After a recent training course, I decided to switch out my EDC (a Ruger SR1911CMD-A) and return to my old way of carrying a full-size 1911-based pistol for self-defense. No, there is nothing wrong with the Ruger and it performs exceedingly well in its lightweight “Commander” guise. With colder weather coming upon us, I just wanted something bigger, longer, and heavier (don’t we all) for a couple of reason; improved point-ability, increased accuracy, increased ballistics, and improved recoil management. That’s not much to ask for, really.
While I have a good choice of pistols, the one that came out of the safe was the Rock Island 1911 FS Tactical and I thought, well, why not?
I have had to make two modifications on this pistol, replace the original guide rod/recoil spring with a #16 Wolf unit to enhance feeding reliability, and slightly file down the front sight to raise the point of impact with 230-grain defense ammunition. Additionally, the standard and smooth grips were replaced with nicely-done Hogue Rosewood laminate grip panels, which are also smooth. That ‘smooth’ part needed to change as I wanted some texturing for a better grip.
The Rock Island 1911 FS Tactical is an earlier version of what is on the market today but still sports a full-length guide rod, extended slide lock/takedown unit, an excellent beavertail with memory bump, roiled combat hammer, and an extended and ambidextrous thumb safety lever. Some minor sanding and polishing took place on the Hogue replacement grip panels to obtain the correct clearances needed for the ambidextrous safety, as Rock Island takes a little different approach to ambidextrous safeties as compared to other manufacturers. But, this topic is about grip panels and not the pistol.
I had a few grip panels lying around; the Hogue rubber wraparound finger groove grips (my favorites, thus far) would need too much surgery to properly fit the pistol, and a set of Hogue Wood Double-Diamond grips “chipped out” when I was attempting to fit them. I installed a pair of Uncle Mike’s grip panels, and with minor fitting to fit the safety levers, they work just fine. But, not being satisfied, I had to begin a search for new grip panels – and there are a lot of them to search through.
Amazon has a wide variety of grip panel choices for the 1911 and it was my first source. I could not afford CZ Grips so I was looking for a more reasonably-priced alternative. I came across LOK grips and quickly found that there are many LOK grip panel choices. After sending about a half-dozen choice to my wish list I finally narrowed it down to the LOK Grips Checkered Classic 1911 Grips Standard Full Size Commander. These grip panels (as do all LOK grip panels for 1911-based pistols) have the following features:
- Texture: Very Aggressive
- CNC Machined from G10 Phenolic Material
- Made in the USA
- 60 Day Money Back Guaranty – No Questions Asked!
- These grips will fit 1911’s with Ambi Safety
From LOK, we have the following product description:
“Our Classic Checkered grips have a timeless design that will enhance the look and performance of any 1911. The checkering provides a medium grip while the smooth boarder prevents any snagging or sharp edges. They are made from phenolic grade G10. G10 is only 1/2 the weight of aluminum but nearly as strong with a grippier (sic) texture and less likely to show scratches because the color is dyed into the material, not painted on – this is the best material available for gun grips and knife handles. Fit and finish is our focus. Before starting LOK Grips, Jayson Dekmar (the proprietor/owner of LOK Grips) was a CNC machinist and production manager in the Aerospace industry. LOK Grips are made using the same manufacturing and quality procedures as parts made for US Military defense equipment and commercial airplanes.”
I choose the LOK Grips Checkered Classic 1911 Grips Standard Full Size Commander grip because it was reminiscent of original factory 1911 grip panels, are more durable than wood with the G10 laminate, have excellent cross-hatch checkering that provide an excellent gripping surface, and the combination of red and black coloring would enhance the looks of the pistol (in my mind’s eye).
I asked a few question about fit at the Amazon site and 100% of the answers said that fit was not a problem. Of course, when we purchase something that we have not seen it is always “Buyer Beware.” Since the product received a 5-star rating, I felt that I had a good chance of being satisfied with this product.
The order was placed, the waiting period endured, and here we are today.
