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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 10-17-2018, 06:29 PM
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Default Vintage Custom Grips by Gagne, Sanderson, Farrant, Hurst…

DRAFT in progress…
Vintage Custom Stocks/Grips by Gagne, Sanderson, Farrant, Hurst…

I am assembling another reference guide to assist in the identification of various custom grip manufacturers. The intent of this thread is to provide links, photos, and general information on various grip makers and their respective designs and not necessarily to conduct a comprehensive review on any one craftsman or style. I have provided links to threads which go into much more detail on individual craftsman. Lastly, I chose the manufacturers below as they seem to generate the most debate regarding identification/verification. I do not mean any disrespect to current craftsman such as Mr. Brown, Culina, Spegel, Ahrends, but they are still producing new grips and are kind enough to sign/label their work.

I have provided photos of grips I own (owned), and I unfortunately do not own examples of every maker. So, please feel free to include photos of your favorite examples and other productive information.

You may be interested in my prior thread: Smith & Wesson N Frame Stocks / Grips – A Reference Guide
Smith & Wesson N Frame Stocks / Grips - A Reference Guide

Walter Roper – Mathias Gagne
Well-known firearms writer, shooter, and enthusiast Walter Roper hired Mathias Gagne to make custom designed stocks from the mid-30's into the early 50s. Today examples of Gagne's craftsmanship are simply called "Ropers" due to the characteristic design/style of Walter's design.
While the design, features, and shape of “Roper” stocks are pretty distinctive, each set was custom made and like any craftsman there appears to be subtle changes in the production of these grips. As a result, vintage "Roper" style grips are probably the most debated when it comes to identifying and authenticating the work of Gagne, if possible. Various elements such as the quality, shape, tool/jig marks, diamond checkering, wood type/grain, and age, must be assessed.

Commonly discussed features used in identifying Roper style grips:
• The presence of a small square or rectangular "jig" hole on the inside of each grips panel is probable the most cited characteristic of vintage examples. However, there are also examples that appear to be genuine Gagne “Ropers” that do not have a jig hole present.
• The presence of a diamond and ribbon checkering pattern used on many examples in what has been coined “Roper” stocks. However, the shape, size, location of the checkering must all be assessed.
• They usually lack figure or distinctive grain and Walnut was the most commonly used wood type. The wood can vary from plain to fancy, and a few exotic wood pairs are known. This is mostly attributed to cost, availability, and workability/stability of plain tight grain wood. (See article excerpt below)
• Numbers or description of the gun which the grips fit can be penciled/carved into the inside of each panel
• Other considerations: screw escutcheon, contour of wood at trigger guard, checkering (border, LPI, size, shape, etc.), finger grooves, palm swell….

Per the 1952 article written on Mr. Mathias Gagne “Orders come to the 84-year-old carver by mail…in which outlines of the hand drawn to scale are sent. These outlines are used by Gagne for his dimensions and shaping of the handles. Also the letter explains which eye the customer aims with, as well as any peculiarities of shooting habits. Most popular among the woods used for the handles is American Walnut, although he said Caucasian walnut was most demanded when it was available up to last year. Other types of wood he noted, frequently requested were black ebony, mahogany, Birdseye maple, cherry, Lignum Vitae and even mesquite wood mainly by Texans…He went on to say wood must be very dense, solid, and preferably heavy. Many customers send imported woods in which they wish their handles to be carved. Gagne works in his shop alone, but said he employed tow local men until World War II…Extensive and elaborate designs are worked into the gun handles and the finished product is produced after about three or four days work on an average order. He added that often he makes tools needed for certain operations.” See link… A little something for Roper fans....article now added thanks to Mr. Wilson

Lastly, Mathias and his son Albert Gagne (who worked for S&W) are often credited by many for influencing the design of postwar Target Stocks as well as the “Coke” style Target Stocks introduced for the .44 Magnum revolver.

K-Frame Roper Thumbrest Target Stocks. Very Nicely Grained.




K-Frame Roper Thumbrest Target Stocks. Contoured, large checkering coverage, closed-back stocks, slight palm swell and finger-grooves along the front. Note how the stocks contour forward towards the trigger guard, another characteristic of "Ropers".






N-Frame Roper Birdseye Maple Target - These are unique in shape in that they are best described as short Target Stocks which just cover the grip frame with no horn or thumbrest, and extend forward towards the trigger guard. In my opinion, Gagne put a lot of detail into how his grips extended towards and contoured the trigger guard.





M-frame LadySmith Target Stocks with features comparable and indicative of Roper/Gagne stocks but no jig-holes, medallions (very rare to have medallions in Gagne stocks), arrow checkering style is unusual or not cited to Gagne and exotic zebrawood. However, the quality, shape, diamond center checkering, bordering around the back grip-frame, contour of the trigger guard, and carved numbers on the inside are consistent with Gagne's craftsmanship. Therefore, it remains a mystery who the maker of these grips was but these are a decent example of the various characteristics that must be assessed when looking at vintage custom stocks.




