Hogue-grooves

In March I finally got around to writing a review on the excellent Hogue G-10 grips that have adorned my CZ for years, plus the matching AR-15 grip and trigger guard that I picked up later. Hogue saw that review and reached out to see if there might be a different product I’d like to check out and, indeed, I’ve always wanted to gussy up my old Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag with some real purdy grips that not only looked nice but also helped with control and recoil. A few days later, a one-piece Rosewood Laminate with Stripe Cap grip was at my door. . .

From the factory, the Ruger sported cowboy-style hardwood grips. One grip panel on each side, held together with a bolt through the frame.

Hogue-factoryleft

These grips are relatively straight and narrow along the 1/2″-wide frame. Without a palm swell, finger grooves on the front, and/or some sort of checkering or any other texture, the factory grips don’t do much to help with the recoil of a stout .44 Magnum load. Even for a manly man who doesn’t notice the impact to the palm, it’s still difficult to prevent the revolver from rotating inside of the hand(s).
Hogue-factoryrear

It’s probably fair to say that Hogue built its reputation on its rubber overmolded parts, and they have long-been the go-to option for taming the recoil of a powerful revolver. In fact, many brands of revolvers come from the factory with Hogue pieces already installed (like the Dan Wesson 715). My Super Blackhawk has often sported the following Hogue grip since the early-to-mid 90’s.Hogue-overmoldleft

It’s super grippy if not downright sticky. That in combination with the pebbling-like texture, the palm swells, and the finger grooves lead to excellent control. The squish of the rubber plus the bit of extra width across the backstrap help to mitigate felt recoil.Hogue-overmoldrear

But, yeah, they don’t do much for the revolver aesthetically. I prefer the classic cowboy look of the factory grips.

Thankfully, Hogue makes about a zillion different shape and texture options in at least 7 different types of fancy hardwoods. I decided to go with Rosewood Laminate. With the wood choice out of the way, there are still 18 options to choose from. Do you want finger grooves or no finger grooves? Only a top finger groove? Checkering or smooth? Stripe Cap or not? How about a Big Butt? <<< don’t worry, that’s truly a grip option.Hogue-left

I went with grooves, checkering, and a Stripe Cap. Apparently Hogue may move away from doing it, but you can still currently choose any of 6 custom textures instead of your standard checkering. I’m a huge fan of the look of that “Brickwork” texture.

This grip is quite similar in size and shape to the rubber overmold grip, but the palm swells feel just a touch larger. It fits very nicely in my hand, including the location of the finger grooves, and once again the extra width on the backstrap distributes recoil energy better than the factory panels and all of the other, aforementioned features aid in control and help keep your hand right where you put it.Hogue-rear

I must admit, the Rosewood Laminate is actually redder/pinker than I expected. I do like it, but might be a bit happier if I had chosen something more traditional, such as whatever wood the Stripe Cap is made of.Hogue-base

If it wasn’t apparent already, the photo above shows how Hogue’s one-piece grips attach to the Ruger’s frame. There’s no bolt across the middle to detract from aesthetics and comfort. Instead, a single bolt inserts through the bottom of the grip and holds it to the gun.
Hogue-inside

Channels are machined inside of the grip. The forward channel rides up along the roll pin at the bottom, front corner of the frame and the rear channel rides up along the Hogue mount that’s included with the grip.
Hogue-hardwareThe mount is a stirrup-shaped piece of metal with threads on the bottom. It simply slips over the bottom of the frame and then a pin goes through the top of the mount as well as through the frame. After the grip is in position, the included bolt tensions everything together, pulling that pin down against the frame and pulling the grip securely upwards in return. It’s an interesting solution that’s fairly easy to install, works perfectly well, and maintains a clean, nice look.

Fit and finish on this grip is excellent. Fit on the backstrap is as flush and smooth as though it was hand fit to my particular frame, which is great because that’s the part that impacts the ol’ palm. The checkering is clean and crisp, and the transitions from grip to stripe to cap cannot be felt. Finish is completely even. I’d say the singular point of imperfect fit can be seen in the lead photo, where there’s a bit of a gap between the trigger guard and the grip. That said, it appears this is designed in on purpose so the angle of the grip can be tweaked by the end user — shimmed with masking tape inside the frame — to ensure completely flush fit on the backstrap. In my case, this wasn’t necessary at all.

