If you’ve ever started down the road of building AR-patterned rifles, you end up with boxes of parts. A cast-off part that seems to just keep piling up is the A2 grip that comes with most lower-parts kits. It is one of the first things to go on most rifles. I feel like it is a placeholder on rifles, kind of like the piece-of-junk plastic sights that come on Glock pistols.
What if we could take that horrible piece of plastic and make a decent grip out of it though? Honestly, it isn’t hard and doesn’t take long. For this little project we need some sort of saw capable of cutting plastic, a file or rasp, some sandpaper and, if you want to take it to the next level, a wood burner.
Let’s look at the A2 grip as it stands. Whether you like the angle or not, we can’t change it, and it really isn’t that bad. But that finger nub? That thing is terrible in my experience and I have no idea who it actually fits. Probably some giant of a man somewhere, but it is totally misplaced for my hands. Too low for just my middle finger to sit above it (especially when getting a high firm grip) and too high to fit my middle and ring finger. Perfect for nothing.
Step one is to cut that off flush with the front of the grip. After we do this, we can use our rasp or file to round out the side of what was previously the finger nub, so that the front of the grip is uniform. We can save sanding it down till later.
Next up is the length. Grip the rifle and see where your hand sits. Unless you have gorilla hands, you probably have a good inch plus sticking out from the bottom of your hand. Use a sharpie, calibrated eye, or just wing it and cut the bottom of the grip off. You can cut it off at the angle of your hand when you grip it, or square to the rifle, dealer’s choice.
Now, we have a much more ergonomic, not to mention lighter, grip than we started with. Here we get into finishing it. How aggressive do you want this grip? Do you find yourself shooting bare handed from a bench? In which case it may make more sense to go through and smooth everything out.
Or do you run your rifle fast and hard, maybe wearing gloves? In this case you don’t need to be as concerned about how smooth the grip is. In fact, you can move in the other direction with a wood burner. By using the tip, you can melt and deform the plastic of the grip. Creating a more aggressive texture if you so desire. *If you’re new to this, experiment on a P-Mag first.*
As a final touch, using a file and then sandpaper, you can smooth out where the grip interfaces with your lower receiver. Creating nice clean lines that are aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly, don’t create hot spots when handling your weapon over prolonged periods of time.
Bam! We just created a custom grip, saved 15-plus bucks on an aftermarket grip and kept an otherwise useless piece of plastic from the landfill. Not bad for about 20 minutes of work on a weekend.
In Part 2, I’ll discuss taking this grip to the next level with respect to customization.