Micarta Grips - What so special about them?


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FW
April 22, 2005, 09:11 PM
What is so special about Micarta grips? I don't have any and haven't handled any, but I've noticed they are expensive.

Unless I'm mistaken, Micarta is just a composite material made of plastic reinforced with linen or paper.

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Larry S.
April 22, 2005, 09:39 PM
Well from my experience with micarta as a handle material for knives it's just impervious to cracking, warping or making problems period. Knives get abused more than guns and micarta really holds up to just about anything. The only drawback might be aesthetics to some folks.
Larry

wally
April 22, 2005, 10:26 PM
Isn't the dust produced during working with the stuff highly toxic? Or am I confusing Micarta with womething else?

--wally.

Standing Wolf
April 22, 2005, 10:27 PM
Micarta is high ticket plastic.

C. H. Luke
April 24, 2005, 12:23 PM
Micarta isn't that expensive if you check S&A's grips. It has a unique feel to it and never feels cold. While certainly not as pleasing as wood it's a great hard-use material that really can take abuse. Not to mention if used on a 1911 that blows the hand probably won't be hurt.

dfariswheel
April 24, 2005, 03:15 PM
Micartas aren't' "just" plastics.
Micarta is layers of wood, canvas, linen, or paper bonded together.

To produce it, sheets of material are impregnated first with colored dyes, then with a phenolic resin.
The sheets are then stacked together to the desired thickness. The stack is put under tremendous pressure and heat, which bonds the whole thing into one solid sheet.

The advantages of Micarta are, it's pretty well impervious to weather, most oils and solvents, and is EXTREMELY durable and tough.

Since it's made up of thin layers, the more angles and cuts you make in the material, the more the "grain" shows.
In the wood micartas, this can make extremely fancy grips, in which the actual wood sheets themselves are fairly plain wood.

Canvas Micarta makes extremely durable grips, with a natural rough texture which offers a good grip, without checkering.

Linen Micarta, made from linen cloth, makes fine-grained material that can be polished to a glossy surface, or checkered.
This was the earliest of the micartas, and usually came only in dark reddish brown, which was used in electronics, for which purpose Westinghouse invented it.
Today, it comes in black, green, maroon, brown, and some multiple colors like maroon layers with other colors intermixed.

White paper Micarta is the closest synthetic to real elephant ivory.
Since ivory grows in thin layers, the thin layers of paper Micarta have a grain that looks very much like real ivory.

Micartas are sold under a variety of trade names, including Dymondwood, Pakkawood, Westinghouse, and others.

Seraph
April 24, 2005, 03:55 PM
Isn't the dust produced during working with the stuff highly toxic? Or am I confusing Micarta with womething else?
A popular custom grip maker said the same to me recently, when asked if he would make me some Micarta grips. I mentally rolled my eyes, thinking to myself about how his most popular grip material, cocobolo, and its dust, can also be toxic, like poison ivy. The same is true, to varying degrees, of a few of the more popular hardwoods used for gun stocks. Cocobolo, in particular, is very toxic to me, and gave me a blistery rash on my side when my IWB gun had cocobolo grips on it. Most others, obviously, are unaffected in this way. Gaboon ebony (black ebony) is also listed as having mild toxic properties, but this type of wood doesn't bother me in the least, which is fortunate, since it is my favorite grip material. I bought some of the VZ Gator Back 1911 grips, in black paper Micarta, because I could not, at the time, find ebony grips to suit my taste and standards, and I knew that this material would not have the toxic effect on me that cocobolo had. I didn't expect to like them too much, but they grew on me quickly. My only complaint with these grips is that they feel a little slim to me, because of the vertical furrows, but the material itself is most impressive. For those who actually prefer slim grips, Micarta can be thinner, without cracking or splitting, than can wood, because of the wood's propensity to crack along the grain. Also, Micarta won't rot. As was said already, there are many kinds of Micarta, and there are probably more special properties of Micarta that I am unaware of.

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