Birdshead grip frame on longer barreled revolvers

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seasterl

Single-Sixer
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Dec 5, 2011
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I'm posting here (as I probably should have in the first place) since my posting at Specialty Pistols didn't gain much traction...

With regards to Ruger single-action revolvers, I like their birdshead grip frame the most but only when wearing thicker grip panels (not the thin factory grip panels). For max loads, the Bisley does give more to hold on to, and I like it for that, but the heel always bites into my support hand. XR3-RED (Dragoon) grip frames are even worse! In my opinion, the birdshead frame with fat, palm-filling panels is about as good and comfortable as it gets when shooting a single-action revolver. Having said that, I'm thinking about swapping grip frames between a couple of my Vaqueros to experiment with how a birdhead (with fat panels as described) grip frame would work with a 7.5" (original) Vaquero in 45Colt. I mention the cartridge because the larger bore keeps the barrel a little lighter compared to a long-barrel 357Mag, for example. Also, I mention "original" Vaquero with the implication that I won't mind setting off a few of the Ruger-only loads in this configuration (or at least something a little warmer than 14,000cup). Has anyone tried a properly-gripped birdshead frame on a 7.5" 45Colt before? How was the balance? Keep in mind that if I were to use thin factory grips, then all bets are off (completely off) the table. After I put some fat panels on my Ruger birdshead, I can comfortably shoot warm 44Mag rounds all day in comfort, but with factory grips, about a cylinder full is all I want. The difference is that dramatic that I'm just thinking of doing the grip frame swap. Lastly, would there be any fitting issues as long as the grip frames are take-offs from original Vaqueros? So far I've only seen one photo of a 7.5" Vaquero with a birdshead grip frame, but I was not able to talk to the owner. Thanks for the comments!
 

needsmostuff

Single-Sixer
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Sep 4, 2008
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Tucson,AZ
Sorry , not a birdshead fan. When I am polite I just stay out of the birdshead conversation as I am as much anti as many that are pro but,,,,.In this case I have shot a long barreled birdie Vaqueo that was handed to me with great pride.
First impression was noseheavy , and I mean to say NOSEHEAVY. To the point of having to grossly alter my shooting grip and stance.
Second opinion to a lesser degree was diminished stability as it seemed to want to rotate in my paw during recoil producing a LOT of low left. It was unavoidable with a fixed sighted gun making it useless past 20 feet without huge amounts of Kentucky windage.
My personal grip on single actions may be responsible . The grip "steers "the gun . I use a stouter grip at the bottom of the grip for steering and lighter at the top for trigger stuff. The squarer grip gives me something more locking into the palm and the Birdie has nothing there.
With a birdshead I simply tend to pull the barrel down at ignition.
So for me a birdshead on a short barreled gun will carry nice and look cool but will not be steering anything I want to hit a target with.
 

jdowney

Bearcat
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Oct 7, 2009
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Rural New Mexico
heheh.... only two kinds of people read birdshead threads - those who love 'em and those who hate 'em! :mrgreen:
The guys who don't care either way don't even open the thread!

I made a pair of grips for my neighbor's .45 ACP birdshead years ago and always kinda liked the feel, but never shot it. Got a single seven BH last spring and shot it a bunch (after making new grips for it - you are 100% correct about the grip shape). So I'm in the love 'em camp.

I'm interested to hear what you find if you try a swap. My longest barrel sixgun is a 4 5/8" though, so I doubt I'll make use of the info!
 

seasterl

Single-Sixer
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Dec 5, 2011
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FL
What cartridge was that 4 5/8” in? A 45Colt has a lot less steel (weight) in it than a 357Mag. I just might have to try the swap, if anything, just to see if a take-off fits very well and see how the balance is. I suspect a lot of guys might change their mind on a birdshead if they had the right grips on it. Ruger is notorious for using such thin grips on all their revolvers, but none amplify it more than a birdshead.
 

