For a serious use handgun, I prefer a serrated or stippled frontstrap. Still affords a good grasp, without turning my hand into mush after long shooting sessions.
For a presentation piece that I will not shoot a lot, I like 30 lpi checkering.
All in all, I think serrations is the best compromise between function and cosmetics.
I prefer stippling or skateboard tape myself. However, the Heinie scallops look very interesting, and a lot less expensive than the Krebs snake scales which look absolutely fantastic. I'd try the scales if I had the money and patience.
Mr Burns can fill in with greater detail, but one of the reasons he prefers serrated (and more recently it seems scalloped) guns is that it alows one to shift their grip more easily than does checkering, and consequently offers a quicker draw into a usable position. Either serrations or scallops are also more durable than checkering.
Appearance-wise, I think it depends on the overall style of the pistol. On a 1911 customized for a "classic" appearance (low-mount Bomar, very defined lines, classic two-tone blued slide/chromed frame finish), I think checkering looks better.
On a pistol done in a more avant-garde style (low-mount SlantPros or Novaks, noticeable dehorning and softening of the gun's lines, a matte finish), then Heinie/Burns scallops or Novak-style stippling look more at home.
Functionally, all of the treatments can do the job and can do it with a bit more panache than skateboard tape.
I think it all depends on what you want and/or what you are going to do with it....
Checkering: A nice checkering job is great to look at and you know exactly what you're getting as opposed to hand stippling. Also, 20lpi checkering is great on a match or tactical gun(due to wearing gloves).....
The possible downsides to checkering is the price compared to the other two and if it gets dinged up you really see it.
Stippling: Stippling is great on a carry/defensive gun. It does everything checkering does for less money and if it is done by hand no two stippling jobs are alike which gives each piece its own unique look. That could also be the downside, since what you see in a picture of someones stippling may not turn out exactly the way the one you get does.
Scalloping: Have only just started to experience scalloping. Earlier this year I had Heinie scallop the frontstrap of my Kimber. So far I really like it. When you grip the gun it's right there in your hand but when you want to shift your grip it is very easy. It doesn't seem to "catch" clothing when worn concealed, is easy to maintain(ie. clean the nooks and crannies and keep it oiled), and it shouldn't get easily dinged up like checkering can.
Bottom line, I like them all for different reasons. Variety is the spice of life!
In my world of carry guns 20 lpi checkering is to sharp, it rips your clothing and is uncomfortable. I use a medium stippling on stainless guns that I like a lot, and put it on seecamps, as well as kahr pistols, or a SS 1911 frames, etc. I have seen some very nice 25 lpi checkering done by Pete Single. When I buy a frame I get 30 lpi. And then all I need is lou's superb holster.
On my 1911 carry guns I like checkering, preferably 30lpi.
On a field gun that will see mud and wet weather and gloves at times I prefer sharp 20lpi checkering.
I have owned numerous pistols with stippling and I just do not care for it at all.
George @ EGW is checkering and undercutting a single stack 9x23 for me with 25lpi, I liked it in his shop and I have not used it before. I will report on it when I have had the time and oppurtunity to use the pistol.
I do find that I like serrating and "mating" on my revolvers, yes, I like the open backstrap of my revolver serrated.
On my Glocks I prefer to have them ground and acid dipped or fitted with the Mercaldi adhesive grip panels.
The "Conamyds" (shown at the bottom of the page) from Michiguns are a pattern of flat-topped cones and tiny pyramids that supposedly provide a firm grip under pressure but easy adjustment of the grip when needed. The other supposed advantage is that the absence of sharp-angled cuts reduces the risk of cracking.
My FLG built a fixture for machine checkering 1911 frontstraps on the mill. A single line device, it is only about three times as fast as hand checkering, but a lot less wear and tear on the joints. So he won't make it to the AH centerfold. I found checkering too sharp for my hands and he doesn't like stippling. So I had him flatten the diamonds of a checkered frontstrap, just filed them down by about 1/3 and then wire brushed the sharp edges. I now get a good comfortable grip. The flattening is hardly noticeable on 20 lpi and can't be seen on 30 lpi without magnification.
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