Get a Grip – How to Keep Your Pistol Under Control

GunLinkTALON_011A Review of TALON Grips on GLOCK and KelTec Pistols

As any pistol shooter knows, having the proper grip on your firearm is important.  An improper hold can not only lead to missing your mark but can also allow the pistol to move around, requiring a grip adjustment between shots, slide bite on your hand, or even jams – the last thing you want if you ever need to use your firearm in a defensive situation.

The goal of providing a solid purchase on a handgun is nothing new.  Wood grips with checkering or other texturing have been around nearly as long as modern handguns themselves and the evolution of polymer framed pistols has seen (often unsuccessful) changes in the molded texture of the factory grip.  However, given the properties of the materials from which the frames are made, there is only so much grip that texture can provide, and it is often a compromise between grip and comfort while carrying or shooting.  

On a number of carry guns, I have employed “the old bicycle inner tube trick” and, while not pretty, it does often improve the ability to firmly grasp a pistol with sweaty hands.  The downside – other than being ugly – is that they can be a pain to get on, they don’t last long, they can transfer residue to your clothing and, despite mostly conforming to the pistol grip, they don’t provide a true custom fit for any given firearm.  On the other hand, an added benefit is the ready availability of bad tubes around GunLink HQ given our proclivity for taking mountain bikes over unfavorable terrain.

TALONg43rubberRecently, shortly after Glock’s launch of the new single-stack G43, Adam from TALON Grips reached out to us to let us know that they had already developed a set of grips for the new pistol.  Sadly, we don’t have a 43 around GLHQ.  The only trigger time we’ve had behind one was at the pre-NRAAM GLOCK 43 Launch Party in Nashville and the only experience we’d had with TALON grips was fondling thusly-equipped pistols in their SHOT Show booth.  Adam rectified one of those issues in short order by sending over a set of grips for two of our EDC pistols.

Grip Materials

TALON offers two types of grip materials:  rubber and granulate.  The granulate grips are similar to skateboard tape.  There is no doubt that they would provide a rock-solid, not-going-anywhere grip on the pistol, but I had concerns about wear – wear on me from EDC that would put the grip against my skin and wear on the pistol if the grip shed abrasive grit into the holster.  Adam addressed the pistol wear, saying that he had only heard of one instance in his four years at TALON of shed grit causing wear on a fiream.  Nonetheless, the grips that he sent over were of the rubber type, as he said he prefers granulate grips for range or OC pistols while rubber may be a better choice for IWB CCW.

Installation, Fit and Finish

talonlogoThe TALON Grips come as a one piece wraparound sticker that is die-cut for an exact fit for your specific firearm.  Installation is easy – simply peel the backing from the grip; wrap it around the grip of your pistol, making sure that it is aligned (at this point, it can be adjusted if you don’t get it right), and press it into place.  When you are sure that it is where you want it, heat the grip slightly with a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the adhesive, and press it firmly into place.  The whole process probably took under 5 minutes per pistol.

The fit was perfect on the Glock and KelTec pistols that we installed them on, contouring exactly to the finger grooves, dimples, backstrap, magazine release, and other physical features of the pistol.  The Glock grip even has a cutout so that the logo is not obscured, which further helps to align it during the installation process.

Feel and Shooting

GunLinkTALON_014With relatively large hands, I thought that the inner-tube grip yielded a nice improvement on both pistols over the plain stock grip – both in how the pistol filled my hand as well as providing a more secure grip with wet or sweaty hands.  A downside was that the way it filled the finger grooves on the Glock made the grooves feel more bunched-up than without it.

The TALON grips were an even bigger improvement.  The difference was obvious as soon as I picked up the pistol for the first time after installing the grips – I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it just feels like a firm, confident grip on the pistol.  Although the rubber material of the grip added some marginal thickness to the pistol grip, if you are looking for an upgrade that adds significant girth, pronounced finger grooves, or palm swells to the pistol, you are probably better off looking elsewhere.  The TALON grips are very thin and barely add any bulk to the pistol.

A marked improvement was also evident when shooting the pistols with the grips installed.  The outdoor range test day was a humid one in the 90s, so there was ample opportunity to shoot with sweaty hands.  When shooting some polymer pistols with damp hands, especially smaller framed or higher caliber ones, the pistol may have a tendency to shift slightly upon recoil requiring the shooter to adjust his or her grip between shots – something you don’t want to deal with when your competition score or your life depends on fast follow up shots.  The TALON grips allowed for a normal solid grip on the pistol without feeling like you need to hold too tightly to keep it from slipping and they kept it in place throughout the recoil and reset.

It could have just been the better grip, or it could have been the slight “give” in the rubber material, but the grips also seemed to mitigate some of the felt recoil on the smaller KelTec, which can be snappy after shooting it for a while.

Carrying

I have carried one or both of the newly-gripped pistols all day every day for about two weeks, almost exclusively in a “combat cut” IWB holster that puts the pistol’s grip right against my skin.  Since the grips were of the rubber type, I wasn’t expecting any sort of abrasiveness or irritation from that contact and I wasn’t let down in that regard.  Carry comfort on the Glock was on par with the naked pistol or the inner tube cover.  Comfort on the KelTec, which has a somewhat coarsely checkered grip from the factory, was much improved with the rubber TALON grip.

GunLinkTALON_021The rubber material of the grip, although not tacky per se, is meant to increase friction so that the shooter can hold on to it better.  As such, I was concerned that it might catch up on a shirt tail or cover garment as I moved around.  As far as I could tell, there was no difference in that between before and after installing the grips.

Because a carry gun is usually meant as a last resort to protect life and limb when your day goes really wrong, when you need your carry gun, you really need your carry gun!  The TALON grips have another advantage over other types of trips like slip-on models.  They are securely adhered to the firearm, eliminating worries over things like the grip slipping and providing a bad hold or, worse, blocking controls (like a safety lever) or inadvertently manipulating controls (like pressing the mag release button).  Maybe unlikely but, to me, that gives added peace of mind.

A Few Final Thoughts

Adam from TALON told me that someone who shoots a lot and carries every day could reasonably expect anywhere from 1-3 years of use out of a set of grips.  Although they adhere strongly to the pistol, they are also designed to be removed cleanly when the user is ready to take them off.  Keep your eyes open for a follow-up if and when the grips ever start wearing out.

The TALON grips are a fine addition to a defensive or competition pistol.  The fact that they sell for less than $20 makes them all the better.  I have no doubt that when these EDC pistols eventually have their grips wear out or I put another pistol into service I will dress it up with a new set.

Grips for a variety of pistols (as well as grips for magazine extensions and more) are available from the TALON website as well as many local gun stores and online retailers.

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