View Full Version : Anyone try Gator Back grips?

02-22-2004, 12:12 PM
I'm looking to replace the ebony Ahrends grips on my duty pistol because the wood panels just aren't taking the abuse well. They look great and are well-made, but I need something more durable.

I was/am considering the Simonich grips, and I still might buy a set to support Christine, but I was wondering about the Gator Back grips linked-to below. I've not heard any mention of them, except on Pistolsmith.com, and even that wasn't an endorsement so much as it was an advertisement.

Anyone use them? Like them? They do look different from anything else on the market (a big plus with me), but how does micarta compare to g10? I'd be using the paper micarta so I get a deep black color (stainless steel 1991, with black grip panels), though the canvas micarta is supposedly stronger and I could get used to the greyish look, I guess.

The only thing I don't like about the Simonich grips is that they look like a golf ball skinned out and stuck on a pistol. Maybe it's my vanity, but that's a tough visual for me to get over. Is that wrong? Am I evil?


Let me know what you think.

02-22-2004, 01:46 PM

I really think you should pick up a pair of these and let us know how they are.

I mean, if they suck I don't want to spend my money on them:)

I know what you mean about the appearance of Simonich grips.
Personally, I don't think these Gator Grips are that visually appealing either.

There is a picture of the Simonich grips, in 'coyote brown' in a recent issue of SWAT magazine, and to my eye the brown looked very good.

I need to pick up a couple pairs of 1911 grips for a Kimber and a S&W 1911 and right now I am leaning towards the black Simonich grips. If he offered them in brown, for me it would be the first choice.
It's good to have a plan.

02-22-2004, 03:32 PM
Steve, it looks like I might have to be the guinea pig on this one. Out of all the members on the three different forums I posted inquiries on, not a single one of them has come back with a response. I take that back, one guy did chime in with a semi-positive comment, but it was regarding g10 v. micarta and not the grips themselves.

My take on the matter is that if they were really good at what they do, you would be hearing more about them on the web. This isn't always true, but I would have expected more responses if these things were more popular.

If I could just get Simonich LLC to make the Gunner's with a double-diamond pattern. Anything to break up that I-slaughtered-an-innocent-golfball look. I'm not suggesting that the grips don't perform as advertised....but, boy, are they ugly. What's the point of putting them on my beauty of a 1991? If I wanted an ugly gun, I'd just buy a Glock!!

Sad part is that I'll probably end up buying them just 'cause.

Sharp Phil
02-22-2004, 04:10 PM
I contacted VZ Grips to see if they might be interested in submitting grips for review. I haven't heard back yet.

02-22-2004, 04:25 PM
That doesn't sound good. I'd be much more inclined to buy them if I heard more about them in the magazines or online. One of the reasons I believe the Gunner Grips are so popular is because they are very well marketed.

Personally, I can definitely see how the Gator Back design could afford one a great purchase on their defensive pistol. This is especially true for duty weapons as concealing them isn't as critical. However, if the company doesn't want to promote them or put them out for testing, what can you do?

Sharp Phil
02-22-2004, 04:38 PM
That doesn't sound good.

Well, I only e-mailed them recently -- I wouldn't expect them to respond, necessarily, over the weekend. And there's always the possibility that my mail was not read because it looked like spam. I will try to call them and follow up.

02-22-2004, 08:43 PM
Aren't these the grips that were designed and built at first by Simonich, the same guy who designed and built custom knives?

Sure look like them, have you checked on the 1911 forum? those guys may know of them.

02-23-2004, 03:46 AM
Dave, the Gunner Grips were designed and marketed by Rob Simonich, the famous knife-maker that recently passed away in a car accident. They are very highly regarded for their durability and grip-ehancing texture.

The Gator Back Grips were designed by another knife-maker in Florida. They haven't rec'd the positive comments and write-ups that the Gunner's have, but that can't be said to be negative.

From what I gather, the micarta isn't as tough a material as G10, but it is the only material GB Grips are available in. Micarta is used extensively in custom knife handles, so it can't be that bad for gripping.

