I read about the Ergo Delta Grip in a recent issue of American Rifleman magazine. I thought it was interesting — a “better” grip for a J-frame (S&W snub-nose) revolver, that takes away some of the pain of shooting, helps bring about a natural point of aim, and is dolphin safe (ok, I made up that last one). Sounds interesting enough to check out.
Here’s the copy from their website:
The Delta Grip™ is the first truly ergonomic grip for J Frame revolvers. Designed for the most important part of the gun, the shooter, the Delta Grip was engineered to fit the natural point of aim and mechanics of the human hand, wrist and arm. The result is a grip with a superior natural point of aim, comfort and control. Fits round butt J-Frames. Will not fit on Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38 Model (sku 103037 and 103038).
I ordered it from MidwayUSA. It was backordered, but eventually came in. Note: paid for this with my own money, this is my own assessment.
I put it on my S&W 442 and did some initial dry fire work with it.
Dry Fire Impressions
It’s big. It really fills the hand. This is good. It has a lot more surface area, covers the backstrap, and yes you now have a place to fit your support hand! More surface area of the grip allows for more hand/palm on the grip/grun, and thus better control. This is all good.
That said, it is kinda big. For someone with small hands, I don’t think this is going to work all that well. Gun fit is very important, especially when it comes to a revolver having a long and heavy trigger press. The Delta Grip does make things larger, makes for a longer length of pull, and thus it just won’t work for smaller-handed folks.
However, it’s not so big as to change the concealment profile. Sure, it changes it some because it is larger. But I found in all the places that it matters, it didn’t change all that much compared to say the “boot grips“. But the thing is, the profile does change enough that it could matter. For example, pocket carry is going to be a little more difficult. There’s just more grip, it will fill the pocket a bit more, and it’s going to require a different bit of mechanics and thus pocket “room” to get your fingers around and get a good grip on the gun. Also, the surface is “rubber”; not sure what it’s actually made out of, but it’s a “rubbery-like” texture, that certainly grabs things. While that’s good for your grip, it’s not good for clothing — will drag someone on the pocket draw (unless you can get your hand all the way covering it, see above), and in a holster on your body clothing can “stick” and drag a little bit on it which could affect your concealment. I didn’t try on the ankle (don’t have such a holster as I never carry that way), but again depending upon your clothing it may be just big enough to cause an issue.
These are the trade-offs, folks.
Another thing I worked on dry was drawing. Now, pocket carry is almost out of the question for me any more, because my pants fit quite differently now due to squatting and deadlifting. So I did some holster work, both from 3 o’clock and appendix. I guess this is a grip you’re going to have to get used to. I’m not really sure how to describe it best, but like with a regular gun, there’s a feel, there’s index points when you go to draw… when your hand comes down on the gun, it’s able to do things like slide up under the beavertail and then you know you’re in place and can draw. Here, no such tactile feedback. Even with boot grips on there isn’t anything like a beavertail to index against, but you can still index into the right place into your hand due to how things are shaped. Not so with the Delta Grip. It just felt really awkward to me. But that said, I almost never had a bad grip on the draw. It just FELT really strange to me. As I said, this is initial impressions, so this may be just one of those things I’d have to get used to. All in all it wasn’t a problem to draw, just weird. Caleb @ GunNuts did a review of the Delta Grip and he mentioned how it hurt when his hand was too high and touching metal instead of fully behind the grip. It’s easy to get into that position on the draw, so take that for whatever it’s worth. Frankly, I think this is just one you gotta practice with to learn it.
As for the issue of “natural pointing”, it lived up to that. It’s just slightly different enough (vs. traditional angles you get out of a J-frame) and it’s pretty nice to just point and click.
Live Fire Impressions
Using the same S&W 442, I did some “side by side” comparisons. Alas, I didn’t have 2 revolvers, so I just would put one set of grips on, shoot, switch grips, shoot the same, see how things felt.
I used two types of ammo.
- My .38 Special plinking handload.
