I am ending the year of 2020 with a new topic, although it is an extension of an old topic.
After I had purchased the Ruger Redhawk in .44 magnum from the gun club I belong to, the standard Hogue Monogrip was immediately changed to one from Altamont grips. The grips, while good, still did not satisfy me. They did not seem to ‘lock’ into the frame as I would have liked, which could mean that the grips could possibly loosen as the revolver was being fired. I let that thought sit for quite a while, as the ‘Hawk’ would not be shot for quite some time and it would reside in the safe.
Recently, while on a search for something else, I ran across the Hogue Fancy Hardwood Grips with Finger Grooves Ruger Redhawk Checkered Cocobolo from Midway USA. As I am very fond of finger-groove grips of any sort, and this Hogue grip would fill a need for a quality grip when holding the Ruger Redhawk.
The Hogue grip is as large as the standard rubber grip, which I determined to be overly large even for my hands, but they are not as small as the Altamont grips. I was hoping for a ‘Goldilocks’ grip that would satisfy my hand and my desire for an excellent looking but functional grip.
Several of my hand guns, revolver and semi-automatic, sport Hogue grips. They are not the most expensive nor are they among the least expensive when it comes to exotic wood grips.
The Hogue grip is not a ‘true’ one-piece grip. It is actually two, milled pieces that are then joined together. There is a slight seam that runs the length of the grip, but has been finished so well as to be hardly detectable. The grip is mounted to the frame at the bottom rather than on the side, which produces the strongest mounting possible on a revolver of this nature. The grip is polished but not overly-polished, which means that the natural grain and characteristics of the wood is preserved. Cocobolo wood has a very tight and distinct grain pattern, and this example is a dark reddish brown with an excellent grain pattern.
“Cocobolo is an exotic wood native to Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, and is favored for custom pool cues, fine furniture and cabinetry, inlays, and musical instruments. The wood is very durable and strong, with a fine texture. It is extremely beautiful, ranging in color from dark red to reddish brown, with an irregular grain pattern. Cocobolo has fantastic working characteristics, making it a favorite for turning and carving, and finishes very smoothly.” – BellForest.com.
Rather than fully encapsulating the frame of the Redhawk, the backstrap is partially exposed and then blends in with the grip. By doing so, the trigger reach is much shorter than with a grip that fully encapsulates the backstrap. The finger grooves are well spaced and my fingers fall into the grooves naturally. The finger grooves help, but the hand still has the tendency to ride lower on the backstrap than I prefer. Due to the configuration of the grip, the backstrap rests against the thickest, fleshy part of the thumb (medically termed the “Thenar Eminence”) shown below. This ‘Thenar Eminence’ is what takes the most abuse from the felt recoil of the .44 magnum, which then travels up the arm like a shock wave. But, lest I digress further, let’s move on.
The side checkering of the grip is excellent (approximately 20-lines per inch) and provides enough texture for gripping the handle without being abusive to the hand…the recoil of the Redhawk when firing full magnum loads is abusive enough. The design of the grip allows for better control of the ‘Hawk’ and its 47+ ounces (2.9 pounds unloaded weight) by balancing the weight distribution of the revolver in the hand. With a 4.20-inch barrel, the ‘Hawk’ is not as barrel heavy as its longer-barreled brethren, and the increased muzzle flash, muzzle rise, and felt recoil takes as much management as can be given.
You may notice that the bottom of the grip, rather than being squared-off, is rounded and then sweeps upward toward the front strap. This design provides maximum length at the base of the hand while providing more than enough gripping surface for the fingers. The transition between wood and steel is very good while the sculpting of the wood is very friendly to the hand.
The ‘Hawk’ has a high bore axis just by the nature of its design. A higher bore axis usually translates into more muzzle flip as the bullet exits the barrel. It is most desirable to fire a revolver of this type and caliber with a very firm, two-hand thumb-over hold, with elbows and wrist locked so that the revolver and body act as a unit while limiting the amount of rotation of the revolver in the hand. The finger grooves of the grip do assist somewhat, but the immense and sharp recoil of the revolver does play havoc with the hand and wrist joints. Luckily, the finger grooves do allow the wearing of a shooting glove that does help mitigate the effects of felt recoil. Although I do not suffer from arthritis or bursitis, I wish to keep it that way.
