Two Birds, One Stone…

New grips on the Detective Special means it’s time for a trip to the range…

The First Bird-

I’ve been messing about with my .38 Detective Special, trying to come up with a set of grips that suits me. First I went with some abbreviated grips that fit the short grip frame. Too squirmy. I added a modified Tyler T-grip. Unpleasant! I made up a set of ‘classic-style’ grips in Cocobolo. Those feel great in the hand… until a stout load goes off and the trigger-guard is driven into my middle-finger with painful force.

Classic-shaped Cocobolo grips. Look great, feel good in the hand… and don’t work for me. Sorry Meatloaf, two out of three IS bad.

Screw it. I have large hands and moderately thick fingers. Time to tailor a grip to suit. I have some very nice Goncalo Alves wood on-hand, and I ran up a set, fitted them to the gun. Then I got the Foredom tool and some sanding drums and just started removing everything that didn’t feel right. Once I had the shape I sanded them up to 2000-grit and lacquered them.

Superficially this looks like a two-finger grip, but it actually isn’t. My pinky-finger wraps around the grip from underneath, giving a solid, three-finger grip.

The new grip is comfortable and gives a solid three-finger grip.

The grip isn’t just comfortable, it’s easy to grab when holstered. I did several tests where I pointed the gun at eye-level with my eyes closed. When I opened my eyes and looked the sights were lined up. All good so far, now to test them. And what better way to test them than with a series of my standard drills?

The Second Bird…

I grabbed a couple boxes of my reloads and headed for Champion Arms near Renton, WA. I shot a few cylinders full just to shake the kinks out and get a general feel for the new grips. I shot a couple of targets at 25 yards and they were, uh, not special. 6-8″ groups. Far from my best effort, but some days are like that.

Drill #1- Two-Hand Aim-and-Empty

This one is pretty simple. OK, they’re all pretty simple. Anyway, you start with the gun held in two hands at the low-ready position. Bring the gun up, acquire a sight picture and empty the gun. Don’t fire faster than you can re-acquire the sight picture. For me this was about three-to-four shots per two seconds.

I repeated this drill twice with good results. I was using a moderately stout 158gr. load, and the chunky grips really reduced the felt recoil and gave excellent control.

Drill #2- Strong-Hand Aim-and-Fire

Run a target out to five yards. Start with the gun in the strong hand at the low-ready position. Raise the gun to eye level, acquire a sight picture and fire. Get off a good, clean trigger squeeze, but don’t doddle. DO NOT ‘pre-load the trigger as you raise the gun; your finger shouldn’t touch the trigger until the gun is pointed at the target! After firing the shot take your finger off the trigger, return to the low-ready position and repeat until the gun is empty.

Drill #3 Slow Draw-and-Fire

This one is not going to work on every range because many places won’t let you work from a holster. At Champion Arms if you are a member an RO can check you out and clear you to work from a holster. If your range allows, use your carry holster.

I cobbled up this paddle-holster for my 2″ Police Positive Special, and naturally it fits the 2″ Detective Special just fine.

Place a target at five yards. Observing all proper safety measures, secure the gun in the holster and arrange your cover-garment to conceal it. Clear the cover garment, obtain a proper grip and draw the gun, keeping your finger off the trigger until the gun is pointed at the target. Obtain a sight picture then fire a single shot. Repeat.

The objective is not speed, but to perform these actions correctly and be mindful of each part of the process as you go. If you don’t get good hits slow down. This drill is about precision, not speed. You should also dry-fire practice this drill; doing on the range with live ammo is to reinforce that training, not replace it.

This isn’t a great result; I couldn’t resist speeding up, and accuracy suffered even as close as five yards. More practice is obviously in order.

The objective is to develop muscle memory, so a lot of repetitions are needed, but most of them can be dry-fired. But the actual firing is needed to reinforce this training.

Wrapping it Up

These drills are far from comprehensive, but they are useful and easy to practice on most ranges and can be a useful part of a training regimen.

So, a nice, fun day at the range, the grips worked and I got some solid drills. Good day.

Take care and stay safe

Michael Tinker Pearce, 20 September 2021

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