Pachmayr GuardianGrip for J-Frame Revolvers by Lyman : Review & VIDEO

Dan review the all new Pachmayr GuardianGrip with the retractable finger extension for J-frame revolvers.

Pachmayr GuardianGrip
Pachmayr GuardianGrip

USA – -( If there’s a more popular backup/pocket gun than Smith & Wesson’s venerable J-frame wheel guns, I’m not sure what it would be. There’s something about five rounds of .38 Special JHP carried in a steel handgun that just inspires confidence.

But being a last-ditch backup gun or pocketable concealed carry pistol means Smith’s J-frames are, by definition, diminutive. And that especially applies to the revolver’s rudimentary grips.

J-frame grips — meant for easy concealment and a quick draw – will only accommodate two digits. That means your little finger ends up either curled under the bottom or, if you have bigger mitts, dangling there in the atmosphere.

If the feel of a free-floating pinkie isn’t your thing, you can always replace your factory Smith grip with a larger, three-finger aftermarket “combat” grip. But that defeats much of the purpose of the J-frame’s easy portability and stealthiness.

Pachmayr GuardianGrip

Pachmayr GuardianGrip Closed (L) Extended
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Closed (L) Extended
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Activation Button
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Activation Button

Enter Pachmayr, a division of Lyman Products, who had a better idea. Their replacement GuardianGrip for J-frame revolvers has a spring-loaded extension that stows away inside the grip for easy carry. It then deploys lickety-split when you grab it, giving you a more secure, three-finger hold on your wheelgun.

Pachmayr GuardianGrip Installation

Pachmayr GuardianGrip Installation
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Installation

My J-frame revolver is a well-worn, slightly customized Model 642-2 that had been fitted with a Crimson Trace LaserGrip. It was an easy job to remove two screws and pop that off. That’s where you need to make a decision.

Smith J-frame handles feature a roll pin inserted near the bottom
Smith J-frame handles feature a roll pin inserted near the bottom.

Smith J-frame handles feature a roll pin inserted near the bottom that some replacement grips require for stability. In their installation instructions, Pachmayr specifies using a punch to pop the pin out of the handle. You can’t install GuardianGrips with that roll pin in place.

Or can you? Since I tend to lose small parts like miscellaneous set screws, washers and pins, I wanted to leave that roll pin in place for possible future use and decided to do a little improvising.

The GuardianGrip has a series of support ribs molded into the interior of each half for strength. They’re what conflict with that pesky roll pin. But they’re nothing a grinding wheel mounted to a Dremel can’t take care of in about 30 seconds.

Once those were out of the way, installation went just the way Pachmayr specifies in their nicely illustrated instructions. Both sides are attached with a single screw that holds the halves firmly in place (though I added a drop of Loctite just to be sure).

One more time: Pachmayr doesn’t advocate grinding down your GuardianGrip’s interior…I took that on myself. You’ll probably want to pop out that roll pin as they advise and follow the instructions.

Pachmayr GuardianGrip J-Frame Grips : Deployment

Pachmayr GuardianGrip Internal Mechanism
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Internal Mechanism

If you’re worried that you’ll have to think about pressing the release button on your Pachmayr GuardianGrip to deploy the extension, put your mind at ease. The pressure required to fire the spring and extend the grip is so light that you can’t grip your gun without firing the extension.

“But wait,” you say. “What if my pinkie’s under the grip with the extension pops out of its hidey hole? Will that be a problem?”

Short answer: nope. You can easily grip and fire your gun the old fashioned way if the extension deploys against your dangling digit. But it’s also extremely easy to momentarily move your little finger forward allowing the extension to fully deploy. A little practice drawing and dry-firing is more than enough to get comfortable with your GuardianGrip.

Pachmayr GuardianGrips at the Range

Shooting a J-frame with a GuardianGrip mounted, you quickly come to understand the real advantages it gives you. The added purchase the extension provides combined with the well-executed molded-in checkering give you an unquestionably better, firmer grip.

That translates into two primary benefits:

  • 1) improved accuracy, and
  • 2) reduced felt recoil.

If you’re shooting hot loads (or, God forbid, .357 Magnums) from your pint-size pocket gun, a two-finger grip is, well, adequate. At best. You can console yourself in the knowledge that the pain being transmitted to your hand with each round fired is much better than the alternative of losing in a defensive gun use situation. You hand will stop buzzing…eventually.

But a full three-finger grip on your little J-frame makes a big difference. You’ll have more control, particularly on follow-up shots. And the firmer, more solid hold means less perceived recoil transmitted to your hand. The best part: when it’s time to put the gun away, that extension disappears right back into the grip where it belongs.

Pachmayr GuardianGrip Closed
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Closed
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Rear-view
Pachmayr GuardianGrip Rear-view

Oh and if you’re not a Smith weenie like I am and own something like a Ruger LCR or a Taurus Model 85, don’t fret. We hear Pachmayr’s working on models for those revolvers, too.


Dan Zimmerman
Dan Zimmerman

Do you need a $49.98 aftermarket GuardianGrip for your J-frame? That depends. If you have small hands like mine, maybe you can get a firm enough hold on your wheelgun with the standard factory rubber or wood grips. Maybe. If you have larger mitts, that’s probably much more of a challenge and you’ll definitely benefit from the three-finger hold a GuardianGrip gives you.

I can tell you that after giving the Pachmayr GuardianGrip a try, it’s not coming off of my 642. Anyone want to buy a gently used Lasergrip for a J-frame?

About Dan Zimmerman:

Dan Zimmerman has been shooting all kinds of guns for 25 years and writing about them for the last eight.. He’s particularly into the shotgun sports, including trap, sporting clays, duck and pheasant hunting.


Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

does this grip work with the safariland comp1 or comp2 speedloaders? it says its relieved for speedloader use but looks the same as any grip.


I installed these on my S&W J frame a few weeks ago & love them. It always seems that the simplest inventions are the best. My shot placement has improved and felt recoil is now mild. The fit of the grips is spot on, no gaps anywhere. The extension never extends accidentally while carrying the pistol, yet it deploys every time I grasp the grip. I have previously installed an Apex spring kit, stoned a few internal bits and had a gunsmith remove the internal lock. My J frame is now quite an enjoyable little gun to shoot as well… Read more »


I noticed the J frame pictured is a “square” butt. Mine is a”round” butt. Are both choices available?


Nice idea, but the last three grips I have purchased from Pachmayr, the fit has been way off, and this was with different styles of j-frame grips they offer, I’m a long time shooter, and my earlier handgun grips from Pachmayr were excellent, including the fit and finish, even in these photos you have posted, it shows just how bad a fit these grips are, so what’s going on with Pachmayr, have they sold out to another company, personally this is a great idea for j-fame grips, but I won’t be buying them , after being burned on the last… Read more »