DeSantis Clip-Grip – first impressions

Look what MidwayUSA just sent me:

Yes, my quest for appendix carry and/or a better way to carry the snub continues.

Disclaimer: the following is my own personal opinions and perceptions. I purchased this with my own money. I’m not out to please anyone but myself. I’m not out to promote nor diss any product, merely share my opinions and experience.

Background

I’ve been interesting in appendix carry (appendix inside waistband, AIWB) for a while. The biggest benefit to AIWB is the speed of the draw, but there are many other benefits. Here’s a good article about it (h/t Paul Gomez). One I also like is something from SouthNarc, that when in a FUT (fucked-up tangle, how many “grappling” situations end up as a mess of arms and legs), drawing from AIWB is far more possible.  Of course, the one major downside to appendix carry is the location of the muzzle — pointed either at your genitalia or your femoral artery. Carry in the traditional 3 o’clock position and the worst you’ll do is put a hole in your butt. Let one fly here and you’ll likely bleed out before help can arrive.

Why haven’t I done more appendix carry? Simple. I can’t. If you have a gut? Forget it. Either your flab will mold around the grip of the gun and you’ll never be able to get a grip on the gun to draw it, or your fat will push the butt of the gun out thus the muzzle angles into your groin and gets rather uncomfortable rather quickly. But a lot of this can be managed with gear. Different guns, different holsters, they can all make a difference. And of course, getting rid of the flab helps too.

I’ve tried numerous things over the past few years. I started with the “boot grips” that came on the S&W 442, tried different holsters, tried the “Werner Carry System” with the Barami hip grips and a Tyler T-Grip, and then just left them all and came back full-circle to the original boot grips. When I got a S&W 640, the factory grip on that is nicer because it’s longer and covers the backstrap, and of course that’s easy enough to swap between any round-butt J-frame. But because it’s a little longer, it doesn’t conceal in pockets as well. And no, I don’t really care for pocket carry as much… has some advantages, better than nothing, but not ideal to me.

And so, the quest continues.

I saw Claude Werner post about the DeSantis Clip-Grip® on his Facebook page, so I figured to give it a try. They were cheap enough, on sale at MidwayUSA, so why not.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed was how similar to the original “uncle mike boot grips” they were, with of course the added clip.

Here’s a shot of things for perspective:

On the left (with the nickel finish) is my S&W 640, with the boot grips. On the right (with the black finish) is my S&W 442, with the 640 grip. Yes, I have the factory grips switched around because recently I’ve been carrying the 442 as my back-up. In the middle is the Clip-Grip.

You can see how similar the Clip-Grip is to the boot grip, but while similar, it’s not the same.

In this picture, I have the “right side” of the Clip-Grip (it’s on top), and the “left side” of the factory boot grip (on the bottom). If you look at the arrows, you can see how they don’t line up perfectly. Who knows… this may be done for legal reasons, to keep things from being dead-on copies. But functionally speaking, the contours are generally close enough so that if you know how the boot grips feel in your hand? That’s about how the Clip-Grip will feel in your hand, in terms of how your hand will fit, how your pinky will dangle, how the grips will and won’t fill your hand, etc.. So in general, I’m OK with that “feel” of the grips, how it works in my hand, etc..  And note, it does not cover the backstrap, so your palm will get to absorb all the recoil.

I also noticed there’s a gap where the grip comes up behind the trigger guard.

See the arrows? There’s space up there.

Here’s the boot grips on the same gun for comparison.

See? Almost no gap. I’m not sure why there’s a gap in the Clip-Grip, nor if that will make any difference. Could be to account for minor variations across the gun line? I’ll say this. The Clip-Grip fits tight and snug on the 640 and 442: there’s no wiggle, and that’s even just mating the grip to the frame, no screw to tighten things down. So that’s good. I also noticed that when on the 640 the Clip-Grip was very flush with the backstrap, but on the 442 the grips protrude just a hair off the backstrap making a little ridge… you can feel the edge of the grip insides, if you run your finger along the backstrap. But you can’t notice it when you’re gripping the gun in a firing grip. So, my guess is it’s all to help account for differences across the J-frames.

The other first impression was the material. The boot grips and the 640 grip are rubbery. Not sure what they are actually made out of, but essentially like a hard rubber. The Clip-Grip is, as the box describes: “built from a very rugged glass reinforced polymer, and we guarantee it for life!”  So it feels like a hard plastic, with texture. Comparing to the Barami, I like these better. The Barami are smooth hard plastic, and they feel kinda cheap, like they could break (tho they’re also inexpensive enough that if they do, no big deal to replace). These don’t feel like that. I figure it has to be hard in order for the clip to work, so no “very hard rubber” would really work here. I also think the texturing is good, whereas the Barami are totally smooth and you don’t get much for grip. In the hand tho, you don’t really notice the “plastic” feel of the Clip-Grips, you just notice how it fills the hand and the texturing. I don’t think the Clip-Grip design is bad, but I’m not sure how it will affect recoil since there’s no rubber to absorb things.

