New grips for Super Blackhawk and a sights question


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BCRider
September 7, 2011, 03:35 AM
So I finally got around to making up some fatter grips for my Super Blackhawk that I got about 6 weeks to 8 weeks ago. Curse those house renovations that keep me away from the fun things... :D

Anyhow, I found that I wasn't able to get what I felt was a secure enough grip around the "neck" of the grips to prevent the gun rotating in my grip too much and slamming the guilloutine like dragoon shaped trigger guard into my poor fingers. I looked at the "grip filler" style grips but thought that if I had a fatter "neck" to hold onto that I might manage with the .44Mag recoil without the need for the grips to fill in the area behind the guard.

So this is the result done in Zebrawood. It's only got one coat of tung oil on it for now so the wood is a bit dull looking.

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y252/BCRider/Gun%20pictures/grips4.jpg

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y252/BCRider/Gun%20pictures/grips5.jpg

You can see more clearly from the back strap view just how thick the grips are up around the neck. At the same time I thinned the lower area to let my pinky get a more secure grip on things.

I tried it tonight with some .44Spl like reloads but couldn't try the Magnum rounds as I was in such a hurry to get away to the range that I put them out then didn't put them into my range bag. But the grips felt darn nice with the "special" power loads. I'll report more when I fire some full house magnums.

My question on the sight is related to these lower power loads. I've got the rear sight adjusted all the way down but it's still hitting about 8 inches high of POA at 20 yards. And trust me, it's screwed right down. Has anyone else run into such a thing? And if so what did you do to fix it? Short of buying a "metal stretcher" for the front sight... :D

Right now I'm looking at taking the rear sight off the gun to make sure there's no grit or other nonsense holding it up. But if I don't find something I'm still going to need to lower the rear blade some amount to make the gun useable with these less than full magnum loads.

On the other hand the group that the gun printed with this loading was nicely tight, considering it was shot by a guy with old guy eyes and old guy nerves, at around 4 inches diameter for 4 shots and one flyer that would open the group to more like 5 to 6 inches. This was shot two handed freestyle.

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CraigC
September 7, 2011, 09:01 AM
Looks great! Glad I'm not the only one who needs thicker grips on a single action. My hands aren't really all that big but thicker, well-rounded grips are VASTLY more comfortable for me to shoot with. If there's room for my pinky, like your Super, I also like a flat bottom. Bevels only for Colt SAA's and Ruger XR3's. Lessons learned the hard way through much trial & error.

Tallinar
September 7, 2011, 09:33 AM
Good looking grips!

As for the rear sight thing - can you comment on POI when using hotter loads with the same bullet weight? How heavy a bullet are you using? Do they print higher or lower at the same distance as the lighter loads?

BCRider
September 7, 2011, 02:23 PM
With the few Magnum loads I shot when I first got the gun it shot to POA just barely or perhaps was just a touch high. I don't recall as it was a couple of months back. That and much of my memory of the shooting of it is centered around trying to get a tight enough grip that it would stop slamming my fingers.. :D I do recall adjusting the sights and last night when I went to adjust them again the rear was already as low as it would go. So I bottomed it out just to get the Magnums to shoot correctly. The issue is that the range of adjustment is all just too high.

Since my plan is to shoot mostly +P to light Magnum style loads with only the odd full power flame throwing loads of 2400 I guess I need to get the rear sight to where it's working over the range of travel to allow me to zero out the slower and higher printing loads as well as the faster magnums. Or buck up and switch the front sight to a taller one.

Oh, and this was with 240gn bullets. On the heavier side but certainly not the heaviest. As I play with heavier bullets the problem of printing high with the slower and heavier loads will get even worse. Especially since it's bottomed out just to get the 240gn magnums to hit close to POA.

CraigC
September 7, 2011, 09:49 PM
Bought a 7" Bisley .44Mag that did the same thing. Specials flew right over the target and the only thing that would print close to POA was full-house 240gr loads. The rule of thumb is:
For a given bullet weight, lower velocities will print higher.
For a given velocity, heavier bullets will print higher.

