Just about everyone who’s ever read a gun magazine is familiar with Hogue. The family-owned California grip maker has been turning out fine custom grips from rubber and exotic hardwoods since 1968, and I’ve used its grips for as long as I’ve been shooting. But over the years, the company’s product line has expanded to include recoil pads, a futuristic-looking speed holster, and stocks for rifles and shotguns.
Exotic materials have also made their way into the grip line. Hogue’s new Extreme Series includes grips made out of aluminum, titanium, Damascus and G-10. A Hybrid version combines aluminum with exotic hardwood inserts, and the Magrip Kit includes a matching mainspring and extended grip that serves as an extended magazine well.
I recently got a chance to test two Extreme Series grips for the full-size 1911. The first grip I tested is machined from a solid billet of aircraft-grade, 6061 T-6 aluminum. The completed grips are Type III-anodized and available in red, blue, clear, black and green. Checkering is available as an option, as is a cool new flame pattern.
I told the folks at Hogue to surprise me, and surprise me they did. The grips they sent for evaluation are bright red with the optional flame job.
Hogue’s grips are cut to fit real guns, so I was not surprised when the grips went right on a Les Baer Boss pistol I had in for testing. The test gun doesn’t have an ambidextrous safety, but if it did, I’d be just fine because an ambi cut is standard on the Extreme Series grips.
I must admit that the racy appearance of the flame-adorned red grips took me a while to get used to, but their smooth feel didn’t. Like most 1911 shooters, I’ve always strived to get as much traction on my pistols’ grips as I possibly could. I’ve used various combinations of checkered front- and backstraps, skateboard tape and checkered grips–some of which actually shredded my hands in extended firing sessions.
The last few years, I’ve been gravitating toward less aggressive grips and frontstrap treatments, so the smooth Hogue grips were a nice complement to the Les Baer pistol’s crisp, sharp checkering.
On the range, the Extreme grips were comfortable in my hand and not as slick as you might think. However, as my hands started to get sweaty in extended firing sessions, I found myself adjusting my grip from time to time. It wasn’t a problem, and I really liked the feel of the grip, but I prefer a bit more texture on my competition guns. However, I know two shooters who have aluminum Hogue grips on their competition guns, and they swear by them.
I may not be ready for smooth grips on my IDPA pistol or 3-gun blaster, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put aluminum grips on a carry gun, where the lack of checkering really helps keep the grip from catching on clothes and printing.
The second set of grips Hogue sent for evaluation is made of G-10, a durable synthetic made of fiberglass that is soaked in resin and then compressed and baked. G-10 is fast becoming one of the most popular materials for knife handles and grips because it is durable, attractive and not terribly expensive. It is also easy to make with different colors and patterns built right in.
The grips Hogue sent were finished in what it calls OD G-Mascus. It is an attractive OD green color with black swirls, courtesy of Hogue’s patented manufacturing process. These G10s also have crisp, sharp checkering and classic double diamonds around the screw holes. Aesthetically, the grips are very nice and well-finished.
They are also quite thin, so they look good and feel great in my small hands. As has been my experience with all my Hogue grips over the years, the new G-10 stocks went right on my Wayne Novak-built custom Colt. I chose the Novak gun because the green and black grips look fantastic against its stainless finish.
I use quite a few G-10 grips, so these were no surprise on the range. Their thinner profile made a noticeable difference in how the gun felt in my hands, and the checkering was just right: rough enough to add a little traction during extended firing sessions but not so abrasive that they tore my hands up by the end of the day. In fact, I’d say the mild checkering was the perfect complement to the Novak gun’s front- and backstraps, which are checkered at a crisp 25 lpi.
Hogue offers smooth, checkered, and finger-groove grips, and I’ve owned examples of each over the years, but in addition to the test grips I also ordered a strikingly beautiful set of rosewood grips for my Jim Garthwaite custom Commander.
The grips have a great deal of figure and are very dark. The dark, reddish hue and rich, black figure look incredible on the matte black custom. The stocks are checkered in a double-diamond pattern and are perfectly fitted to the Caspian’s frame. The checkering is nicely executed, with just enough depth to add a bit of traction without making the grip feel abrasive or catch my clothes when I wear the pistol in an IWB holster. They may be old school, but Hogue’s elegant, exotic wood grips never go out of style.