Ajax Custom Grips


by Greg Quinn

photography by Greg Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 3rd, 2009




Ajax Custom Grips out of Dallas, Texas has been making quality aftermarket grips for various handguns for a very long time.  They make grips for almost every model of single action revolver, and most popular semi-autos and double-action revolvers as well.  They provide grips in a variety of materials, and are sure to have something to meet most every taste.  Their grips are priced reasonably as well.

Our buddy Doug Degroote with Ajax sent us several sets of grips months ago in order to provide a review and analysis of their product on several popular handguns.  This article is the result of such analysis.

We reviewed #28-SG out of Sambar Stag (authentic, not the fake stuff) to fit Ruger Bisley grip frame.  We fit their #27-SL of Staglite (fabricated material to look like stag at a much lower cost) on a Ruger Bearcat.  We received model #31-BH out of Buffalo Horn designed to fit a Ruger XR3-RED grip frame.  We received #31S in Pewter for the Ruger XR3-RED grip frame. And, we received 2 sets of 1911 grip sets, one of scroll-pattern Pewter, and another of White Pearlite (artificial pearl that is more durable and less costly), models 12S-Scroll and 12-WP respectively. 

It is difficult to make aftermarket grips to fit perfectly on handguns for which they were designed, yet that is the challenge that must be met by respected grip manufacturers like Ajax.   In this test, some, but not all, of the grips fit well, and some would need some “tweaking” to make work properly on the handguns to which they were mounted.

The Ruger Bearcat grips are an example of a perfect “out of the box” fit.  With no modification at all (as to be expected), the Bearcat Staglite grips fit perfect and look really good.  From a distance, the Staglite grips look almost identical to genuine stag.  Up close, however, the grain is missing and the gloss finish of the Staglite give them away as fakes.  But, for the purpose for which they are designed, Staglite grips look good, are very durable, and are a fraction of the price of genuine stag (some $42 compared with $240).  The Bearcat’s new grips look great on the old-model Bearcat (a Bearcat from the 60’s).  They look so good that I am keeping them.

At the other extreme, the Genuine Sambar Stag grips look really good.  Made from genuine sambar stag, these grips are made well and represent a truly great look on a quality single-action auto.  The grips we ordered were designed to fit Ruger Bisley revolvers.  I tried the grips out on two different Bisley models, a Bisley and a Bisley Vaquero.  The grips fit decently on the blued Bisley, yet really needed a bit of custom fitting to provide a truly factory fit.  The grips didn’t fit well at all on the stainless Bisley Vaquero, although I expected them to do so.  For a $240 set of grips, I would expect a better fit.  Yet, with a small amount of file work and a little time, they could be made to look factory-perfect on the Ruger Bisley.  Actually, Ajax recommends some custom-fitting on many single-action revolvers, and such was the case with the stag grips on the Bisley revolvers.

The Buffalo Horn grips are made well, crafted from genuine buffalo horn.  They are polished nicely and have just enough character to make them realistically the genuine article.  They did not, however, fit well on my Ruger Vaquero to which they were fitted.  The New Model Vaquero had slimmer “gunfighter” style rubber grips.  The thicker buffalo horn grips didn’t fit well on this particular revolver.  There was too large a gap at the top of the grip.  Again, with some fitting, they can be made to work well.  For this article, I didn’t custom-fit any of the grips, but tested the fit right out of the box.  I plan to custom-fit them on another older-model Vaquero in the near future, and with some time in fitting, they will look great.

Recognizing the difficulty of making out-of-the-box 1911 grip panels fit the latest model of semi-custom 1911’s (those coming from the factory with extended beavertails, ambi controls, etc.), I tested their fit on one of the finest factory 1911’s for the money on the market now, the Taurus 1911.  While you can find a more expensive 1911, and one that has more custom features or that is more accurate, the Taurus is about as good of a box gun that you can get for the money.  You can spend three times as much for a truly custom 1911 like the Les Baer or Ed Brown, and can spend more on high-quality 1911’s from Colt, Kimber, Springfield, Rock River, and others.  I have, and own some of these others and they are fine guns and are worth the money.  For a quality value-priced 1911, however, the Taurus is hard to beat.  Anyway, I chose the Taurus because they are popular, good-shooting, and offer a lot of features for the money.  The days of people buying a stripped-down 1911 and spending thousands to customize it are long-gone.  I figured that these 1911 grip panels from Ajax should fit well on the Taurus, as it represents what the market is currently buying.  However, I was surprised when the panels didn’t fit well.  The Pearlite grips are thicker than the factory rubber grips on the Taurus, and the top screw on the left side wasn’t long enough to hold the grip panel in place.  Ajax, sadly, didn’t provide any new grip screws for their 1911 grips.  Yet, most aftermarket grip panels for 1911’s do not include additional screws.  Also, the way the ambi safety is designed (I am right-handed so the standard thumb safety is on the left of the gun; therefore the ambi is on the right side), the right-side grip panel would require a notch to make the grips fit nicely.  This was noticed on both the pearlite and the pewter grip panels.  If fitted to a gun without an ambidextrous safety, the pewter grips would have worked fine.  However, the ambi safety did cause a problem.  A bit of time and a file could have remedied the problem, or the removal of the ambi safety, but again, I was testing for out-of-the-box fit. 

Outside of some problems with fit, and if you are willing to spend a bit of time fitting the grips to the particular handgun, the Ajax grips are built to high-quality standards and out of good materials.  They are priced right, and offer a good quality aftermarket grip to fit most every gun out there.  And, their custom shop will tailor-make a set of grips for your gun if they do not have them in stock.

If you are desiring to buy a set of aftermarket grips and mount them yourself, expecting a perfect fit out-of-the-box, that hasn’t been my experience with these Ajax grips.  Only one out of six offered a truly factory fit by just taking off the old grips and replacing with the new Ajax grips. The others required a bit of custom fitting.  If you don’t mind doing so, then contact Ajax for the grips to fit your handguns.  They are high-quality and made well.  And, they are a good value.  I just would have preferred a better fit out-of-the-box.  Then again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to truly make a statement with your side arm.  Maybe just a bit of file work and patience.

Ajax grips can be purchased factory-direct at www.ajaxgrips.com.

Greg Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.



Ajax Sambar Stag grips for the Ruger Bisley are the real thing.  High quality grip panels out of genuine stag.  They fit pretty well from the box, but really need a bit of "fitting" to make just right.



Ruger Bisley and Bisley Vaquero, both with the Bisley grip frame.  The aftermarket Ajax Sambar Stag panels fit OK (but not great) out of the box on the Bisley, but didn't fit well at all on the stainless Bisley Vaquero.



Old-model Ruger Bearcat with new Ajax Staglite grips fit perfect and look great!



Ajax pewter rips for the standard Ruger XR3-RED grip frame, shown here on a .30 Carbine New Model Blackhawk.



Example of how the Ajax pewter grips do not fit the 1911 well with the ambidextrous safety.  With some modification, or removal of the safety, they should fit fine.



See how the factory Taurus 1911 grip panels are notched to accommodate the ambidextrous safety on the stock rubber grip panels.  To keep the safety, the same must be done for the Ajax grips.


Ajax pearlite grip panels on the Taurus PT 1911.