How to Stipple a GLOCK Pistol

How To Stipple a Glock

image via Polinger Firearms

By Matt Sandy

‘Stippling’ is melting the plastic exterior of a polymer gun with the intent of improving the texture for a better grip. Below is a good example from Polinger_Firearms.

Polinger Firearms via Instagram

This article is not a step-by-step “how-to” on stippling jobs: There are too many good YouTube videos demonstrating how to stipple, and I’ve linked my favorites in the appropriate sections below. This article has more to do with where to start, how to progress, and little tips and tricks that may help you along the way.

Health Warning: You are melting/burning plastic. This creates toxic fumes. Wear a mask rated to filter out the fumes, have a fan blowing, open a window, work outside – do something to minimize/eliminate how much of these fumes you breathe in.

What can you stipple? Any GLOCK handgun, Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield XD, any polymer SIG, AR-15 grips, PMAGs. Basically, anything with a polymer frame, or plastic in general.

Why should you stipple? Aesthetics aside, stippling is a permanent way to improve the grip texture of a firearm. A common counter to this is grip tape or Talon grips. I’ve used both extensively and they never last. If you don’t plan to sell your gun, then stippling is an excellent way to improve the aggressiveness of the texture of the grip without having to worry about it wearing off.

What should you stipple with? You stipple with a soldering iron or wood burning tool. Wood burning kits, like this one, are, in my opinion, the best option. They’re inexpensive, have adjustable temperature and interchangeable tips.

The adjustable temperature will give you more control since not all polymer melts the same. The interchangeable tips give you lots of options for different textures and designs. That being said, none of those features are absolutely necessary. The most common and basic stippling pattern can be accomplished with an old soldering iron that has a fixed pointed tip.

Do you need to prep the grip before stippling? No, you don’t need to. Plenty of stipplers stipple right over the stock GLOCK texture. That being said, I think you should. By removing the stock texture and sanding it down to an even, smooth finish you improve the consistency of the stipple. Sanding it to 220 grit is easy and can improve your results. This is also a great opportunity to do trigger guard undercuts and remove the finger grooves if desired.

What pattern should you start with? The easiest pattern is the random dot pattern.

PainX via Youtube

Pain X has a great video covering the whole process. Random dot uses a pointed cone-shaped tip.  Simply cover the area you want to be stippled in dots. The dots should overlap. There isn’t supposed to be any order here. This is the easiest pattern because the only thing you have to worry about is your pressure and time.

You want to be consistent with how hard and how long you press down with the iron. The time and pressure aspects of stippling are the biggest fundamentals. This pattern is a great way to practice it. Once you’re good at this, it makes more complicated patterns easier.

The next pattern I would try is what I call a semi-random dot pattern. The first image in this article is an example of this pattern and it’s done using a dome-shaped tip.

You line the dots up in neat rows, then go back over and touch all the major intersections.

This is a good progression because it allows you to practice being ordered and precise with your stippling. If you make a mistake it’s not a big deal because you will be adding dots that randomize the pattern.

Next, I would try the starburst pattern, like this one from SuburbanHobbyist. This pattern adds layout to the process. It also gives you options for tip choice. The rectangular tip is what I commonly see used, but I’ve seen designs use the teardrop shape among others. Pick a point on the grip you want to be the center of the pattern, and draw straight lines from there.

Suburban Hobbyist via YouTube

Suburban Hobbyist via YouTube

Stipple along those lines, then fill in each section. This is a culmination of all the other skills you have been practicing. These stipples are ordered and shouldn’t overlap. There is also more leeway for creativity. The design will look different depending on how you fill each section.

Although one definitely looks more like a starburst than the other, my point is there is more room for creativity here than the other two designs. You can even forego a dotted stipple pattern and create a series of straight-line stipples. Like I said, lots of room for creativity with this one. Despite all the options, the structure of the design is very simple.  If you have a good layout and good fundamentals it should be easily accomplished.

One of the more challenging designs is the basket weave design.

Frank Castle Customs via YouTube

In this design, you are creating dozens of tiny squares that line up in straight parallel rows, at an angle, on a round grip. Did I mention the human eye is unfortunately good at picking out errors in a design like this?  If everything is supposed to look the same, it’s easy to spot the thing that doesn’t. So good luck hiding your mistakes.  But, if your layout and fundamentals are solid, it looks great when done right.