You need a taller front sight if you wanna shoot Specials. Unfortunately, unlike the stainless models, the blued guns have a one-piece front sight base/blade silver soldered to the barrel. I sent mine to Clements for a custom post front sight, among other things.

http://photos.imageevent.com/newfrontier45/blackriver905/large/P1010031.JPG

pendennis
September 7, 2011, 11:45 PM
You shouldn't try to fight the rotation of the revolver. Learn to use it to your favor. The rotation of the plow handle grip frame actually tames the recoil by rotating upward taking the trigger guard away from your finger. Fighting the recoil works against you.

BCRider
September 8, 2011, 02:12 AM
Pendennis, you must not be used to the dragoon shape guard used in connection with full power .44Mag rounds. There's no "up and away" to it unless I were to hold it so lightly that it launches itself out of my grip and over my shoulder.

Searching here and on other forums about the "dragoon guard bite" turned up legions of similar findings. Maybe with a regular rounded trigger guard the curved rear bend would glide past the finger. But not the dragoon guard. It hauls ass and hits hard by all accounts, mine included.
And in fact the "best" solution for many was to swap the dragoon guard grip frame for a Bisley grip frame.

Besides, I wear large or X-large gloves depending on the maker. I found that my fingers were just getting in each other's way with the stock grips. With the new fat grips my hand assumes a far more comfortable grip where I'm not jamming my fingernails into my palm to get a decently suportive contact.

Craig, that's one SWEET looking Bisley. Very rich looking with the classy grips shape and the colours of the frame and grips adding to each other.

Back to the sights issue. I'm going to look at changing to a lower rear blade. If that's nor practical/possible then I'm not above the idea of cutting and filing a dovetail into the existing front sight and adding a riser extension. I'd do this using a double tapered dovetail with a relief cut on the far side. Then the extension is wedged in place and peened to upset the steel outwards onto the relief faces and basically rivet the extention in place. No silver solder needed. The extra thickness is then dressed away with some careful filing or with the aid of a filing rest. Blue it up and candle carbon it and I'm done.

Or I may just use this opportunity to convert the front sight to a fiber light gathering style. Hell, the blade is thick enough to let me do it.

But first I'll try to keep it simple by seeing what I can do with a rear blade swap.

Tallinar
September 8, 2011, 09:34 AM
Let us know how it turns out!

pendennis
September 8, 2011, 12:26 PM
BCRider wrote:
Pendennis, you must not be used to the dragoon shape guard used in connection with full power .44Mag rounds. There's no "up and away" to it unless I were to hold it so lightly that it launches itself out of my grip and over my shoulder.

Searching here and on other forums about the "dragoon guard bite" turned up legions of similar findings. Maybe with a regular rounded trigger guard the curved rear bend would glide past the finger. But not the dragoon guard. It hauls ass and hits hard by all accounts, mine included.
And in fact the "best" solution for many was to swap the dragoon guard grip frame for a Bisley grip frame.

I own a SS Ruger Super Blackhawk, a New Model Blackhawk in .45 Colt, and two Bisley models (.44 magnum and .45 Colt). I've owned Super Blackhawks for over 36 years. I've shot full house loads in them, and I've never been "bitten" by the dragoon guard on the SBH. Because of the higher bore axis of the single action, the revolver will roll naturally. I've use all kinds of stocks on the SBH, inluding custom Herrett's, Pachmayr's, and Hogue's. I've used the standard stocks on the SBH, but prefer something a bit larger for my hands.

I was taught early on to never fight the revolver; to always let it go where it wanted, but to stay in control. To some that may be oxymoronic, but it's always worked for me.

The recoil doesn't go "up and away". It rotates around the two axes formed by the elbow-to-the wrist, and then the wrist to the muzzle.