I dig ’em! Glad to fancy up this ’89 Ruger.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit & Finish: * * * * *
No tinkering necessary for a proper fit. Finish is spot-on. Machining is flawless.

Comfort: * * * *
It doesn’t tame recoil as much as the rubber overmold grip, but no surprise there. Still a big improvement in comfort and controllability over stock. These ain’t small grips, though, and they won’t fit as many shooters as the overmold one or the factory ones will.

Overall: * * * * *
5-star grips, because whether you like the look of the ones I got or not, the options to spec out your own grip are nearly endless. Myriad shapes, textures, styles, and woods, not to mention even further options if you go over to rubber overmold, faux ivory (including w/ various scrimshaw patterns), mother of pearl, micarta, G-10, aluminum, etc. All apparently with the great fit, finish, and ergonomics we’ve come to expect from Hogue. Full menu of handguns for which Hogue makes grips can be found here.

 

28 Responses to Gear Review: Hogue Fancy Hardwood Grips

  1. Thank you for the informative review. Those look very nice and seem to be extremely well engineered and made. I have a Super Blackhawk of similar vintage with the factory grips and your article has me considering giving a wood Hogue grip a try.

    I’ve grown accustomed to having the gun rotate in my hand as part of the standard way smooth cowboy grips react under recoil. The Hogue you tested differs from stock in having a fuller shape, finger grooves, and checkering. Which of those features did you feel made the most difference in improving control and comfort? Now that you’ve had a chance to use these grips, would you choose a different configuration next time?

    • Fuller shape is the #1 thing for additional comfort, probably. It helps with control though as well and then it’s hard to say if the grooves or checkering do more. I’d guess the grooves do. I really dig the look of the grips that have no checkering and have a single finger groove. They’re just really clean and cool looking. So I might go that route next time. They’d still have all of the benefit of the more ergonomic, fuller shape and the finger groove under your middle finger, but I think have a more unique and clean look.

  2. Pink Pistols! Sorry, had to. I replaced the factory Hogue grips with custom walnut in a classic combat pattern, with finger grooves, no checkering. Looks great on my stainless 686, and work well with .357 loads.

  3. Hogue in my experience has great customer sevice. I had an issue with a free float tube nut on an AR, and they went above and beyond. I also have one of their grip sleeves (HandAll) that I love. Like the reviewed grip, they have palm swells that fill out the grip, making it super comfortable, which was especially appreciated on my rather narrow Kahr. I likes it so much that I got one for my son’s XD, and although it makes that double stack grip rather thick, it is very comfortable to shoot.

  4. I’d like to order some Hogue wood grips for my Taurus 85, but they don’t have pictures “yet” (I don’t think they plan to add pictures either) so it’s hard to get a good idea for what they’ll look like with the various options. Of which there are many.

    Not sure I want to roll $100 dollars worth of dice on an unseen grip.

      • Well hey! Mr. Hogue in the flesh! 🙂

        Actually I noticed that the listings for the Taurus 85/small frame in Pau Ferro wood have pictures of the different styles, so I’ve just been mentally transposing the other wood types onto those images.

        In my brain anyway, the Lamo Camo looks pretty great in checkered, w/ grooves.

  5. The grip frame profile of the 1873 and earlier percussion Colts allow the revolver to rotate upon recoil. This will move the hammer spur closer to your thumb for re-cocking.
    Note the Bisley frame profile will minimize the rotation. IIRC the Bisleys were designed as target guns.

    My Rugers wear smooth walnut grips. I think oversize, finger groove grips look WRONG on SAA’s. Full speed .44 maggies will get your attention!

    On DA revolvers I think the Hogue stocks profile could be improved by making them with a longer reach at the top (similar to Tyler T Grip), and much smaller at the bottom to allow a better purchase w/ the little finger. The finger grooves are not placed comfortably for my hands, so replacement was in order.
    S&W “target” grips are also too big at the bottom.

    For me, bigger is not always better.

    With this in mind, I have modified some Altamont grips by reshaping the lower portion with good results. This takes some time, as the laminated wood is very difficult to work.
    I find Pachmayr grips on my DA’s a good alternative. Less pronounced finger grooves, not as bulky, plenty sticky, and the black rubber looks are acceptable on a stainless revolver. And, the price is right.