Fourteen pairs of Roper grips & a couple guns

Show your Roper grips

To be or not to be....ROPERS??? That is the question

K frame Ropers


Kearsage - Charles Wendell
Prewar Kearsage grips made by Charles Wendell of Massachusetts.
Kearsage vs. Roper


LAPD – California Custom Grip Craftsman

Walter Stark, Fuzzy Farrant, Guy Hogue, John Hurst, Joe Blackford, Arthur Kanthack
Custon Grips Part 3 - Walter Rickell on Farrant & Custom Handguns
Custom Grips Part 4 - Collection of Pictures
Stocks by Hurst

John Hurst
Hurst grips can often be found with Yellow pencil/chalk on the inside with a large number while a few sets were signed by him. He often used either a circle or 'fat' elongated diamond center checking pattern. In my experience, he used the "circle" shape around the screw escutcheon more than others, I recall seeing Guy Hogue use this same style but by and large they are going to be examples of Hurst's work. Hurst also used a circular cutout in the front of several of his large Target grips to access the strain screw. He may have the most pronounced palm swell and curves of these various custom grip makers, particularly towards the bottom. Nearly every set I’ve owned has exact matching “bookend” grain.

J-frame round butt & K frame square butt Hurst grips.






N-Frame Square Butt Target Stocks





Stocks by Hurst
Hurst 'N' Diamond Checkered Combats
Vintage Hurst Target Stocks
John Hurst - J (Rb) & K (Sq) Checkered Grips

Earl “Fuzzy” Farrant
Farrant grips often found with marker/pencil markings of numbers, frame size, type “TGT”, found in small font on the inside. He is known for his palm swell and characteristic shape/design. His grips can be found with palm swell (left, right, both) and/or checkering (left, right, both). Generally speaking, the other makers either used checkering on both panels or none, so if you have checkering on one side it may be Farrant’s work. Farrant's grips seem to taper from thick to thin (top to bottom) and are wider (front to back).
K/L Frame Round Butt



N Frames:






Custon Grips Part 3 - Walter Rickell on Farrant & Custom Handguns
New In Box Fuzzy Farrant Stocks

Guy Hogue
Founder of the famed "Hogue" grip company. Early original wood target grips have the same/similar shape or contour of today's wood and rubber grips produced by the company.

Custom Grips Part 4 - Collection of Pictures
Please help identify!! Was told they are fuzzy's


Sanderson – Lew Sanderson, Don Sanderson
Well-known for his thumbrest target grips. Sanderson grips can be most readily identified via numerical stampings on the inside of his grips. These numbers were for inventory/order tracking purposes while they were made. A common characteristic of his stocks is the large cutout along the lower front to access the strain screw. Based in Michigan.

N-Frame Thumbrest Walnut Stocks - "4" stamped inside.


The Ultimate Sanderson Stock Appreciation Thread (Post Your Stocks!!!!)
Sanderson Grips
My first set of SANDERSON stocks/grips!!!!!


Cloyce
Very unique circular and ribbon checkering designs and some heavily contoured/shaped stocks. Appears to have used a circle shaped jig hole identified on the inside of his stocks. Based in Idaho.


Cloyce stocks I think?
Cloyce Cascade grip catalog - show yours - add history

Other related links:
Custom Grips Part 2: Walter Starks work on LAPD Chief Davis K-38
Custom Grips Part 6 - Dave Hart on Custom Handgun Stocks
Custom Handgun Stocks - Part 1

Last edited by Hoosier45; 12-21-2019 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:43 PM
Joe Kent Joe Kent is offline
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Thanks for a great post, very interesting and informative. All my very best, Joe.
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Old 10-18-2018, 01:41 PM
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Great post, and very informative.
Are these makers you've collected, or followed?
We have a local grip maker who has specialized in S&W grips for decades. His name is Craig Spegel, and he does some very nice custom Smith grips also.
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Old 10-18-2018, 02:06 PM
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Excellent post. Good photographs and great knowledge base. Threads like this are one reason people look to this forum when they wish to really learn something.
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Old 10-18-2018, 02:57 PM
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Nice job. One nit: it is Mathias Gagne, not Mathies.
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Old 10-18-2018, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwill1911 View Post
Nice job. One nit: it is Mathias Gagne, not Mathies.
Yeah, rightfully so...should have changed that earlier. Had a co-worker whose name was Mattias and everyone pronounced his name differently.
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:43 PM
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Great post, indeed! I appreciate the effort you put into the history of these craftsmen and the fine pictures - something i will refer to again and again in the future.

Jerry
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:10 PM
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Now that is a very informative article!! I would be proud to have any of these makers grips. I look for them but so far haven’t come across any in my price range. However I think this would be a great sticky. I know I’m going to bookmark it. Thank you very much sir for the excellent info.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:53 PM
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I'll add pictures of my various grips here (to this post, I'll edit) as I can dig them out or take new ones.