BCRider
September 8, 2011, 02:10 PM
Seriously, I wish you could be here with me to show me what I'm doing wrong because my finger has a long memory of pain and isn't about to let me try it again the same way. Any chance of some close up pictures of the gun gripped in your mitts from the side and "above" to give me an idea of how to correct things? They would be much appreciated.

My first shot with the stock grips was a fairly high one handed hold similar to what I use with my other SA's in CAS. The grip was firm like a serious but still friendly handshake. Well, maybe a little firmer than that since it WAS a Magnum. But I was still a long way from "white knuckling" it. The gun rotated through the "ring" of my thumb and middle finger grip like I suspect it's supposed to and slammed the guard into the back of my middle finger hard enough to leave a bruise and lump that was blue for a week.

With the greater surface area of the new grips I'll likely get up the courage to try it again. With more area around the back of the neck it may not compress the meat of my palm between the thumb and forefinger as much as the "skinny" stock grips and maybe I can get away with it. And getting a bit more surface area was the whole point of making the fatter grips.

To further set the stage the grips that came on my SBH don't feel as "fat" around as even the grips on my Pietta 1873 guns and my Uberti Remington guns. And that's why I figured that I couldn't go wrong with making up a "fatter" set that fit my hands better.

Racebannon
September 8, 2011, 02:14 PM
CraigC, that is a beautiful revolver. I really like the CH frame.

Dave Bulla
September 8, 2011, 02:59 PM
This is interesting. I'm wondering BCRider, what size ring do you wear? People always think finger length when talking about size of hands but diameter would certainly be an issue for clearance on that dragoon type guard more than length. Do you by chance have some thick ol' ham hands? I wear an XXL glove but my hands are only average thickness. Probably about an 11 or 12 ring size. My wedding ring was a 10.5 but it don't fit any more.

I'm also wondering where your hand starts out at on the grip. That is, how high or low is it. Might make a difference.

Bottom line, if your new grips work, don't worry about it and problem solved eh? By the way, nice job on them. I've got a 7.5" super blackhawk bisley hunter that I want to make some grips for and a chunk of Mexican ironwood just waiting to be cut. Never made a set but figure it can't be too hard. Did you cut them a tad oversize then trim after locating the screw or were you able to just transfer the outline and hole location from your old set and go from there?

Dave Bulla
September 8, 2011, 03:04 PM
By the way, I've seen posts in the past where a fella who made custom grips talked about single action revolver grips being made "backwards" as he called it saying they were thick where they should be thin and thin where they should be thick. I believe his shape was a lot like yours with a few differences in the edge tapers at the frame. Of course, everyone has an opinion and likes vary but this guy had quite a business and people paid awfully high prices for his grips so I got the impression he was doing something folks liked. I had him bookmarked but our old computer died and I lost all my bookmarks.

You might be on the right track.

BCRider
September 8, 2011, 06:43 PM
Thanks for the information Dave.

I don't know my ring size as I'm not a jewelry sort of person. And I'm not currently married so no ring to show I'm "taken" :D My hands are long and wide but the fingers are in proportion and not overly plump. In fact I don't have much "meat" at all between the skin and the bone along the back of my fingers. So no padding at all.

I don't have time at the moment but I'll take a picture of me holding the SBH and post it a bit later.

pendennis
September 8, 2011, 06:51 PM
BCRider -

You may want to contact Herrett's. They now produce only custom-made stocks. They require that you provide an outline of your hand, and they make the stocks to fit.

I have big palms, but short fingers. On the DA side, I can't handle the S&W target stocks that have come on their N frames. They're way too big. I finally found Ahrends stocks, and they fit perfectly.

Stocks are really touchy, and they can really make shooting miserable if they don't fit you properly.

Your description of your own hand seems like the best clue. You may very well need a stock which "extends" the back of the grip frame, causing your fingers to be a bit more extended.

Best of luck.

