It’s a cliché that we live and learn, even if intellectual dishonesty and doubling down on failure seems to be the order of the day in the 21st.C. OK, let’s not go there and move on to a happier conversation. I was wrong, I admit it and I’m fixing it.
I like 1911s and have ever since I got out of the army and discovered that the clapped-out, bodged-together relics in our arms room were not what the 1911a1 was supposed to be. A brief stint at Detonics showed me what the 1911 could be, and IPSC competition showed me what it could do in skilled hands. Other skilled hands, not mine.
It’s not the perfect handgun, but it does have it’s virtues. We’re not here to debate that, but rather to get to the part where I was wrong. It is my preference to have a highly textured grip-frame and mainspring housing on my 1911-based guns. 20 lpi checkering makes a real difference in control when striving for speed as well as accuracy, and I thought hat sufficient. My main grip on the handle is front-to-back, so as far as I was concerned the grips could be smooth and it wouldn’t matter. Hell, I went so far as to say they could be greased and it would be fine.
I like to do things with my hands, and I like to learn things. This last week I thought it was time to put the stock-checkering tools I picked up last year to work and learn how to use them. This reinforced the difference between ‘simple’ and ‘easy.’ Checkering stocks, while more complex than you might think, is pretty simple. But it ain’t easy. Nonetheless I stuck with it, and in a few hours had produced a serviceable set of 1911 grips.
Mind you I’ve always liked the look of checkered grips on a 1911, and I tossed them on the Street Racer and they felt great. Well crap. So I did a bit of shooting, and while honestly I’m not good enough to reap the potential benefits of such a small change it felt better. So I did another set for the competition gun and it too felt better. Bugger.
As often as I’m wrong you might suspect I enjoy it, but I don’t because then I have to admit it and either change or walk around knowing that I’m lying to myself. As unpleasant as it is to change it’s better than that.
This really does seem like a ‘duh’ sort of thing; it has been the conventional wisdom for about as long as there have been handguns. I mean, I do like a fair bit of texture on other handguns, but because of the way I grip a 1911 I deluded myself that it didn’t apply in that specific case. Except as everyone but me probably knew it does.
So I am going to keep developing my checkering skills; I definitely have a rifle-stock or two that could benefit and I like mastering new skills. And yes, my 1911s will be wearing checkered grips. I guess you’re never too old to discover you’re doing it wrong. Time to choke down a nice slice of humble pie and move on.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 June 2022