Get a Better Grip! Here are Five Grip Improvements for Your Pistol

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

How a gun feels and functions in your hand is a very subjective matter. Ask two fellow shooters what gun they like to shoot the best and you’ll probably get two different answers: One loves a Commander-sized 1911, the other a CZ-75. They’ll both talk about history and reliability and accuracy and all that, but usually you’ll hear a comment about how it “just feels right.”

Sometimes we carry guns that function “great” but only feel “good.” These could feel better in hand. And by feel better I mean getting a better grip, for comfort or purchase (grip quality). If you have a gun that meets all your defensive requirements and feels good in hand, you’ve found a great gun and fit. If you have a gun that meets all your defensive requirements but could use a little help in the feel/fit department, consider these five ways of improving the grip.

1. Wrap-On Grips

The stocks on the Kahr P45 are good as-is but they’re great when wrapped in Talon Grips — the rubberized version. Talon sells theirs for around $20.

Wrap-on or wraparound grips, such as those offered by Talon Grips, provide a second surface you wrap around the stocks of your gun. They’re custom-fabricated for specific gun makes and models and provide either a rubberized surface or sandpaper-like surface to improve purchase. The grips adhere via a sticky backing and, after they’re on, you warm them up with a hair dryer to more or less seal them in place.

Pro: The grip surface adds virtually no girth to the stocks of the gun and there’s no interference with any of your gun’s accessories or holsters. You can peel them off if they wear out or if you want to change to something else.

Con: This is not a permanent solution. The wrap adhesive and bonding will eventually loosen and you’ll have to do the whole process again.

2. G10 Grip Panels

These good-looking blue grip panels are made from G10 — a very strong polymer. The ridged pattern increases purchase, even though there’s no change to the gun’s front strap or back strap. VZ G10 grips range in price depending on your gun and the style you choose.

For guns with removable grip panels, adding G10 panels, such as those offered by VZ Grips, in a scale-like pattern or texture can yield a significant increase in purchase. G10 is a high-pressure fiberglass laminate — in other words, a very strong composite plastic — that can be formed in myriad patterns. Adding G10 panels alone can provide a helpful increase in purchase, but you might want to also consider adding or changing your gun’s front strap and/or back strap to increase it even further.

Pro: It’s always nice to change out an actual part as opposed to merely adding a second surface to a gun. Also, unique designs abound.

Con: Some G10 patterns sport very aggressive textures and, while they increase purchase, they might actually reduce comfort.

3. Rubber Grip Sleeve

Pictured above is aHandall Jr. small size grip sleeve in pink, it retails for $9.95.

Rubber grip sleeves, such as Hogue’s Handall, require no adhesive but simply slip on a gun’s stocks. They don’t slip on easily, but the brief wrestling match you’ll endure to get them on will reward you with a sure and solid grip with a lot of purchase. Grip sleeves might include finger notches in the front strap, a higher-riding back strap, palm swells, texturing and more.

Pro: Whatever the features, the rubber alone does a great job of increasing purchase no matter the temperature, moisture or other conditions in which it is used.

Con: Sometimes clothing can hang up on the rubber, not allowing a covering garment to drape down and over the gun.

4. Skateboard Tape

You can purchase skateboarding tape for as low as $2.50 per foot. But apply it at your own risk.

Moving into a bit more of the DIY realm, some shooters have cut pieces of skateboard tape and wrapped it around their gun’s stocks to increase purchase. Generally, the sandpaper-like surface of skateboard tape (or the similar version of Talon Grips) is meant for use in competition, where a rock-solid grip is essential to fast and sure pistol manipulation. But some people use it on their carry guns too.

Pro: A sandpaper-like grip offers superior purchase.

Con: Clothing (or skin) in contact with this material gets abraded. Plus it can look horrible. And use it enough and it will eventually wear away, requiring replacement at some point.

5. Home Stippling

Here’s my personal Glock 19, a gun which has a number of customizations, including its third stippling job done by yours truly with a soldering iron and a sanding block.

