The M1911 firearm is a single-action semi-automatic pistol designed and chambered for the .45 ACP round. It is an absolute classic in the world of handguns, having been the standard U.S. service pistol for over 70 years and still being active with many government agencies and governments around the world.
Today I want to go over five of the most popular 1911 custom grips for the M1911 handgun. I’ll do a basic overview of the leading grips on the market and then offer you my advice when looking for new grips for your gun.
|Magpul Grips with Magazine Release Cut Out||3 ★★★||3 ★★★||$$|
|Pachmayr 1911 American Legend Grips||4 ★★★★||3 ★★★||$$$|
|VZ Grips Operator II Full Size 1911 Gun Grip||4 ★★★★||4.5 ★★★★||$$$$|
|Hogue 1911 Rubber Grips||5 ★★★★★||5 ★★★★★||$$|
|Strike Industries Polymer Extreme 1911 Pistol Grip||4 ★★★★||3 ★★★||$$|
Top Picks 1911 Grips Guide
Rating 3/4 Stars
These particular grips are a part of the Magpul Original Equipment (MOE) line of firearm accessories. They are a new take on the classic 1911 grip. Magpul products are high quality, yet affordable alternatives to standard weapons parts. They have great reviews and have a number of key features.
- Made out of reinforced polymer for heavy-duty construction.
- Diamond shaped pattern that prevents twisting in hands.
- Heavy cut out for easy magazine changes.
- Slim profile grips, great for people with smaller hands or those who just don’t like bulky grips.
- Slim, compact profile might be too small for those who want a full feel to the grip.
- The magazine release cut out can be a bit large for some people’s taste.
Rating 4/5 Stars
Pachmayr grips are unique in the world of 1911 custom grips in that they offer you the best of both worlds. You get the classic 1911 look and feel of having wood grips with the performance handling of rubber grips. They are a great value for the price and have rave reviews.
- Rich Walnut/Rubber combination grips.
- Wraparound finger-grooved rubber grip and molds to your fingers.
- Fits Colt 1911 and copies from other brands with little to no modification.
- Wraparound rubber can be too soft for some.
- Reports of rubber dissolving when cleaned with solvents.
- Does not fit ambidextrous safeties.
Rating 4/5 Stars
The VZ Operator II’s are a high-end tactical grip featuring an aggressive finish for rock-solid gripping. These grips are made out of the virtually indestructible G10 polymer compound, so durability will never be a question with the VZ grips. You can clean these grips with heavy cleaners and solvents and not worry about them dissolving.
- Very durable construction.
- Golf ball-like pattern gives rock solid grip.
- Features a thumb magazine release cutaway.
- Comes in Standard and Magwell cuts.
- Comes in multitude of colors to match any gun you have.
- Pattern can be a bit too aggressive for those with soft hands.
- May have to do slight dremmeling to fit ambidextrous handguns.
Rating 5/5 Stars
Hogue grips are the industry standard for rubber grips. They make and incredibly durable grip that is the perfect combination between comfort and durability. These grips are made from a synthetic rubber that is tough but also soften the recoil of the fun without affecting your accuracy.
- Wraparound finger grooved grip that offers a very customized fit to your hand.
- Rubber will not deteriorate with solvents or cleaners.
- Rubber partially absorbs recoil from gun.
- Comes in Government Full Size and Officer sizes.
- Can be difficult to put on gun.
- Makes gun look rather plain.
- If not washed regularly, rubber can absorb sweat and become slick.
Rating 4/5 Stars
Strike industries has a large line of very modern looking aggressive grips that are both durable and affordable. They are made from a durable PX polymer that is heat resistant and high impact resistant.
- Both durable and affordable.
- Semi-aggressive golf ball pattern gives maximum grip.
- Sturdier than wooden grips.
- Thumb cut out for magazine release.
- Will not absorb any recoil.
- Too thick for some people’s taste.