Sharp Phil
02-23-2004, 03:54 AM
Micarta is also quite visually attractive and pleasant to the touch.

Sharp Phil
02-23-2004, 09:25 AM
I spoke with John VanZyck of VZ Grips today. He was extremely friendly and agreed to send out a sample of the Gatorback grips. I will post a link when I have completed the review.

02-26-2004, 03:13 AM
FYI, folks.

Just got another email from John VanZyck. As you all know, I am bouncing back and forth on the issue because I can't decide what color will best go with my stainless lady (sounding an awful lot like a woman trying to figure out what to wear :hrm: ).

Get this, John has offered to send me three pairs of grips for evaluation: one green, one blasted black, and the other straight black canvas! Is that not a great guy?! I didn't ask for any special favors or request anything other than his thoughts on dyeing the canvas for a darker look, but he, apparently, won't be satisfied with anything but a happy customer.

He earned my business.

02-26-2004, 06:56 AM

You could post pictures and start a poll?:)

10-25-2004, 08:58 PM
So whatever happened with this review? I tried looking at the Martialist first. Any help appreciated :)

Tom Givens
10-25-2004, 09:35 PM
I have a set of blasted canvas Micarta Gator Grips on my carry 1911. They've been in daily use for about five months. I have shot in three classes during that period-- 600-700 rounds in each, plus daily carry.
They have held up very well. Gripping ability is excellent. The vertical grooves do a great job of resisting torque. They are VERY slightly thinner than factory standard stock panels, which I like.
My only negative is appearance related. I asked for black, but they were actually gray. The blasted Micarta has an "open" surface texture, and soaks up oils, solvents, skin oil, etc. This causes them to darken unevenly. I would have been happier had they actually started out black.
I do recommend them for a working gun.

10-25-2004, 09:51 PM
Thanks. I found a used set I was considering. How rough are they against the skin for IWB carry?

10-31-2004, 10:51 AM
Totally forgot to post my long-term report. Sorry.

I've been using the gator grips since March of this year and find them absolutely fabulous. Like Tom mentioned, these grips are "thinner" than standard grips. The overall thickness hasn't changed, but cutting those grooves allows your hand to sink deeper into the grip, giving you the feeling of a thinner grip. The grooves also do a great job resisting muzzle flip, thereby decreasing your time to the second shot.

I've worn the pistol all day on an armored truck and they have withstood the damage that armor-plate can inflict. They look as good as new.

After talking with John, I ordered a set of his blasted (exposed canvas fiber) black micarta and his finished canvas micarta grips to see which one I liked better.

The finished grips are coated with polyurethane and were a bit slick in my hand. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, because it allowed me to adjust my grip quickly and easily if I came out of the holster a bit sloppy. This is identical to what Jerry Miculek talks about regarding his smooth revolver grips....and Jerry's plenty fast with that sixshooter.

The blasted grips were definitely grippier than the finished grips. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the whitish fibers yellowed a bit with oils and grime. After a quick washing, I used standard leather dye to color the canvas. After the dye dried, I went over the panels with a clean cloth, rubbing vigorously, until all of the excess dye was removed. To date, I haven't experienced any problems with the dye coming off on hands or clothing.

I have fired the weapon extensively with both grips, including a SI CRG1 class this past summer. Through standard range shooting, IDPA, and training classes, the grips have stood up to whatever I could throw at them. The unique design allows you to wrap your hand around the pistol just like if you had a pair of slim grips onboard, but they offer far more surface area for gripping than anything else on the market. The long grooves allow your fingertips to index on the port side, and your shooting times and accuracy should improve noticeably.

The best grips I've used and I don't regret the expense one bit. Great service and an honest concern for the customer has earned VZ Grips my business.

Now, if I could only talk them into making some grips for my P35!

10-31-2004, 07:51 PM
Thanks for the report!

10-26-2005, 10:41 AM
The best grips I've used and I don't regret the expense one bit. Great service and an honest concern for the customer has earned VZ Grips my business.

Thanks for the review. I bought a set and agree.