Monday, April 14, 2014

The Tale of Two Textures: The non-Stipple Option

If you go to a firearms related forum and search "stippling" you will find stuff like this. Some of it is pretty good, some of it isn't, it all probably works for what it is intended for, which is to improve traction on the firearm. I have done a little bit of stippling (and here, and here) and I learned one thing really fast, it is tedious and takes a lot of time to do well. Because of the time involved, some things I just didn't stipple.

You also have to be careful about how you stipple because when carried against the skin, or certain types of fabric it can be abrasive. It wears out the body, or whatever fabric it is rubbing against.

So I starting thinking that there has to be a better way. Something that isn't as time consuming at the very least. A while back, I found it. It is called Marine Tex. There are other products out there that from my understanding you can do the same thing with, and some I hear are even better at it, but this is what I have used. Marine Tex is a two part epoxy that is intended for the repair of boat hulls. So it is a fairly resilient epoxy.

The way this works is you make up a little batch (it doesn't take much) and spread it fairly thin on whatever surface you want to add texture to (I recommend cleaning the surface before hand) and let it set for 20-30 minutes depending on air temperature, humidity, etc. Once it has become a little tacky, you can use a sponge, rag, or whatever you want to tack the surface of the epoxy. It ends up looking like this.
There will be some sharp peaks, that is okay for now. Once you have all the texture you want/need, let it sit for about 24 hours until the epoxy is completely cured. Once the epoxy is cured, use a piece of sandpaper to take off the sharp peaks and get it to the texture you want. Once you are satisfied, hit it with a little water to wash all the dust away and the grip is done.
Depending on what you use to "tack" the surface you can go really gnarly like this.
Chopped G22
Or something more subtle like this.

Gen2 G21
Remington R1 w/Mako Magwell Grips

If you end up not liking the end result, just sand it off and start over. Unlike stippling, if you screw this up, odds are you aren't going to ruin your gun in the process which is what I think scares a long of people away from stippling with a heat tool. I have also found that even though you can end up with a very aggressive texture like the chopped G22 pictured above, it doesn't abrade the skin like normal stippling tends to when worn in a holster against the skin or grab clothing. But when you grip it to shoot, you definitely notice a difference.

As for the Magpul grip pictured above, this is the finished product. Total working time start to finish is about 30 minutes with 24 hours or so of curing time.


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