For an air pistol shooter, the grip is one of the, if not the most important part of the gun. Without a properly fitted grip, the pistol will shake, the aim will not be steady and the pellet will not hit the center of the target.
Adding and removing material from the grip is one of the skills any shooter must acquire during his or her career. It is also a very difficult task, and not many have a natural ability towards it.
To help in the process of customizing one’s grip, many companies sell products that help in this endeavor. In this video I will present 3 types of products that add material to the grip. I know that from a grip you can also remove material, but that is a skill I have not yet mastered.
The first product is made by Morini and it is called “Plastic wood”, also known as Morini compound. It consists of 2 parts: this is the base. It is a paste like substance and it has a strong smell. The main ingredient in it is Styrene. The other part is the hardener in this small white tube. It is a white toothpaste like substance.
To work with it, you must first extract the needed volume of base from the can in an intermediate container. Add a small amount of hardener. Mix the 2 substances and quickly apply it to the grip. You must work fast as the hardening starts soon and you only have about 5 minutes to complete your work. Also attention must be paid to the amount of hardener added, because too little will cause the product to not become hard enough. I have a video on this process, link in the description.
Once the product is applied, you can either shape it while it’s still soft by placing your hand or by other means, or wait for it to harden in place and then work at it with a file or a dremel tool.
The idea is that the product is quite liquid and not very dense until it hardens. After it hardens, it becomes quite hard, almost like wood, but not brittle.
The second product is the MEC compound. It comes in a bag as small beans of quite hard putty. To work it, you must first knead one or more beans until they become softer. You can add alcohol to make it soft faster. However it never becomes soft as putty.
The vendor suggests to work with small quantities and press them in place on the grip. You can also try to mold it with the shooting hand in place, but it is too hard and dense to be able to shape it by just squeezing it with your hand.
After it is in the desired position and shape, you can leave it on the grip and it will harden back to it;s original form. You can use it like this for practice runs but it risks to fall off. After you are satisfied with the result, you can take it off the grip if you can, and bake it in the oven at 110 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes. If you cannot take it off the grip, you can put the grip also in the oven but make sure to remove all the non-wood parts, such as electronics, batteries, metal inserts, screws.
After baking the material becomes really hard. I would say it’s harder than the Morini compound.
You can process it after with a file or dremel tool. Also it is recommended to slightly sand it with fine sandpaper for optimum absorption of perspiration. If you baked the part without the grip, you can glue it on the grip.
The third product is Original Sculpey. Unlike the other two, this is not a specially made for shooting grips product. It is an art sculpture oriented product. This is the terracotta color, but there are other colors available.
It comes in a box, as a bar of soft putty. It feels like a kids play-doh putty. You can easily knead it and shape it in any form. You can place it on the grip and squeeze it with your shooting hand. It is soft enough to be easily shaped by your hand yet dense enough not to squeeze out between your fingers when you tighten the grip.
However it does not harden when left alone. It will stay soft and deform-able even after 24 hours from the shaping. In order to harden it, you must bake it in the oven at 130 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes. As it is very deform-able, most likely you won;t be able to take it off the grip without modifying its shape, so it is advisable to bake it on the grip – just the wood parts of course.
After baking, the material becomes hard and brittle. It is less hard than the other 2 products and it feels velvety to the touch, almost like ceramic. It is also very rigid and it breaks easily.
So there you have it. 3 products to modify your pistol grip with different styles of processing. One is very soft at the start but hardens in place, one very hard at the start but can be removed after shaping to bake it and one just right for shaping but needs to be baked on the grip and requires a bit of care after.