So I’d just like to come right out at the outset of this review and state that Talon Grips have probably provided the most satisfaction-per-dollar of any of the firearms modifications I’ve tried in recent memory. They are quite inexpensive, easy to install, non-permanent, and 100% effective at the specific improvement they offer. They’re just damn cool too. All pros, no cons. This will probably be a short review, now that I think about it.
A Cut Above
If you read my article “12 Great Preps for Under $30” you’ll remember that I’d listed stick-on grip tape as a great buy, due to the fact that you could buy it in strips at cut it to any desired shape, to add texture and “grippyness” to any item that needed it. Specific examples are: handgun and rifle grips, cellphones and cellphone cases, knife handles, etc.
Talon Grips – hailing from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, takes that idea and go one step farther, providing laser-cut application-specific pre-made grip tape sections. With over 200 different designs available from 22 different firearms manufacturers, it’s a safe bet that there is a patented wrap-around pattern that fits your exact gun. Talon Grips also offers a bewildering array of stick-on grips for smartphones, rifle grips, shotgun fore ends, extended magazines, tasers…even a stick-on bottom coaster pad for YETI Rambler travel mugs.
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Talon Grips got their start back in 2009 when a duty Glock 21 was fitted with a set of grip panels made from skateboard tape. Others in the department had to have their Glocks likewise upgraded. Soon thereafter, sales on eBay started taking off, and more designs were developed – first more Glock models came around, then Springfield XD grips, all cut by hand from rolls of skateboard tape. Soon they were farming out the product to a local die cutter for mass production, and in 2011 a proprietary rubber material was developed specifically for firearm grip application, and a laser cutter was purchased to allow for much more intricate designs. In 2012, a patent was received for the one-piece wrap-around die-cut grip design Talon Grips had perfected. The sky has been the limit for Talon Grips since then, and this 100% Designed- and Made-In-USA product has been taking the firearms world by storm. Law Enforcement, competition shooters, military operators, and the civilian market all have flocked to this easy to install, effective modification.
The design is deceptively simple in theory, yet intricate in execution. Talon Grips are comprised of one-piece wrap-around laser-cut (you can see the scorch marks on the white peel-off grip backing when you get the grips) stick-on grip panels that utilize an adhesive that has been formulated to stick to guns (especially polymer) like crazy, yet is (relatively) easy to remove with no gluey residue remaining behind. The panels are notched, relieved, and contoured to look like they grew on the gun; all of the sets I got had cutouts for existing logos, reliefs for thumb rests, and cut-outs for existing terrain on the gun. So, like I said: while these are very simple, there has been a lot of time spent designing the grips to fit perfectly…and fit perfectly they absolutely do.
Get A Grip!
The grip material is offered in two configurations: granular (feels like fine 150 or 220 grit sandpaper) and textured rubber, with both makeups being very thin – less than ½ millimeter thick – for no added bulk to the gun.
The granular material is the epitome of traction for those who need 100% hold on their gun no matter what the conditions – sweat, rain, mud, blood. The aggressiveness of the grip has a trade off if you wear your gun concealed: the grain of the grip would be awful rubbing against your skin on an inside-the-waistband holster, and I imagine it would fray or even wear its way through clothing given enough time and movement. But, if you have a belt gun that rides in a holster on the outside of your body (think uniformed law enforcement officer), there’s no better way to go if positive handgun retention and grip is what is needed.
The rubber material is textured to provide a pattern a bit like a stippled grip, but the formulation of the rubber is far more tactile and positive than a stippled polymer grip. The rubber grip is far and away the more user-friendly and versatile of the two materials: it won’t harm clothing or skin with contact, but still provides almost a sticky gripping surface for the user to really muckle onto. The only time the grip was anything like compromised was when I submerged the grip module of my test Sig P320 in water. The Talon Grip stayed on the gun just fine, but it had a sort of “squishy” feeling that was definitely odd. However, the valleys of the grip surface allowed water to ooze out, and while it felt weird, the gun wasn’t about to squirt out of my hands. If you’re in a really wet environment frequently, I might lean towards the granular grips. Otherwise, the rubber ones are terrific – and the rubber grips are the ones I personally chose to leave on my Sig.
Talon Grips doesn’t just do handguns – they offer a lot of other cool grips for non-traditional items. I also ordered up a Talon Grip for my Remington 870 home defense shotgun – I’d seen a grip was offered for the Magpul MOE shotgun fore end so I had to try it. I also ordered a wrap-around rubber grip for my work-issued Apple iPhone 6S cellphone.
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The Magpul grip had slots cut into it to allow the MOE fore end’s molded-in ribs to come through the grip, and there were also cut-outs for the Magpul logo. The only issue that I ran into with the Talon Grip for this application was minimal: I had to pull the light and rail off the fore end to get the grip on – and to re-install the rail and light on the fore end means pulling the gun apart to access the inside of the fore end. Not the end of the world for me since I’ve had Remington 870s apart more times than I can count and have all the proper tools, but for the run-of-the-mill gun owner it might be an inconvenience. But the pros definitely outweigh this small malfeasance, because the traction I get on the fore end for fast, aggressive cycling is unparalleled.
