The GLOCK 43 surprisingly has a very light texture. Much less than then a gen 4 gun. I think GLOCK was thinking low drag or less texture to run up against you when using the pistol for concealed carrying.
The pistol is not hard to shoot but you can tell right off the bat that it would benefit from a better texture. As I knew I would have 43 soon I went ahead and ordered a set of Talon Grips that I have used before and worked well on my Nano.
Talon grips, if you are not familiar with them, are an affordable, easy to put on grip tape that is customized for your pistol. You can get them in a sandpaper (like skateboard tape) or in a rubber grip tape. I generally go with the rubber because the sandpaper seems to bug me while I am carrying concealed. If you are not wearing an undergarment it can rub you the wrong way.
So when I got the 43, I put about 300 round downrange before deciding to throw on the talon grips. They work and are much better than stock but I have grown spoiled with the stippling on my 19s and 26L. So I decided that a stippling job was in order. I just needed to find the time to do the work.
About 6 months ago I picked up an Umbrella Corp AR lower and decided to build out a 556 SBR. I purchased a colt lower parts kit from G&R Tactical and other than the grip which was an Umbrella Corp the rest of the gun was BCM parts including the 11.5 BCM upper. I will do a full write up at some point.
Anyways, I have a great gunsmith locally and he offered to cerakote it and then he would built out the rifle. We spent a while trying to find a good color and we ended up doing a custom color of 25% Burnt Bronze and 75% FDE. The mix turned out really nice. He mixed up extra paint and set it off to the side as he liked the color. When he saw I got the 43 he said we should cerakoted it. I thought that might be interesting and since he already had the paint mixed up it would be easy to do. I have been wondering how well cerakoted does on pistols with holster wear so I said what the hell.
All this of course was pretexted on the fact that I would have to get the stippling done too my liking before he cerakoted it. So the purpose of this post is just to walk you through how I did the stippling and to answer any questions people have. This would be the same process for any polymer pistol. I touched on it a little in the 26L write up but this will be more detailed around stippling in general.
Things you will need:
- a dremel
- sanding drum attachment for the dremel
- 300-400 grit sandpaper
- 600-800 grit sandpaper
- isopropyl alcohol
- compressed air – could be a can of keyboard duster
- a ruler – better if metal
- cheap soldering iron
Here is the basic process:
Field strip the pistol and disassemble the lower portion of the pistol. You dont need to do this but the more I do these, the more I think it’s easier and looks more professional if you pull all the lower parts and pull the mag release. Then clean the polymer with the alcohol.
The next step is to sand off all the texture that is from the factory with your dremel. If you dont do this you will see the difference in height from the raised texture to the flat smooth parts. I think if you dont do this it looks like crap and is amateur hour. ANY TIME YOU ARE USING A DREMEL ON A POLYMER FRAME YOU SHOULD USE THE LOWEST SPEED ON YOUR DREMEL. GOING TOO FAST WILL END UP MELTING THE POLYMER AND WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT TO FIX.
If this freaks you out (and it should because at this point you are marring your frame for life) tape off the parts of the frame with duck tape or painters tape that you don’t want to mess up. I find this is easiest with painters tape. Tape off all those spots that don’t have factory stippling. I no longer do this as I go slow and know what parts I need to avoid but preplanning here can go a long way.
After I get all the factory stippling taken off I will generally cut up into the trigger guard a little bit to help with GLOCK knuckle. There is already a grove there you are just making it bigger. Go slow, keep the dremel at its lowest setting, and take your time. After you get to where it’s comfortable you can sand out the rough texture with 300 grip sandpaper. I will also go over the parts where I removed the factory stippling with 300 grip just to get a good setup for my stippling, no more than 2-3 min.
A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT TRIGGER GUARD WORK – The majority of holsters use the trigger guard as their locking mechanism. If you decide to get fancy or removing a lot of material from the trigger guard you may end up having issues using off the shelf holsters. Since the trigger guard is where the pistol locks into the holster you will find it difficult to get good lockup. Some minimalist holsters like the Raven Vanguard won’t work at all.