The image above is from Frank Castle Customs.  One way to accomplish a pattern like this is to use a tip like this one from OTD defense. That way, all the little squares should be the same. Just don’t forget the orientation of the bit.

If you don’t have that, don’t feel like buying it, or think you can do better without, use a rectangular bit and create each individual square yourself. Pulling off this pattern without any mistakes is a great indication that you have mastered the fundamentals of stippling. Do your best to keep the iron vertical. An angled iron can distort the stipples next to it.

Borders are a great way to enhance any stipple pattern. A clean, defined border really helps the stipple pattern stand out from the rest of the gun. Dave Modz Customs has a great video on doing recessed borders.  His use of stones instead of toothed bits really helps create an even, consistent border.

Grinding or sanding bits don’t cut as aggressively as toothed bits.  A toothed bit wants to bite into the material it is cutting. This makes it easier for the bit to dig deep and take more material than wanted. Stone or grinding bits don’t have this problem. That being said, to establish his U-shaped borders, Polinger Firearms uses a carbide burr that looks something like this:

I’ve also seen wood gouges used to create U-shaped borders.

When using a Dremel tool, be aware of which way it spins. The bits will create a burr on one side. If you are aware of this, you can keep the burr consistently on the same side, like the inside of the border. Not only will this make everything more consistent, it will make cleanup easier down the line. It will also leave the outermost edge of the border the sharpest and cleanest.

Tip orientation when stippling is an important detail that is often overlooked. The iron is usually held at some sort of angle, like when you hold a pen/pencil. This angle prevents the stipple from being symmetrical. If you can keep the iron in the same orientation in relation to the grip the entire time, the pattern will be more consistent. Keeping the iron straight up and down eliminates this issue, but is hard to do, and isn’t necessary unless doing certain patterns like the basket weave.

This applies to the direction of your stipple as well. Work away from what you just stippled so that you can clearly see what you just stippled. This will keep the new stipple from bleeding into the previous one and distorting it. This is important for patterns like the basket weave or starburst where you don’t really want overlap or stipple distortion.  Not a big deal for the random dot pattern.

Finding a stable way to hold the firearm is also very helpful. Travis Polinger likes to use a rolled-up towel. Other than that, you can use parts of your body, a flat surface, or anything that helps you be stable and consistent.

So that about covers the basics. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to stippling. The key is to practice. Practice your fundamentals and different designs on something other than a real firearm. Cheap airsoft guns are a good alternative because you get to practice maneuvering around a grip. Either way, grabbing something plastic and practicing pressure and time is helpful no matter what it is.

 

Matt previously served five years in the Army with 2nd Ranger battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and is currently in his final semester at one of the country’s top Gunsmithing programs, gearing up to pursue a new career as a gunsmith and firearms expert.

comments

  1. avatar Ben says:

    Thats good stippling

    1. avatar Russ says:

      Not really.
      Too much, making it less effective.
      Read my comment below.

      1. avatar Russ says:

        *Wrong on the Stippling!*
        Look to the Walther PPQ for an example of perfect stippling. – https://www.waltherarms.com/handguns/ppq/ppq-classic
        ie; No stippling in the area where your thumb & index finger slide along their approach to the grab and draw from a holster.
        Having stippling there, could cause you a hang up, or be harder to adjust for a correct grip.
        ——————————————————————————————————————————————————–
        also; No stippling should be at the back bottom corner of the grip, so as to assist in not hanging up on clothing, and causing you to print while concealed.
        ———————————————————————————–
        The Walther PPQ (& Glock)have a built in off trigger finger rest; [the ambidextrous Take Down Lever] has texture.
        On a GLOCK, this is an OK spot to texture if the ambi TD lever isn’t comfortable (It’s good enough for me).
        ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
        There are reasons some pistols lack stippling, that being said some companies (like GLOCK) are not aggressive enough, and customizing is a Cool and Effective upgrade to consider.
        Walther goes 1 better, by adding bumpy ridges to the grip.
        This locks in your inside palm knuckles, and finger tips to the grip for a better purchase.
        Just remember to consider all angles before you stipple.
        There’s no way to undo it, besides buying another frame.

  2. avatar Ransom says:

    Mass shooters being a nervous lot often have sweaty hands and stippling overcomes that.
    It must be made illegal!