I'll start it off with this video I made on a set of Ropers:

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Old 11-01-2018, 09:17 PM
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Default Custom Wood Farrant copy

Custom Wood brand Farrant copy grips from the 1970's

"Custom Wood" checkered "Combat" grips were a Farrant style grip briefly marketed in the late 1970's.

These are often mistakenly labeled for sale as Farrant. The symmetrical upper right/left profile v. Farrant is an easy point for potential buyers to check.

Custom Wood, Inc. Parsonage Crossing, Westbrook, CT

Pro-Lite advertised a Farrant copy in plastic but none were sold. The pictures looked very close - but ... plastic.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:22 AM
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Thanks for this nice thread, Hoosier45. Will it eventually develop int some sort of print edition? (Hint hint)
My only set of Sandersons came on somebody’s all out pre-War Bullseye gun, a very rare Model HE High Standard with not only Sanderson grips but a set of King’s adjustable sights as well. It has special meaning to me as not only did I collect pre-War High Standards many years ago, but my Mother’s maiden name was Sanderson. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully so far, to find a family connection.

Froggie
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Old 01-05-2019, 08:08 PM
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Bringing this back up to show some lefty Farrant's for the Pre-17







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Old 02-07-2019, 01:53 PM
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Default Another pair of Sandersons

This pair of Sandersons fits the round butt S&W K-frame, which I don't own, darn it:

.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:03 PM
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I am learning more ever time I purchase a custom set of grips and try to figure out who crafted them. One thing about these grips that the LAPD shooting team members crafted ,they were grips crafted by shooters for shooters, they fit my hand very well and make shooting any gun that they are on a pleasure.
My only down side is the grips crafted by the LAPD shooters do not help me shoot like they did !!
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:00 PM
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Nice post:





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Old 08-14-2019, 09:07 AM
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Default Other gripmakers

Thank you very much for your threads. Here in Italy we have not these vintage grips, of course, but I love them and their history. As you said in your [I]incipit[I], you choose the most valuable gripmakers. However I love other craftmen as Fitz and Herrett also, for exemple, even theyr stocks were probably more “industrial”. I think that can gain some place in the history of vintage stocks, even in a lower ranking.

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Old 09-05-2020, 03:49 PM
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I want to contribute some info about Sanderson to this thread as there is so little known about him.

Lew Sanderson, Grip Maker

Lew Sanderson was a Detroit Police Officer and member of the Detroit shooting team in the late 1930’s. The Detroit shooting team consisted of 5 officers and were considered the best in the nation with Sanderson taking first place in Akron in a 1938 match and the team winning top honors as the “Team of The Year” in 1938 and 1939. Life Magazine October 23, 1939 notes the team was National Champions for 5 years in a row.

An article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin of Nov 1950, Sgt. Reeves a member of the shooting team in 1938 took note that his 3 main shooters were a Woodsman, a K-38 Masterpiece and a .45 Colt 1911 and that they all had Sanderson grips.

In an article in the American Handgunner, May-June, 1988, Bill Jordan talked about designing a S&W grip in 1938 -1940 that he talked Roper into making for him. He said Roper died and he asked Sanderson to make them, then when Sanderson died they were made by Herrets.

Sanderson made custom grips both before and after WWII. Sanderson is mentioned in Walter Roper’s book copyrighted in 1945 and it is rumored that Sanderson bought Roper’s business when Roper retired.

An issue of Guns Magazine, August 1956 has and advertisement: Sanderson Pistol Stocks. Help you get the extra points. Ask the champions! Individually shaped to your specifications. Name your gun for information. Lew Sanderson, 3075 N. Hickory Ridge Road, Milford, MI. His son Don continued the business into the 1970’s.

Most Sanderson grips can be identified by a matching numerical stamping on the inside of each grip. Grips were made to order by a hand tracing and he had a variety of styles and exotic woods for Colt, Smith & Wesson and High Standard guns.

Here is a Colt advertisement about the team in 1940. The Ad identifies all 5 members with photo's including one of Sanderson.

This week I purchased a beautiful set of late 30's 1st series Woodsman grips that cost me $27.75 delivered and needed nothing. They are shown next on my S1 Woodsman made in 1937.
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Old 09-05-2020, 04:05 PM
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In one of these threads several years ago someone who said they were Lew Sanderson’s grand daughter made a post, introduced herself, then disappeared. Does anyone here know her and have contact info (or could pass her mine?) I’m still doing Sanderson family research and would like to explore whether therE is a connection. Send me a PM if you can help out, please.

Froggie
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Old 09-05-2020, 07:23 PM
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All of the instructors at the US Secret Service firearms range, Office of Training, Beltsville, MD, had the Ferrant grips on the Model 15 revolvers. I always remember admiring them but it seemed like they were hard to get or the guys didn't want to share the source. This would have been mid 70s.
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Old 09-10-2020, 05:03 PM
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I really like the Sandersons with the finger grooves! Very comfy!

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