Top Five Materials for 1911 Grips

The 1911s long and storied history includes countless design iterations, not only with internal and external functionality but also with basic elements of design. And the 1911s stocks, which include its grip panels, are no exception. The grip panels can be easily changed, and they are often the parts that 1911 owners change first in order to add either a bit of extra functionality, personal flair or both.

Over time, we have seen numerous materials used for 1911 grip panels, each with pros and cons and each able to tell a story or improve a shooter’s ability to use the gun. Here are my top five materials used in 1911 grips.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

1. Wood

While wood grip panels were an option for early 1911s, they continue to be offered today. In fact, you can find 1911 grip panels made from rosewood, walnut, cocobolo and more. Wood 1911 grip panels can be manufactured in a variety of styles, from a smooth and highly polished finish to a scalloped or scale design such as the one you see here.

While some might be tempted to think wood grip panels are intended for looks only, they do have a functional element to them. Generally, they provide good grip quality when working in harmony with the 1911s natural pointability and whatever material comprises its frame. In other words, while grip panel material is important, it is better to consider the features of any material in light of the rest of the gun.

The scaled wood grip panels pictured here provide excellent purchase on their own, but they are helped by the grooved mainspring housing on this particular 1911. Wood grip panels can get chipped or discolored over time. For some, that is the inherent beauty of a well-used tool. For others, it is a nuisance.

2. Plastic

Like wood, plastic grip panels were also an option for early 1911s and still continue to be offered today. Plastic manufacturing technology has been around a long time. It has improved over time, and the advances have made this material very cost-efficient. So, this might be the value option for 1911 grip panels.

Plastic can, of course, be manufactured in seemingly endless designs, and it is not difficult to find grip panels with aggressive checkering or texturing meant to help increase purchase. Plastic grip panels are generally very durable and can handle just about any fluid they come in contact with. But depending on use, they can get chipped or broken. Since they are so inexpensive, replacing them will not break the bank.

The checkering you see on this grip panel works in conjunction with front strap checkering to give the shooter a very solid hold on this gun.

3. Rubber

Rubber grip panels are a favorite of mine regardless of which gun they’re on. But I really enjoy rubber grip panels on a 1911, especially when they are connected to rubber finger grooves.

Many of you will recognize the gun in the picture as a Colt Defender with a Hogue grip. Note the pebbled texture of the grip panels and the large finger grooves in the frontstrap. Once you wrap your hand around a gun equipped with this kind of grip, you will be amazed at the hold you have on it. It is rock solid. Even without the finger grooves, rubber grip panels provide a significant increase in purchase.

Best of all, even grip panels with a significant amount of rubber exposed do not harm a gun’s concealability. Despite the grippy texture of rubber, cover garments will still drape over the gun’s stocks. Rubber grip panels provide excellent purchase no matter the temperature or conditions.

4. Aluminum

Aluminum grip panels are strong and lightweight and really provide you with an opportunity to aesthetically express who you are and what you believe. I am not a skull-and-crossbones type of person, but I surely like the look of these red aluminum grip panels. And because aluminum grip panels can be manufactured with a full range of color options and high-resolution graphics, the design possibilities are endless.

Of all the grip materials here, aluminum is the smoothest and therefore the easiest to conceal under any cover garments. I have never had any problem with any aluminum grip panels.  But there is a concern to be registered here.  It is how the grips would perform if either they or my hands were wet or if I were shooting using gloves. It seems like there would be more potential for slippage.

5. G10

G10 is a fiberglass laminate. It is basically an engineered substance that, due to its light weight and high strength and durability, is usually manufactured into firearm grips, knife handles and other tool handles that see abusive environments. The substance can be manufactured in many different colors and textures. It provides some artistic and aesthetic capabilities as well.

Many firearms and related tools offer grips or handles in G10, and for me, it’s a toss-up between G10 and rubber as to which is the best material for 1911 grip panels. The beautiful blue grip panels you see here have an aggressive texture which helps you handle the recoil of this 10mm gun. Note the thumb indentation on the grip panel which helps a shooter find the magazine release.