    1. avatar Russ says:

      Not really.
      Too much, making it less effective.
      Read my comment below.

      1. avatar Russ says:

        The reply above, was accidentally placed under the wrong comment, with no ability to edit or delete.

  3. avatar anonymoose says:

    This looks really nice. 🙂

    However, The Punisher is a 1911 fanboi and dislikes Glocks, so all the Punisher logos and stuff like “Frank Castle Customs” are silly, unless your are proud to be a wanker.

    1. avatar Ransom says:

      I’m glad someone is working on increasing usage of the word “wanker”. If only we didn’t have such a hangup with the word ‘C**T’. It’s perfectly describes people who name their swords and have the phrase “You’re F**ked” on their service AR.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        I call people shitcunts all the time. 🙂

      2. avatar Ing says:

        Hey, if I had a functional sword I’d definitely name it.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          EDIT BUTTON!!!

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    Looks cool but it’s more work than I would put into a Glock.

    It does however remind me that just yesterday the wife was looking at getting another Glock before deciding that the FN FNS 9C was a better idea. I’m debating shooting it later this afternoon but if I shoot it before she does I’ll be in more trouble than a Catholic School kid wearing a MAGA hat on the news.

    1. The FNS 9c is a great little gun. She’ll be very happy with it.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        We’ll see. The guy at the shop really did do a very good and professional job at helping her find something she wanted without telling her what she should get. I just kind of sat back and watched. It did take some convincing to get her to drop down to 9mm since her smallest pistol to date has been a .40 so I’m going to be interested to see how she reacts to it.

        Amusingly enough the guys working there, when not dealing with customers, were reading TTAG.

        1. avatar Dan Zimmerman says:

          You were obviously in the right place.

    2. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “…but if I shoot it before she does I’ll be in more trouble than a Catholic School kid wearing a MAGA hat on the news.”

      Ah, but the makes the make-up nookie all the sweeter, Strych… 😉

      1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

        Ah, but that makes…

        Hey, Dan? Any news on *WHEN* the edit button may return???

        1. avatar Tony The Edit Button Thief says:

          Never!!!! Mwahahahaha!!!

  5. avatar cgray says:

    Nope. Already “perfect”.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    1. avatar billy-bob says:

      Perfect will be when it comes in cashpat.

  6. avatar BlazinTheAmazin says:

    Step 1. Don’t

    1. avatar Larry says:

      This! It seems that a lot of people that do this to Glock’s, spend more time looking at the guns than shooting them.

      Some big negatives are resale….it does not help, and it wears down over time so what do you do…stipple it again? You will eventually run out of material.

      Try grip tape, it is reversible.

  7. avatar JD says:

    Usually the people who do this aren’t shooters, they’re hobbyists. Which there is nothing wrong. Collecting guns and going to the range to have fun are great hobbies. But, if you plan to carry a weapon with an aggressive stipple, a couple things you should be aware of, if worn against bare skin like would be in the summertime, that stipple will act like a rasp. You’ll only wear it once like that. It catches clothing, no good for concealed carry. And when drawing from a holster if you happen to not establish a good initial grip, aggressive grip texture will make it that much more difficult to adjust your grip on the way to extension. But it looks kewl!!

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      I was thinkin the same thing. On my Glock 19 gen 3, I did the grip reduction, trigger undercuts, mag release scallop and finger groove removal, but an abrasive stipple does not sound comfotable rubbing my tummy. So Foxx rubber grip tape for me until soft stippling becomes feisable. Yes it’s a fun hobby to make the glock more functional (ain’t purdy by any means), but I plan to CCW train with it once I am done with all the mods.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      Sand the whole thing lightly afterward to take off any burrs or nibs. Easy peasy. (I won’t be doing this because I prefer pistols that have adequate grip texture to begin with…but anybody who can make a stippling project work can also do a little bit of finish sanding.)

    3. avatar Master of none says:

      I must disagree here. I hang out with a few buds that are avid tactical shooters and a few are trainers. Coinciding with my passion and online research, lots of military contractors, trainers and ex-military pros like to stipple. They don’t seem to give a shit about how it looks, but rather how important a good grip is for proper small firearm handling. I can definitely see an issue with clothing snags or not having a smooth slide in for holster acquisition. But otherwise it is highly recommended by many tactical pros.

