Sometimes It’s the Little Things.

I love my Colt Detective Special. It has the best double-action trigger of any of my revolvers (though my S&W M1902 gives it a run for it’s money) and I have no trouble printing halfway decent groups at 25 yards DA. It’s chambered in .32 Colt New Police (.32 S&W Long) so even with stout loads recoil is never unpleasant.

When I got it it had the factory hammer shroud and unconvincing Franzite ‘stag’ grips. They didn’t provide the best hold so I supplemented them with a Tyler T-grip that my pal Jake sent me for Christmas. This worked OK but wasn’t entirely comfortable, tending to jam my middle-finger against the trigger-guard.

Tacky Franzite plastic ‘stag’ grips and a Tyler T-grip

Eventually the ancient plastic grips cracked, and I happened to have some antler on-hand so I made a new set, and since I was making them for me they were kind of chunky, but I found I no longer need the Tyler T-grip.

For a long time this gun was a range toy; I was dubious of trusting my life to a .32, but after ballistic tests of some of the hotter .32 S&W Long recipe’s in Sharpe’s 1939 manual I decided to use it as a carry gun. How well I handle and shoot the gun outweighed any concerns I might have about the caliber.

I put together a pretty nice paddle-holster for the gun that holds it high-and-tight, is nicely secure and is easy to put on and take off without messing with my belt. The I started practicing draw-and-fires at the range and found there was trouble in paradise; I was having to shift my grip on the gun during the draw. This was not good.

The problem was that pesky space behind the trigger-guard. Works fine on the range, not so good on the draw. Something had to change, and I didn’t want it to be those lovely antler grips.

Long before Tyler-T-grips came on the scene S&W offered a device that mounted between the grips and frame on their pre-war large-frame guns and filled in the space behind the trigger without pushing your middle finger into the guard.

Pretty self-explanatory; the metal shims fit between the grips and the frame hold the adaptor in place. Clever.

I thought I could probably do something similar with the Colt. I had a small scrap of Desert Ironwood and made a simple adaptor as a proof-of-concept. To attach it for testing I simply epoxied it in place, and when the adhesive had fully cured I practiced drawing the gun. Success!

I didn’t really expect the epoxy to hold permanently, but I took it to the range to for some draw-and-fire exercises and it worked a treat. However, as I pretty much suspected it would, the adapter worked loose after a few cylinders full. Time for a more durable solution.

I grabbed a piece of half-inch aluminum and cut and ground it to shape, then got a thin strip of scrap nickel-silver to make tabs to would fit under the grips to hold it in place, exactly as a number of grip adapters function. I figured I’d just silver-solder it in place and… nope. The low-temperature solder I use doesn’t stick to aluminum. High-temperature solder would melt the nickel-silver. I needed a different method. We will draw the curtains of charity over the scenes that followed…

Eventually I was able to rivet the clip in place with a small piece of brass tubing, and it was all a terrible pain in the butt.

The adapter is in place and will be secured by clamping the grips over the tabs extending over the grip-frame.
Adapter in place and nicely secured by the grips.
In this view you can see the tubular rivet that holds the clip in place.

Sometimes a little change can make a big difference. The adapter allows me to get a consistent grip when drawing the gun, moves my hand high on the backstrap of the frame and brings the sight into alignment naturally. It feels great in practice draws, and I can’t wait to try it out at the range next week!

Take care and stay safe.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 25 April 2021

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