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What is the best way to do this? I just bought a 4" 686 and the grips look to have tape residue on them.
Didn't know if I should use a solvent on them to strip them down or just use a fine sand paper.
Next ? If I do get them cleaned off, what's the best finish? Tung oil?
 

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Stay away from the sand paper. Start with the least aggressive method. Turpentine and a soft cloth may very well take care of the residue. If and only if this does not work, then try a bit of Hoppes No. 9 or a similar solvent on a soft cloth. Likely this will work. Do not let the solvent sit for a long period of time. Go slow and easy. You can't replace original finish removed by impatient methods. If there is real need for refinishing the grips is, then do a google search of this site to find articles on refinishing grips written by knowledgable individuals. Follow their instructions. Remember, go slow ... less is more. You can always do more. You cannot undo the consequences of having done more when you go to far. Sincerely. bruce.
 

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GOO GONE ??
Noooo.... it will attack the finish. Best thing I've found for tape/sticker adhesive that doesn't attack things (plastic, varnish, etc..) is good old WD-40. But for wood grips, mineral spirits does a good job too.

If these are original to the gun and have the silver stock circles (washers), that is the period when SW went from an oil formula finish to a poly-urethane blend finish.

After cleaning with mineral spirits, if most of the finish is in good shape, and there are only a few areas that need some "freshening up", a thin wipe on poly-urethane finish will do, found at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart. For the checkered areas of the grips, the thinner the better... apply the finish very sparingly with a tooth brush. For the non checkered sections... a moistened cleaning patch.

As other have mentioned... start with a minimalist approach, before resorting to a full blown stripping and refinish.

As an example, these are a set of grips that were dull and looked like they needed to refinished. What I found after cleaning was the original oil finish was intact and they just needed to be buffed out with a soft brush to bring back the original luster.

Before:
Before magna (2).jpg

After:
After magna (2).jpg
 
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