BCRider
September 9, 2011, 12:55 AM
Likely they could. But tinkering is a big part of the fun for me.

I'll take your hint and try padding the back strap with a strap of heavy leather with skivved down edges so the padding blends well and tape it smoothly into place and try it. That'll give me a good 1/8 inch of setback. If that seems promising I'll do up a set of wood grips that overhang and meet along the rear with even more spacing and then begin shaving them down with some shooting in between until things settle in and feel right.

Thanks for the idea for this.

To give you an idea of my finger length I have no trouble at all shooting my S&W K and N frame guns in DA. And in fact the trigger during the DA pull rests neatly on the fold of the first joint even at the most forward point before the pull starts.

bajagill
September 9, 2011, 01:57 AM
BCRider - Man, you got some lo-ong fingers! When I had my SBH I actually had better luck with the stock grips than others I tried. Except for finger length our hands sound similar, kinda beefy. Using a high one-handed hold I did have issues w/ the gun rotating back & occasionally getting nipped by the lower part of the hammer but not the guard hitting my finger(s). Maybe a lower position on the grip? It sounds like your fingers are definitely long enough to reach the trigger w/ a lower grip. Your friend may have something with the thicker back portion of the grip too. As to the sight, I was thinking maybe you could file down the center of the rear sight blade a little bit? Been a while since I held one of those pistols, don't remember if there is enough metal there to allow that route though. BTW those zebra wood grips look FAN-tastic!

BCRider
September 13, 2011, 02:11 AM
Thanks to you and all the others for the compliments on the grips. I really like the look of the lighter color wood against the otherwise dark blued finish. Makes them stand out a bit.

And yes, my fingers are long. With the stock grips I felt like my hand was jammed into a sardine tin what with the crowding and interference between fingers. The new "fat" grips are only about an 1/8 inch thicker per side but the fit in my trigger hand now feels a LOT nicer. The fingers still easily get a full wrap around but I'm not jamming the fingernails into my palms.

In fact wait a sec....

OK, I took some pictures and stuck them up on Photobucket so you can all see how my trigger hand now fits the gun.

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y252/BCRider/Gun%20pictures/SBHgrips1.jpg

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y252/BCRider/Gun%20pictures/SBHgrips2.jpg

Please excuse the awkward looking wrist angle just at the edge of the first pic. It's hard to hold the camera upside down in one hand so I can see the screen, push the shutter release and still get a "normal" wrist angle while sticking the gun far enough away to not be totally washed out by the flash in macro mode. But my palm and fingers are in the normal shooting position that I use before the left hand folds around over them. I think it's fair to say that I'm hardly using too fat a grip for my hands. And that the stock grips would have resulted in over crowding. I really feel the difference too. With the stock grips my fingers bind against my palm and I wasn't getting a nice even overall firm contact with the whole circumference of the upper "neck" of the grips and back strap. With these fat grips I easily get a nice even and consistent contact around the entire "neck" area.

Just noticed that my hand is obviously a touch higher than I normally hold. I just saw that the hammer is actuall indenting my skin a touch. I likely had my hand shift a little while awkwardly trying to extend the grip and gun out far enough to take the darn pictures. Normally I have a high hold as shown but not so high that the hammer makes actual contact with my web between the thumb and forefinger. It also looks like it got nudged out of being in line with my forearm. So all in all it shows the manner I hold the gun before wrapping the second hand over the first but not with the exact placement I normally use.

So what say all of you?

Norrick
September 13, 2011, 07:54 AM
Does the gun have an aftermarket front sight? They sell different heights for the front sight because some people like to use iron sights for really long shots. If you have incorrect size for your front sights that could be the problem.

Try the full power loads too, and see where POI moves to.

BCRider
September 13, 2011, 12:51 PM
Oh, the POI moves down to POA with full power loads OK. The issue is that the rear sight adjustment >just< barely allows for even those loads to shoot to POA. The adjustment range being fully bottomed just to allow the full house loads to do so. The issue ends up that it's not much of an "adjustable" sight if I have to jam it fully down tight and not having any allowance for other load recipes to be sighted in.

