This article is a follow-up to a previous article in which I detailed some excellent 1911 grip panels that were installed on a Ruger SR1911 “Lightweight Commander” pistol chambered in .45 ACP.
Since that article, I have acquired a few more 1911 pistols and Altamont grips for those 1911 pistols. This article is about selected Altamont grip panels, on what 1911 pistols they were used, and my overall impression of 1911 grips from The Altamont Company.
On a 1911 pistol, exchanging the grip panels that comes with the pistol with a set of custom grip panels is the easiest change the owner can make to transform the 1911 into something personal. Grip panels for the 1911 are wide and varied and made from materials of simple wood, G10 composites, wood composites, to highly sculptured grips made from exotic materials, and even aluminum and leather. Ivory grips were popular in the past, but not now. Staghorn and other horn grip panels along with scrimshawed whalebone have also faded into history. In fact, I would find it hard to believe that there has not been a material that has not found its way on a 1911 pistol at some time or another.
One of my favorite shopping stops for 1911 grip panels is Hogue and their exotic wood grips; especially, the finger-groove wraparound grips. But I have also discovered other makers of these panels, and the list is too long to list here. Some grip panels are works of art while others are very utilitarian. For the most part, my working 1911 pistols have been outfitted with the Hogue Rubber Finger Groove wraparound grips. I decided that my other 1911 pistols, which are dormant until they are called to the duty rotation, should at least have grip panels that extend their personalities, or at least maybe establish one where none existed.
I discovered the Altamont company while researching grips for the 1911 pistol and revolver grips. Altamont was founded in 1981, currently employs over 100 Illinois Residents, and all products are 100% made in the U.S.A. “ALTAMONT® specializes in high speed machining of wood and composite parts for the sporting goods industry. With our primary work being for the gun makers themselves, we are selling a variety of our products online directly. We do a variety of customized textures to give your handgun or rifle a distinctive touch at an affordable price. Our customers include Beretta, Browning, Buck Knives, Colt, Kimber, Ruger, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Taurus, and Walther.” – Source; The Altamont Company.
Before I begin on the grips; however, I would like to touch on the ordering process. First of all, Altamont Customer Service is great. They will answer your questions right away and they establish a line of communication from the start of your order to the day it is shipped. I ordered my grips directly from the Altamont website. I received an acknowledgement that the order had been taken from both Altamont and my preferred payment middleperson. The next day I received an e-mail from Altamont mentioning that the order could take one to three weeks to fulfill and they gave me an opportunity to cancel the order; whereupon my payment would be returned to me. If you do nothing, they will continue with the order; however, I give them the courtesy of a reply not only for their record, but also my own.
I will receive an e-mail when the product ships and I can then track it as close as anyone can track a package.
Most of the question you might have on your mind can be answered on the company’s FAQ site.
Getting back to the reason for this article, let’s take a look at the Altamont products that now adorn some of my 1911 pistols.
Ruger SR1911 “Lightweight Commander”
The first set of grip panels from The Altamont Company was the Altamont 1911 Govt. Fingergroove Silverblack Checkered Engraved. Originally, as shown below, I had installed my usual Hogue Rubber Finger Groove Wraparound Grip. However, I felt the need for a change and the Altamont 1911 Govt. Fingergroove Silverblack Checkered Engraved was it. Later, the panels were removed to be placed on another 1911, but after looking at things, I decided to move the panels back to the Ruger SR1911 “Lightweight Commander” and found an alternative set for the other 1911.
The Altamont 1911 Govt. Fingergroove Silverblack Checkered Engraved) did take some minor fitting; the mounting holes needed to be carefully hand-reamed to fit over the grip bushings on the Ruger SR1911 “Lightweight Commander” before they could fit like a glove. The front of the panel mated well with no separation. The Ruger SR1911 “Lightweight Commander” feels as good in the hand as it did before the change, and these grips really look great against the charcoal gray of the frame.
Smith & Wesson “E” Series 1911
The second endeavor with the Altamont grips was the Smith & Wesson “E” Series 1911. The grip panels selected was the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Stipple.
The grip of the pistol is highly checkered on the front strap and the mainspring housing. Having an aggressive grip panel would have been too much for the hand; a combination of striation and stippling seemed to be in order. I really like the Silverblack composite and it would look great against the stainless steel of the frame.
The 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Stipple fits the Smith & Wesson “E” Series 1911, providing a nice contrast between black and steel without being over-powering. The 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Stipple grip panels are fancy without taking away from the function of the firearm as a self-defense firearm.
Incidentally, the original grip panels are Altamont products.
Remington R1 Enhanced Stainless
I have loved stag grips on a 1911 ever since my eyes first saw them many, many years ago. True stag grips are too costly for my taste, but a good set of faux stag grips would be within reason, if the pattern was as true to natural as possible. A set of 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Imitation Stag grip panels from Altamont now adorn the grip of my Remington R1 Stainless 1911 pistol. While the grip panel mounting screws provided with the pistol were adequate, I opted to mount the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Imitation Stag grip panels with Altamont’s Screw Pattern M#14 – Royal.
These grip panels installed without issue and are a perfect fit and finish to this fine pistol. It is now, a very handsome piece, in my opinion.
