September 19, 2013
By B. Gil Horman
The unflagging popularity of full-size 1911 pistols and their clones keep the market ripe with all kinds of parts and add-ons. One of the most popular aftermarket parts to swap out are the grips. Changing the grips on a 1911 is a quick and inexpensive way to personalize it, while adding an ergonomic advantage.
With an endless list of options to choose from, how were the full-size grips chosen and tested for this list? First, the grips had to be practical and useable. Next, they needed to be reasonably priced for their material type or function. Finally, just to spice things up a bit, we looked for options that were unusual or unique in appearance. It wasn't hard to find products that meet all three criteria. So whether you are looking for a hard-working grip for a good price or something with a whole lot of personality, there's something here for you. To wit, these are our choices for the best 1911 grips on the market right now.
are constructed from a variety of tough materials, but their grips built with G10 laminate in a variety of colors and texture options are by far their most popular. The slim-line Operator II
in Predator Green (Left) has an aggressive level of texturing for operators who do not want their hands to slip. The magazine release thumb notch, which is an added charge on other styles of grips, is a standard feature on these grips.
Other styles, such as the Zebra-colored pattern (Center) also provide a very aggressive texture using circular patterns to roughen the surface, and give the grip a wild appearance. The Aztec is a popular option with tournament shooters who are looking to hold on tight and stand out from the crowd.
The Elite Tactical Carry — shown here in Black Cherry (right) — is one of VZ's best options for holstered concealed carry. The grip provides texture where the palm and finger pads of the shooting hand contact the grip, but all other surfaces have been smoothed out to reduce snag points.
Machined from T-6 aircraft aluminum using state-of-the-art CNC equipment, AlumaGrips
provide good looks and low carry weight for an affordable price. The high-grade aluminum used in these grips is one of the most durable grip materials in its class and will not bend, split or crack. It's strong enough to be cut down to just 5/32 inches thick in the Slim Line versions of the grip, and all of the finishes offered exceed mil-spec anodizing requirements.
Their 1911 Tactical-Style Grips (Left), feature a no-snag checkering along the front of the grip panels and a smooth surface along the back. This combination allows for a quick and positive shooting grip on the pistol. The Grater Grip (Right) has been cut with widely spaced, block-like checkering with deep grooves in between. The result is an aggressive, no-slip grip texture.
Select from AlumaGrips catalog of options, or customize your own with their online Build-a-Grip tool. They also provide the bushings and screws needed to attach their thinner grips. These grips are proudly made in the U.S.A.
Rio Grande Custom Grips
Rio Grande Custom Grips
for 1911 pistols are molded using a high-strength polymer specially engineered to provide the toughness required to thrive in demanding shooting environments. The grip surface is decorated using a patented method that provides one of the most permanent grip images available. The images are resistant to solvents, sweat, impact and abrasion up to 2mm in depth. This means these grips are intended for real world use, not just for show.
The matte finish of their smooth-style grip provides subtle, yet tangible, texture to the surface for a positive, firm grip. The company has an ever-growing library of in-stock image designs to choose from, with custom designs available. All Rio Grande Custom Grips are designed and manufactured in the United States.
If you own a handgun with a removable grip, then Hogue
is more than likely to have a grip to fit it. They're an industry leader, supplying several gun manufacturers with the grips for factory-standard pistols. Hogue offers dozens of grip options for the 1911 in several variations.
One popular grip from Hogue is the over-molded synthetic rubber grip. Its soft, cobblestone-textured rubber is chemically bonded to a ridged polymer insert to preserve the grip shape. The result is a grip that's comfortable to hold and recoil absorbing. The wrap-around rubber finger groves are an inexpensive and effective way to improve the traction on smooth grip front straps. The materials used are resistant to all the solvents and oils commonly used on firearms.
If you're looking for a bright, snazzy and sleek competition-style grip, then Hogue still has you covered. The Extreme Series Aluminum Grips are precision-machined from 6061-T6511 aluminum and are available in a variety of colors, thicknesses and finish patterns.
Price: $24.95 to $59.95
Plenty of companies provide wood grips for 1911 pistols, but Raasco
is unique because of the variety of options they provide, and the reasonable prices for their custom work. They don't stock many ready-made grips. Instead, most sets are made to order. Customers can browse through an online menu to select the grip size, material type and checkering pattern. Material options include Dymondwood, exotic hardwoods and phenolic laminates. Color choices range from low-key to bright, multi-color laminates.
Custom grip add-ons can be purchased for a few dollars each, or left off to reduce cost. Additional features include a choice of grip base bevels, magazine release thumb notches, an exposed mainspring housing pin, bobtail shaping and ambidextrous safety cuts. Grip orders are processed and shipped within one to two weeks. All of the grips offered by Raasco are built on-site at their facilities in Las Vegas, Nev.
Stinger Paintball Designs
This type of grip can't be found anywhere else but Stinger Paintball Designs (SPD)
. The company cuts their grips from transparent acrylic material to fit full-size 1911 dimensions, then polishes them to a smooth, crystal-clear shine. Their grips are then treated in several different ways to produce some very cool finishes.
One popular variation has a high resolution, 2400-dpi image printed on to the interior of the grip, just like setting a photograph behind a plate of glass. Due to the optical clarity of the grip panels and the vibrancy of the images, these photographic panels create some of the most clear, bright and vibrant images to be found on a grip. Another option is to have the interior of the grip treated with a solid color, and the exterior surface laser engraved to create a more aggressive grip surface.
Each SPD grip is made-to-order and usually ships within five to seven business days. Choose from their in-house images, or send the team one of your own to create a one-of-a-kind grip. SPD recommends their customers contact them with any questions about grip fit or features before ordering.
Whether the laser is green or red, the beam of light produced by a laser sight can make drawing a bead in tense situations much faster and easier to accomplish. However, many fans of the full-size 1911 are unwilling to mar its classic design, or reinvent their holster collection to attach a laser under the barrel of their pistol.
Crimson Trace offers a practical solution with their line of 1911 laser grip options. These products are easily installed in place of the factory grip panels. Shown here is one of the new Master Series models featuring a rubber over-molded instinctive activation button. Their moderate texturing provide a positive gripping surface, without being abrasive to skin or clothing. Two #2025 batteries provide over four hours of run time.
Price: $339 to $399
is a small company specializing in perfectly-fitted, handmade grips. Made from exotic materials, including sambar stag horn, elephant Ivory, ebony, and Mother of Pearl, to name just a few. Company President Raj Singh personally inspects every grip that goes out the door, ensuring they're going to fit and look good on his customers' guns.
Recently, the company has been adding new Kirinite grip patterns to their Art Jewel Collection. Kirinite grips are not cast or molded into shape like plastic grips. Instead, the valuable resin material is cut, sanded and polished by hand like a fine hardwood or stone to a high-luster finish. Despite its smooth glossy surface, the resin grabs and bonds to the skin of a shooter's hand to provide a secure, firm grip. Not only is it beautiful to look at, this material is exceptionally strong and impact resistant.
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