My Smith & Wesson 442 snub nose revolver is a gun designed for concealed carry. It’s small, it’s lightweight, and everything about it is designed to help minimize its profile. To further this end, the 442 comes with very small grips. I didn’t like the grips so I went looking for a replacement set. This is what I found…. with pictures!!
The grips that come with the 442 are Uncle Mike’s grips, model 59010. They’re very small bits of rubber, thin, exposed backstrap, short so your pinky dangles (well, mine do). They work well enough and certainly make it easy to fit the 442 into a pocket. The primary thing I didn’t like was the exposed backstrap, which puts the metal frame into the palm of your hand, which transmits recoil right into your hand, and after enough shooting you certainly want to stop. I also don’t like my pinky dangling off the bottom, because involving the pinky in your grip greatly aids in recoil management. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Uncle Mike’s grips are good for what they are, and if you don’t shoot your gun much or don’t mind the recoil issues, then they’d be fine. It’s just not for me.
I settled on a set of Pachmayr Compac grips. Specifically, Pachmayr Compac Grips for S&W J-frame Round Butt (MidwayUSA product #145531, manufacturer #03252). I chose them because they cover the backstrap and add a place for your pinky, but they also work to keep as small a profile as possible. Here’s what they look like on my 442:
Note: all pictures can be clicked on to see a large image. As well, all pictures were taken with my iPhone 3GS’s camera, and taken one handed. So, picture quality won’t be professional studio, but should be good enough.
Let’s compare the Pachmayr’s to the stock Uncle Mike’s. First, a side-by-side:
The size difference should be evident, at least vertically. You can see the little notch for the pinky rest. The way it’s cut fits the pinky nicely, and I generally don’t like “grooved” rests for fingers. As well, because it’s a cutout and not just extending along the normal frontstrap curve, it helps to keep the grip’s profile minimal for easy of drawing and concealment.
Here you can see the Uncle Mike’s grips resting on top of the Pachmayr grip. Again the vertical difference is evident, but it’s a little harder to see the horizontal difference. On the whole they’re about the same width but the Pachmayr are a bit wider because they cover the backstrap. One thing to note is the Uncle Mike’s are actually 2 pieces, 2 individual grip panels, so there’s no coverage over the backstrap. The Pachmayr’s are a single piece, the backstrap cover connecting them. That does make the Pachmayr’s a little harder to get on and off the gun, but it’s still a fairly easy process.
The above picture is the 442 with the Uncle Mike’s grips in my hand. Note the pinky is not on the grip. Note how my middle finger is almost touching the meat of my thumb — you can barely see the grip as I can get my hand almost all the way around the grip.
The above picture is the 442 with the Pachmayr Compac grips in my hand. Note the pinky on the grip. Note how far my finger tips are from the palm of my hand and how much grip you can see. With the Pachmayr grips, I feel like the grips fill and fit my hand much better — it feels substantial in my hand. I like.
I haven’t been able to shoot the gun to see how it feels in that department (grips only came in yesterday’s mail). But I did do some dry fire and liked how things felt. In terms of concealing it in my right front pants pocket, no problems in my Desantis Nemesis pocket holster, but I will have to try it out in various pants to see if the grip juts out at all… all pants have different pockets, but from where it rested in the one pair of pants I tried I think I’ll be OK in most if not all of my pants.
One problem I did encounter was due to the thickness of the grip. Trying to use a speedloader didn’t work as well… there’s enough thickness in the grip that you can’t get the speedloader all the way in there… it’ll be at a slight angle and stick a bit on the rubber, so while you can load it, you will have to jiggle a bit to get the speedloader back out of there. Also, when unloading the revolver the cases on the “inside” of the cylinder would hang up on the rubber. All of this stands to reason and I don’t envision it being a horrible problem, but I really can’t make that determination until I’m out on the range.
All in all, I’m happy with the purchase so far. The grips fit the gun well, the grips fit my hand well. I don’t think the stock Uncle Mike’s grips are bad at all, just a matter of not what I wanted. The main thing left at this point is to get out to the range and try them. Hopefully soon.