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Custom Grips Victory


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There was a post somewhere, can't recall where, but someone commented on how they never seen custom grips on the .38 Victory. This was in response to an image shown, then a couple more were posted. Well, I found a few more after rummaging through some images. 


2nd Lt. Stuart Alley, USMC. 2nd MAW, Okinawa






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Charlie Flick

Hello Dustin:


This is an interesting topic.  Thanks for the post.  I have a couple of thoughts on this.


First, the grips on the revolver worn by Lt. Alley in your first post appear to me to be transparent as the grip screw is evident.  Those type of grips were often referred to as "sweetheart grips" as the owners would typically insert a photo of the girl back home or Mom underneath.  The material used for sweetheart grips is generally thought to have been salvaged Plexiglas from damaged aircraft.  They are rarely seen on revolvers since the proper shaping and fitting is difficult to achieve in the field or aboard ship.  Most sweetheart grips observed today are those for the M1911 .45 pistols.  The M1911 grips are flat, relatively thin and much easier to fabricate.


Second, the type of grips observed in the second and third examples you posted are rather difficult to decipher as the images are far from optimum.  Having said that, however, I would speculate that the grips are most likely an early form of molded plastic known as Tenite.   These type of custom grips were available to shooters and sportsmen pre-war.  See the catalog entry below illustrating a wide variety of such Tenite grips that were offered in the 1941 Stoeger Arms catalog.  You will notice that the overall shapes of the grips in post #2 and #3 are very similar to a couple of the illustrated Tenite grips.




It is also possible, but much less likely in my estimation, that the grips in posts 2 and 3 with the Hornet and Enterprise aviators are ivory, pearl or even more remotely, Tuskoid, a type of plastic grip material that the Smith & Wesson experimented with in the 1930s.  The latter type of grips are extremely rare so I very much doubt that these Naval aviators are using Tuskoid grips.  


Seven decades on from the War it is impossible now to say to a certainty what the grips are in posts 2 and 3, but I would bet on the Tenite grips as most likely.




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Very enlightening Charlie, thanks for chiming in!


I didn't actually think the grip in post 2 was pearl, hence saying pearl type. I'm seeing a kind of a marbling or swirl in them much like the appearance of pearl, but now that you mention Tenite, that makes much better sense. We often see that with marbling or swirl effects. I find it interesting that they are in white. Wish I had another profile pic of Alley to see if there is a "sweetheart" in those grips. 

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About a "sweatheart" grip. In your book in Vol.1 page 220, USN pilot have also nice plexiglas grip but for .45. Still hard to see if there is some photo under it :(



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Some more examples from another thread:


well known photo of VF-11 pilots:



Another VF-11 pilot




Vanderwall twins, Andrew left, Arnold right VT-7 (1945). Looks like a Andrew had also a custom made grip




USMC pilots from VMB-613




More examples from Dustin:


Crew member of VD-1



The Vanderwall twins again:




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Another popular grip in that era (and post-WW2 as well) was the Franzite brand, made of an early plastic material. They came in different textures and colors, but the stag horn variety was very popular and may be what we are seeing in some of the photos posted by Dustin and Jerry.




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