Conclusion

Other grip panel materials include ivory, pearl and bone. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Some are purely functional, and some are mostly aesthetic. What are your preferred 1911 grip panels and why?

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About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is 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.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

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About the author: Mark Kakkuri is 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.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Oliver Ray September 4, 2019, 8:19 am

    It is good to know that a rubber grip gives you more purchase on your grip for the firearm. I’m thinking about getting a gun, and I recently heard grips and the type you have on your gun is super important if you want to hit anything. I’ll have to try getting a rubber grip so I don’t lose a grip on my firearm while firing.

  • Ramon Hardesty June 3, 2018, 12:51 am

    I missed the 1911 and it came up to 1011 !! That was crazy and I am sorry about the mistake ! So all of you S&W fans please forgive me ! I do enjoy the S%W 1911 with the Rosewood Grips , it looks great !

  • Ramon Hardesty June 3, 2018, 12:47 am

    I like the Rosewood Grips and the fill is a comfortable hold ! They look great on my 1011 S&W ……

  • Fred Hauseur June 2, 2018, 12:13 pm

    I deal with this every day in my shop. I personally love the VZ Operator II’s, the next in line is the polished VZ G-10’s for a carry gun either one will make you smile. aluminum is great for carry guns Aluma-grips are on a personal carry gun of mine. Laminated wood is on one of my carry guns and they fit this gun to my hand superbly. the only grip material I do not suggest anyone use over a long period of time is rubber. this is purely because the rubber takes so much more care on guns. more than once I have had to explain to customers that their rubber grips just destroyed their guns. they hold moisture on the metal, moreover they attract moisture to the gun and hold it there. if you have never seen a 1911 WWI gun with a rusted out frame; it will make you cry. this is what happened to a friend of mine from Oregon. and Florida, and Mass. Rubber grips are not worth owning in my opinion. as we all know opinions vary from person to person.. this is mine.

  • Kolt1911 June 1, 2018, 6:14 pm

    I love the rubber grips on my 1991A1 compact. These grips also incorporate a Crimson Trace laser. Great for aging eyes and fast target acquisition.

  • WR Miller June 1, 2018, 6:10 pm

    Ivory! But not any ivory; 10,000 yr old Mammoth Ivory! Magnificent..

  • Paul June 1, 2018, 2:14 pm

    I’ve become fond of G10 for the looks and feel. But for the best grip on competition guns I love aluminum cut grips from Valkyrie Dynamics, especially with shooting gloves. The gun does not move in your hand at all. I like rubber for range guns and magnum revolvers but I would never use rubber on a carry gun … hangs on cloth, like shirts and pockets.

  • Kevin McCarhty June 1, 2018, 12:42 pm

    If you looked this article over…….. skip on over to Etsy.com the crafting for sale web site. Must be almost 1,000 different hand crafted, hand carved 1911 grips….. and about all the craftsmen and craftswomen will do custom work. Exotic woods, unusual plastics, gold, silver, copper, brass etc. I had a one of a kind logo and nickname added to a custom 19 set -$65. You will not be disappointed checking out pistol grips there, just bring a Snickers bar – you will be there awhile.

  • Gerald June 1, 2018, 10:18 am

    Hands down best material is ivory. End of story.

  • Ed Sunderland June 1, 2018, 8:36 am

    I don’t have a 1911 but I do have a CZ-75 B which is as big as one. I ordered a rubber grips and it made a vast difference in comfort and feel of the gun. Try a set and I don’t think you would be disappointed.

  • Pete June 1, 2018, 5:36 am

    For my favorite “shooting” 1911, I prefer a Hogue rubber grip. The model I use does not have finger grooves, but it does have a palm swell. That particular grip fills your hand nicely and centers the gun. Its the same on both sides of the pistol.

  • Billj357 June 1, 2018, 4:10 am

    I am particularly fond of those Hogue Fingergrooves. On 2 1911s and a Star PD

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