Take your time on the trigger guard, hand sanding to make it even. I generally go from 150 grit to 300 around the trigger guard being extra careful not to overshoot my marks and mar the factory finish. Again painters tape is helpful here protecting parts you don’t want to accidentally hit with the sandpaper. You will want to make sure to mark off sections with tape and stay in your lines. Sand it all out before removing the tape. You want to try to limit the change to the GLOCK factory texture as much as possible as it’s hard to replicate. Once you get the trigger guard looking uniform, you can finish it with 800 grit sandpaper and you will get close to a factory finish. Because I knew this was going to be cerakoted I was not overly anal about what the texture looked like.
Once you get the frame sanded make sure you give the frame a good rubdown with alcohol. This process with let you know if you missed any spots.
At this point you may want to deepen and lengthen the area around the mag release. I don’t feel the need to do this with Gen 4 pistols but it is nice on Gen 3’s. With your dremel you take away material around were the mag release is. Clean up is the same as with the trigger guard work.
Next up is the stippling – I use the cheapest soldering iron I can find on amazon and it has lasted for years.
The act of stippling is heating the tip of the iron and indenting it into the polymer frame. The polymer is pushed out of the divot you just made and that is what gives you the grip. The deeper you go into the polymer the more rough the grip will be as the polymer around the divot is higher.
You can get really creative here but I have 3 basic textures I have come up with:
First are very light bumps very close together. This adds a little more grip but in no way will be ruff on your skin. In my experience you need to redo most stippling over time as it gets worn away. Option #1 will need to have that done more often. This is an excellent option for an AR grip where you want it to have texture but just enough. Here are few examples:
The second texture is deeper and wider between. This is like the stippling I did on my GLOCK 26L. There is a lot of texture but is smooth enough that it doesn’t rub you the wrong way when wearing it concealed without an undershirt. You can always hit it with sandpaper after the fact if it is a little rough. I generally prefer this type of stippling as it gives you good purchase on the gun and is durable. It also has a tendency not to get clogged up with dirt and dead skin as much as the micro stippling.
Third option is for a gun you don’t intent to carry and you want to maximize grip. I have done theses in the past but don’t have a good example to show. You will just go very deep in polymer and let the gun sit for a 30 min after you’re done to let the polymer fully harden.
So the first step is to come up with how you want your stippling edges to look. What I mean by edges is where you will make the transition from the frames finish into the stippling. Do you want rounded edges or more aggressive angular edges? Currently I like the more organic rounded look. Poking around on Instagram and google images may help you here.
Next step is to draw out with a pencil where those edges will be. I like the back of my grips where the beavertail is to be factory finish. If you stipple up onto the beavertail it will annoy you and do nothing to help your purchase on the grip. Here is a picture of what I mean:After you draw out your lines, you will again want to mark off with painters tape. The painters tape provides an edge for you to work against while you are stippling. It’s much easier to work against the wall that the tape gives you vs just working off your penciled in lines. You can burn the tape with the soldering iron but the tape offers a delay that will give you time to make a correction.
As of late I have been running the iron along my tape marks to make a straight line and then stipple on the inside of that melted polymer. I do this with a small strait edge and I think it makes the work go much faster. Again experiment on AR grips or pmags to get a feel for stippling. A word of caution; the polymer of GLOCK grips is a little softer than pmags so start out slow or in the middle of your grip to get a feel for how the polymer reacts to the soldering iron.
After all your edges are taped off, start stippling along the edges trying to make your lines as straight as possible. Once you are done with your lines you can start the tedious processes of adding millions of little indentions to you grip. It’s really that easy. My only bit of advice is to be random. If you start doing your stippling in lines you will see a pattern in the end product. If you want it all to look professional move the frame around and stipple in different directions. I generally do a large area with a few dots like a shotgun birdshot pattern and then fill in the dots around those starter dots.
When your all done give the frame 15-20 min to cool down before you go mashing it with your hand testing out the grip. When I am all done I generally hit it with a nylon brush to get any burs off the polymer and give it a good wash. Then I take a look to see if I missed anything.
If you have questions post in the comments and I will try to answer them as best as possible. Stippling is not that hard so man up and get a grip (pun intended). If you are not happy with the current texture of you gun, stippling is a great way to make the gun your own. Have a plan, go slow, and you will be good to go.by