Short History of the M1911
The M1911 was designed by John Browning and has its origins dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Arguably the most successful firearms designer of the 20th century, Browning is credited with 128 gun patents, the 1911 being among his most popular designs. Many, if not most, of the developments in modern semi-automatic firearms trace back to Browning’s designs.
The 1911 was first put into widespread use when the U.S. Army formally adopted it on March 29, 1911, hence the name M1911. It was the “Model 1911” that the Army adopted on that day and it is where the gun gets its designation. The Navy and Marine Corps soon adopted the gun in 1913.
The U.S. Military adopted the gun primarily for its stopping power. Utilizing the .45 ACP cartridge, the M1911 had much more stopping power than other rounds being used before its adoption, such as the .38 Long Colt. Making a move from single- and double-action revolvers to semi-automatic pistols was also an important consideration that led to the adoption of the M1911.
It served as the standard service pistol in both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In 1985, the gun ceased being a standard issue sidearm, being replaced by the 9mm Beretta, but due to its incredible popularity is still widely used and has not been completely phased out.
Abilities to Customize
Ever since its beginning, the 1911 has lent itself to large degrees of customization, and due to its widespread popularity, there is a large demand for aftermarket-customized parts. From barrels to custom grips, sights, and other accessories, there are many modifications that can be done to an M1911.
The 1911 is a gun that lends itself very well to all types of customization. You can virtually customize and modify just about any part of the gun to meet your specification as a marksman. Grips should be one of the first things, however, that you customize to fit your hands because in order to have a good shooting experience you need it to be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than after a long day of shooting that your hand getting all torn up from cheap or ill-fitting grips.
After your grips fixed though, you can explore countless other areas of the gun like customized safeties, sites, magazines and magazine extensions, hammers, releases, barrels, ejection ports, and more. You get the picture.
Design and the Future
The M1911 has seen relatively little changes in its design over the years. This truly is a testament to how reliable and time-tested the gun is. The 1911 has used the same basic design with very few modifications for a full century. How many other products can you think of that have had all of the same design elements for the past 100 years? I, for one, cannot think of too many. The basic design principle of the 1911 centers around its use of recoil operation, which uses a portion of the bullet’s energy to reload the pistol.
Even after the release of newer and lighter handguns that shoot the .45 round, the 1911 shows no sign of losing its popularity in recreational use. You shouldn’t at all worry that the 1911 aftermarket parts market will ever dry up or run out.
What to Look For When Buying Grips
When you’re looking to get a new set of grips for your 1911, there really is only one consideration that you need to take into account, and that is how they feel to you. Presumably you will be the one shooting your gun the most, so you will want to get a set of grips that fit your hands, provide you with a steady and firm grip, and once those are taken into account, gives you gun great look.
If you’re buying grips for someone as a present, you’ll have to look at other factors than feel, since you won’t be able to know how they feel to them. A good idea for situations like these is to look at some of their other handguns and the style of grips that they enjoy shooting with. Do they like the traditional look and feel or do they like modern tactical grips?
These are all things you’ll want to consider when purchasing a new set of grips.
My Vote for Best 1911 Grips
In order for me to use a particular set of handgrips, it needs to have a few different options. Here’s what I generally look for when I am looking for custom 1911 grips.
The first thing I look for is comfort. Even if the grip offers you a rock solid hold, it does you no good at all if you can only shoot 10-20 rounds through it, so above all, I look for comfort. If it feels good, then I take it to the next round.
- Sturdiness in Hand
The second thing I look for is how grippy are they? Do they have a tightened feel to the fun and do they slide around in my hand while shooting. I personally, have somewhat clammy hands, so when I’m shooting I prefer an aggressive grip, so the gun doesn’t move or slip.
- Look on the Gun
Even the most no-nonsense strict marksman among us still values the aesthetics of their guns, so how a set of grips looks on your pistol makes a big difference. Some people prefer the classic wooden-style grips that give the gun a historic and classy feel. Others prefer the tactical look, but even these two differing opinions depend largely on the gun for me.
I prefer to have black rubber or plastic grips on stainless guns. If the gun is blued, however, I like the classic look with a nice dark wooden grip.