as flat black, brushed aluminum, fully polished bright aluminum and a brushed and polished manganese/bronze finish. Prices range from $28 to $38. Tyler is also one of the few manufacturers of revolver trigger shoes, which give more of a target trigger feel to standard narrow service triggers.
Tyler does not accept credit card orders. To place an order, download an order form, specify model and finish, and enclose a personal check, money order or cashier’s check for payment. Delivery takes two to three weeks.
If you want to keep the classic look and compactness of wood or exotic custom service-style grips while enhancing shootability, look no further than Tyler Manufacturing. You will find them an excellent addition to fine defensive revolvers.
More info at: www.t-grips.com