The LOK grips came nicely packaged and an initial inspection revealed that they were good to go. However, there was a change in plans. I had intended to use these grip panels on the Rock Island 1911 FS Tactical. However, I was more than satisfied with the Uncle Mike’s grip panels that I installed earlier; they provided a good gripping surface and the rubber, diamond-checkered grip panels works with this pistol. (Note that originally these grips were installed on a pre-ban Norinco “Model of the 1911” and were combined with the finger-groove panel that came with the grips. This finger-groove panel was not used with the RI 1911 FS tactical.) Besides, the cutout for the ambidextrous grip safety lever on the right side was unnecessary because the Rock Island uses a different ambidextrous thumb safety lever than other 1911-based pistols – like the Springfield 1911 Loaded. A decision was made and work progressed.
The Springfield 1911 Loaded was made safe, and using a properly sized gunsmith Torx bit from my Weaver Multi-bit Tool Kit, the old grip panels were removed. Note that I used the original grip screws and did not succumb to buying fancy grip screws. That may change later on because while I don’t need fancy I do need functional.
Test fitting began with the left side panel, with which you have to check for proper clearance of the slide lock and safety levers. Now is a good time to clean up the area where the old grip rested and apply a thin coat of gun oil in the panel coverage area for rust prevention. The LOK grip test fitting was perfect and no “sizing” was needed
The next test fit was on the right side, with which you have to ensure the proper clearance for the right side safety lever not only at the top of the grip panel but also where the safety lever extension fits into the cutout in the panel. Now is a good time to clean up the area where the old grip rested and apply a thin coat of gun oil in the panel coverage area for rust prevention. As with the left side grip, the test fit was perfect and the ambidextrous thumb safety worked as intended.
The next step was to fasten the grip panels and do a final safety and a final function check. I could have not asked for a better installation.
The contrast between the standard Springfield grip panels on the 1911 Loaded is apparent when viewed together. Some may like the lighter grip panels on a darkly-finished pistol or revolver. Personally, I prefer a dark grip on a dark gun and these panels fit my notion quite well. On stainless steel guns, I prefer a lighter colored grip. Either works as long as they are functional.
The LOK Grips Checkered Classic 1911 Grips Standard Full Size Commander in the red and black theme blend well with the pistol and they are reminiscent of the original 1911 grips with the striations of red running vertical and actually look close to actual wood. In other words, the red is not all that red and the overall grip panels closely resemble Rosewood.
The LOK Grips Checkered Classic 1911 Grips Standard Full Size Commander have nicely sculptured smooth borders formed around the mounting screw holes that accent the grips while the very fine diamond checkering inside the panels provide a substantial grip without “biting” the hand. There is no “thumb relief” for the magazine release button on this model, but I am used to not having one anyway.
The original grip screws do protrude slightly above the grip panels, but this is not a deal-killer for me. The LOK grips are the same thickness as the standard Springfield grips and I may order flatter profile grip screws at a later time.
The grips look great mounted and when the pistol is in a IWB holster like the Simply Rugged or the OWB holster by Leather Creek Holsters. They also add functionality to the pistol as it is really good to have a tactically-sound grip on the pistol when in use and especially when the hands are sweaty. When carried IWB, there is a definite need for a T-shirt between you and the grips because the LOK grip panels would act like rough sandpaper on the body.
Overall, I am impressed with the fit and finish of the LOK Grips Checkered Classic 1911 Grips Standard Full Size Commander. They kind of made this new war dog look like an old war dog; albeit updated, and I am alright with that.
LOK Grips are available for 1911, Beretta 92, CZ75, Ruger 22/45, and Sig pistols. They come in a wide array of patterns and colors and I went through several varieties and patterns before deciding on the pair that I have. They are excellent, well-made grips that should serve you well for a very long time. They are reasonably-priced and well below the popular VZ grips. In fact, I like them so well that I have ordered a set of checkered LOK grips, in O.D. green and black, for my CZ75B (Omega).
LOK Grips: http://lokgrips.com/