Monday, August 14, 2006

A Good News/Bad News Sort of Monday

Well, I'm still pretty much whipped!

Last weekend, we went down to the Whittington Center at Raton, NM, to film the brand-spanking-new Colorado Multigun Practical Rifle Team Challenge. It's a precision rifle/carbine/handgun two-person match, and what atracted us was that the stages made use of the varied (and occasionally harsh) terrain at the Whittington Center.

Just to give you a little tease, we filmed a truly great shot with a custom Armalite shot, dead center, on a steel target at 1180 yards! Next time somebody tells you about the inate accuracy superiority of bolt guns over semis, feel free to break out into gales of laughter!

So I spent the whole day running up and down New Mexico hills — and, yes, had yet another HORRIBLE meal in Raton! — then got up at 0-Dark-Thirty to drive the five hours back home so I could do a 30-mile road bike ride with my Sweetie. The bike ride was actually knd of was hot, but I was able to pretty much zone out and doze in the aero bars of my 14-year-old Trek 5200.

This morning, though, my knees are threatening to call a cab and go to the Knee Shelter! Getting older is a bitch for real.

I have two product reports for you, one good and one bad. I really, really hate to give bad reports, but I am absolutely committed to keeping SHOOTING GALLERY as an honest forum. So you get to know what doesn't work as well as what works.

Let's do the good stuff first. Remember when I was all pumped up on the little Bond Arms .45 Colt/.410 derringer? Well, you can read all about it here, Pondering the Pernicious Perfidity of Pocket Pistols.

I ordered the driving holster for the little gun, because it looked like a pretty good idea — I like the .410 Winchester #000 buckshot as a deterent for your basic 'jacker. In short, a driving holster is designed to let you easily access your blaster while strapped into a car seat. Typically, a driving holster is an almost horzontal can access the gun easily, and the move to the gun is less visible to an outside person because it's concealed by the driver's side door.

My understanding is that the holsters were pioneered in South Africa, where carjacking is recognized as a national sport.

The finely boned litle holster, made by Bill Weaver in Dennison, TX, and available through the Bond Arms website, is a beauty, well fitted and with a thumb-snap. The holster attaches horizontally to the belt with a clever leather strap secured by a Velcro tab — very easy on; very easy off...a big issue with driving holsters. In fact, I made it a point of putting it on and taking it off in the confined space of the problemo.

I'm not usually a fan of thumb-snaps, but in the case of a horizontal holster, a snap only makes sense.

I wore the holsters for five hours each way, coming and going, and here's the high praise — I forgot it was on. It concealed easily under one of my ubiquitous Hawaiian shirts and/or a Sig-Tac vest, which I routinely wear when I travel, and was a snap (yes, another Monday pun) to draw from with the seat belt on.

I give the driving holster and the Bond Arms mini-blaster two big ole THUMBS UP!

Now for the THUMBS DOWN.

I've always heard a lot about Eagle Grips, and all of it was good. I'm planning an upcoming episode of SG where I was going to use my old and cherished '70s' vintage S&W M-29 .44 Magnum, which has for decades been wearing a set of Hogue rubber grips from its days as my deer hunting gun.

Eagle offers a special line of S&W grips called their "Heritage Series," replicas in rosewood of the the 1950s vintage "Coke bottle" S&W factory grips. The story goes that this Eagle style originated when my pal and S&W revolver afficianado gunwriter Frank James sent a set of his original Coke bottles to Eagle to be duplicated, then mentioned that there was a big market for such aftermarket grips.

The Heritage grips are billed as hand-checkered and hand-fitted to the specific type of gun and command a $30 premium over a standard set of Eagle S&W grips...$99.95 versus $69.95 for the Classic.

I thought that sounded perfect for my old M-29, so I ordered a set straight over the Internet for MSRP.

The first set arrived, and to say I was "underwhelmed" was an "understatement." The wood was mediocre at best...not as nice as the half-dozen set of S&W factory grips I've got lying around the workshop. Worse, on the right-side panel checkering, many of the diamonds had been knocked off through rough handling, which destroyed the attractiveness of the checkering. I got out my M-29, only to discover that the "hand-inletting" was so bad the grips wouldn't even come close to fitting any S&W N-Frame I had on hand.

Back the grips went by return mail. I gave the company the option of either refunding my money or sending me a different set of grips, because stuff indeed does happen and t was only fair to allow them to make good.

Got my replacement grips on Friday and put...well, attempted to put...them on this morning...

