Whenever I see someone post a picture of their EDC and it wears one of those silly grip sleeves, I get a little bit of a chuckle. I’ve always thought they were just Crocs for your gun. I see them often enough that I think it’s wise to write a bit of a cautionary tale for those considering grip sleeves. If you are unsure what I’m talking about, believe me when I say ignorance is bliss.
Grip sleeves are those thin rubber sleeves that are designed to fit over the grip of your gun. It slides up and on your gun. Quite a few companies, both large and small, make these grip sleeves, and they seem popular enough. While popular, you should know the downsides and cautions of these little gadgets.
Why Grip Sleeves
Personally, I don’t know. I’ve tried them and originally thought they were neat. However, after learning to shoot and shooting more, I’ve become convinced they are fairly useless. However, that doesn’t mean I’m right, as I am often wrong. While I don’t personally understand the desire for grip sleeves, I have heard of reasons from others.
Many say it improves the fit of their gun to their hand. The grip is too small, and they need to make it bigger for their hands. To that, I just say buy a gun with a bigger grip…you probably get a higher capacity in doing so.
They’ve also been noted to improve grip and to be sticky. This one I can buy, but with a lot of modern guns, the grip texture is already quite aggressive, and if not, stippling is a better option. On the flip side, I’ve also heard people say they help cover grip texture they find too rough.
I’ve also heard recoil reduction, especially for J-frame revolver shooters. Again, if you are shooting a revolver, you can likely swap the entire grip for something better accommodating. I’m not entirely sure of the difference they make with recoil, and I haven’t experienced that in my limited shooting with grip sleeves.
If I had to guess, it’s because people like to tinker. Tinkering with guns is fun and sliding on grip sleeves is an easy way to make a simple upgrade. I don’t hate tinkering. I do it too.
Problems with Grip Sleeves
Why do I dislike grip sleeves so much? Did they touch me as a child or something? Well, not quite. While I have no doubts that some grip sleeves are better than others, in my experience, they have more problems than benefits.
First, once you shoot with one a fair bit, you’ll likely notice it sliding up or down on your gun. It won’t be a major movement but a slow and steady climb or decline. It becomes more noticeable during high round count practice sessions or classes. When grip sleeves slide up or down a semi-auto pistol, you’re bound to run into issues.
It might begin to cover or press on your magazine release, making it stiff or inaccessible. If it slides down too far, it might pin your empty magazine in the gun or make it difficult to seat another magazine.
When carried concealed, the stickiness of the rubber can catch on your cover garment when moving and create an exposure or printing situation. Concealed is called concealed for a reason.
Finally, you have to see these things as disposable. Eventually, they will get a small tear and need to be immediately replaced. A slight tear will evolve into a bigger tear and could interfere with using your handgun.
Grip Sleeve Alternatives
If you are still seeking to tinker with your grip, check out Talon Grips. These are specifically designed for individual firearms and fit the grip. They often add a grippy texture and improve your traction on the gun. They are an affordable upgrade you can do at home too.
Grip sleeves aren’t for me, and maybe you’ve used one for 1 million rounds with no issues, but I think everyone should know what they are getting into with grip sleeves. No one has ever said, “Hey, nice Crocs,” for a reason.