I was minding my own business at the range one day when all of a sudden I was transported into a brand new land of shooting sensation. Allow me to tell you about an otherworldly experience that I recently had with the Alien grips by VZ.
I’ve been reviewing a 1911 for the past several months now. This particular Kimber came equipped with more-than-adequate G-10 grips, but unfortunately the stock grips were on the thicker side.
I typically wear gloves in size large, so this wasn’t a huge inconvenience for me. However, the grip felt a little “off” from my standard 1911 shooting experience. In addition, when my wife Laura took the Kimber out for a spin, she commented on how “fat” the grips felt to her size small hands.
The bad news was that another gun expense was destined to come our way, but the good news was that I now had justification to make a new purchase. (Not that I necessarily needed said justification.)
After scanning the internet for a while, I ended up deciding between three grip options from VZ Grips and one option from Alumagrips.
The Aliens were first produced to serve the U.S. Marine Corps’ Precision Weapons Section. I figured if they’re good enough for the U.S. Marine Corps, they’re most likely good enough for me. Also, it didn’t hurt that a gun that I’ve admired for years, the Nighthawk Custom T3, comes standard with these grips on board. These uses were enough to vouch for the Alien grips’ good reputation in my eyes. I decided on the slimline version of the VZ Aliens in Dirty Olive for the Kimber.
Like the standard grips that I replaced, these VZs are made of G-10. VZ does sell wood and micarta grips as well. For those who may be unfamiliar, G-10 is a material with some very attractive properties: its impact tolerance is very high, it has an extremely low water absorption rate, it is difficult to chip or break, and it’s quite rigid. I’ll over-simplify by saying that G-10 is produced by laying down layers of fabric impregnated with epoxy that is infused with dye for color.
Many 1911s require a grip bushing replacement to use VZ grips, particularly the slimlines. The 1911 universal bushings and supplemental “o” rings (available at vzgrips.com) did the job nicely. Some guns will require replacement grip screws in the appropriate depth, but even if you don’t “need” them, they sure will class up your piece, so I went for it. I picked up the classic slex screws, but I’m kind of a keep-it-simple type guy. Some of you may want to check out the DPL Blackwash, Turbo, or Radiation screw sets.
The Aliens are available in configurations designed to suit five different profile types. These profiles include the Bobtail, Round Butt, Magwell, Government, and Officer sizes to accommodate almost any 1911 owner’s needs. The grips are available in both standard and slimline thicknesses, and for a four dollar upcharge, you can have a thumb notch cut into your grip that is intended to make the mag release more readily accessible. Also, you can order your set with a standard or with an ambi safety cut. The set that I chose came in at $74, a tidy sum for grips, I know. But after shooting with the Alien VZ grips installed, I felt it was a worthwhile expense.
The end result for me is otherworldly. The gun fits both my wife’s and my own hands much better now. The grip is much more positive without feeling uncomfortably aggressive. Pulling this gun from my hand would now be like trying to get a mobile phone out of a teenagers fingers. The thumb notch is not only functional, but also looks cool as well. The thinner profile is nice for concealed carry as the grips reduce the “dig” into my side slightly but ever-so meaningfully. Lastly, the overall look of the gun is so vastly improved that it seems that there may, in fact, have been some extraterrestrial involvement in this project. If so, all I have to say is “thanks for your contribution to our planet!”