  8. avatar God says:

    Who needs stipple pipple i have no problems with gripping a polished smooth greasy pipe……..so wtf beta boys

    1. avatar JD says:

      Yeah that’s what we all heard about you…

  9. avatar Old Region Fan says:

    Seems like a a lot lot work ? Grip tape ???

  10. avatar Defens says:

    Nice handiwork; some interesting patterns there.
    However, if I was to own a Glock, I think my method for enhanced grippage would work as well, but be considerably faster:

    1. Lay Glock on my 5/8-” gravel driveway, left side down.
    2. Drive over Glock with my tractor, 4-5 passes.
    3. Flip Glock to other side.
    4. Repeat tractor passes.
    5. Clean Glock – or not – and holster.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      That is a proven, foolproof technique, but not everyone has a tractor.

      Glock stippling is for people who can afford to pay $600 for a $400 gun but are too poor to buy a tractor.

  11. avatar RV6driver says:

    Ban soldering irons asap!!! Think of the innocent glocks!!!! Save the glocks!!!!

  12. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    It’s much better if you stipple the palms of your hands. That way, it can be used on all your guns.

  13. avatar L says:

    Imagine having a gun made of literal plastic.

  14. avatar Arandom Dude says:

    How To Void Your Warranty & Reduce Resale Value In Exchange For Minimal Added Utility.

  15. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    i’m curious why, after all that painstaking deliberation, that none of these artists chose to modify the very place i would have begun, the glokzone. seems like an opportunity missed.
    i saw a gal shoot her glok upside down. she must have had inverted stipples (eitherway…).
    one of the local korean presbyterian churches suffered severe damage from (another) glock negligent discharge recently. they are currently stippleless.

    alternatively, one could purchase something with a textured frame and replaceable grips.

  16. avatar Hal Lewis says:

    Vulgarity and crudeness are signs of ignorance, functional illiteracy and lack of manners. These three conditions are usually found together. Raised like dogs. Lets see which dogs respond. Hal Lewis

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      sorry to keep you waiting. if your middle name is al, you could be muslim kosher.
      my salamis leakin’.

  17. avatar Wood says:

    Best looking Glock I’ve ever seen. Slide coating included. If I had one with finger grooves, I’d keep the top one and sand off the lower one. Like the p2000sk.

  18. avatar Busterdog says:

    Seems like a whole lot of work for a POS polymer striker-fired gun you’re just going to shitcan in a year or two.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      I’ve had my (unstippled) Glock for something like 20 years. I know a lot of people the same. Your personal preferences are not universal. And, while Glocks may not be your cup of tea, and that’s fine, they are by no reasonable definition “POS.”

  19. avatar Nathan Shifflette says:

    Stippling your glock is easy: dont.

  20. avatar possum says:

    Not a Glock fan, however that first pic is awesome, love the color. Stippling sounds fun, your own design, and it personalize’s your firearm. If I had a Glock I would probably do stippling. Looks fun

  21. avatar raptor jesus says:

    My Glock is fine the way it is.

  22. avatar Greg says:

    There is also laser stippling. Glocks don’t exactly have a high resale value. So I find that a moot point. I’ve seen people lay out money for the “cool” factor ie: stippling, fake wear etc. On a second hand gun.

  23. avatar Russ says:

    Wrong on the Stippling!
    Look to the Walther PPQ for perfect stippling. – https://www.waltherarms.com/handguns/ppq/ppq-classic
    ie; No stippling in the area where your thumb & index finger approach the grab and draw from holster.
    Having stippling there, could cause you a hang up, and be harder to adjust a correct grip.
    also; No stippling at the back bottom of grip, to assist by not hanging up on a shirt, and causing you to print while concealed.
    The Walther PPQ has an off trigger finger rest; the ambidextrous Take Down Lever has texture.
    On a GLOCK, this is an OK spot to texture if the ambi TD lever isn’t comfortable (It’s good enough for me).
    There are reasons some pistols lack stippling, that being said some companies (like GLOCK) are not aggressive enough, and customizing is “cool” and effective upgrade.
    Walther goes 1 better, by adding bumpy ridges to the grip, that lock in your inside the palm knuckles, and finger tips.
    Just remember; Before you stipple, consider all angles, because there’s no way to undo it, besides buying another frame.

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