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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Tyler T-grip is perhaps the oldest firearms-related ergonomic device still in production. To call them prolific would be a gross understatement. It would not surprise me to learn that everyone here owns at least one revolver wearing a Tyler T-grip, but why?

I guess that it has long been recognized that the monstrous gap behind the trigger guard of most revolvers is a bad thing, because even before WWII, the Wesson Grip Adaptor was developed by S&W. For those who don't know, the Wesson Adaptor was a pair of blued plates, identical to the shape of a S&W gripframe, except for a small flange which jutted out into the gap beneath the trigger guard. Between these two flanges, a piece of rubber was secured with a screw, effectively eliminating the gap.

Here is a link to a thread from the S&W forums, with pictures.

http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/540103904/m/9271032981/p/1

Now, the other shortcoming of the early S&W stocks was their concave shape, which covered no portion of the frame, above the actual grip area. This meant that a shooter was given the choice of either holding low on the grip, and constantly repositioning their hand, or placing their hand high on the frame, and absorbing every ounce of the gun's recoil over a very small area of the web of their hand, which would be very painful.

S&W solved the second problem with the introduction of magna stocks, which are the skinny factory stocks, with the horn that rides up the frame. Often praised for their looks, but cursed for their tendency to allow the gun to twist in the hand, during recoil, the magnas still did not solve the problem of the gap behind the trigger guard.

S&W's answer to this problem was the large, frontstrap-filling target stocks that are so popular, today, with collectors who enjoy putting their prizes to work at the range. The most covetted of the target stocks are the legendary Coke-Bottles, so named for their rear-on resemblance to the popular soft drink bottle. These stocks can be valued more highly than the gun they adorn, in some cases.

Stocks like these were great for shooting, and functioned well in an open carry role, such as that faced by the average police officer, but were difficult to conceal, and while the somewhat less popular "banana" stocks could be had for the popular J-frames, these, too, lengthened the grip, and did not adequately fill the gap behind the trigger guard, for most shooters. This was a vexing problem, given the fact that, of all the Smith revolvers, the J-frames were the guns most in need of the added control of a more hand-filling grip, and yet least viable as candidates for large, aftermarket grips, given their intended role.

The problems, here, are myriad. Aftermarket stocks might be against department policy for an officer, for instance, but he may have also found himself issued a gun equipped with only the skinny magnas, or even the concave prewar stocks. A shooter might have a favorite set of ivory or stag grips, but be unable to really show them off at the range, because serious target work mandated the swap to target stocks, so that the gun could be effectively shot. A plainclothes officer could find himself torn between concealability and shootability, two characteristics that a man in his position simply does not need to be forced to choose between.

It was a mess.

Enter the aftermarket grip adaptor. Produced by many firms, the most prominent being Pachmayr, Tyler, and of course, S&W, these tiny pieces of aluminum were driven by a simple concept: fill the gap, -- and the hand -- while leaving the magna's recoil-absorbing horn and high level of concealability in tact. Secured in place by no more than two flanges of copper, and requiring no additional hardware to mount, the grip adaptor was the solution that wheelgunners had been waiting for.

The officer could slap one of these onto his carry gun, and chances are that a cursory examination by his superiors, to check for the device's security, would finally let him control his gun without breaking policy. The shooter could let his gun wear its pretty clothes, and still get the hits. The plainclothes officer could tote his jay without giving up either its shootability or its concealability. So, for over three decades, the grip adaptors flourished, until one day, the world delivered them a one-two punch that ended their reign.

Firstly, revolvers fell out of favor with law-enforcement, and the public followed suit. With fewer revolvers being sold, fewer grip adaptors were bought, and pachmayr and S&W dropped out of the running, to say nothing of the smaller competitors in the adaptor market. Secondly, aftermarket grip makers started producing "boot" style grips, that actually filled the hand better than an adapted magna, while preserving the high "horn." These little grips do not have the makeshift look of the adapted magna, but are just as easy to conceal. Except for their cost, which is, in truth, not that much greater than that of an adaptor, there is no good objective reason not to use them, but for some reason, the Tyler T-grip, the only such device still in production, to my knowledge, continues to hold its own as an ergonomic solution to an age-old problem. To those who wonder why, I offer the following possibilities:

1. Effectiveness

These things work. T-Grips still do, today, what they did thirty years ago. Every advantage that I noted above is just as true, now, as it was then, and barring some type of disaster that is completely beyond my feeble mind's comprehension, it always will be.

2. Nostalgia

The Tyler T-grip harkens back to what many consider "the good old days." They look right at home on a vintage gun, and they give it a "this-is-a-gun-person's-revolver" flair that modern-day firearms afficianados appreciate.

3. Aesthetics

Some people like the fact that the adaptor leaves the revolver's lines essentially unchanged. Also, as was mentioned above, a nice pair of ivory or Sambar stag stocks will generally be cut in a way that will require such a device to make a gun wearing them as shootable as possible, with the alternative being to swap them out for something less attractive. Of course, the same is true of any particularly beatifully colored and figured pair of magnas, or of the old, highly-prized diamond magnas.