Kimber Stainless II
The Kimber Stainless II was somewhat of a challenge for me. I wanted a set of grip panels that would set the Kimber Stainless II off as a special pistol, but I still needed the pistol to convey that it was for business and just not for show. It took me a while to decide on a set, and I actually ordered two sets of grip panels for it; one was chosen and the other to be mounted on a different 1911 at a later time. The chosen grip was the Altamont 1911 Govt. Fingergroove Super Walnut Checkered Oak Tree (Item# CG-FG07-OL) with mounting screw Pattern M#5 – Nova (Item# SCREW-L90-M05). See below for the result.
I like a wraparound grip and the pattern of this grip was excellent, would provide an excellent gripping surface, and would really add a bit of class to an already classy pistol. The Super Walnut finish just pops against the stainless-steel of the frame.
The checkering and texturing of the grip is perfect. The fit of the grip is most excellent. Wraparound finger-groove grips can be tricky as each side has to match up perfectly when installed. There is no gap where the two halves meet in the front strap.
Kimber Stainless Raptor II/Kimber Stainless Pro Raptor II
The Kimber Stainless Raptor II and the Kimber Stainless Pro Raptor II are very striking 1911 pistols. The unique sculpturing on the pistols set them apart from most 1911 pistols. I was looking for grip panels that would provide and excellent hold on the pistols, but also augment the beauty of each pistol. I decided that whatever grip panel I ordered for one would be ordered for the other, which would give me a somewhat of a matched set.
Again, Altamont came through for me with the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Super Rosewood, Silverblack Oval, and Bonded Ivory Inlay with Landing Eagle Scrimshaw on Both Sides. Again, while the existing grip screws were adequate to mount the grip panels, Screw Pattern M#8 – Pinwheel reminded me of an eye and would be perfect to simulate the eye of the eagle.
Kimber Stainless Raptor II (rear) and Kimber Stainless Pro Raptor II (front)
Kimber Stainless Raptor II (rear) and Kimber Stainless Pro Raptor II (front)
Once again, the fit and finish of the grip panels was excellent. However, there was one fault and it was mine. When I ordered the grip panels for the Kimber Stainless Raptor II, I neglected to check the ambidextrous safety and Extended Safety check boxes in the customize window. I had to use a very fine Emory board on the right-side grip panel on the top of the grip panel to take off some material for the right-side safety lever.
When I ordered the set for the Kimber Stainless Pro Raptor II, the correct customize options were selected.
Smith & Wesson Performance Center® SW1911 Pro Series®
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center® SW1911 Pro Series® 1911 was a bit trickier to order grip panels. The existing grip panels are fine as they are, and I wanted to keep them that way.
Because of the magwell extender, a replacement grip would have to conform to the same grip dimensions. Any of the 1911 Government Classic Panel offered by Altamont can be configured for a magwell extender by selecting that option in the customize window for the item once it is placed in the cart.
I wanted something distinctive that would tell others that this pistol was a “precious” pistol. My final choice was the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Super Rosewood Stipple Item# CG-CP05-STP and Screw Pattern M#6 – Celtic Cross Item# SCREW-L90-M06.
The pattern is the same as that used with the Smith & Wesson “E” Series 1911, but in a different laminate. These panels are cut for the magwell extension, ambidextrous safety and extended safety.
Springfield Armory TRP
The Springfield Armory TRP is the heavy weight of the group of 1911 pistols. This pistol is all business and all about taking care of business. It was going to take a very strong pattern to make this pistol stand out from the crowd, and there is no other grip panel that says combat better than a double-diamond grip. However, just no ordinary double-diamond grip panel will do, but the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Spanish Diamonds (Item# CG-CP06-SD) will.
Like the Smith & Wesson Performance Center® SW1911 Pro Series® 1911, the Springfield Armory incorporates a magazine well extension, and the 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Spanish Diamonds incorporates the magwell cut option that effectively blends the magazine well extension with the grip panels.
The 1911 Govt. Classic Panel Silverblack Spanish Diamonds grip panel add a richness to the pistol without undermining the true intent of a “Tactical Ready Pistol.”
Replacing the mounting screws was a wise choice on my part.
Right side with ambi and extended safety cuts.
While the new grip panels resemble the stock grip panel, the texture and feel are so much better, and a ‘classic’ look is retained. Note the fit at the magazine well extension.
The grip panels fit beautifully, were cut properly, and keeping the original TORX mounting screws was not a promising idea, because while they matched the pistol, they brought nothing to the table for the grip panels. The stock mounting screws were replaced with Altamont Screw Pattern M#14 – Royal.
Kimber Stainless TLE II
The Kimber Stainless TLE (Tactical Law Enforcement) II 1911 comes equipped with a very aggressive olive drab set of G10 grip panels. While these grip panels are nice, I felt that they were too busy for my taste and I didn’t feel that they complimented the pistol. I opted for the Altamont 1911 Govt. Tactical Panel Foundation Desert Earth G10 (Item# CG-CP71-G5) and Screw Pattern M#8 – Pinwheel (Item# SCREW-L90-M08).
The leading edge of the grip panel carries the front strap checkering into the grip where it is need, but transitions into a wavier, but subdued, pattern that is friendly to the hand but still provides an excellent gripping surface for the hand.
The color combination of the laminated G10 grip panels are excellent and add a bit of earth-tone contrast to an otherwise somewhat bland looking 1911 pistol.
There you have it! A field of 1911 pistols with each its own personality established by installing some very nice grip panels from Altamont. I am very pleased with the results of using these grip panels on my 1911 pistols, and I think that you would be as well.
Altamont also carries grips for revolvers, and a set now adorns my Ruger Redhawk and a Smith & Wesson Model 617.