Yoda of Gun Grips

Wheelgun Diaries

They say every gun has a story. A reader submission series from American Handgunner, Wheelgun Diaries seeks to tell some of those stories through the words of revolver owners.

The following stories were shared by email with permission to publish.

Yoda of Gun Grips

In 2017, I was privileged to spend the better part of a week with the revolver grip guru, the late Roy Fishpaw.

I had asked Roy what his favorite material was to work with and he said he really liked sheep horn. I brought out my (very early) Ruger Blackhawk in .41 Magnum and asked if he would make grips for it in the style and material he thought best. He got a smiley look on his face when he saw the .41, said “Wait here a minute.”

He walked out of his basement workshop and came back and handed me his personal Ruger .41 Magnum, scoped for deer hunting in his Virginia woods. I knew I liked him already, but I think I gained some of his interest as we chatted about our pet revolver cartridge.

Roy passed soon after he finished my grips, which makes the project all the more meaningful. I’m proud to have known him and humbled to have shared a common interest with the “Yoda of Gun Grips.”

Wes Chapman
Accurate Innovations

Editor’s Note: Roy Fishpaw was a friend of ours and his passing was a big loss to both wheelgunners and our industry. We featured him in the Jan./Feb. 1982 issue of American Handgunner in a ‘Custom Pistolsmith Profile’ (Page 24) and continued to show off his incredible work over the years, including an article featuring a few of his grips and recommendations for caring for exotic stocks.

American Handgunner, Jan./Feb. 1982

“Selecting & Caring For Sixgun Stocks”

Those Were The Days

Art was one of my best friends and irreplaceable. We both loved guns, the American West and lost mines. We were both at home with academics, cowboys and hard rock miners. My connection to the west was New Mexico and Arizona while Art mined in Idaho summers and wintered in Tucson, where we met.

We would sit around Art’s home on his sun porch, talking after lunch as Art puffing on his pipe and gazed out the window. Since Art lived in Challis, Idaho, I wondered if he had ever run into Ernest Hemingway over the years. (Editor’s Note: Hemingway lived in Ketchum, Idaho, two hours south of Challis.) “No,” he said, then smoking his pipe for 10 minutes. “But I saw Hemingway in Paris when I was in school there during the 1920s.”

There was more silence for a while. Since Elmer Keith lived in Salmon, just up the road from Challis, I asked Art if he had ever seen the famous hunter, rancher and gun writer. Art laughed, pulled his pipe from his mouth and said, “If you wanted to see Keith, just head to the post office. Keith would walk in, either sending off a gun story or picking up mail, wearing a Stetson with a large brim, a .44 revolver on his hip and either a cigar in his mouth or his pipe.

“If you were behind Keith in line, prepare to wait a while since he was a talker and everyone in the post office joined into the conversation about the weather, guns, hunting and ranching,” Art continued. “Elmer wore his pistol out to eat at night and might have worn that Stetson in the bathtub. In those days, no one batted an eye when someone wore a pistol on a daily business.”

Phillip Jones

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