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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.