Glock owners have a different way of approaching options for their grips. While steel bodied frames like that of Beretta’s, CZ75s’ or 1911’s have grips you simply unscrew to replace the grip pieces, the polymer body frame of glocks does not allow for such kind of luxury. Glock grip stippling is a process that can deliver not only the aggressive traction your grip needs with a personalized aesthetic.
What is stippling?
Stippling is a technique of using a hot iron to melt patterns into the surface of the polymer gun frame, creating a texture to facilitate your grip. Custom glock stippling is a popular service offered by professional gunsmiths, but it is an art that you can do yourself to make that personal touch on your polymer frame even more personal with Glock stippling kits.
Glock Stippling Patterns
The following is a series of common stippling patterns that may interest you in getting your own Glock stippled or starting your own DIY project.
Random Micro Dot Pattern
This style of stippling is a series of tiny dots right beside each other. It can offer different levels of grip by how deep the dots are pressed into the surface but generally speaking is very aggressive. The deeper the dots, the more grip your palm will feel.
Like little pre-cut slots for sprinkles to fill in your grip, this stippling pattern provides medium grip strength. It can be done quicker than most patterns as the individual grains are randomly dispersed and fill surface area faster compared to small dots.
A geometrical pattern that is uniformly aesthetic while providing medium grip. The symmetry for this pattern would mean that you’ll have to be more careful to ensure uniformity rather than making random indentations to fill up the outlined space. Patterns like these should have pre-sanding done to the surface before you begin the stippling.
Lizard Skin Pattern
This pattern is done by dragging the tip as you make indentations. The grip strength can be adjusted by how deep and uneven you make the individual cells.
Honeycomb Hex Pattern
This hexagonal chain link pattern is done slowly and requires ton of prep work like pre-sanding due to the geometric shapes needing clean and precise lines. You can expect this pattern’s surface to be pretty smooth but still latch onto your hands with a medium level of grip.
Basket Weave Pattern
Representing a fifth grader’s nylon basket project, we have one of the most time consuming yet popular patterns in stippling. Using a single chisel shaped tip to make three lines and then rotating 90° to make the same pattern, you’ll end up with the basket weave pattern that should provide mild to medium grip strength.
What can be stippled?
Stippling can only be practically done on polymer material. Glock frame stippling is an extremely popular addition to all models of Glocks. Glock 19 stippling and Glock 43 stippling are one of the most frequent among stippling services. The factory grooves were made as a medium for the average hands and consequently do not particularly excel in performance. Glock stippling is a solution to rectify that.
Stippling is usually seen on any contact points of the firearm frame’s surface, including the:
- Thumb index rest points
- Backstrap and front strap of the grip
- Undercut(where the web of your hand meets the grip)
- Trigger guard
- Sides of the grip
Any gun with a polymer frame or parts can be stippled – Such as furniture, handguard rails, and fore grips for ARs.. Below is an example of a checkered basket weave stippled set of fore grip and grip.
Stippling can even be found on magazines!
… and on shotgun forearms as seen on this Benelli M4.
There are other avenues to explore for adding some extra texture to help with grip on your firearms. Skateboard tape is a popular choice for adding grip to any surface, be it a steel or polymer parts of a firearm. Talon Grips are very popular as they provide pre-cut selections of textured tape for magazines and grips for shotguns, pistols and rifles. They are a tried and true choice for their intended purpose and can serve as a much cheaper or quicker alternative to Glock stippling for competition shooters should there be regulations on stippled handgun grips.
However, skateboard tape only comes in one or two different styles of texture patterns and does not last in the long run. An aggressive texture keeps your grip in place. But keep in mind that if your fingers are unable to wrap around your grip quickly, you may not have a draw time as quick as you’d like. A custom stippling can give you a wide variety of texture patterns for one that work the best for you.
Does Glock stippling wear off?
Unlike skateboard tape, stippling does not come off easily. In fact some designs will not come off or wear at all as many Glock stippling patterns are melted into shape on the surface of your glock.
How much is stippling on a Glock?
