Pachmayr Compac Revolver Grips

By Chuck Hawks

Compac grips
Compac grip on Ruger SP101. Illustration courtesy of Pachmayr.

August Pachmayr was a well known, old world gunsmith in the Germanic tradition during the formative years of American custom gunmaking. His gunsmith business eventually expanded to include a retail store and a line of accessories and was eventually passed along to his sons. Frank Pachmayr designed the first of the Company's famous rubber grips, the Presentation model.

Today the best known Pachmayr products are grips for handguns and recoil pads for rifles and shotguns. The Pachmayr Company is headquartered in Middletown, CT and is now owned by Lyman (, which also owns the TacStar, Trius, Uni-Dot, A-Zoom and Butch's brands. Pachmayr grips have always been, and still are, made in the USA.

I have used Pachmayr grips for many years and they have been supplied as the OEM grips on some of my favorite revolvers, including the Colt Python. In most cases, if a double action revolver does not come with Pachmayr grips, I buy a set. My prized Colt Python and Diamondback revolvers, for example, wear Pachmayr grips.

Pachmayr offers several styles of rubber revolver grips, including the original Presentation (full size, square butt, target style), Gripper (full size, combat style with finger grooves), Gripper Professional (smaller version of the Gripper with an open back strap for small hands), Decelerator (Gripper style made of 50% softer Decelerator rubber compound), Compac (concealability with control) and Compac Professional (minimum size with an open back strap for small hands).

Compac grips are available for a variety of small frame revolvers. These include Taurus, Charter Arms, Rossi, post 1971 Colt "D" frame models, S&W "J" frame square and round butt models, S&W "K" and "L" frame round butt models and S&W "N" frame round butt models.

As I write these words I am participating in the review of a Ruger SP101 revolver in the new .327 Federal Magnum caliber for the Product Reviews page of Guns and Shooting Online. The SP101 is supplied with one of the ugliest and least functional grips around. It is almost as bad as Smith & Wesson's small frame revolver grips. A panicked call to my friends at Lyman resulted in the prompt delivery of a Pachmayr Compac replacement grip for the little Ruger.

Like all Pachmayr grips, the Compac is easy to install and fits nicely. With most revolvers, all you have to do is to remove the single screw retaining the stock grips, remove them and replace with the Pachmayr grip. Be sure to securely tighten the grip screw; any movement in the grips is poisonous to the accuracy of a handgun.

In the case of the SP101 the process is a little different, but not difficult. First, remove the screw securing the stock grip. Then pry out the ugly plastic inserts, taking care not to lose the small copper plated pin hidden beneath one of the inserts. This small pin has nothing to do with the grips, but is used when removing the hammer spring. Push out the large silver locator pin thus revealed. Now the stock grip can be slipped off the stub grip frame. Slide on the Pachmayr Compac grip, which eliminates the need for a locator pin and is conveniently secured by the single screw supplied. (This is the way that the stock grip should have been designed.)

With the Pachmayr Compac grip in place, the SP101 immediately feels better in the hand. For one thing, unlike the stock grip, it is just long enough to allow the little finger of the strong hand a place on the grip. In addition, the Compac fills the space behind the trigger guard so that the trigger and middle fingers are not crossed and the trigger guard does not rap the middle finger on recoil. The Compac's textured rubber surface provides a secure grip and feels better in the hand than the Ruger grip's deeply grooved, hard plastic inserts. Its material and shape handle recoil better, a particularly noticeably benefit when shooting snappy .327 Magnum factory loads. The SP101 with a Compac grip still fits in its supplied plastic case as well as whatever holster you choose to use.

Overall, the Pachmayr Compac is a substantial improvement in the function and appearance of the SP101 and there are no drawbacks. A Pachmayr Compac grip is just about the easiest, fastest and most economical way to improve the handling and "shootability" of practically any small frame, double action revolver.

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Copyright 2008, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.