SAA -- one piece vs. two-piece grips


October 27, 2003, 02:56 PM
pardon the dumb question, but um....

does this refer to the grip frame being separate front and backstrap pieces vs a single part? Given the Colt mainspring assembly, I can't see how true "one piece" grips (meaning joined grip panels) could actually work.

I'm confused. :confused:

also.. when was the transition, or did both versions exist alongside each other for an extended period? Did one have an advantage over the other?


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Johnny Guest
October 27, 2003, 03:21 PM
This was the original design of the ones furnished to the army. Colt SAA backstrap attached to frame at top with two screws, to either side of the hammer. Same piece was the "bottom strap," which was screwed to the front strap. Front strap was part of the trigger guard, which attached to bottom of the frame with three screws. The mainspring is attached to bottom of trigger guard, and runs up in front of the spacer.

I've never examined original wooden one-piece stocks closely - - - Could have actually been made of one single chunk of wood. Most, if not all, of the modern production one-piece stocks are actually two separate panels, pinned and glued to the central spacer.

There is so much variation in SAA grip frames, you almost have to have the one piece stocks fitted to the individual piece. Steve Herrett used to make some stunning examples in wood, on special order.

Yes, one- and two-piece stocks were made concurrently. I dunno if you could call it an "advantage," but I think the one-piece type are prettier. Others don't think so - - - -

Last Saturday, I handled a near-excellent second generation .45 SAA, 4-3/4" barrel, with beautifully fitted one-piece ivory stocks. * * SIGH * *


Old Fuff
October 27, 2003, 06:31 PM
Original Colt one-piece wood grips - usually made from walnut - were indeed one piece of wood and fitted individually to each gun and numbered to it. The basic design didn't start with the Single Action Army model in 1873, but went back to the first Colt's made in Patterson, NJ starting in 1836.

One-piece pearl and ivory grips did have a glued-in spacer in most instances.

Colt changed to molded two-piece black hard-rubber grips in 1881-82 and used them until the end of production in about 1940.

When they resumed production in the 1950's they used black plastic reproductions of the hard-rubber grips, and still do so today.

Special grips have always been optionally available. A quick look at my 1917 price list reveals that the Single Action's suggested retail price was $18.00 and carved ivory 2-piece grips would have set you back $11.50 -- Such a deal I have for you .....

Johnny Guest
October 27, 2003, 07:36 PM
If a typical price for a brand new, "using" revolver today is around $500, then maybe $300 for a nice set of custom ivories isn't too far out of line, after all.

No, I'm not considering the artificially-inflated prices of current Colt SAA revolvers. That's GOTTA be a special case. :D


Old Fuff
October 27, 2003, 08:05 PM
If someone twisted my arm I could post the rest of the price list. But that might start a riot ....

Of course the cost of living as well as wages was a lot lower in 1917 ....

Jim K
October 27, 2003, 09:59 PM
A good one piece grip is pretty tough and will stand up better than the hard rubber (gutta percha) grips used later, which is why the Army specified them. The old percussion Colts all used one piece grips unless, as Old Fuff says, they were special order. The Single Action Army merely continued that tradition.

One piece grips, incidentally, are numbered, in pencil, in the back groove. Hard rubber grips had the number scratched in. Both types of grips were installed, sanded down with the grip straps, then the straps were taken off, given a final polish, blued, and the gun reassembled. That is why the grips from one gun never quite fit another.


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