Installing the Grip
The mounting of the Hogue Fancy Hardwood Grips with Finger Grooves Ruger Redhawk Checkered Cocobolo requires no special skills and installs easily, but comes with a caveat.
After the stock Hogue Monogrip grip (or another grip) is removed, the guide plug must be separated and removed from the frame. The mounting adapter for the Hogue grip consists of a stainless-steel retaining pin, yoke assembly, mounting nut, and mounting screw. The retaining pin must reside inside of the yoke assembly, which is spring steel. Placing the pin inside of the yoke can be very difficult if the yoke is in alignment with the frame. Do not place the mounting nut within the yoke before you attempt to insert the pin. I found that if you rotate the yoke so that it is perpendicular to the frame, inserting the pin is much easier, as while you must put the pin into place you must also overcome the spring tension of the yoke. Once the pin is in place, simply rotate the entire assembly 90-degrees to align with the frame, then insert the mounting nut within the assembly. You can center the mounting assembly, if you wish, to the bottom center of the frame. However, the mounting assembly will ‘self-position’ as the grip is slid onto the frame.
Locate the channel that exists within the grip that ‘guides’ the mounting assembly. Slide the grip onto the frame, which might take a rocking motion to achieve, until the grip stops. The grip is a tight fit to the frame, which is a good thing as any play between the grip and frame is undesirable.
Add a dab of ‘blue’ Loktite to the screw. Then, using a properly-sized, hollow-ground, slotted screwdriver tip to prevent slippage, insert the mounting screw into the mounting nut slightly and give it one or two turns to grab the threads of the mounting nut. Normally, the grip is in its final position on the frame but you may be able to ‘final’ position it further. Tighten the grip screw and the task is done.
The grip is solidly mounted on the frame of the ‘Hawk’ and what you have is a solidly constructed unit from which you can fire your favorite .44 Special or .44 magnum ammunition.
Once you grip the ‘Hawk’ with the grip mounted, your hand will sense the slight ‘palm swell’ that exists with the grip. Your brain will sense the fullness of the grip and there should be no doubt that you are holding a “Hand Cannon.”
I prefer a wood grip over a rubber grip. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but also that rubber grips on a revolver of this caliber does not really provide enough absorption of recoil to make a difference (IMHO).
Granted that a rubber grip will give a little when compressed, but that is primarily in the finger area where the felt recoil is not that great. The felt recoil is mostly to the rear and with an exposed backstrap, whether on a wood, wood composite, G10, or rubber grip, the backstrap is what transmits the felt recoil to the hand. When I grip a revolver of magnum caliber, I want the tightest, fullest grip that my hand can achieve. The tightest, fullest grip that my hand can achieve, in my mind, is when it has the most solid surface upon which to grip, and wood is very good with doing so.
So, I now have, in more ways than one, a “Master Blaster” with an excellent set of wood grips that provide me a degree of confidence when handing the piece. I can’t ask for much more than that.
Overall, the fit and finish of the grip, while not perfect, blends well into the frame of the ‘Hawk’ while the look of the grip accents the clean lines of the revolver. The Hogue Fancy Hardwood Grips with Finger Grooves Ruger Redhawk Checkered Cocobolo is well worth the investment, in my opinion.
The grip adds a dimension to the revolver that says, “I belong here!” It is neither too short nor too long.
Hogue has a full line of grips for the Ruger Redhawk…round-butt or square-butt and in various materials. I prefer finger-groove grips over all and I prefer them with texturing (checkered or otherwise) for additional gripping surfaces. Even with finger grooves, I have found that having a grip with no checkering just makes the grip too slippery in the hand. Checkered grips cost a bit more, but provide a better grip than without checkering, which makes purchasing a grip with texturing a better value.