G2

Hunter
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UT/AZ
The Birdshead is just a XR3-RED That has been round butted. I get the THIN THING, Not for me either, I have really liked the Original Lett Black Mikarta on Stainless, but not too sure about going longer than a 4.6” barrel.
Here is my longest, 45/45ACP Flattop.
50279025353_88a2fa3d68_z.jpg


My Family of the Birdshead.
45/45ACP Flattop
45/45ACP Vaquero
327M S7
22/22M S6

50286667097_45aeaf6ae9_z.jpg


Ronnie Is making a KBird, a Bisley that has been round butted, can get it in Brass would look great on Blue Guns and will give some weight in the rear,,, or Aluminum which could be finished in just about anything you so desire, OM/NM, Trigger guard, lots of options.
6 rows down, #3 & #4.
https://rwgripframes-com.3dcartstores.com/GRIP-FRAMES_c_7.html
 

jdowney

Bearcat
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seasterl said:
What cartridge was that 4 5/8” in? A 45Colt has a lot less steel (weight) in it than a 357Mag. I just might have to try the swap, if anything, just to see if a take-off fits very well and see how the balance is. I suspect a lot of guys might change their mind on a birdshead if they had the right grips on it. Ruger is notorious for using such thin grips on all their revolvers, but none amplify it more than a birdshead.

Its a 44 magnum, one of the original non-stainless ones introduced in the 1990's. If it were a 5 1/2 I might be tempted to swap the grip frame and see how it does, but I don't see a whole lot of difference with just 7/8" more barrel compared to my BH 357 Vaquero.

I shoot specials from both generally.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Lake Lure NC USA
All I can say is that a gun should fit YOUR hands & it doesn't matter what others think. As for experience,, I haven't tried long barreled guns with a birdshead grip.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Ohio , U.S.A.
the people who really appreciated the "birds head " grips were actually horse back riders and the rounded grip frame was for their "cross draw" holsters ( ala ,back up) to put a rounded, small birds head grip on a LONG barrel or a large caliber to me is reduntant (sic)

then there is the "sherifs model"......and "so it goes......" RIP Wil 8) :roll: :wink:
 

Bob Wright

Hawkeye
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As for me, I prefer the Dragoon style grip frame, and generally prefer the square butt. I find that the square butt offers a mite more balance for precision shooting as it braces against the heel of my hand and supports the frontal weight better.

I blught a Smith & Wesson Model 625 with a round butt and made a pair of stocks to adapt it to square butt configuration.



My experience only.


Bob Wright
 

seasterl

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 5, 2011
Messages
288
Location
FL
Thanks for the comments. I had a longer reply typed out on my iPhone but lost it all. So I'll be brief. Here's a cool pic of someone else's collection, but I don't know the owner....

001_IMG_5549.JPG


Here are a couple of my Vaqueros that I'm considering doing the grip frame swap on just to experiment (see below). I find that when I use the 7.5", I tend to use my non-dominant hand to support and steady my shot. Even though I like the dragoon grip for one-handed shooting, I find the birdshead is more comfortable for my support hand under recoil. The obvious point here is that the birdshead grip panels are thick enough so as to not allow the gun to move around so much and afford a nice purchase (hold) on it when shooting.

001_IMG_5546.HEIC


001_IMG_5541.HEIC


Here's one of my birdshead in 44Mag with the thicker grips I like to use. It's the most comfortable handgun I own!

001_IMG_4342.HEIC
 

jdowney

Bearcat
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I like that pic of the guy's collection, saved that one. I'm lukewarm on the idea of shooting the long barrel versions, but that sure is a nice collection and a well composed photo.

What's the grip material on yours? I usually shoot for a lot thinner near the top, but nicely swelled like that at the bottom. I may try one thick at the top too, just for fun.

Last night I was messing around with inletting for the frame at the top - the way Ruger doesn't and some manufacturers do or did. I like the look, but its a pain.
 

seasterl

Single-Sixer
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Dec 5, 2011
Messages
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The yellow (antiqued non-distressed ivory) grips on my 44Mag birdshead at the bottom are the thick (heavy) Magna Tusk grips by Arizona Custom Grips. I’m using them on all my Vaqueros. The middle pic still has the black factory grips since I’m waiting for the new thick ones to arrive. I admit, it took a few tries to get right for one of my Bisley frame to minimize the gap at the curved section near the top, but they worked out nicely. Otherwise, you can see their thicker dragoon black grip on my 7.5” really helps me get a better hold on it and repositions my knuck away from the back of the trigger guard so I can comfortably shoot the 45Colt “Ruger-only” loads. The only issue I have is what I alluded to already about support hand comfort still being better with the birdshead because there’s no heel to dig into the support hand. (I have to hold it more like a S&W.)
 
