Ammo & Gear Reviews

Defensive Carry: Coming to Grips

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By Bob Boyd, Shooting Illustrated

One of the chief, yet often overlooked, factors in selecting a handgun is fit. To compound matters, fit—like many small words—has a multitude of meanings, and that’s especially true when it comes to choosing a handgun. Most people fail to understand the breadth of the term prior to purchase. Oftentimes, they are fundamentally concerned with the purchase falling within their budget. However, just like buying anything personal, whether it’s a new pair of jeans, shoes or even a new car, the item in question must fit you properly. After all, comfort is key, even when it comes to selecting a firearm.

Unfortunately, the concept seems to fall short when it comes to the factory grips found on most of today’s popular self-defense snub-noses, which are typically diminutive in size—short and narrow—in keeping with the snub-nose revolver’s primary concealment-oriented role. While it may sound like a classic case of function over form, it doesn’t have to be, thanks to a multitude of aftermarket grips available that promote concealment while simultaneously customizing a pistol to fit the shooter’s hand. In the case of this snub-nose project, I’ve collected an assortment of grips for my fiancee’ to try. Each of the products offer its own unique benefit.

Smith & Wesson, grip, Delta grip

In spite of the benefits of its ergonomic design (no pun intended) the author found the Ergo Delta Grip’s tacky rubber exterior less than ideal, due to its tendency to bind on clothing while drawing.

Should an abbreviated grip be an option, she may opt for either Craig Spegel “Boot Grips,” or Eagle Grips Secret Service Grips. Sporting a compact design, each feature two finger grooves along the frontstrap (along with optional checkering) that promote purchase. (Depending upon her mood, Eagle offers the same design in a host of synthetic materials, including the vibrant colors of its Art Jewel Collection.)

Ergo Grips new Delta Grip offers a unique ergonomic design that foster enhanced pointing and aiming, as opposed to  more traditional vertical designs. But, the product offers more than just a more natural point-of-aim. In addition to filling the hand, its large grip helps to disperse recoil across a wider area to effectively tame the negative effects of recoil. Similarly, the exterior is comprised of a textured overmolded rubber that promotes comfort and purchase. In my opinion, their rubber construction is a double-edge sword, because the material has a tendency to stick to clothing when drawing from concealment. For that reason, I hope the future will include a Delta Grip version 2.0 featuring either plastic or wood construction.

When producing handgun grips, manufacturers do their best to fit the “average hand,” but all the ergonomically inspired features in the world—like finger grooves—won’t help when dealing with a less-than-average hand. In such instances, a tapered grip, such as Ahrends Smooth J-frame Banana Grips may offer a solution. As the name implies, the design tapers down past the frame to facilitate a firm firing grip.

The added benefit of storing four extra rounds inside makes the ARES Defense Systems Redi-Load an essential piece of gear for the J-frame owner.

Finally, ARES Defense Systems offers an ingenious multi-purpose accessory named the Redi-Load. The grips are constructed from black synthetic, high-impact polymer and extend past the frame, making them slightly longer than typical J-frame grips. But, there’s a good reason. In addition to offering more real estate for your pinky, the butt contains an a hinged floorplate concealing a storage compartment designed to carry four spare rounds of ammunition—a welcome feature that could improve your chances of survival in a life-threatening encounter.


Thanks to Bob at Shooting Illustrated for this article. Need more shooting, visit


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