- Speer Gold Dot .38 Special +P 135 grain
The two grips were:
- The Ergo Delta Grip (of course)
- DeSantis Clip Grip
The DeSantis Clip Grip has been on my 442 for a couple years now and has been my preferred grip. I’ve gone through lots of different grips on my snub, and so far the DeSantis Clip Grip has been my favorite. Yeah, good old Boot Grips are tough to beat too… but the Clip Grip is that plus the clip so….
First, some eye candy.
S&W 442 with DeSantis Clip Grip
That’s my 442 with the Clip Grip.
Here’s the same with the Delta Grip
S&W 442 with Ergo Delta Grip
So you can see what I mean by “bigger”. There’s just a lot more side surface area, which is great for filling the hand and giving you somewhere to put your support hand. But it may not work out for folks with smaller hands.
How did it shoot?
It was… interesting.
One big reason I got it was hoping for something that would help mitigate some of the felt recoil. And the Delta Grip? It does… but it doesn’t.
First, it certainly does reduce the overall felt recoil. There’s just more rubber there, especially over the backstrap. It’s going to absorb energy before your hand gets to feel it. This was evident with both the plinking loads and the Gold Dots.
But yet… it doesn’t. Look at these backstrap pictures
Backstrap of S&W 442 with Ergo Delta Grip
Backstrap of S&W 442 with DeSantis Clip Grip
Top is the Delta, bottom is the Clip.
Look at the contour of the backstrap. Notice the Delta Grip is a bit more pointed? That’s a nice focused area of force transmission. Think of it like walking in snow: your bodyweight (the force) doesn’t change – focus all your weight in a tiny area (your foot) and you fall through the snow, but spread that weight out over a larger area (snowshoes) and you can walk on the snow.
That pointed backstrap drove the grip into the palm of my hand pretty forcefully. So while yes I could tell overall the felt recoil was reduced, what was transmitted was more focused in certain areas. So it’s weird that yes it was less recoil, but in some ways it hurt more than the bare-backed Clip Grips!
Didn’t really like that.
I am pretty sure that if I shot a few hundred rounds of +P through my snub, I’d be happier with the Delta Grip than the Clip Grip. But I know I’d still walk away sore. Long ago I had used some Pachmayr Compac grips on my snub and they were great at mitigating the pain, but they were just too bulky for practical use.
Pointing was fine. Shooting was fine. My issues of grip and drawing remained, but again I reckon this just needs practice and getting used to it. I did appreciate the extra room for my support hand, but after all this time of shooting the snub I’m so used to it that it doesn’t really matter.
The Ergo Delta Grip has a lot of potential. I think it can serve a good niche because it doesn’t add too terribly to the profile of the gun, and strives to address grip issues that are just part of having a snub. So there’s a lot of good here.
But I just can’t use them. That “pointed” backstrap is just too much. If they refine the grip with a more rounded backstrap, I betcha this will be really awesome. But doing so, I’m not sure how that will affect other aspects of the grip and thus if it’s really possible. I’ll leave that up to Ergo’s design and engineering team.
I do want other people to shoot it and see what their impressions are. It may be a personal thing: my hands vs. your hands.
For now, I’m going back to my DeSantis Clip Grip. It works best for me. I can grip it reliably. I can shoot well. It’s very low-profile no matter how I carry it. And yes, the clip is just such a handy feature from time to time.
Updated: Tom Hogel, another KR Training instructor, had this to say about them after I lent them to him:
“Poked” me holster carry and difficult to get a grip on from a pocket holster. Don’t see any real advantage over gripping the crap out of my current rubberized grips.
Another KRT instructor has them now. Awaiting his feedback.
I’m finding more reviews of the Delta Grip online, and it’s starting to seem that people find them interesting and find similar strengths like more grip area (more length for the pinky, more slab for the support hand), similar weirdness (it’s just different, you have to get used to it and practice a lot with it), and similar downsides (the pain from the more focused recoil; doesn’t really work for pocket carry). Who knows… maybe it will inspire Ergo to tweak the design and come out with a version 2.0.