Not too long ago, Mike covered Dave Lauck’s excellent replacement fixed sights for revolvers. Normally, we wouldn’t circle back so quickly to the same business with our coverage, but Dave has been so busy churning out new products for revolvers that we had to put another update together for you. It’s obvious that Dave Lauck appreciates the revolver’s continuing viability as a serious use sidearm and his innovative products make them better.
Sights and Stuff
First, a quick update on the sights. While Dave initially focused on making sights for S&Ws, they are now available for Colt and Ruger revolvers as well. If you’ve got a Python, Anaconda, GP100, or Redhawk that needs a rugged set of high-visibility, low-profile sights, look no further than Dave’s shop.
Dave has been hard at work on top strap-mounted, recoil-shouldered, red dot sight mounts, which allow a shooter to use the factory sights when the optic is removed. He has also been working on recessed, dehorned, Picatinny-style light mounts, for revolver barrel underlugs.
Dave also recently released a very user-friendly thumb piece, and an enhanced cylinder crane stop device for S&W revolvers. We’ll take a closer look at those in the future, after we have a chance to work with them.
For now, though, let’s focus on two other products that Mike mentioned in his previous coverage, but didn’t review in detail—Dave’s new Performance Revolver Grip, and his Sight Pack optics plate.
Performance Revolver Grips
One of the benefits of carrying a revolver is the ability to select grips/stocks that fit your hand and assist with recoil mitigation. Lauck’s Performance Revolver Grips (PRGs) are a result of Dave’s experience as an end user, and are designed to fix several common problems for users of these guns.
For many, the shape of the S&W grip frame forces the muzzle to rise up when the gun is punched out to a two-handed hold with locked wrists. The hands and wrists then need to roll downward, to align the sights with the target. Dave’s PRG was designed to allow the sights to be “on” target when locking the wrists straight. The design also aids in quick dot acquisition with a rail mounted optic.
Dave fancies the 1911 pistol, which points more naturally than a factory-stocked S&W revolver. He decided to duplicate the grip angle of a 1911 to get revolver sights swiftly on target. It’s impressive that he succeeded in capturing that angle on a round gun.
Equally impressive are the features he designed to keep the shooting hand locked in that position. The handstop at the base of the grip does exactly that; It stops the hand from sliding off the grip. It also helps to keep the gun on target during recoil and minimizes muzzle rise.
The beavertail is a common feature on semiautos but is almost never seen on revolvers. It allows for a higher grip and puts the hand more in line with the bore which helps with felt recoil and muzzle flip. It also positions the trigger finger for optimal double action trigger leverage. The increased width of the beavertail distributes recoil force over a wider portion of the web of the shooting hand- a welcome feature on hard kicking magnums.
The PRG is a two-piece design that firmly affixes to a round butt grip frame, and is currently made for K, L, N, and X frames. It’s built with two locator pins that join the halves and three cross bolts with standard screw heads that snug them solidly around the frame. Dave partnered with Hogue to construct the grips from heavy duty G-10 for hard use. They’re made slim; Even the N frame versions have less circumference than a single stack 1911 grip. This makes them well suited to average sized hands.
The hand stop at the bottom of the grip can be relieved for larger hands. Lauck will custom fit the grips to your hand size as needed. The G10 exterior is left smooth on purpose, allowing the gun to be shifted for reloads and other gun handling tasks. The panels aren’t sticky or tacky like rubber grips; Clothing slides over them instead of dragging. They can be checkered or stippled as desired, for additional traction. Lauck built a clever lanyard loop into the base that is functional but unobtrusive when not in use.
Testing the PRG
Dave offered to send a pair for trial. I asked for an N frame set, and they arrived in short order. I installed them on a 4” barreled, S&W Model 625 .45ACP that already wore D&L Sports sights. While installing them, I had doubts about the smooth exterior texture, thinking it might be too slippery. The fit was excellent and the seams lined up cleanly. The center of the backstrap is left exposed and the grips give a very modern, racy look.
My doubts about the lack of texture disappeared when I grasped them firmly. My shooting hand compressed into the available space on the front strap, between the hand stop and the underside of the frame/trigger guard, and literally locked in place. I must have an average hand, because when I “shook hands” with the grip, my middle knuckles fell exactly in line with the bottom of the trigger guard. Relaxing my grasp allowed the grips to become slippery again-my hand slid off them easily to reload.
Punching the gun out from a ready position brought the sights directly onto chosen targets within the range of my living room. I’d pick a small target, close my eyes, and punch the gun out. Opening my eyes would reveal the sights being on (or very close to) the selected target.