The wood is beautiful; the checkering is very good...and the grips don't even come close to fitting my gun. Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself. In fact, I'd estimate there is easily an hour or more of meticulous work with the Dremel to fit these grips, and given how they currently fit, I'm not sure I'd ever get a fit I'd be happy with.

I hate to say this, but TWO THUMBS DOWN on Eagle Grips.

The grips will go back for a refund.

If you want custom grips for your S&W revolver, let me give you a hard-learned word of adviceHogue!


Anonymous said...

Are the Eagle grips the ones on the gun in the photo? The grips look to be just a bit undersized. I speculate the grip maker has a model frame that is undersized.

Check the other(S&W) grips. They are probably a looser fit.(all early N frames were not created equal.(before CNC)

Given a choice of too tight or too loose, I'd go for some slight hand fitting.(Less likely to break under recoil.)

Just some thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Hogue are fine grips but I wouldn't call them custom.

There are other nice grips, Ahrends or Spegal that aren't custom either.

These days Herrett's is maybe semi-custom.

There are custom grip makers out there.

Anonymous said...

I've had good Eagle grips and I've had bad ones.
I love their Secret Service grips on J-Frames. I have one pair that have spent most of the past 10 years in my pocket(on a gun). They've been on at least three different J-frames of different vintage, and fit each like the proverbial glove.

I also have a set of their Ebony grip panels for a Browning HiPower. They are thick, blocky things that turn the great feeling BHP grip into a near-duplicate of a Desert Eagle.
I must say that the finish is nice, but that doesn't do much good if they need reshaped.

Why the differences between those and the Secret Service grips I've had? Beats me. You win some, you lose some. I guess.


Anonymous said...

I installed a set of the Heritage grips on my Model 25 Mountain Gun, and they fit like a glove without modification. Maybe the fact that it is a round butt of recent manufacture helps. I'm not overly excited about the wood, but really like the way they feel.


Michael Bane said...

That's true...

Walt, it's the inletting...the right grip panel isn't cut deep enough and the left grip panel is cut too deep. The right panel inlet cut isn't square, either, so the grips fit lopsided...far too much of a pain in the ass for me to correct.

And yes, it is incorrect to call Eagle "custom" grips. A more proper designation for Eagle (and Hogue, Spegal, Ahrends, etc.) might be "premium aftermarket." Custom makers like Roy Fishpaw and the like are backed up from here to eternity. The best deal in a custom maker is Pat Grashorn's elk stags, whch are beautiful!

SIGH, I really wanted those Cokes!


Anonymous said...


The defects you describe are unacceptable. One last ditch effort to get them right(as this is the only source I know for replica "cokes")is sending the gun to Raj.(and I would hope he'd pick up the tab.)

Xavier said...

Thanks for the heads up Michael. These things are good to know.....

Anonymous said...

I recently had a similar experience trying to get some Eagle grips for my Detective Special. Neither of the two sets they shipped were anywhere close to fitting. It wasn't a matter of spending a little time with a Dremel tool -- they flat didn't fit the frame.

Anonymous said...

Question... what about the Nill ( grips version of "Cokes", has anyone had any experience with them? Is there any plans to do a review on them, albeit twice the price of the Eagles?

Eagle Grips Inc. said...

It's a well known fact that production gun frames vary. Many gun companies have been using the same frames for over 40 years! Do you think their grip frames are similar after that many years??

In light of the production tolerances that are out there, we make grips that are not loose fitting or undersized and if you happen to have that hard to fit firearm, we are just a phone call away.

Eagle Grips has always had a custom shop on premise that will fit, alter, and custom make grips. In fact, we will custom fit many of our normal production grips for no additional charge. Shipping and handling and Colt SAA types are excluded.

Eagle Grips has been making grips since 1971. Grips unique in Design like our Secret Service, Heritage, Classic, and Gunfighter Style. Made from beautiful high quality materials and backed by full and complete customer support and service through our toll free number 800-323-614, &

Very simply, we are in business to make our customers happy and a bunch of folks who know us will tell you that.

Raj M. Singh

Eagle Grips Inc.

viagra without prescription said...

I'm happy reading about weaponry, this blog is very interesting to me is very exciting, thanks for the topic.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

Some S&W frames are different and sometimes the grip pin can be located a little differently. Those grips normally seem wonderful. The factory has always treated me very well. I have bought numerous pairs over the years. I had to have one N Frame custom fitted there because of a frame variation and they did that without charge for me