Since John VanZyck founded VZ grips in 2003 and began machining micarta and G10, VZ has become one of the most well-respected manufacturers of aftermarket grips for everything from 1911s to J-frames. In my experience, they represent a nice melding of form and function; that is to say that not only do they look fantastic, they also provide a functional improvement to almost any firearm in almost any environment. This is particularly true in sweaty or wet conditions. Although my previous experience has been with G10 grips by VZ (which I’ve been using on my Colt for nearly three years), I’ve had the chance to test out a set of the new hydro-dipped micarta grips for the 1911 since this year’s SHOT Show, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them as well.
Hydro dipping is a water transfer printing technique that allows for a really nice, smooth finish on just about any type of texture. For rough grip textures like VZ’s “Alien,” it’s perfect for complex camouflage designs (Desert Digital Camo and Antler Camo are available), or even more novel patterns, like the “Benji,” which is printed with a multitude of $100 bills (above, center). In my experience, it keeps my shots right on the money…I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Although hydro dipping is slightly smoother to the touch than rougher G10, which makes these new grips a little bit more about form than function, the smoothness of the finish doesn’t detract from the “grippiness” of the texture itself (only the area between the ridges), so you shouldn’t have any problems holding onto your gun under recoil.
I will note that in my opinion the hydro-dipped grips are not a hard-use design. In fact, VZ tells you on the site that they are more susceptible to scratching. That said, with about a thousand rounds fired so far while holding onto these grips, there is only some very minimal wear on the ridges of the grip texture where the underlying black micarta is barely beginning to show through, and not a single scratch on my pair. Since the micarta’s integrity is not affected in any way by the presence (or lack) of the surface finish, it isn’t something that bothers me, but it is something to be aware of (which VZ also discloses on their site in bolded font).
Chances are that if you’re reading a post on Handgun Planet, you already know all about VZ grips, so this is more of a shout out than a review, but if you haven’t heard of VZ and you’re looking for a little extra out of your handgun (especially your workhorse 1911 or J-frame), you really owe it to yourself to check them out at www.vzgrips.com. If it’s a carry or hard-use gun, it doesn’t get any better than G10 (I have thousands of rounds through a gun wearing VZ G10 with zero wear whatsoever), but if you’re looking for something that’s a little more fun for a competition gun or a range piece, one of these new hydro dipped patterns might well catch your eye.
So the next time your wife decides she needs more makeup or shoes (or for female readers, the next time your husband sticks his foot firmly in his mouth), here’s something you can pick up to even the count. For around $65 retail (1911), it’s an easy upgrade that won’t break the bank. And with grips for everything from the Kimber Solo to a Smith N-frame revolver, chances are high that John and the crew at VZ have exactly what you’re looking for. HP
-Colt Driver; Product Photos by kChanko
VZ: Hydro Dipped 1911 grips, $65, www.VZGrips.com
*Originally Posted 3/4/2014