Why?

The California grip maker explained it. In the early days of Colt revolvers, the grips were actually cut from a block of wood and inlet so the grip frame fit around it. The Italian Colt replica grips I’ve examined are made the same way. However, to simplify matters grip makers today produce each side’s panel and then glue them together with a spacer. The look and function is the same. Even better; I’ve never seen a glued set separate.

Right now I have one-piece Colt SAA grips made of water buffalo horn, elephant ivory, bison thigh bone, stag antler, hard rubber and various types of wood. My favorite wood is usually fancy walnut but rosewood is beautiful also. My one-piece-style grips have been made by a variety of craftsmen. The first finally came in the early ’80s — a talented stock maker for Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing, the producer of those beautifully crafted Sharps Model 1874 recreations, made some for me. The wood was fancy walnut salvaged from rifle stocks broken in shipment. Another time the nice folks at Eagle Grips sent me a set of panels made of rosewood. With my history of wood butchery I prevailed on another stock maker to fit them for me.

One reason after-market grip makers might shy away from Colt SAAs is this — at the factory, grips are fitted before the final polishing of the grip frame. In other words the final polishing is done with the wood fitted so the end result is a perfect fit. Aftermarket grip makers have to be exceptionally careful in fitting grip panels lest they get into the metal and leave a major boo-boo.