Wearing It

Excuse me while I whip this out!

– Sheriff Bart, Blazing Saddles

I opted to put the Clip-Grip on my 640. My thinking? It’s a slightly heavier gun, will help with recoil a bit more than the 442 (I only plan to shoot .38 Special +P, no .357 Magnum). Because of the clip, the weight will be supported on the belt instead of dangling in a pocket. So this could all work better vs. the 442.

I like how they made the “ledge” of the clip. When seated fully and flush against the belt, it rides in a reasonable position. That is, there’s enough butt exposed so you can get a grip. The grip is presented at a good angle where you can get your fingers around it. The muzzle isn’t canted at too odd an angle to seat comfortably. The trigger is behind the belt, so there’s little chance anything could snag on the trigger and depress it. All in all, I’m quite pleased with how it feels! Yes, I do have to find “just the right spot” in order for it to work… can’t have it too close to my belly button, nor too close to my hip. About where you see it in the picture is about where it rides comfortably.

And yes… because of all my working out and improvements to diet, I’ve lost a lot of the gut, thus this isn’t so bad. You can see I still need to shed some flab… the flab does make it a little difficult to get a good firing grip on the gun. But at least it’s not pressing the muzzle into my groin so badly.

The entire time I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been wearing the empty 640 in my belt to see how it is with sitting. It’s a little uncomfortable, but not overly so. In the past I never could have lasted this long. I can stand up, squat, bend over, whatever… pretty free to move about. That’s all good. The gun does shift slightly when sitting down, because of the way my body moves, but it’s not too bad; I can still get a grip on the gun and draw it from a seated position. One point of note: the muzzle on the 640 is 2 1/8″ and the 442’s is 1 7/8″. Can that 1/4″ make a difference? I will say yes. After wearing the 640 around for a while, I swapped the grips to the 442 and wore it for a little while. That 1/4″ made a big difference; it’s a lot more comfortable in terms of muzzle digging into you.  I will say, carry in this fashion helps your health because you can’t carry a gut and you need to have really good posture. 🙂

I’ve done some practice draws. It’s still slow, but that’s a matter of figuring things out and practicing. Oh, and the clip is just the right size to work with my belt and my pants: not overly big, not too small… it’s not a tight cramped fit, but there’s very little play. And if I want to put the snub into my pocket, I use a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster and it works just fine with that (as I would expect).

In terms of concealment, it disappears. Truly. I had thought gee… why are they making the grips so short? Why not make them a little longer, because it’s not like the intent of this design is to go into a pocket? If they did, it’d bulge and wouldn’t disappear. I’m truly amazed at how invisible this setup is. Of course, if I had 5% body fat, it might not disappear as nicely, especially when seated. But even then I can see that it’s still more or less fine and under clothing, not an issue.

And for those curious, no problems going to the bathroom… at least, standing up. If you need to sit down well, it’s evident it’s going to need some management.

Note that this is one big thing about AIWB: it’s very dependent upon the person, and the their choice of equipment. I can say to a lot of people who a good general carry setup is something like an M&P in a Comp-Tac MTAC or CTAC holster at 3 o’clock and that works for a lot of people easily. But appendix? It seems so unique to the person.  So you have to recognize that what may work for me may not work for you, or what doesn’t work for me may work for you. Even if I decide this Clip-Grip doesn’t work, that’s because it doesn’t work FOR ME. Your mileage may vary.

Next time I’m at a gun range, I would like to shoot it some and see how it fares. While I originally wanted to go with the 640 due to weight and recoil management, I’m probably going to work with the 442 because that carries a bit more comfortably. If that’s not a pain to shoot, then the 640 will be fine to shoot as well. I’m certainly not ready to carry it live and loaded yet… need more dry practice for the draw, need to just shoot it and see how it feels with target loads and social loads.

But so far, it seems at least worthy to take it to that point. If it wouldn’t wear, if it wouldn’t feel right, if it would gouge into me… well, no point in shooting with it if it can’t pass the first tests, y’know? But so far so good. I’ll report back after some range time.

5 thoughts on “DeSantis Clip-Grip – first impressions

  1. This is a great post, John. I’ve considered appendix carry, and your thorough analysis is very helpful. I had never considered carrying my BUG J-frame there! Right now I carry an Emerson fixed Karambit AIWB. Being short, thin, and flat, it comfortably disappears.

  2. Pingback: DeSantis Clip-Grip – second impressions « Stuff From Hsoi

  3. I carry the 042 with Barami + T-Grip combo AIWB and in pocket. The 42 is the perfect size and the air weight a perfect weight. With a heavy DA trigger it is unlikely to get pulled by clothing but still remains a concern. The position of the clip allows the weapon to hang low. I will eventually try the DeSantis because I dont like the T-grip’s attachment method.

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