Live fire with the grips confirmed that you don’t need soft rubber to absorb recoil on a revolver. The shape of the PRG Beavertail was perfect for that task, and worked with the hand stop to prevent excessive muzzle flip. It was very rewarding to punch the gun out and be on target- and then have the sights return to target quickly after firing. I found that I could track the front sight in recoil much better than with more conventional grips. I always believed you had to cover the hump on the backstrap of an S&W Revolver with soft material to keep it from hammering the web of your thumb/trigger finger. Dave’s design doesn’t need to be soft, though– it changes the contour of the backstrap’s “interface” with the shooting hand and spreads the recoil force over a larger area.
I swapped the grips from the 625 to a .41 Magnum Mountain Gun to see how they did with magnum recoil. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the PRG’s handled factory .41 Magnums. The design keeps the gun from shifting in your hand and the hump on the frame can’t get a running start to beat you up.
Elmer Keith favored the small, frame-contoured Magna grips, even on his .44 Magnums, because his hands weren’t large. They were strong enough from a lifetime of hard work to prevent the gun from moving. Keith advocated squeezing the sap out of the wood–that kept the frame from cracking him. Lauck’s grips make it easier for the rest of us mortals. Like his sights, you must experience these grips to fully appreciate them. The PRG’s performance may seem like black magic, but it’s simply the result of repeated trial and error—Dave wouldn’t give up until his concept worked as envisioned.
“Sight Pack” Optics Plate
Lauck has also made it much easier for the revolver fancier to mount an optic on full size S&W revolvers. He developed an optics plate that replaces the rear sight assembly on modern S&W K, L, N, and X frame revolvers. The plate (named the Sight Package) typically drops in on newer model guns that have the top strap drilled and tapped underneath the sight. Dave can retrofit them onto older guns as well.
The plate is made to fit Trijicon full size RMR or SRO open emitter red dot optics. It will also work with other optics with the use of adaptors. The D&L Sight Pack isn’t the only plate out there for S&W revolvers, but it’s the only one I know of that has built in iron sights.
Dave bracketed the optic mounting surface with a rear sight and a front sight that can be viewed through the optic window. In the event the optic fails, the shooter still has short range sights to get them out of a jam.
Testing the Sight Pack
Dave sent one for me to evaluate. Like everything he builds, the mount is rock solid and meant for hard use. I put it on a custom S&W Model 657 as it’s one of the few newer Smiths that I own. The mount slid into the groove with a few taps from a rubber mallet. The mounting holes lined up perfectly with those on the top strap, and the supplied screws locked down without protruding into the cylinder window.
I had ordered a Holosun EPS closed emitter red dot to mount on the revolver. The EPS comes with an adaptor to mount on plates with the Trijicon footprint. It mounted without drama, but the adaptor made it sit a little higher than directly mounting to the plate.
I decided to zero the gun with the Winchester 175 grain Silvertip as an all-around load. Lauck recommends a 7 yard zero with the irons based on their intended emergency use. The wide serrated front post combines nicely with the wide U notch rear for this purpose. The Silvertips impacted about two inches low at 7 yards with a center hold. They would likely be right on with a heavy weight cast bullet for woods use. A few judicious swipes with a file would match impact to the point of aim if the Silvertip was a final choice. The fixed iron sight’s windage was spot on.
Moving on to the optic, I ran out of vertical adjustment before I could achieve a hard zero with Silvertips. It shot a couple of inches high at 15 yards with the elevation dial bottomed out. Lauck said I was the first person he knew of that couldn’t achieve zero with his rail and the EPS. Combined with the adaptor, it sat too high on my 4” tapered barrel .41 Magnum. It obviously works on most other gun and caliber combinations.
I dismounted the Holosun and secured a Trijicon SRO directly onto the D&L plate. This fixed the elevation problem, and a zero was achieved with the Silvertips at 15 yards. I had to dial down the elevation quite a bit from the optic’s previous host, but it zeroed with plenty of downward adjustment left.
Adding the optic with the D&L Sight Pack to this revolver enhanced its capabilities as a primary hunting revolver. It extends the practical range of engagement and improves sight clarity in low light. These benefits carry over to its usefulness as a defensive gun in the woods or home, and the iron sights are thoughtful insurance when Murphy comes calling.
Dave combines his decades of shooting expertise with a mastery of machining and gunsmithing skills to produce thoughtful, useful products for the revolvers we love to shoot. If you’re carrying a revolver for serious work, give Dave’s stuff a look.