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By MD Matt

Shopping for my wife can be challenging come the holidays – birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, our anniversary – the big four. Like most couples that have been together for a while, we’ve already gotten each other the obvious items, so getting something thoughtful and creative four times a year is its own challenge . . .

Of the two of us, I’m the gun nut. She likes to hit the range every so often, but it’s not a compulsion. I remember the first time I took her out and showed her my 1911 Government. She picked it up, took a couple shots, and said “I thought you said this was a big gun.”

After the people in the next lane stopped laughing at my expense, we rented an ever increasing parade of hand cannons in search of “the one.”  Soon after that she got her first handgun a Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum affectionately called “Le Boom.”  The monster is so large that I have to lay it down diagonally to get it to fit on my pistol safe’s shelf.

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This year I decided to pimp Le Boom’s grips for her birthday.  My go-to source for “nice” revolver grips is Badger Custom Grips. They always seem to have what I need from classic Colt D frames to square butt S&W to massive Ruger single actions, all in beautifully polished rosewood, walnut, or black silverwood.

I wanted to make these “special” so I opted for their custom treatment. Badger will take any of their revolver grip styles and inlay them with mother of pearl or ivory. You can pick from their list of patterns such as diamonds, hearts, shamrocks, and so forth. Alternately you can present them with an image and they can add it to the grips. Designs can be inlayed on the upper and/or lower panel sections on either or both sides of the grips.  Finally you can get the product hand monogrammed.

I opted for polished walnut, diamond inlay, and my wife’s initials as a monogram.

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As with all my previous transactions, I placed my order on Badger’s website and the grips arrived in 10 days. My wife opened them on her birthday and was very pleased. Trouble came when I tried dressing up Le’Boom though.  It turned out I ordered the grips for a blackhawk and not a “super” blackhawk.  I looked at the order form and found that it was entirely my fault.  Badger fulfilled the order as requested—I just wasn’t paying attention.  I called Badger and spoke to a very nice gentleman.  After explaining my situation and stating clearly that the fault lay entirely on my shoulders, he said to send the grips back less a small restocking fee and they would replace them in the correct size.  This was more than I expected.  I doubt anyone else is going to want to buy grips in just that size with those initials, so they basically ate the cost of the new grips.

One appreciative letter and two weeks later and I had the replacement grips mounted.

You can see the inlay work in more detail here.

The panels fit perfectly.  They have a very smoothed glossy feel much like the original factory rosewood grips.  Additionally, the badger panels flare out a bit more near the butt which makes the gigantic boomstick much more comfortable to hold.

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While I wouldn’t expect this kind of restocking policy on every order, Badger custom’s customer service was exceptional—far above what I had any right to expect.  The quality of the product is second to none in both appearance and function.  At $175, the price may be a bit off-putting for some.  You can buy the non-custom grips for about $90; so you’re really paying $85 for the custom engraving and script.  I paid $100 for custom cut, monogrammed, and highlighted 1911 grips through gungrips.net.  This product is made with a higher grade of inlay material (mother of pearl instead of paint) so for what you’re getting it seems like a fair price for “nice” grips.

 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Utility: * * * * *
The grips went on without any fitting or adjusting—as if they came straight from the factory.  The hardware was solid and screwed down with authority.

Value: * * * *
The price isn’t cheap compared to say hogue’s hardwood offerings but then they don’t come with hand engraved iconography either.  I think it’s a fair price for an exceptional product.

Appearance: * * * * *
Everyone who has seen these grips has been wowed.  The script and inlay work is flush with the panel material—no artifacts or rough spots.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
This is a great product backed up by American made craftsmanship.  I have nothing but good things to say about these grips and more importantly, my wife feels the same way.

 

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6 Responses to Gear Review: Badger Custom Grips

  1. I’ve always liked custom grips on my guns.I updated my 92FS with grips built by Derek Smith of DSgrips, and it turned out really well. I like updating the grips because not only do they improve the grip and handling of the gun (sometimes), they really make it yours too.

  2. Is there not a company that makes handgun grips out of non-laminated (e.g., not plywood) color-impregnated wood? Just my opinion here, but the laminated wooden grips don’t look a whole lot better than the standard grade plywood offered at Home Depot. Maybe that’s where the grip manufacturers buy their raw materials.

  3. I love looking at pretty and exotic wood grips and gun stocks, I really do, and yet, my personal handguns mostly wear Pachmyer or Hogue rubber/neoprene grips…. including my Super Blackhawk .44 and I don’t really have a reason to explain that.

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