I've been busy with other house reno stuff and was away for the weekend on another hobby. So I haven't even tried to look into the sights issue yet other than keeping up with this thread. Hopefully I'll find some grunge under the flexible part of the sight when I strip it down to check things out. Otherwise I'll have to resort to implements of torture and destruction.... :D

doubleh
September 13, 2011, 09:04 PM
Like penndennis I've been shooting Super Black Hawks for a long time, since the early '70 to be exact and have never been "dragoon guard bit". I see a lot of posts on the internet about it but have never figuered out just how it happens. I hold my SBHs just like I do my Black Hawks and Single Sixes. My hands are just large enough that my pinkie doesn't get a decent fit on the grip. I wish all the modern single actions had the same length grips as the 1860 Army because those grips fit me perfectly.

Now the original Black Hawk in .44 Mag was a killer on your middle finger. Friend of mine bought one back before anyone had thought about the super one. After a couple of cylinders of factory loads I refused to ever shoot it again. My finger swelled up like someone had smashed it with a hammer and felt like it too.

It doesn't make any difference for me now. I have arthritis in my wrist bad enough that I've given up on anything that has that much recoil. I stick with .44 special loads now.

BCRider
September 14, 2011, 01:43 AM
My hands are just large enough that my pinkie doesn't get a decent fit on the grip.

That makes it sound to me like I'm holding the gun too high. Granted my hand slipped up a bit in the pictures shown above but I normally do hold high on the neck of the grip. Just not so high that the hook of the hammer touches skin.

And as you can all see there's very little daylight between my middle finger and the trigger guard.

BCRider
September 22, 2011, 01:27 PM
An update on the feel of the grips and the sights.

I disassembled the rear sight to see if anything was packed in under it. I found that the hinged portion was travel limited by a couple of small issues so I lightly ground out a small amount of the underside of the blade's T frame and honed a couple of small casting flaws from the frame where the blade holding top of the T was being held from fully depressing down into the cutaway for it.

Off to the range!

I'd shot the new grips a couple of weeks ago with some milder .44Spl type loads and they were great. But I'd set out the magnum rounds but didn't pack them in my rush to get going. So this was the first time firing magnums with the new grips. Well.... they work just great. The gun rotates in my grip just fine but the new hold lets me fill my hand better and the back of the guard no longer crashes into the back of my middle finger. Even shooting one handed only produce a light contact of the guard to finger. TOTAL SUCCESS just with these just slightly fatter than stock grips.

The sight work was another issue. Although I can now get the rear sight to come down about another .020 to .025 more than before it still isn't enough. The magnums now shoot to POA or darn close to it but the softer "Special" loads for plinking or steel shooting are still hitting about 4 inches high at 15 to 17 yards. And I can't get any more lowering out of the main T frame without major mods to the T or to the guns frame. So the next step is to cut down the actual sight blade. It looks like I can lower it about .030 to .040 and still not have the notch dissapear into the arc shaped lower cutaway of the T. I'll likely cut it down by the .030 and reserve the last .010. While I want the sights to work with a variety of loads I don't want to have to raise it so high for the faster magnum loads that it is just barely hanging on. But I'm safe so far as the magnum loads with 240 gn bullets are "just" hitting to POA or slightly high even with the T run right down tight to the frame.

I'm really beginning to think that someone replaced the rear blade at some point for some reason. Either that or I'd better check the barrel for alignment or bends as this just makes no sense at all.

CraigC
September 22, 2011, 02:31 PM
Unfortunately, a lot of Supers suffer from this malady. I don't know why Ruger doesn't put a taller blade on them.

BCRider
September 22, 2011, 05:33 PM
Really? Well at least I'm not the only one then. I thought it was perhaps something I was doing again.

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