Gear, Parts and Accessories

Handgun Grips: When Slick Just Won’t Do

A guest article by Jason Hanson There are a lot of accessories around today that we can add to our various firearms. The AR-15 still takes the cake as the gun that you can do a million and one things to, but there are still plenty of options for changing around your handgun, too.

For instance, you can change out your sights and add night sights, fiber-optic sights, or just a different type of sight, such as the Ashley Big Dot. You can also add lasers to your handguns, whether it’s a laser built into the grip of the gun, or built into the guide rod, or a laser that’s mounted to a rail system.

And you can change to an extended magazine release, making it easier to reload more quickly.

Though all of these changes to a handgun are worthwhile, in my opinion there’s something far more important that not enough gun owners pay attention to—the actual grips on their carry guns. Perhaps it’s because gun grips aren’t as sexy as lasers or fiber-optic sights, but the fact is, if you can’t control your gun because you can’t get a good grip on it, then not much else matters.

Most shooters train on beautiful sunny days when our hands are dry and clean—not necessarily the environment you find yourself in if you ever have to use a gun to defend yourself. I’ve trained in the rain, snow, and mud and found that when my hands got slick, it became difficult to accurately shoot my firearm because my hands were sliding all over the place.

And it’s not just weather. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to shoot with blood all over your hands when you have to draw and fire your gun. If you’ve got slick grips on your current gun, you may end up dropping the very gun that you carry to save your life.

To give you another example of why grips are so important, let me tell you about my latest gun purchase. I purchased a Springfield 1911, which came with plastic grips that are supposed to look like wood. These grips are extremely slick, and they are nothing I would want to use for concealed carry. So I removed the stock grips and ordered a set of Gator Back grips from VZ. These grips have aggressive texturing and allow me to maintain my grip on my firearm even if my hands are wet and slippery. VZ happens to make several types of grips, and those just happen to be the ones I like.

If you own a gun such as a Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P, you don’t even have to go out and purchase new grips. Instead, buy some skateboard grip tape or use GT-5000 Grip Tape For Your Pistol. When I worked for the Agency, I put grip tape on my gun, and it worked well for me. I never had a problem maintaining control of my sidearm, even in adverse weather conditions.

If you carry concealed, I advise you take a look at your gun grips today. If you’ve got factory grips that are slick, then definitely consider adding grip tape or purchasing a textured set of grips from a company like VZ, Talon Grips, Hogue, or any other handgun grip maker, such as those listed on Cheaper Than Dirt!

  Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and security specialist. He’s appeared on numerous television shows, including ABC’s Shark Tank and The NBC TODAY Show.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (10)

  1. I’m quite impressed with my Sig P290 factory grips. They’re textured like 60-grit sandpaper and in the store I thought it might get uncomfortable after a long practice session. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The comfort came from being able to control the little pistol (I’ve got some big meat hands) and I didn’t even get blisters.

  2. The RIA 1911 Tactical II MS I bought last year came with VZ grips –very nice, and I see why Jason likes them.

  3. Not only are VZ grips some of what I consider some of the best on the market they will dress up your 1911 remarkably well.
    In addition I have to add that their customer service is outstanding.
    All my 1911’s have them and next will be my S&W wheel guns and Sig’s. While Sig and S&W rosewood grips look nice and are quite attractive they do get slippery.

  4. I put magpul grips in my ruger 1911, found them on amazon from a vendor that engraved the spartan helmet and molon labe on them. They work really well.

  5. If you carry a 1911, or similar big bores, you absolutely need textured grips. My Norinco 1911 came with nicely textured grips from the factory. They are hard plastic and have worked very well, indeed, for number of years. Never been comfortable with rubber grips, though a great number of people use them. Had a .357 Colt Trooper a few years back had Pachmyer (?) grips. Seemed to me as if it twisted when I fired it, really didn’t like the sensation.

  6. Not having a good grip can also be a safety hazard as I found out one day at our local outdoor shooting range.

    A friend had just bought one of the tiny North American Arms revolvers in .22 magnum, and he wanted me to try it. It had the very small birds head rosewood grip, which I found hard to get a good hold on. My first shot was off, so on the second one, I had cocked it and was trying to get a better grip on it, when it somehow just slipped out of my hand.

    Those things have no trigger guard, and I just knew it would hit something on the way down and go off, with people all around! It seemed to take forever while it was falling…..scares me just thinking about it again.

    Luckily my guardian angels were at work and it did not discharge, but I immediately let the hammer down and gave it back to the owner. Haven’t picked up one of those since!

  7. Jason,

    My experience is obviously different in many respects from yours, however, I could not agree (in principle) more with what you have written. My shooting career, such as it was, began in the early 1960’s in Florida, first with the Sixth Navy District Rifle and Pistol team and later with the Navy team. We had to shoot what were then the service weapons of the day, the .30 caliber M1 and later the M1 Nato, in 7.62X51mm caliber. We also shot mouse guns in .22. Our pistols, the 1911, wore either wood or the military plastic grips. Slippery to say the least when you are shooting 250 or more rounds at practice in the afternoon.
    Shooting in 90 degree plus heat, no shade, close to 100 % humidity meant everything was sweaty and slippery. We did not have skate board tape (which I use liberally now) but we used the old friction tape that preceded electrician’s plastic tape. We generally taped every day, if that was your choice and by the end of the practice session, the tape was usually a mess.
    Later I discovered Pachmayr and Hogue grips and all of my guns with detachable grips wear them with skateboard tape across the front of the grip and pinched under the Hogue or Pachmayr grips if they are not of the wrap around variety. My guns usually have skateboard tape on the front of the pistol grip in strips, the front of the trigger guard and sometimes the trigger face. Amazing adhesion.
    I have never had a problem with abrasion from the skateboard tape even though it is considered radical by some.
    To me, positive control of the gun is far more important than my possibly having tender skin.
    Further, I do not wear a gun because it “looks good”. I have never been a fan of that school of thought. It is a tool for a specific purpose and the beauty of it is very good performance and not how it looks. A beautiful gun shoots a great group, no matter how it appears.

  8. I recently got a 1911 Combat model as a birthday gift from my amazing wife (who loves guns almost as much as I do). It’s a great gun . . . accurate, reliable, and threaded for a suppressor (which is the next purchase). But it has quite a wallop when you shoot it.

    So, the first thing I did was buy a nice set of Hogue contoured rubber grips. They make all the difference in the world. And they were inexpensive. Simple things often make the biggest difference. All the customization in the world dosn’t mean a thing if the grip is not comfortable.

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