New Grips for the S&W M1902 Snubbie. Because Antler is Cool.

S&W Model 1902 .38 Special. Now with less gun!

So I have this S&W K-frame project based on a Model 1902. Shortened barrel, crane detent, hammer bobbed and checkered; just a whole bunch of modifications really. The Goncalo Alves grips I made for it are very grippy and look good. But they just didn’t seem to fit the pugnacious, no nonsense gun. I felt it required a different sort of nonsense.

Enter The Antler!

I thought that antler had just the look I wanted. Because antler is cool. I grabbed the biggest chunk in the shop and commenced to sawing. Then it was on to the belt sander to get the pieces flat. I marked the flats based on the shaped of the grip frame and with bandsaw, belt grinders and files fitted the results to the frame.

Yes, the grips are asymmetrical, but in a calculated way that works very nicely in my right hand. I actually cut the antler so its natural curves would work out this way.

Then it was more shaping on the belt sander, then sanding drums and finally hand sanding. I finished the grips with many coats of lacquer, and liked the look a lot.

Came out great! Uh, just ignore that small, uh, gap at the top of the grip in front. Oops.

I felt they meshed well with the retro character and details of the gun, and they worked alright in my hand. Firing was comfortable, but…

Trouble in Paradise?

…not perfect. The stock round-butt K-frame shape works OK for my hand, but isn’t ideal. I’ve always done better with custom grips, Pachmayrs or at least a T-grip adapter. The classic of course would be the Tyler T-grip; been around forever and suits the gun’s esthetics. But there are two choices for procuring one: pay too much for one on eBay or play t-grip roulette with Tyler.

OK, I love Tyler T-grips and like I said, they’re classic. But no one has let them in on the fact that it’s the 21st century. You send in a check with an order, and before you die you will almost certainly get your T-Grip. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Maybe.

BK grip adapters make them too. They are plastic, but have their advantages like having two clips instead of one. You can also order and pay online and their service is great. But plastic, even their ‘ivory-‘colored ones, seem again just a bit out of step with the gun. I dithered, but then realized something. I have opposable thumbs, and they work. I also have a workshop and some skills. I have aircraft aluminum in said shop. I can make one. And I could maybe find a piece of antler to make it out of. Because antler is cool.

I did, sawed the chunk out, cut and ground it to shape then hand-sanded it and lacquered it. I got some thin nickel-silver that was lying around, cut and bent it around the frame of the gun. But how to secure it? Typically it would be riveted to the casting, but antler does not rivet. I contemplated a screw, but then my brain started working. I used the Foredom Tool with a carbide burr to carve out a place for the clip to fit, fetched some random dust from the belt-grinder table and grabbed some super-glue. I glued the clip in place (which would never hold the clip if it was on the gun by itself.) Then I filled the cavity over it with dust and dripped superglue into it and let it solidify.

Super-glue and dust to retain the clip. Don’t judge me!

After the glue set I couldn’t pull the clip out with my fingers, and I Am the Brute Squad, so I figured it is good enough.

looking good!
The nickel-silver clip holds the adapter, pinched in place securely between the grips and the frame.
Fits as it should.

This gives me just the grip I desired, high on the gun and very comfortable. I’m really happy with how this came out.

Antler is a lot easier to work and finish than aluminum, so this did not take too long as such things go. For me at least, with the tools and considerable skill to draw on; your mileage may vary.

Now I need a holster, and I know a guy with leather and a shop…

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 28 November 2022

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