Antique Handgun Grips

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by johnlives4christ, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    i know guns such as the colt 1873 and other guns of the period would have came with wood grips. walnut i expect. i know that ivory could be had, as well as mother of pearl. what im wondering is what else would have been available, lets say up through ww1.

    would buffalo horn been available or popular?

    what about other types of wood or horn?

    were there any places that made grips specifically or would the person either just order special grips or have a gunsmith work on it later on down the line?

    info and book suggestions welcome.

    thanks and God bless

  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Most 'average joe' cowpoke guns wore hand carved wlanut or hand carved stag. Only the uppity members of society would have had ivory and pearl.

  3. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    uppity? maybe a cowboy ended up killing a bushwacker and traded his gear for some upgrades.
  4. GunHugger

    GunHugger Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2007
    SW PA
  5. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    Most Colts and other antique guns came with a type of hard rubber grips, Gutta Peccha, any thing else was usually special order. MOP, Ivory and Stag were very uncommon among working guns, even lawmen. They were always always special order. Seeing that a Colt cost a half months wages a cowboy wasn't about to spend another 2 dollars for fancy breakable grips. In fact more F&Ws, Iver Johnson's, H&Rs and other inexpensive firearms were carried more then Colts or S&Ws. Many of the very large spreads such as the King Ranch even forbid their employees from carrying handguns, the hired hans still had them, but they were kept in their " war bags"' { duffel bags }. In case you didn't know a cowhand In the late 1800's and early 1900's earned on the average of 20 to 30 dollars a month and found ( food and a roof ). A private in the Cavalry only earned about 65 cents a day and had to buy his own boot and brass polish.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  6. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    thank you for the input rjay
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    Like most of the guys who count their beginnings to around WWII, I grew up with an ideal of the old west which for the most part didn't exist. My western education was from Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tim Holt, Jonny McBrown and a host of others. I believed the only firearms used were the Colt Single Actions and the Winchester Rifle. All cowboys carried two guns in a low drop Buscadero rig ( which wasn't invented until the 1930's ). A Winchester 92 in a saddle and so forth. It wasn't until I found out about books that I was disillusioned:D And the old saw about the Winchester being the gun that won the West, bull hockey, if any firearm could make that claim it would be the lowly single barrel shotgun. If a citizen of the old west could only have one firearm it was a shotgun, it could put food on the table, take care of the Fox in the hen house and take on the bad guys.:D
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  8. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    thats pretty much where im at. trying to get past the westerns and understand the true history of firearms of the period
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Since this gentleman died in 1919, I believe you are wrong about the birthdate of the buscadero rig.

    It wasn't common. But it did exist.
  10. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    :D Let me rephrase that comment and correct my spelling. The Buscadero rig was developed in the 1920's supposedly for Texas lawmen and became the rig for the Hollywood cowboys in the 1920's forward. Way past the hay date of the so called "old west " :D Yes, Perry died in 1919 and the holster is hang from his double cartridge belt from a cut slit, but in a Slim Jim holster and with out an extension and cut out Andy Anderson Type holster.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  11. fleetwood1976

    fleetwood1976 Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Southern Indiana
    I like my mexican made tasco sterling and 14k gold military and Police model 10 grips.
  12. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

    Dec 11, 2010
    western wyoming
    I think if you visit the Old Town Museum in Cody Wyoming you will find some "Busko" type rigs dating to the 1880s. Many of the old Colts can be found with cast pewter grips. These were tough and cheap.

  13. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    the book packing iron shows a lot of wood and ivory grips. and it says basically that the drop leg tv style rig is a modern invention. love the book though, its great just for the pictures, much more the historical value
  14. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Just a point of information: "gutta percha" and "hard rubber" are two separate polymer compounds. "Gutta percha" is a naturally occuring tree sap, which, when allowed to dry out (lose the aromatic solvents contained within) will form a moldable, semi-ridgid material that can be resoftened by heating in water. "Hard rubber" is natural Latex taken from rubber trees (mostly genus ficus), which is mixed with various proportions of sulfur (10% to 30% or so, depending upon the desired hardness of the finished product) in a process known as "vulcanizing". The vast majority of black "plastic" gun grip panels and butt plates made before the advent of "nylons" and heat setting phenolic resins (bakelites) in the late 1920's and especially during WW2 when we were cut off from sources of Latex, were made of "hard black rubber", which was "vulcanized latex" with the addition of carbon black for color and re-inforcement. This material hardens after molding - and is less elastic and therefore more "brittle" than "gutta percha". I remember that S&W made some carrying cases for various of their 1850s and 1860s revolvers out of gutta percha - some are still around - but found that it was too soft and maleable to be suitable for that purpose. I got this info from the Research Library of "The New Jersey Zinc Co." (later known as the "ZINC CORP. of AMERICA), founded in the 1850's - and which was intimately tied in with the research of the rubber making companies from the 1870's on. Zinc oxide has been and still is a major ingredient in the making of modern rubber products (there a dozens of formulations for different uses).
    Any thoughts on this?
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