Observation one: just because an item is written up on the recreational side of the reviews doesn’t mean that it has no duty application. This product certainly does. Observation two: versatility is king unless it compromises practicality. Both observations made, Universal Outfitters has come up with a pretty cool idea for integrating necessary tools for pistol maintenance into the grips they make for 1911 style pistols. I received my set while at SHOT Show and have been checking them out ever since. For field carry when I’m going to be away from my range kit, these are darn handy to have.
The set of grips I have for test and evaluation are the Black Diamond model made by Universal Outfitters. I think they’re pretty sharp looking but it’s the hidden (or semi-hidden) stuff that makes them different. Before I get into what’s hidden, let me talk about my 1911 for a minute (it’s necessary for you to understand the grips).
My 1911 is made by Springfield Armory. It’s a “loaded” model which really means it has an ambidextrous safety lever, full length recoil spring guide rod , forward serrations on the slide, and low-profile combat sights. I’ve since replaced the sights with a set of XS Sights 24/7 standard dot sights. I have also modified the grip by adding an adhesive material to the front strap which is made by TAC-GRIP. Currently, to disassembly my weapon for cleaning I need an allen drive (to remove the full length guide rod), another allen drive to remove the grip screws, and a bushing wrench to remove the barrel bushing. This is a far cry from the 1911 I was taught I could take apart only with a screw driver back in my Army days (yes, prior to the ’85 adoption of the M9).
But look at that list: that’s three tools I need just to field strip my handgun. Now if I didn’t have the full length guide rod I would only need two: the allen drive to remove the grips and the bushing wrench to remove the barrel bushing. Here’s the cool part about the Universal Outfitters grips and why I just made you read through all that: both of those tools are integrated into the grips Universal Outfitters make.
In looking at the picture shown to the right here you can see the small allen drive / wrench that fits inside the left grip panel. That check of bright metal you see is a strong magnet that helps hold the wrench securely in place. The bottom of the grip is milled so that you can hook a thumb nail on the wrench for easy withdrawal. Using that wrench you can take the grips off your pistol leaving you with a handgun (which you made sure was unloaded and safe by triple-checking before starting this, right?) and both grip panels.
If you take a look at the inside of the right grip panel you’ll see that there is a milled out section that is shaped kind of like a barrel bushing… because it’s a bushing wrench. That’s what it’s designed for. On that same grip panel, you’ll notice a notched out section at the top right (in this picture). That is in all Universal Outfitters grips, and why? Because you don’t have to specify whether or not your weapon has an ambi-safety when you order. Instead of notching ALL their grips for ambi-safeties, Universal Outfiiters made it so that you can do it quickly and easily yourself with any decently sharp small knife. Notching mine out properly to fit my weapon took all of about twenty seconds.
A quick check of the Universal Outfitters’ website shows that the grips are available in eight different styles and/or color options. The 1911 grips all retail for $59.95 and when you think about it, you get an awful lot of good versatility out of a fairly inexpensive set of grips. Universal Outfitters also makes grips for Berettas and Browning Hi-Powers. I recommend you check them out. Good stuff.
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