1911A1 Wooden Grips
Most weekends I'll pop into town and check out a few local shops that have interesting gadgets and gear. One of these is a 'collectables' store that stocks - amongst other things - air rifles and pistols (both metal-firing and plastic-firing 'airsoft' variants).
I already have a decent collection of pistols, so I've been avoiding acquiring any more unless I spotted something real special - which turned out to be the case last weekend, when they started stocking the KWC 1911A1 CO2 airsoft pistol. This full metal replica had been available for the long time as a 4.5mm airgun (aka the Tangflio Witness), but this was the first time they'd had in an airsoft version in stock. Both myself and a friend decided to pick these up immediately.
Absolutely everything about this pistol is impressive, from the extremely powerful blowback kick to the accurate markings and dual-safety design. Due to the full metal frame this has a realistic weight and like all CO2 pistols I've owned, the reliability and consistency is much better than Green-gas/Propane/134a powered models.
Having said that, the one let-down was the plastic grips. Although designed to replicate the shape of the real pistol's, the molded checkered surface felt uncomfortable and didn't look particularly good, so I decided to spend the afternoon creating a better alternative...
Shaping & Finishing
As with my previous woodworking projects, I selected a suitable offcut of hardwood (no idea what variety) and began cutting and shaping the rough pieces. Luckily I had a strip of hardware almost perfectly sized that reduced the required cutting substantially. A fretsaw made light work of cutting the overall shape, with a plane providing the smoothly-rounded outer faces.
I currently have a Unimat ML kit on order that should make future projects like this even easier, but for the moment I used some sanding drums with my bench drill to achieve the smaller details such as the cut-out required for the spring bar on the left-hand side of the pistol grip, and the cavity required to accommodate the CO2 capsule.
Determining the correct positioning of the holes was difficult given the extremely tight fit required, despite using the original grips as templates. The final fit however was (luckily) perfect.
My initial attempt at finishing the grips was using the same French Polish I'd used with the previous AK47 rifle stock. However this resulted in a glossy yellowish finish that wasn't particularly suited to the charcoal colour of the frame.
I rummaged around the garage for something else, eventually trying a Peruvian Mahogany stain, which turned out a deeper shade of brown and much smoother to the touch. Unfortunately these photos don't do the finished article justice. Although fabricating these took only an afternoon, the look and feel when fitted to the fantastic quality frame is excellent, and well worth the time.