Ronnie Wells Grip Frames … Redesigning Sixguns For Form and Function

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A stack of milled grip frames ready for shipment.

Consistency is the key for accurate handgun shooting. This includes loads, stance, whether you’re using a rest or not, trigger press, follow through and grip. Mechanically, trigger press is the most important. Next comes grip. Maintaining a consistent grip ensures a stable platform, while connecting you with the gun.

A .50 Special with aluminum Bisley that weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces.

How about a 7-shot .357 Vaquero 3-screw, with brass ERH and
#5 grip frame and octagonal barrel? Wowzers!

Custom Grip Frames?

Ronnie Wells of Ronnie Wells Grip Frames knows this better than anyone. He offers machined brass and aluminum grip frames for Ruger single actions and boy does he have a selection to choose from. With over 300 current grip frames, he can size up your hands with a 2- minute phone conversation.

Ronnie states, “hands are like fingerprints, no two are alike. With almost 8 billion people on this planet, why would we expect a limited number of grip frames to properly fit this many hands? Unless you’re lucky, they’re not.” The more recoil a gun has, the more exaggerated this point is driven home.

If you’re experiencing pain while shooting, it’s tough maintaining a consistent grip. This leads to the dreaded flinch, ruining any chance for accuracy.

Here’s the crew—Michael, Ronnie and Mitchell (left to right).

Background

Ronnie is a master machinist and CNC programmer. You’ll appreciate his background entwined with guns, machining, innovation and gun history. Like many of us, Ronnie grew up around guns, spending a lifetime working on them, only on a much deeper level than most of us would ever consider. And he started doing it at it a very young age.

Perhaps this was the key to Ronnie’s innovation? Youngsters are bold and creative with their thoughts because no one has told them it “can’t be done” yet. Regardless, Ronnie has continued his pursuits of gun work his entire life, while working other jobs utilizing his machining genius on race car engines, or the medical field.

A .32 H&R with standard Keith #5.

A Glint

Born just outside Tombstone, Ariz., Ronnie’s father was the son of a farmer and gunsmith. When Ronnie was 5, he caught a glint of something shiny while hunting arrowheads in a dry creek bed. The glint turned out to be a partially buried Colt SAA .45 Colt. Kangaroo rats had chewed the panels off, leaving back plates, screws and escutcheons. Ronnie brought the gun to his gunsmith grandfather (Popo) for assessment.

All it needed was one new spring, some cold bluing, a set of Arizona rosewood stocks and the gun was functional. Ronnie kept the gun fed with handloads of Unique powder and cast bullets. After school, Ronnie would run the lathe and mill and help Popo sand stocks, gaining a love of gun work and machining.

Ronnie’s .500 Linebaugh with a brass Bisley grip frame.

The Texas Kaboom

In 1969, Ronnie’s family moved to the Houston area, as his dad wished to work in the space program. Instead, his dad became part of the Hi/Lo Auto supply, acquiring a large share of the company. Ronnie continued perfecting his machining skills by building chainsaw engine driven skateboards. If it ran, Ronnie could make it run faster.

At 14, Ronnie’s dad was given a Ruger old army, with brass grip frame a friend blew up using Unique powder, instead of black powder, saying, “give it to Ronnie and see what he can do with it.” Ronnie made good use of the brass grip frame and wide serrated trigger, fitting them onto the mid-frame Ruger .357 his grandfather had given him for his 9th birthday. This particular grip frame planted the seed for Ronnie’s love of brass grip frames.

By 1986 Ronnie was a CNC technician and machine mechanic at Baker Packers, an oil tools on navigation outfit. One day he reads about the .500 Linebaugh cartridge. Excited, he builds his own in three months’ time by reverse engineering a Ruger Super Blackhawk and machining his cylinder from scratch. After firing it the first session, Ronnie knew he had to do something about the Bisley grip frame he had traded for.

A small sample variety of Ronnie Wells Grip Frames available today.

Brash Brass

Later, Ronnie received a batch of C360 brass and put his CNC skills to work by making a brass grip frame more comfortable for his large hands. Always loving the #5 grip frame from Elmer Keith’s famous #5 sixgun, Ronnie made it, only in a bigger size, to fit his hands. On his 9th attempt, he hit paydirt, and the Ronnie Wells #9 grip frame was born. As time went on, more and more designs followed.

Ronnie also offers aluminum grip frames for those wanting something lightweight, or shiny. He’s found screws don’t back out as with steel grip frames when brass, or aluminum is used, due to their elasticity properties, much like a lock nut. Ronnie designs his frames to be as light as possible by using strategic cuts which strengthens them by increasing the surface area of the frame. How cool is that?

A large finger grooved DW 360 built to mimic a Ruger Hunter.

.50 Action Express with titanium Wells #9 grip frame.

Future Plans

Ronnie has plans to expand his frames to other brands like Freedom Arms and Magnum Research’s BFR line, offering hammer/trigger and grip frame kits. Other major future products include a stainless Ruger styled Maximum frames and Colt 1873 SAA guns. As I said, Ronnie makes things happen that serious pistolero’s will appreciate.

Ronnie and his two sons comprise the business. Michael is the accountant, doing the books, while son Mitchell works “hands on” like dad, in the shop. Their future is bright indeed with their skill and innovation, but more importantly, their love and desire, creating what sixgunners want. Being a hardcore sixgunner himself, Ronnie knows firsthand what these desires are!

Several of Ronnie’s grip frames are used by Bobby Tyler and Dave Clements on custom builds, as well as several other gunsmiths. Loyal customers having the mechanical skill fitting grip frames to their own guns for custom builds are also his best customers. One thing for certain, Ronnie’s grip frames are really being noticed by savvy sixgunners and gunsmiths.

If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s the name Ronnie Wells Grip Frames. Do yourself a favor by remembering it. Mark my words, much success is coming to Ronnie Wells Grip Frames, and they will be recognized within the industry as a leader. To learn more, give Ronnie a call at (832) 581-3901 or visit rwgripframes.com

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