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Hold It Right There: Grip Enhancements

Have you ever been frustrated by a gun that just won’t stop slipping in your hands? It can be annoying or even dangerous. The good news is, you don’t have to put up with it. There are plenty of grip-enhancing options that can eliminate stress-inducing slippage. 

If you’re new to handguns and not sure if, or how much, traction you really want, there are ways to try out grip enhancements without permanently altering your gun. If and when you’re sure that you want permanent traction and are sure about where and how much you need, there are ways to accomplish that too. Let’s examine some common choices for reversible and permanent solutions.


Reversible Alterations


Rubber Sleeves

Among the easiest-to-undo options is a simple rubber grip sleeve that can be stretched over the grip. They’re inexpensive and a perfect solution for some people who want more traction or simply more substance to grab onto. Rubber sleeve grips are generally generic in nature, fitting any number of similarly-sized guns. The downsides include potential interference with the magazine release, shifting slightly during use, and being less durable than other options. 

It’s possible to sample what a grip sleeve might feel like by wrapping one or more wide rubber bands, like the kind that’s wrapped around broccoli in the grocery store, around your grip. It sounds crazy but it’s a decent way to sample the effect of a rubber sleeve. Be aware that rubber band-based wraps can negate a grip safety if your gun has one. Most 1911s, Smith & Wesson’s M&P EZ models, and the Springfield XD series are examples of guns with grip safeties. 


Textured Grip Panels

can be an option if you have a steel-frame gun such as a traditional 1911 or double/single action model. Grip panels vary greatly in price and texture ranges from glass-smooth to very aggressive. Changing grip panels may require gunsmithing tools. Done correctly, this change is durable. Grip panels can be used to change a gun’s aesthetic appeal or make a statement. If eye-catching grip panels are chosen, they should be appropriate for the gun’s intended use. Guns carried concealed for personal protection should generally not attract attention nor be used to publicize opinions held by the owner.



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come in many varieties. As with the rubber band grip, there’s a DIY method here too. Skateboard tape, which is like sandpaper with adhesive backing, can be cut and placed in the locations of your choosing on the grip. Applied to a clean gun with light to moderate use, this can be a long-term, if crude, solution. 

If you want more traction but with a professional look, there is a company that makes pre-cut adhesives for the grips of many popular guns. Talon Grips are customized by model and available in two different textures and with or without rubber material. They range in price from $19.99 to $24.99. Talon Grips are a semi-permanent solution. They’re long-lasting when applied correctly, but can be removed, and the adhesive scrubbed off your grip, if you change your mind. Talon Grips are among the most professional-looking reversible solutions. 


Permanent Alterations

Checkering on the front strap or backstrap of a steel-frame pistol can be gently textured or abrasive. A good craftsman can file checkering that the owner finds painful to make it smoother. Once this is done, there’s no going back.  



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is the term for texture that’s been permanently installed by melting one tiny point of the grip at a time using a soldering iron. This is for polymer-lower guns only. Like many other alterations described here, it can be done by amateurs, or hire an artist to make your gun’s grip both attractive and grippy. Many people who choose stippling prefer that the underside of the trigger guard and/or the usual point of contact of the support thumb on the frame also be textured.

It is possible to over-stipple to the point of destroying the integrity of the frame. It’s not a bad idea to practice on a less expensive bit of polymer, like a worn-out pistol magazine or AR/AK rifle magazine, which can cost very little to replace. Be aware that there are different textures of polymer and different finishes various manufacturers apply to their guns, and your gun’s grip may respond differently to soldering than your practice items. 

My personal favorite stippling jobs come from 2: Donahoe Dynamics. Active duty military member Chance Donahoe works his stippling art when he’s not deployed. Expect a few months’ wait and a minimum outlay of $100 plus shipping (of the frame only) for one of his custom designs. 


Which Grip Fix is Right for You?

There is no add-on that can replace the correct and firm placement of your hands on the gun. If you’re sure your grip, as in the shooting fundamental, is right, and the gun still feels slippery, then it’s probably time to consider one of the options here. 

For your first time checking out grip, now referring to the handle of your gun, alterations, I suggest trying one of the non-permanent methods first. Find some friends who have stippled guns who’ll allow you to try out their system. Over time, you’ll develop your own texture preference that can be replicated on all your handguns. 

Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and concealed carry instructor living in the American Southwest. Today she works full time as an instructor and writer in the gun industry. Flanigan loves helping new and old shooters alike to develop the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

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  • What weapons can or can’t work on.

    Michael Ochampaugh Feb 08, 2021
  • Looking to add size and texture to my Glock 23
    I added a rubber grip definitely added some size but gets a little slick with sweat or rain
    Any way to accomplish both with one product

    Mike Feb 08, 2021

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