View Full Version : Alumagrips Build a Grip Review

Harwood Loomis
27th October 2019, 07:25

Alumagrips Build a Grip System

Reviewed for M1911.ORG by Harwood Loomis

Regulars on the M1911 Pistols Organization web site, as well as long-time readers of this on-line magazine, should not be strangers to Alumagrips. We have discussed them many times, and we reviewed some of their grips in these digital pages ten years ago. Their products continue to be the same high quality we have always known. What we’re looking at this time around isn’t the grips themselves (although we’ll certainly look at a set) but, rather, their innovative new, on-line ordering system. They call it “Build a Grip,” and that’s just what it is and does. It’s an interactive ordering system that allows you to “build”—and to preview—your own set of grips, exactly as you want them, and to see what they’re going to look like on a pistol very much like your own.

Let’s take a look at how the Build a Grip system works.

How it works

In Alice in Wonderland the King said, “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” So … let’s begin at the beginning. On the Alumagrips home page, there’s a menu bar across the top of the screen. One of the options in that menu is “Products.” Clicking on this takes you into Alumagrips’ standard on-line ordering system. The next choice on the menu bar is “Build a Grip.” That’s the one we want to look at. Rather than scrolling through option after option on the standard e-commerce portion of the site, Build a Grip allows the customer to step through the options interactively, make choices, and actually see what the product will look like on an image of an actual 1911 pistol.

As a “heads up” — the Build a Grip function requires Adobe Flash. If you don’t have Flash installed and active on your computer, you won’t be able to use the interactive ordering system.

To check out how the Build a Grip process works, I went through the entire process, ordering a pair of Alumagrips configured exactly the way I wanted them. At the first Build a Grip screen, the first option I faced was to select the color of the pistol our grips were going to go on. Being old-fashioned and a traditionalist, I chose solid black, as being the closest to a traditional blued finish. Other choices are all stainless, and four variations on a two-tone scheme. There’s also a pair of icons of a 1911 that allow you to switch your preview from the left side to the right side at any point as you step through the ordering process. The pistol color can be changed at any time throughout the configuration process.


The first choice in configuring the grips themselves is to select the color. There are three choices: black anodized, clear anodized (which is natural aluminum, or silver in color), and “olive gray” anodized (which is a military-ish olive drab color). The screen says there are six colors, but that’s misleading, No matter what I tried, I could only access three colors. It appears the reference to six means three colors, each with a choice of being smooth or checkered. I chose black. (What else?)


After choosing the color, the next choice is the checkering pattern. Here’s where it got a bit confusing. When I clicked the menu option to select the checkering pattern, I saw three choices. But I had seen Alumagrips promotional photos showing checkering patterns that I didn’t see. To find out what was going on, I reached out to Alumagrips, and I quickly received a reply from the boss himself explaining that there are little arrows in two boxes in the display of the checkering patterns, and clicking an arrow allows scrolling through additional choices. I think the arrow boxes are too small; even knowing what they are, I look at them and I don’t see arrows. But, they are there, and they do function. There are actually thirteen checkering patterns from which to choose. (Okay, it’s really smooth plus twelve checkering patterns.)





A traditional M1911 double diamond checkered pattern isn’t one of the options, so I chose “Standard” as the next best option.


After choosing the pattern, I then had to choose the checkering depth. The choices are Normal, Aggressive, and Very Aggressive. I don’t care for aggressive checking on any part of my pistols, so I chose normal.


The next set of options, Engraving, didn’t apply to me. Several of the checkering pattern choices include smooth circles or ovals in the center of each grip panel. If you select one of these checkering patterns, you can then choose to have your initials or a custom graphic engraved in the circular or oval space. Since my pattern didn’t include a space for engraving, I had to leave the selection to the default, None. If your checkering pattern allows engraving and you choose Machine Engraved, you can have up to three initials engraved into the grips. The third choice, Laser Engraved, is where you can get creative. While Machine Engraving uses a machine to cut into the metal itself, the Laser Engraving process uses a laser and it only “cuts” as deep as the anodizing dye layer. If you choose Laser Engraved, you are instructed to send artwork to Alumagrips and your artwork will be scanned and laser etched into your grip panels.

The next option is to chose the thickness of your grips. Standard thickness is ¼-inch in thickness; Slimline is 5/32-inch in thickness. I chose Standard. (What else?) As a practical matter, especially for those with small hands, the Slimline option may be a good choice for a carry pistol. Anything to reduce the size of the pistol, in any dimension, is a good thing. However, it must be kept in mind that choosing the Slimline option will require replacing the standard grip screw bushing and screws with thin or slimline bushings and screws. Because I sometimes change the grips on my pistols as my preferences evolve, I prefer to avoid thin or slimline grips so that I won't have to worry about replacing the bushings and grip screws.


The next step is to select the size of the grips. Two choices are naturals: Full-size (for Government models and Commander-size pistols), and Compact (for Officers ACP and Defender-size pistols). Alumagrips also offers a third option, Bobtail, for owners of pistols with bobtailed receivers.


Aluminum alloy is lighter than steel, but it’s heavier than the woods usually used in pistol grips, such as walnut, Rosewood, and Cocobolo. Alumagrips offers a choice between Standard weight (the grips are solid, with a flush reverse face) and Light Weight (with the back sides dished out to reduce the weight).


The next choice that had to be made was whether or not my pistol had an ambidextrous (or “bilateral”) thumb safety. I’m right handed and none of my 1911s has an ambi safety but, if you do, Alumagrips has you covered. The offer options for ambi safeties both with and without the retaining arm that fits under the right side grip panel and requires a shallow recess to accommodate the arm.


The last option choice to be made is for whether or not the pistol has an optional magwell extension. The default, of course, is No Magwell, but there are also choices for five different types of magwells: Smith and Alexander, Techwell, Wilson, Morris, and Heinie. Not all of these are available for a Compact frame, but if you choose any of the optional magwell configurations, the view of the pistol will change to show how your grips will look with a magwell.


As you step through the option selections, the views of the pistol update to show you exactly how your choices are going to look, and the price updates to show how your options choices affect the bottom line. It couldn’t be easier.

After submitting my order, what arrived a couple of weeks later was a very nice set of matte (or satin) black grips for an Officers ACP size pistol.




After I had gone through the entire process, I realized what a boring person I really am. Having waded through all the options and made my selections, I had to admit that I had “created” a rather mundane, plain Jane set of very nice, utilitarian Alumagrips. That’s what I received from Alumagrips a couple of weeks after submitting the order, and I’m very happy with them. The quality and the workmanship are absolutely top shelf, the grips look great on my pistol and, because they aren’t some super fancy design, they will look equally at home on any other pistol I might decide to move them to in the future. The standard checkering offers a secure grip without being so aggressive as to be uncomfortable.

The fit and finish are impeccable. I installed them on one of my regular carry pistols, a Colt Lightweight Officers ACP. It's a pistol that I bought used, and the finish wasn't exactly "pristine" when I bought it. It looked somewhat better after some cleaning, but it had obviously seen some use, and it shows some holster wear as a result of regular carry. The new Alumagrips make the pistol look a lot nicer than it did before.



You may discuss this article in our Forums site, in this thread (https://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?111150-Alumagrips-Build-a-grip-system-review).

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Contact Information


2851 North 34th Place
Mesa, Arizona 85213

Phone: 602-294-2390
E-mail: sales@alumagrips.com
Web: http://www.alumagrips.com/