Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grip upgrade for those old revolvers

Older Colts and S&W revolvers, those vintage 38’s, are excellent pieces as spares and to loan.

They are cheap ( or at least used to be), I can still find them around for 150 USD or so.
They fire 38 special which with good ammo is still a respectable caliber, and most importantly, being revolvers they are excellent for giving to people that need to defend themselves but aren’t very gun savvy.
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Many prepers and survivalists have a few of these old 38s around, maybe buried somewhere with a box of shells, a roll of bucks or some precious metal coins.

If you just started prepping and you are in a tight budget, you can sometimes find one of these Colts or S&W 38s ( 357 magnum would be even better) if you look around gun shops or pawn shops for a while.
It’s not ideal in my opinion, but a 38 revolver is still a weapon to be respected, and light years away from being unarmed when someone is trying to hurt you or your family.

Problem is, in spite of their good mechanical construction and overall good trigger pull, their ergonomics are awful. Bad enough to be a problem when point aiming during a stressful situation and for the follow up shots.

I don’t know what was wrong with people’s hands in the 50’s and 60’s, but these grips are too thin, the fingers go too high for a comfortable grip.

Replacement grips aren’t always available for the model, they are hard to find, and in my case, they are more expensive than the weapon itself.

A few days ago a friend of mine phoned me, telling me that he moved permanently to his farm and needed a gun.

We went to a gunshop and he picked a Bersa Super 380 ACP. It’s a 15+1 version of the single stack 7+1 version, popular in USA these days.

It has adjustable sights and mate nickel finish.

I tried to convince him of something better, perhaps a Bersa 9mm which is what cops here are being issued these days, but he fell for the little Bersa.

Problem is, it will take nearly a month before he gets his gun, and he needs one now.

He already heard noises many times at night, and some cows got stolen.

So again, he sheepishly asked “Can you loan me a gun until I get mine?”

Which brings us finally to the point of this post: Good old guns that are perfect for those with little skill but that have bad grips.

Self-Soldering Rubber.

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What I used here is something called self soldering rubber in tape configuration.

In case you are not familiar with the material. This is NOT regular tape, electric tape, or tape of any kind. It’s just what the name says, a long band of rubber that solders onto itself when in contact.

This tape has no glue, just a thin film that separates the roll and avoids contact, otherwise it would solder forming a rubber disk.

This material is used to create a rubber cover on high tension electric bars.

You start rolling it around the surface, applying a bit of tension so it stretches ( and thins) overlapping it a mm or two.

Once you apply the volume or rubber you want it forms a solid mass that cannot be undone, you’ll have to cut the grip to remove it because it solders into a uniform piece of rubber.

Making the grip.
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I wanted to make a shape kind of similar to the Tyler-T adapters. Something that fills the huge gap behind the trigger guard (keeping the finger from going too high) and one finger grove for a better grip.

First, you apply 2 layers of fully stretched rubber where you’ll be working(maximum point before it actually brakes, a thin layer).
I did only half but you can try covering it all.

This will he the foundation of the rest of your work.

Once these layers are done, I started filling up the gap behind the trigger guard, going all around the grip with the tape, stretching it on the back for minimum girth, and barely stretching it at all, with minimum tension, when going behind the trigger guard so as to fill that space up without getting to thick behind. You can also add some small pieces of rubber to fill it up more.

Now the finger grove.
I cut 3 small pieces of rubber, the size of the grove. Removed the film and pressed them together for a few seconds. Then I placed it on the grip and covered it with some layers of thin (stretched) rubber, shaping the final form of the grip.

That’s it. In a few minutes the grip solders completely.

The material is durable but bore cleaner softens it and makes it sticky, so its better to be careful not to get to much cleaner on the grip. I cover the grip with a rag when cleaning the gun.

That’s it folks. It’s really easy and it does improve the grip significantly, which translated in better accuracy and quicker follow up shots.
The self soldering rubber tape is available in hardware stores and it’s a great material to have around.

I use it a lot. For guns, for making rubber rings on plumbing, along with many other uses.

I kept 4 rolls of this stuff and already used it all up.

Need to buy some more. Take care and happy Labor day.



Anonymous said...

In the states, it's called Self Vulcanizing tape.
Walmart has it with the tapes and adhesives in the paint department.

I keep a roll of it in my glovebox for fixing hoses and such.

johnzilla said...

If your friend is living somewhere with cows, a handgun (especially a .380) has to be the worst option for defense. Why didn't he buy a rifle?

K said...

Jim Cirillo killed many goblins during his tenure on NYPD's stake out squad many years ago (before it was politically incorrect to kill goblins). His revolver was similarly taped to achieve the perfect grip for his use. This, of course, was back when police still used revolvers.

scarlet pimpernel said...

fiber reinforced bondo works well too, and can be sanded down. What I do is coat the grips with a thick coat, put on a vinyl glove and wait for the bondo to start to set up. Then grasp the revolver, squishing the bondo out of the way where it's too tight. Wait for the bondo to set then remove your hand. Some judicious filing, scraping and sanding will give you a perfect fit. You can also use a dremel saw to slice the new grips so you can remove them

theotherryan said...

I love the old .357 magnum that I have. It is about the same difference as those .38 specials. It is also the loaner.

Anonymous said...

Your old M&P S&W is really nice. my sister and I have almost identical mates to it. She has my Father's and I bought one like it. I have my Father's old 1917. With good standard loads, you have a fine firearm. No +P. Dad used to carry 200 grain high velocity semi-jacked hollow points. They would chronograph at about 950-1000 feet per second. I have a Model 13 and it is the one that actually saved my life.
With kind regards,

Larry said...

FerFal, I enjoyed your postings on Frugal Squirrel. I'm glad you have decided to start your own blog since there were many big ego's on FS.

Since you have stated in this blog that your intention is to migrate to the United States, I have to asked why in the F**k would you do that?

Your country is just finishing their currency crisis and the US is just starting theirs! If you migrate to the U.S. you will have the privilege of enjoying two currency crisis back to back. Are you that much of a glutton for punishment?

Thanks very much for your insights,

fallout11 said...

Larry has an excellent and solid point, and given the construction industry bubble collapse, there will be little market for an architect 'round these parts for some years to come. You would probably be better off with most European nations instead.

I may be funny, but am not alone in finding the old revolvers to be extremely comfortable and ergonomic as-is. Apparently people in the 1930's-1970's thought so. Styles and trends change, as an aspiring architect you should understand that. Likewise, those changes do not necessarily render the old ones obsolete, an Gothic Revival structure is just as beautiful and functional today as a Brutalist slab, if not more so. But I digress....

Hogue makes excellent rubberized grips for most popular and once-common revolvers, and they are available for under $17.

And the old S&W .38 pictured is actually more valuable ($$) in the US than a new Bersa Thunder 9mm. Visit your local gun store or online source (such as and see for yourself.