For those OK with physically modifying a gun’s stocks — in the case of a polymer-framed pistol, actually melting and reforming it — stippling kits are available. Basically, a glorified soldering iron with various patterned tips, a stippling kit allows you to put the ultimate customization to your gun.

Pro: It’s your design and no other gun will be like it. You’ll get outstanding purchase.

Con: You might seriously harm your gun in the process, void any warranty and increase your liability should something bad happen. And you can also easily wreck the look of your gun.

My Favorites

As a side note, many guns now ship with additional grip accessories, such as modular back straps, to aid with fit for larger or smaller hands. Sometimes, this is all that’s needed to improve fit/feel.

The CZ 2075 RAMI.

For the record, the best feeling gun out of the box for me is a CZ 2075 RAMI with the aluminum frame and rubber grip panels. No changes needed. Perfect fit. For all the other guns that have made their way in and out of my world, I’ve used all of these means of improving grip quality. And I’ve discovered they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

My favorite grip improvements are the G10 panels, especially for 1911s, and the stippling, which I’ve done to my Glock 19 more than once. Yep, 1911s and Glocks are regular carry pistols for me, despite their differences, and each can benefit from a bit of grip customization. If I’m not up for stippling a pistol grip, then I’ll opt for Talon Grips (the rubberized surface) and just plan on changing them out every so often. I do enjoy a rubber grip sleeve, but only if I’m open carrying in the backcountry. But I can see how police officers and military personnel would benefit from such an accessory given their harsher environments. I tried skateboard tape. Once. For about an hour. I’ll only use it again if I’m going to compete with my gun.

What is your best fit/feel gun out of the box? If you’ve made changes to your grips or stocks to improve purchase, what’s your preferred solution?

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Royce Gladson May 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    Just try any CZ no help wanted or needed

  • Mark N. May 14, 2017, 2:03 pm

    I have not settled on grip panels for my Kimber. I have a set of Hogue’s, which add finger grips, but for my hand size they are a bit thick.
    On the other hand, I have a Houge HandAll Jr. for my Kahr CW9. The standard grips on a Kahr are quite aggressive, and for my soft office hands, waaay too harsh. The HandAll is perfect for two reasons: one, it is smooth yet grippy and quite comfortable, and two, it adds subtle palm swells that bring the very narrow grips of the Kahr to a whole new level.

  • Archangel May 13, 2017, 12:11 am

    As in made by Bubba?
    Every time I see “STIPPLING” it looks sloppy as all get out.

  • Anthony May 12, 2017, 6:39 pm

    I found the stippling works best if it is cut with a round bit rather than a soldering iron.Cutting gives it a sandpaper feel and last a lot longer than the smooth effect felt from the soldering process.
    Most people that have held the pistol endeavour to get theirs stippled with the cutting bit.

  • BRUNO601 May 12, 2017, 8:04 am

    I grabbed an old bicycle inner tube from the trash at my local bike shop and it will make enough rubber grip sleeves to last a lifetime. Free and works great.

  • bigdiceguy May 12, 2017, 3:46 am

    Big fan of Talon rubber grips. Have them on every pistol and pistol grip long gun I own. Even bought a few that were close in size but cut for other guns and modified them to fit. OK not every gun, a 1911 and Bersa thunder plus have factory combat green rubber grips. Hogue or factory black rubber on all the revolvers. Talon even makes a grip that fits in the grooves of a standard AR fore end. Originally installed it for the look, ended up loving it for the purchase and feel.

  • Joe Thomas May 10, 2017, 12:38 pm

    I have used most of these but I prefer the GT 5000 grip tape. I buy it directly from the manufacture since it is the lowest cost. I use it on my guns, knives, and some tools like axes. It does not leave much of a residue when removed. I just wish they sold in in a roll for larger projects.

    • Daddy Nasty June 16, 2017, 9:35 am

      Agreed sir. GT 5000 is the answer to a better grip on whatever. I have used it on my S&W SD9VE, Charter Arms Bulldog Pug, KelTec PF9 and assorted knives and tools. Good price, good product, great results.

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