One of the selling points of a quality revolver is a good selection of interchangeable grips. Unlike most semi-automatic pistols, which only allow for minor changes to the grip shape (if any), revolver grips make it possible to change thickness, length, texture, finger grooves and even the material type. But one revolver I enjoy shooting that has historically had very little to choose from in the grip department is the Magnum Research BFR series of single-action wheelguns.
Although this stretched-out big-bore platform was originally inspired by the Ruger Blackhawk single-action, the grip frame has always been uniquely shaped and not quite compatible with aftermarket Blackhawk grip panels. This has resulted in most BFRs shipping with and sticking with a hand filling two-piece factory installed rubber grip.
This year Magnum Research is shaking things up with two new grip options.
The recently added Hogue Mono Grip for the BFR is a slip-on grip replacement for the standard “plough share” BFR grip frame. Soft-pebbled synthetic rubber is molded over a single-piece polymer frame. It doesn't require a screw to secure it in place, so the surface of the grip has a uniform shape without divots, holes or screw heads to irritate shooters' hands. The grip is installed using a provided T-shaped tool that opens the grip just enough to snap it into place.
It's a more comfortable grip than the previous rubber model with a narrower profile. It allows shooters to form a higher grip with the shooting hand without bumping the middle knuckle against the trigger guard. This grip is now shipping with new production guns or it can be ordered as a replacement grip.
The other new grip option is a Bisely grip frame with an enlarged trigger guard. The Bisely grip style was originally developed in the late 1890s but popularized for today's single-action fans by the Ruger revolver of the same name in the mid 1980s. It's taller than the plough-share style with a longer curve along the backstrap and a straight profile at the bass. This grip shape is a preferred option for handgun hunting because it aids in managing felt recoil. It’s a great fit for the big, beefy BFRs.
There are two ways to get your hands on the Bisley grip. The first option is to order it as an in-house custom feature of a brand-new revolver. It will add about $90 to the cost of the gun if ordered with the standard faux ivory polymer grip panels. For $50 more, the polymer grips can be upgraded to polished black Micarta (which looks and feels fantastic to work with).
For those who already own a BFR manufactured after the year 2000 with serial numbers that have the prefix JT or BR, the revolver can be shipped back to the factory to be fitted with the new Bisely grip frame and standard white polymer panels for $389 (shipping fees apply).
It's been a while since I spent some quality time at the range with my 5.5" barrel Hammer .45 Colt/.410 BFR. So, I decided to take advantage of option #2 and have it refitted with the Bisley grip frame by the gunsmiths at the Magnum Research facility.
The revolver was gone for about two weeks. When it returned, the new grip frame was fitted with the black Micarta grip panels and two other upgrades that are now standard features on new production guns. The previous hammer was replaced with the new machined stainless steel model which is now taller and narrower than before. Like the enlarged trigger guard, this hammer is easier to cock and operate when wearing gloves. The rear sight was also traded out for the latest all-steel, square-notch model which is fully adjustable for height and windage.
The freshly re-framed 5.5” Hammer proved to be comfortable to shoot using a variety of 2-¾" .410-bore shotshells, 3” shells and .45 Colt revolver cartridges. The grip rolls back smoothly in the hand to successfully mitigate the felt recoil. The Micarta grips are nicely fitted and polished. This grip assembly not only shoots well but gives the revolver a sleek, handsome appearance. Based on my own experience, I think fans of the BFR will enjoy working with these new grip options.