handgun grips

What You Need To Know About Handgun Grips

One of the most overlooked but also most vital components of a handgun are the handgun grips. The grips and the trigger are honestly the two parts that determine whether or not a gun is going to be good for you, as few others have as much impact.

That said, a person can learn to shoot virtually any trigger - but you can't learn to have a new hand, and that's where the grips come into play. After all, if you have a gun that you don't like to shoot, you're going to find excuses not to put it in a holster, cinch up your ccw belt and carry it.

Pistol Grips: A Large Variety

revolver grips

Pistol grips come in a variety of configurations, materials and designs. They can be simple plastic, all the way up to intricate and ornately-carved wood or, in older days, ivory. Granted, the latter isn't as common any more and in the United States, tightly regulated.

In fact, you can't even sell a pistol with ivory grips across state lines unless the gun is more than 100 years old. That's how tight the controls are.

Anyway, most handgun grips until recent times were two-piece grips that are secured onto either side of the frame. Many handguns still employ grips of this type, and there is a thriving aftermarket.

A common variant is the wraparound grip, which totally encloses the frame. While not exclusively for this purpose, some are designed for shooters with large hands and include a more pronounced ridge toward the top of the grip.

Sleeve-style grips are also on a number of handguns these days. Previously, they were more common to ccw revolvers than autos.

as a good rubber sleeve fits very well over a revolver's frame. However, this is changing as many people find the grips of poly pistols lacking.

Speaking of plastic guns, these pistols vary as to grips. What's become somewhat typical are changeable backstraps; the back of the grip can be changed, altering the contours of the grip. Not all have this feature, but many do.

Handgun Grip Stippling, Texture and Contours


Besides form and material, other aspects of grips to look for are grip stippling/texture as well as contours, as this makes a serious difference when shooting.

Stippling is putting a bunch of dots or other indentations on a surface. This creates a rough texture, which for firearms allows a more secure grip in the firearm than might be had on a smooth grip. This is especially important if any moisture should be introduced into the equation; such as when hands are sweaty or a pistol is shot during a period of inclement weather.

Grip contour is also something to pay attention to, as the contour determines exactly how a firearm fits the hand. This is why the changeable backstraps on plastic pistols are a beneficial feature; they can accommodate different hands rather than imposing a "this size fits all and if you don't like it, tough" arrangement on the shooter.

Frame geometry does play a role in fit - for instance, the rake of a Glock grip makes certain impositions - but the swappable backstraps can make a "this doesn't fit well" pistol into a "that fits okay" pistol.

Why This Handgun Grip Business Matters

grips for pistols

The handgun grip, texture and contour makes a lot of difference. How you hold it directly correlates to how well you'll shoot with it and also whether you enjoy shooting it. If you can't hit the broadside of a barn and don't look forward to spending time doing handgun shooting drills then you're going to find reasons to leave the gun at home, and we don't want that.

Contour is important, as how the gun sits in your hand impacts felt recoil, the force you feel when you shoot the pistol. There's a reason why Walthers, 1911s and CZ pistols (and clones) have a reputation for great ergonomics - they're designed to fit the contours of the hand very well. (And they do.) That ergonomic fit also reduces felt recoil, allowing for more pleasurable shooting.

That's the reason why the highest of high-end long gun makers - and we're talking Purdey, Boss, or Holland and Holland here; not some Silver Pigeon or Citori that are at most Cabela's - take custom measurements. It's a bespoke gun that fits YOUR shoulder and the feel when you shoot it will reflect it.

Stippling and texture also impacts how well you can grip the firearm, and if you can't get a solid hold...it's time to upgrade the grips, if you can. In fact, that's one of the easiest and most popular handgun modifications out there. That can make the difference between a gun that's alright to shoot and one you like to shoot - and the latter is the one you can rely on when it counts.

In short, the grips matter - because how a gun feels to your hand when holding and firing it impact how well you can shoot it and whether you like to shoot it - and a gun that you like to shoot and can shoot well with is one that you should carry.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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