For longer than any of us in the industry have been alive, replacement grips have been an important element in auxiliary sales. Before I was born, handgun connoisseurs outfitted their favorite sidearms with custom stocks by Lew Sanderson and Walter Roper.
By the time I was active in handgunning, the big names were Steve Herrett, Guy Hogue and Fuzzy Farrant for custom wooden stocks. Ajax and even Franzite made pearl and stag handles, often more for show than go. Pachmayr and later Hogue rubber grips were — and still are — standard gun shop staples, as was the long-lost Mershon brand before them.
Customers were looking for two things. For some clients, it was all about looks. For others, it was strictly about improving performance. The same holds true today.
From the very beginning of enhanced grips, terminology varied, and even became a matter of debate. If the shooter’s gun hand was wrapped around wood, he probably had “stocks” on his pistol or revolver, but if his fingers and palm were in contact with non-skid neoprene, they were probably “grips.”
Any gun enthusiast would laugh at someone who complimented him on his wooden “handles.” But “pearl-handled,” “bone-handled” and “stag-handled” were still common figures of speech, and as acceptable among serious gun people as among drugstore cowboys. And there were those who insisted that revolvers had “stocks” and pistols had “grips.” Sigh.
By Massad Ayoob
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