    • I like to cock the hammer w/ my left thumb and prefer not to have to adjust my grip between shots. The cowboy look is great, but I can shoot this thing significantly quicker and more accurately with grippy grips like either of the Hogue ones. I definitely like shooting hot loads like Buffalo Bore and Underwood with big, finger groove grips… the hard cast +P+ 300+ grain ones do get your attention haha

    • I have to agree. On a “modern” DA revolver, I say go nuts with whatever crazy grip you want. But on a classically-styled SA cowboy gun, you gotta stick with the old-style grips. They may not be marvels of ergonomic design, but they just look soooo much better. Extra points for bird’s head grips (even though those give you even less control).

      That said, a full-house .44 magnum is no joke, so I do understand the desire for a more comfortable shootin’ iron. But it just looks so dang wrong!

      • I agree. The hogue grips just look goofy to me. Pachmayr makes a rubber grip for blackhawks that are still fairly traditional looking though.

  6. I removed the very effective Uncle Mike’s boot grips from my Airweight and added some really nice wood grips. The fancy wood grips soothe my eyes but smack the hell out of my hands. All in all, it’s a fair trade. YMMV.

    • I took the factory rubbers off my 442 and replaced them with smooth black Hogue Bantam G-10s for pocket carry in a DeSantis Nemesis. They looked nice and could pass for black hardwood at a glance. I swapped because the rubber grip were snagging my pants pocket liner during some practice draws. Definitely not as comfy to shoot as the rubber grips, but at least I knew the gun would come out of my pocket no problem when I needed it to.

      Even for belt carry, wood or G-10 have the advantage of not snagging on your cover garment and printing as easily. I heard of one guy who wanted to keep the rubber grips for recoil so he painted the right half of the grip black to remove the tackiness so it wouldn’t grab his shirt. It worked, but it was not exactly pretty. Classic guns like J frames deserve classic looking grips.

  7. Don’t sweat the “reddish/pinkish” tone of the rosewood. All reddish woods turn browner with age. Exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight) will accelerate the process. If you can safely find a sunny windowsill, or something similar where you can let it hangout when not in use, you’ll find it more to your taste in some months time.

    It is beauteous by the way.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I should have mentioned that Hogue’s website actually does state that the Rosewood will change and darken with age and use. I’ll put it in the sun for a few and see what happens 🙂 …plus keep shooting it with my grubby mitts, of course…

  8. Almost all my revolver get a grip change out. I have larger hands & longer fingers than most women. Colt Detective .38 special produced after 78′ sports a Hogue type Presentation grips w/Colt Mustang Gold Medallions embedded halfway down on grip. Ruger Sp !01 9mm stainless steel frame, Had the Hogue changed out for Crimson Trace soft plastic with finger grooves. Even Ruger SP 101 have original Talo plain back grip panels replaced by vintage grip panels with rosewood and S&R Medallions embedded.
    Only revolver have not changed grips is a SP 100 .357 3″ barrel Wiley Clapp version with wood grips, scored place for finger placement. Twenty year marriage anniversary present. Most of the grip changes were due to better function, some for form. Life is too short to go though life with an ugly revolver.

    • TX, I would greatly appreciate your impressions of that Wilep Clapp SP-101. Do you have the gold bead sight and how does that compare to a white dot in various light? I’ve been lusting after one for awhile.

  9. I’ve got the ’50 years of .44 magnum’ anniversary model which came with plastic grips which I replaced with Ruger’s rosewood grips. I have to admit that with magnum loads the back of the trigger guard kind of whacks you in the knuckle. Wedging the index finger on your support hand between the guard and your ring finger fixes that problem. Anyway, it beats putting something that fugly on such a classy revolver.

  10. I kept the original wood grips on my Super Blackhawk and Vaquero .44 mags for purely aesthetic reasons. I loved the cowboy look. I carried hot loads for brown bear protection and they were a handfull to shoot. Not just muzzle rise but the whole gun would roll right also, right out of my support hand grip, so the muzzle would end up 45 degrees high and right after every shot. In comparison, my 6″ barrel Anaconda with wrap around rubber grips was a pussycat to shoot.

  11. My S&W 66 sports the Hogue rubber grips. I still have th old wood grips it came with, But the molded ones are so much better for control.. I can hit that barn door, so long as it’s broadside.

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