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jdowney said:
heheh.... only two kinds of people read birdshead threads - those who love 'em and those who hate 'em! :mrgreen:
The guys who don't care either way don't even open the thread!

Not necessarily. I opened it because I have no personal experience with "birdies" and wanted to see what others might think about them.

To me, it appears they'd be somewhat awkward on long-barreled guns, but possibly OK on the little "sheriff" models to enhance concealability if you wished to carry a single-action in that manner, but that's just based on observation, not hands-on.

I note mixed impressions from you guys, and that's certainly expected. :wink:
 

protoolman

Hunter
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Oct 15, 2001
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ND
I tried putting a birdshead on my 4 5/8 blackhawk. Really didn't like the way it wallowed around in my hand accuracy wise. I have a short vaquero factory birdshead now thats my only one. I would think a long barrel would make it a lot worse like someone else stated.I think you need the control of the bigger grip to keep things level.
 

princeout

Blackhawk
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Jun 12, 2009
Messages
945
Location
Oklahoma
I'm a fan of the birdshead grip frame. All of mine currently have 4-3/4" or shorter barrels, on Rugers and USFAs. I did put a birdshead grip frame on an OM 44 SBH just to see how it looked once, but didn't shoot it so can 't comment on that. It was somewhat barrel heavy as you might expect. I've since put one of Ronnie's XR3.5 brass grip frames on it but no grip panels yet.

cG6dliX.jpg


Here are my current Rugers with birdshead grip frame:

Idatpwo.jpg


Gallagher built 500 Linebaugh on the left, large frame 45 Colt in the center and Single Six in 32 H&R on the right. The 45 is well worn, fake CCH, carried often and probably my most fired handgun.

These are USFA Double Eagles in 45 Colt with the longer 4-3/4" barrels.

tuQpoFS.jpg


And finally, this is another USFA Double Eagle in 45 Colt with the shorter 3-1/2" barrel. Haven't taken a glamour shot of it yet.

lOuwCrx.jpg


I like the shorter barreled birdsheads the best.

Tim
 

Onty

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
397
Never had a chance to handle BH with birdhead grip. When handling powerful SA revolver, for me Bisley grip is the king.

However, I did handle Webley WG with birdhead grip. It fits my hand like glove. Ergonomic of this revolver is just unbelievable, pay attention to low hammer spur:

540x360.jpg
 

seasterl

Single-Sixer
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Messages
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FL
Holy smokes, Tim! Nice collection. I’d love to go to the range with you one day and shoot that Linebaugh birdshead hand cannon. Are you throwing 440gr about 800-900fps with it?
 

princeout

Blackhawk
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Messages
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Location
Oklahoma
seasterl said:
Holy smokes, Tim! Nice collection. I’d love to go to the range with you one day and shoot that Linebaugh birdshead hand cannon. Are you throwing 440gr about 800-900fps with it?

525 gr with either full case of Trail Boss for fun or H-110 for excitement.

uFp1akK.jpg


Forgot my glove that day.

Tim
 

seasterl

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 5, 2011
Messages
288
Location
FL
princeout said:
seasterl said:
Holy smokes, Tim! Nice collection. I’d love to go to the range with you one day and shoot that Linebaugh birdshead hand cannon. Are you throwing 440gr about 800-900fps with it?

525 gr with either full case of Trail Boss for fun or H-110 for excitement.

Forgot my glove that day.

Tim

You might consider some Longshot loads for moderate performance. Better than Trailboss and less aggressive than H110. Worked great for my 500WE.
 

Onty

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
397
princeout said:
525 gr with either full case of Trail Boss for fun or H-110 for excitement.

uFp1akK.jpg


Forgot my glove that day.

Tim

Regarding Trail Boss, what is the charge, and what is the velocity you are getting?

I like flutes on that cylinder. Use to have 357, 41 and 45 Bisley later models, smooth cylinders (just roll marking). eventually I sold them. Purchased stainless SBH with 5.5 inch barrel, with flutes, swapped parts with stainless Bisley Vaquero, and never looked back.

BTW, judging by dragging mark on cylinder, that revolver is definitely not safe queen.
 
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