4. Lack of competetion.

Anyone who wants a grip adaptor, nowadays, is going to have to go to Tyler. Even if there are relatively few who wish to take this route today, their collective numbers are probably as many, if not more, than Tyler's previous market share. Rest easy, adaptor fans, the T-grip does not seem in imminent danger of expiring, as yet.

5. Design

The T-grip is a fantastic little piece of engineering. It requires no additional tools or fitting to mount, beyond a slight loosening of the gun's stocks, with a screwdriver. It is made of aluminum, so the weight it adds to the gun is negligible, and yet it is very strong. When one balances one on the two copper flanges, it becomes clear that the device attaches to the gun at its center of gravity, giving it little leeway to rotate or twist, in any direction. To call this seemingly simple device well thought-out would be a gross oversimplification of the truth.

The sharp-witted will also note that Craig Spegel's "Boot" grips, Hogue's "Bantams," Eagle's "Secret Service," and a myriad of other manufacturer's smallest grip designs attempt to directly copy the high-horned, single finger groove shape of the T-grip-adapted magna stock.

Why not? This is a good design. The single, large, finger groove can be depended on to capture even the largest middle finger, giving it more surface area to hug, while the absence of additional grooves allows the remaining ring and pinky fingers to fit together however the geometry of a given individuals hand best allows, a smart move, given that for individuals who have pinky fingers that start considerably farther down the hand than their ring fingers, second and third grooves tend to be problematic. I imagine that most shooters who dislike finger grooves will agree that the biggest problem they have with them is, in fact, these last two fingers, as the middle finger will be easily guided into its groove by the presence of the trigger guard.

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Sorry about the previously abrupt ending I tacked onto this thread; I was tired. Time to finish.
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I'm personally glad to see the grip adaptor still around, today. It's a useful piece of equipment, and a valuable addition to most any skinnny-gripped vintage revolver. Considering how nice some of these old guns are to begin with, it's really great to have this option still available. For my part, I hope Tyler keeps producing the T-grip for years to come, though I do see some improvements that could be made.

As nice as the single groove design is, some people favor a completely grooveless grip, yet no such model is offered. Also, a model made with a thin, sheet steel backing, coated in some type of rubber similar to that of the rubber grips that are now factory standard on Smith revolvers could help the T provide an even more secure grip to the shooter. A really classy way for Tyler to go might be the production of T-grips made of high quality woods, like walnut, rosewood, or chocobolo.

At any rate, thanks for taking the time to listen to my ramblings.
 

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A T grip can certainly serve an aesthetic function. This is my "barbeque gun," a Smith & Wesson Model 520 with Don Collins faux ivory and nickelled Tyler.

 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's nice, Leland. The 520 was the perfect citizens' home defense gun that S&W was too stupid to offer to the public. What a shame.
 

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The M520 was the logical update of the Model 20, originally known as the 38-44 Heavy Duty. The NYSP ordered the 520, then ended up with a new crossover gun, the M681, which was a stainless L frame with full lug and fixed sights, also in .357 Magnum caliber.

I had a 681, then sold it to help finance the purchase of the 520, which I got NIB and unfired (though I assure you it didn't stay unfired for long). Not long ago I recreated some 38-44 loads to shoot in it just to see what the older gun would have been like with its "real" ammo. Not bad, not bad at all.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A fixed-sight .357 that kicks like a K frame with +P .38s...

I have got to find one of these. It's really the #1 holy grail gun, for me.
 

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I like the T-grip, particularly when paired with the wood grips that were standard on J-frames before they went to the Uncle Mike's types.

I also like some custom grips- the Eagle Secret Service first and one called Bear Hug (I think) second.
But the T-grip/S&W wood grip combo is smaller than those. The wider Eagles and Bear Hugs help when I shoot hard-kickers in J-Frames though.

I heard the T-grip was gone, but was pretty happy to find them alive and well a few years ago when I wanted some more.

ChubbyPigeon- You mentioned a similar type of grip adapter, but in something more recoil absorbant that aluminum. I have a couple around here somewhere for K-frames that I think were made by Pachmayr. They aren't rubber, but more of a plastic. It's perhaps a small improvement, and may be out there somewhere, although they haven't been made for a while. They don't have a finger groove either.
 

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The Pachmayr are older than the Tyler I think. I have one in its box for a Prewar S&W Regulation Police, and the box mentions they're available in 3 sizes(!!). Picture on the box shows a prewar M&P. No zip code in the address, nor a telephone number.

They also use a spring clip instead of the thin copper leaves. The grips really need to be notched _slightly_ for the Pachmayr.

With J Frame square butt guns, the grip adapter is the only game in town unless you want to use the oversized rubber things.

The T-grip is really the only option for the original Centennials other that modifying a regular J-Frame grip to fit. Oddly enough, the original grips feel fairly good without an adapter.

They're just about the only option on prewar Colt Police Positives also, as finding any sort of aftermarket grip for them is near impossible. I did luck out once finding a pair of old jigged bone grips for the .32 Police Positive Target, but they need an adapter too.


Leland,

That looks quite similar to my .44HE Third Model, except mine isn't near as pretty. Came to me with a set of grips like that though. I've passed on a few 520's over the years. Don't really have much use for magnums anymore. I would like to get a .38/44 to round out all the frame sizes in .38 though.

Regards,

Pat
 
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