Glock stippling services pricing can range anywhere between $100 to $350. Expect to not get your frame back from anywhere between a couple weeks to a couple months because it’s a time consuming process that takes patience to be done well (also popular service providers tend to have a large backlog of orders).
Is stippling a Glock worth it?
The permanence of stippling should be taken into consideration if you ever plan on selling or gifting your firearm to someone. This is often the biggest contemplation for those asking if stippling a glock is worth it? The stipple job that you applied to the firearm may not be enjoyed by its prospective future owners, could potentially devalue the firearm and cannot be removed (although you can try re-doing the stippling pattern if there is enough material to work with).
Understand that Glock stippling is basically melting the surface of your grip to a desired pattern which means that any catastrophic mistakes would be permanent and definitely void any warranty. To help yourself get started if you’re trying it yourself for the first time, it’s advisable to practice stippling patterns on a more expendable plastic surface such as an old frisbee or retired phone case. This is also a good opportunity to put work on those old AR parts that haven’t seen the light of day in the back of your closet or untouched drawers.
Practicing stippling patterns will not only grow your confidence, but also produce texture samples for you to feel and experience firsthand before you decide it belongs on your grip. A texture pattern that you thought slapped in the aesthetics department may not perform the same in practicality when you actually feel it in your hands. The best glock stippling pattern is one that works personally for your style of grip and hand size. A texture that is too aggressive can be uncomfortable to shoot (and may sometimes get caught on clothing), while a texture that doesn’t have enough grip can be too slippery. A stippling job should first and foremost be focused on improving the ergonomics and function of the firearm.
Glock Stippling Maintenance
If you don’t make a habit of cleaning your mouse, you may notice residue caked into the edges and grooves where your fingers touch the mouse surface. These are dead skin cells, oil, and other dirt particles. For those of you reading this and suddenly examining your mouse, isopropyl and clorox wipe is the answer. In relation to Glock stippling, the textured grooves and dimples that were newly etched into your grip will also create the perfect micro pockets for skin cell build up. Regular maintenance will mean having to thoroughly wipe down your grips every now and then to keep your frame in the best condition possible.
DIY Glock Stippling
The essential tool to stippling is a simple soldering iron that can be found at your local home department store. Tip attachment kits are recommended for more stippling pattern options but getting extra tips is recommended if you plan on doing more than just one stippling job. Keep a non-stainless steel wire brush handy to remove excess polymer from remaining on your soldering iron as you work. A sharpie and a sanding tool will also be helpful.
Custom Glock Stippling Steps
After you have settled on a stippling pattern, prepare your work space and make sure you are happy to start off with the equipped soldering iron tip.
- 1. Heating the soldering iron
Warm your stippling tool up and allow it to reach its hottest temperature.
- 2. Tracing
As you are waiting for the soldering iron to heat to a sufficient temperature, use a sharpie to begin outlining the spaces that will be stippled. This “sketch” will help with making more complicated geometric and floral shapes.
- 3. Test Run (Optional)
Now that your soldering iron has heated up, try practicing the desired pattern on a spare backstrap to test how far apart and deeply you should press.
- 4. Sanding (Optional)
If you’d like, you can use sandpaper or a dremel to sand down the finger grooves of the grip. This is personal preference and can make geometric patterns easier.
- 5. Linework
Begin using your iron to make the desired pattern starting from the edges. Work your way around the traced shape while doing your best to press the same depth every time so your grip will feel uniform. Take caution to not go too deep and cause damage to your firearm.
- 6. Filling
Begin filling in the insides with the same pattern.
- 7. Detailing
Once complete with the pattern, examine your work and fix the edges as needed.
- 8. Complete!
Congratulations on your first stipple job. Admire your work and try handling it once it’s cooled down.
Glock Stippling Safety
The smell of burning plastic fumes is not good for you and is overall unpleasant for most people. Make sure to work in a well-lit and ventilated area with a mask if possible. A 25W soldering iron can get to 750° Fahrenheits — that’s really hot. Be wary of where you put the soldering iron and stippling tips so you don’t accidentally poke yourself or burn your home down. Keep your workspace clean!