Taming bucky snub-nose revolvers, the Pachmayr Guardian Grip is a worthy addition to your undercover wheelgun.
How The Pachmayr Guardian Grip Enhances Snub-Nose Revolvers:
- Deploys a grip extension so your entire hand fits a snubby.
- Button on the fore of the grip activates the extension through the naturally gripping the revolver.
- Made of glass-filled polymer, the grips are lightweight, yet durable.
Overshadowed—plain and simple. It happens sooner or later, even to the best. It’s simply a factor of the irresistible march of time, progress and taste. Really, snubnose revolvers didn’t have a chance.
This is said tongue-in-cheek, because it’s simply not true. Too handy, too convenient, too dependable; there are too many “toos” to list in why the age-old design has far from run its course. However, when thumbing through most gun publications, it might seem they’ve been demoted to mere curiosities—or, at best, backup options.
It’s unfair, to say the least, given that with proper considerations, the snubby and other small revolvers still hold their own if, for no other reason, that they’re sized right. This means you’ll carry them consistently. And, that’s rule number one of going armed.
That said, convenient-to-carry revolvers have their issues. More-moderate defensive calibers are probably the most popular debate point.
We’ll let you hash that out with the brain trust on your next trip to the barbershop. What we’re concerned about here is the grip—or, in many cases, the lack thereof.
Tiny as they are, their handles don’t exactly facilitate dead-nuts shooting. Or comfort. And, unlike highly modifiable polymer semi-autos, they don’t offer a wealth of options to fit your mitts—that is, while still cutting a small profile.
It’s not exactly the easiest conundrum to tackle … until perhaps now.
Going Big, Staying Small
If you’re a revolver shooter, the Pachmayr name should sound familiar. This company makes some solid grips—and it has since wheelguns were the hottest things around. Pachmayr’s Decelerator Grips are plum classics, making the more unmanageable revolver calibers quite a bit more bearable.
Now, the company has turned its attention to the other end of the spectrum, making smaller shooters a bit more wieldy with the Guardian Grip.
Essentially, it’s a grip extension for small-framed revolvers. Yet, it doesn’t interfere with the overall profile of these highly concealable handguns. Counter-intuitive, right? After all, the height of a handgun has a great deal to do with how well you can keep it under wraps. But, as you’ve most likely guessed, Pachmayr cooked a surprise into the Guarding Grip: The extension isn’t around until you need it.
Essentially, the pinky-width wedge remains tucked away in the butt until you push an integral button in the top finger groove. Then, snap! You can take a full three-finger grip on your revolver. Pretty slick. And just the thing for a lot more control over a small heater.
Getting a Grip on the Guardian
Similar to most grip switches, the Guardian poses a few problems. It’s generally just a matter of a few screw turns and your old set is off … and your new one is in place.
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Mounting it on an old Smith & Wesson 642 did make the process a bit more involved. The sticky point? A roll pin at the bottom of the revolver’s frame. Honestly, though, we’re talking a few extra minutes of work with a mallet and punch.
At the range, it did, indeed, make shooting more enjoyable with the snubby .38 Spl.—and perhaps more accurate (more on that in a moment). The most noticeable asset the Guardian grip brings to the table is more control over the pistol. In part, this was particularly notable in recoil reduction.
That’s where the “perhaps more accurate” mentioned above comes in. With or without the grips, a slow-fire string would produce remarkably similar results. Rapid fire is a different story. Follow-up shots came more quickly with the Guardian Grip due to more control over muzzle flip, and this is what Pachmayr was aiming for in the first place.
Imagine this: The Guardian Grip could prove a real boon on a snubnose .357 Magnum. Yeah, shoot one long enough, and a two-finger grip will suffice. However, it’s doubtful you’ll convince me that it’s better than all three digits.
A Couple of Caveats
The glass-filled polymer upgrade isn’t without its idiosyncrasies.
The most noteworthy: the deployment of the grip extension. First, it deploys, no matter what, as a natural function of gripping the pistol. This makes sense, because if you’re buying the grip for a self-defense gun, there shouldn’t be any second thoughts about putting it into action.
Secondly, if you grip your pistol naturally, the extension can get hung up on your pinky during deployment. This is avoided by approaching the draw slower and more deliberately. Make sure the pinky is clear by depressing the button with the revolver in the holster. The result? The Guardian Grip comes out as free and clear as a final mortgage payment. With practice comes speed using this technique. There’s also the option of replacing the lower finger after deploying the extension.
Either way, if you believe the Guardian Grip is the way to go, expect dedicating time to mastering the system (so, what else is new?).
The Guardian Grip is available for the J-frame Smith & Wesson, Ruger LCR and Taurus 85/856 revolvers. The catch with the J-frame is that the upgrade doesn’t play nice with square-butt models—only round. Nevertheless, Pachmayr has covered a better part of the market with these makes and models.
More importantly, it provides a practical solution to gaining better control of what are sometimes bucky handguns. Sure, you’ll have to practice how you deploy the grip extension, but that doesn’t discount its effectiveness, particularly if you happen to carry a snubby magnum or are fond of snappy +P loads.
In the end, the Guardian Grip has the potential to improve shot-to-shot accuracy. No matter the firearm or upgrade, that’s something always worth getting in your clutches.
The article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.