The iPhone grip was pretty cool. I pulled the iPhone out of the Magpul Bump Case it had been residing in, cleaned it off with the supplied alcohol wipe, and installed the grip. For clumsy people like me, it felt a touch alarming to have the phone out of a nice protective case, but the positive grip that I now had on the iPhone thanks to the Talon Grip allayed (most of) the anxiety. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a protective phone case but would like more traction on a phone, the Talon Grip is absolutely the ticket. All the cutouts for rocker switches, power button, charger port, and input jack were all precisely placed, and the rubber grip didn’t create any issues slipping the phone in an out of pockets. While it was really great and I used the phone with the Talon Grip for a week or so, I eventually peeled the grip off and let the phone live in the Magpul case again since I drop phones with alarming frequency, and I have a 2-year-old running around that likes glowing devices. That’s not a detraction of the Talon Grip; I just needed the protection over the traction – even though the added traction DID keep me from dropping the phone on numerous occasions.
Getting It On
Installation of the Talon Grips is a breeze if you have any attention to detail and patience – you don’t have to be a gunsmith to get the benefits of the grips – installation is almost dummy-proof. You’ll need the Talon Grips, a hair dryer or heat gun, and (optional) a couple Q-tips and some rubbing alcohol. A full read-through of the included instructions is definitely recommended.
First off, disassemble the gun if you can. You’ll be moving the gun around, pivoting, turning, twisting it to get the best angle to install the grips. Remember, these are a wrap-around design, so at one point, you’ll likely have the gun pointed at yourself or other things that don’t need extra holes. Be smart, take the gun apart.
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Next, we’ll need to clean the application area. Talon Grips provides an alcohol pad to accomplish this; however, I found that the pad didn’t really reach down into my Sig’s existing grip texture that well, so I chose to soak a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and really get down and dirty with the cleaning. The alcohol will eradicate any gun and/or skin oils that have accumulated on the gun and provide a really positive adhesive surface for the grips. Let the alcohol evaporate fully before moving on.
For handgun grips, you start on the left-hand side of the gun, when viewed as if you were shooting the gun. I did a dry run first, trying out the alignment of everything instead of peeling the backing off and just going for it. Personally, when getting started, I didn’t remove all of the paper backing from the grip at once – I really didn’t want to deal with multiple adhesive surfaces flailing about mid-way through the process, sticking to things other than what I intended them to. I started with just peeling the left-hand grip side and leaving the remainder attached to start – it was easy to pull the backing as you went around the gun.
Using the existing Sig Sauer logo that was on the gun’s grip, I lightly aligned the Talon Grip on the frame, getting the orientation perfect. I had to pull the grip off once to start again – this didn’t seem to have a detrimental effect on the grip material or the adhesive. But once I got the initial start of the Talon Grip on exactly right, the rest of the installation fell into place. I just rolled the grip around the gun slowly, adjusting each tab where I needed to. The instructions said not to pull or tug, but a small amount of gentle stretching was required on the right-hand side of the grip to get the opposing-side Sig Sauer logo cutout to align properly.
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A little tip from your buddy Drew: don’t press the whole grip down on the left-hand side starter panel when starting out. Be sure to leave the frontstrap side of the grip unattached if possible. I’m telling you this because you’ll find that as you wrap the grip around the gun, you definitely have too much grip for the frontstrap. Don’t cut this off! Peel back the left hand grip slightly, and tuck this excess material underneath the left-hand grip. Then, once you’re happy with the alignment of the whole system, press the Talon Grip grip down firmly to get the adhesive to grab.
After I was happy with the placement of the grip on the guns, I stole my wife’s hair dryer (for the love of God, don’t tell her please) and secreted away to my basement workshop. I set the hair dryer to “low warm” and directed the hot air stream onto the Talon Grip. I took care to keep the hair dryer moving and to not let one area of the grip get too hot – Talon recommends getting the surface about the same temperature as a hot cup of coffee. You could watch the rubberized material almost shrink a little and work its way into grooves and recesses, ensuring the adhesive got a firm grip. Once I was satisfied, I let the gun cool completely and returned the thieved hair dryer to its proper location. Once everything was set up, the Talon Grip was adhered strongly to the gun – definitely in it for the long haul. In the time I’ve had the grips on, no edges have peeled and there has beed zero bubbling or relocation needed – a tribute to a sound design, quality products, and a proper cleaning. As an aside, I might hold off from using the hair dryer on Talon Grips that are applied to electronics – I didn’t use it on the iPhone, and the grip stayed on just fine.
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When it came time to peel off the Talon Grip from my iPhone, I really had to work at it to get an edge pulled up enough to get a grip on it. Once I did have enough for a good purchase-and-pull, the Talon Grip really fought me to stay on the phone. But, I eventually prevailed (how sad would it have been if I didn’t?) and removed the grip. I’m happy to say there was zero need for removing sticky, gluey residues – because there weren’t any. Talon Grips are 100% reversible if you want to change to a different texture or want to sell/trade the gun – you can’t say that for a custom stipple job on your gun…and I daresay the Talon Grips function better than a stipple job.
What can I say? Order some Talon Grips. Right now. If you don’t like them, you’ll be out less than $20. But were I a betting man, I’d wager that you’ll love Talon Grips on your handgun/shotgun/taser/YETI cup that you’ll be a return customer. They’re effective, inexpensive, easy to install all by your lonesome, an completely reversible. How can you go wrong? Give it a whirl, you’ll be glad you did.