Custom grip maker Esmeralda O’Sheehan flies below the radar, but demanding gunsmiths and shooters across the country rave about her handcrafted exotic wood grips.
Esmeralda grew up in California but traveled extensively throughout Central America for most of her adult life, learning wood work from local artisans during her travels. Eventually, she landed a job consulting for a U.S. firearms company in Costa Rica, teaching its employees how to select wood and handcraft grips. On her return to the United States, she began making custom grips of her own.
I’ve heard about her for years, but I finally got around to contacting Esmeralda a few months ago. I ordered a set of Officer’s-size 1911 grips and gave her free rein on the type of wood and design of the grips. A few months later I received them, rare black-and-white ebony from Southeast Asia that are easily the most beautiful set of grips I’ve ever owned.
Made from the ebony’s heartwood, the wood is creamy white with distinct black veins throughout. The wood darkens up during the finishing process, which results in a distinctive, rich look.
Though the creamy white has turned a warm brownish color, little of it shows because the grips are so highly figured. Esmeralda left my grips smooth to show off that rich, dark figure.
If you have a gun that could benefit from a little beautification, a set of handcrafted grips by Esmeralda would be tough to beat.