|Product Tests : AlumaGrips|
Some time ago, I was contacted by a company called "Alumagrips" and asked if I would be interested in testing a set of grips they produced. Needless to say, that like any self-respecting M-1911 shooter, I've tried several grips for my pistol, over the time I own the gun. Well, we all know that grips are grips, so what was there to test? Well, in this particular case, there is, because Alumagrips are not made out of some traditional material, like wood (no matter how exotic) or rubber. Alumagrips are made out of Aluminum. Yes, you read correctly, T-6 Aluminum, the same material used in cars engines and aircraft struts. I was a bit intrigued, so I agreed to try them on. Pretty soon, I received a package with a set of grips for this test.
First of all, a little general information. As said before, Alumagrips are made of T-6 Aluminum, which is then plated in one of the following variances:
In addition, one can order one of the following styles (the pictures below, show the four available colors, in the order mentionned above):
Standard Smooth Grips
A plain, smooth set of grips at the colors mentionned above. Nice for those who like smooth grips.
Standard Checkered Grips
These are checkered grips for those who prefer checkering. The checkering looks quite broad, which is something I like.
Deluxe Checkered Grips
These grips are the same with the Standard Checkered, except that they have a design in the middle of each panel. The decorative design can be either a Fleur-de-lis or a Swooping Eagle and it can be either of the same color as the rest of the grip or enhanced (silver outlined) to stand out more.
Custom Deluxe Grips
The Custom Deluxe Grip represents the top of their line in the series of 1911 pistol grips. They provide a smooth oval surface within the checkered pattern where you can personalize your grip. They will engrave up to 3 letters or numbers in a font of your choice. It could be your initials or that of a friend if you wish to give them as a gift. Use your own imagination to make them yours in a personal way.
The grips I received for testing were of the Deluxe Checkered variety, with a Fleur-de-lis on each panel. I had selected the black color, because I thought it would look good on such a high-tech material as the aluminum. Upon receiving my package, I inspected the grips. The first impression is that ... they are heavy. Using the babies scale, I found that a set of Alumagrips weights about 90 gr. versus 40 of a standard, wooden set. This weight difference, although negligible, is apparent, as soon as you pick up the grips.
The next thing that I noticed, is that the grips are ... cold. They do not have the warm feeling of the wood, but then again, this is something expected, since they are made out of metal. I then visually inspected the grips. Two things are noticeable. The checkering is a bit coarse and flawless, the same is the Fleur-de-lis, which is left in the metallic silverish color of the aluminum. The design contrasts nicely with the rest of the grip surface, which is pitch black. If you look carefully, you will notice that the smooth areas of the panels (the ones not checkered), show consistent machine marks. Do not get me wrong, these machine marks are not aesthetically unpleasant. On the contrary, since they are quite consistent, they give the grip an image of "texture" just like a wooden grip. I do not know if this was done on purpose, but I certainly prefer that, to a totally polished surface, since it gives some "life" to the material. So, look-wise, the grips get a very high rating.
I then installed the grips on a stainless M-1911. The screw holes are true to the proper dimensions, so there was absolutely no problem in fitting the grips on the pistol. Also, the grips are totally flat, so there are no spaces left between the grip panels and the frame, as it has happened to me with some wooden panels, which were curved to the point of needing filing to be properly fitted. The left grip panel has the usual protrusion that covers the plunger tube. The cuts for for an ambidextrous and/or mag well are available options as well as grips sized for the officers model. Be certain to designate the options you want when ordering.
Due to my obligations with the newly-born twins, I didn't have the time to range test the Alumagrips. I did perform however some drawing tests, from various holsters, and I handled the gun in-house, for some time, to get their feeling. Apart from the fact that sometimes I could feel the difference in temperature caused by the metallic substance of the grips, my impressions are quite favorable. The checkering is more coarse than in a usual set of grips, but it is very usable, actually I prefer this checkering versus the more traditional one. My hands never had a problem to grip the pistol properly. The additional weight, being in the palm of the gripping hand, is not objectionable at all, actually, I think it stabilizes the weapon a bit better.
The only thing I am not sure of, is how well these grips will withstand abuse. I am sure that the grips are stronger than the wooden ones, so I do not expect them to crack within this life time, but I think that scratches will show much more than on a wooden set. If the anodized cover is scratched, then the silverish aluminum will show. I was not inclined to do a ... destructive test though, to verify my worries, since I like this set of grips quite a lot. Their solid black appearance, with the shiny fleur-de-lis in the middle is very pleasant, so I plan to keep them for the days when my trusty M-1911s will retire on the wall (I hope this day does not arrive any time soon).
So, here you have an innovative set of grips, that you can use on your "classy" M-1911, made of a high-tech material that you seldom meet in pistol grips.
P.S. : After communicating my worries about the grip's scratch resistance to the manufacturer, the response I got was that although the anodize is pretty hard, you could eventually scratch the grips on the black and bronze colors, to where the aluminum could show through. The nickel however is very hard, much harder to scratch through than the anodize. And of course, the clear anodize is already showing the aluminum, so the scratch would show no worse than on a wood set.
If you want to get in touch with Alumagrips, here is their Web Site, at http://www.alumagrips.com.
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