Get a Grip On Plastic Guns

A very short push into the polymer with a hot soldering iron yielded consistent craters measuring about one millimeter across.”

A very short push into the polymer with a hot soldering iron yielded consistent craters measuring about one millimeter across.”

At this point, I need to insert all appropriate disclaimers: What I’m about to do might be unwise, if not downright stupid, and probably voids the pistol’s warranty. Regardless, don’t try this at home. In fact, don’t try this anywhere or at any time. Proceed at your own risk. Neither Gun Digest the Magazine nor Kel-Tec is responsible for your foolishness. Consuming raw or undercooked meat, seafood or egg products can increase your risk of foodborne illness. And so on.

Working in my professional stippling shop — in my driveway with an upside-down five-gallon bucket (the gun bench) and a broken piece of 12×12 ceramic tile (a safe surface to work with hot tools and melting plastic) — I plugged in the soldering iron and set up the camera. Either I would capture pictures of a successful hand stippling job or provide some emergency room doctor with images of my burnt flesh. This was the point of no return. As soon as that hot soldering iron tip touched the plastic, I was committed.

Questions raced through my mind: How would the plastic react to the hot soldering iron? How long would I need to hold the soldering iron against the plastic to melt it? Should I melt grooves into the plastic or just push in some round craters? Questions raced through the minds of the neighbors, as well: Who’s the idiot sitting in the middle of his driveway in front of a five-gallon bucket when it’s 32 degrees out?

A very short push into the polymer with a hot soldering iron yielded consistent craters measuring about one millimeter across.”

A very short push into the polymer with a hot soldering iron yielded consistent craters measuring about one millimeter across.”

To test the effects of the hot soldering iron on Kel-Tec polymer, I swapped out the standard magazine floorplate for the extended magazine floorplate that was included with the pistol. Briefly touching the soldering iron to the side of the standard magazine floorplate as a test, the plastic melted instantly, leaving a small crater. I touched the soldering iron to it a few more times and was able to create a fairly consistent pattern of craters that measured about one millimeter in diameter. It took well under half a second for the soldering iron to create one crater in the plastic. Testing complete, it was time to stipple.

With the Kel-Tec lying on its side, I rested the heel of my hand on the tile while holding the soldering iron like a pen. I gently and briefly pressed the tip down into one of the squares. Just like the test, the soldering iron produced a neat little crater. I did it again, creating a crater right next to the first, and so on.

Following a pattern of creating rows of craters, I became proficient enough to complete an entire square in less than a minute. Once I completed one side of the gun, I continued to the other, this time stippling the outline of each square first and then filling in the middle. Stippling the stocks proved easier than I thought so I stippled a portion of the front strap as well. Total stippling time: 45 minutes.

While I would stop stippling every so often and pick up the pistol to see if I was creating any sharp or otherwise uncomfortable edges, I didn’t notice a major improvement in purchase until I completed the work. Using the magazine with the extended floorplate, the hand stippling job significantly increased purchase on the Kel-Tec PF-9. It felt great — rock solid, like no person or hot ammo was going to easily remove that gun from my hand.

Even though I consider the stippling job a wonderful success, I’m not going to be starting my own pistol customizing business. I’m just happy to have not ruined an excellent pistol, stippled my fingers, nor burnt down my house.

All in all, it was a good exercise, one that I hope is helpful to readers of Gun Digest the Magazine. After showing off the stippled Kel-Tec PF-9, a few friends have asked me why I would make permanent changes to a perfectly functional handgun. My response: “Why wouldn’t I?”

Kel-Tec
321-631-0068; keltecweapons.com
Hogue
800-438-4747; getgrip.com
Robar
623-581-2648; robarguns.com


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3 thoughts on “Get a Grip On Plastic Guns

  1. Scalpless

    Nice how-to but what the author did not mention is that the grips on the Kel Tec PF-9 is easily replaced and does not void the warranty. The actual firearm part is the frame and not part of the handle. The grip costs about thirty dollars to replace and can be found in a few different colors. Modify away.

  2. thewizardofaz

    Just curious if you’ve ever tried using that material that’s kind of like sandpaper? Skateboard riders attach a very coarse sandpaper-like material to their boards to help make it non-slip. You can buy this in hardware stores. Plus, it’s removable if you don’t like it…soldering irons are forever.

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