Vu Kim Son's "Dust of Life" 1911 Grips
When Mr. Kim Son decided to branch off into handgun grips, he had a problem. The restrictive government of his homeland would not allow him to own a gun, not even a discarded frame, to use as a model to work from. Undeterred, Kim Son first worked from blueprints of a 1911. When the blueprints proved to be flawed, friends in the United States mailed him a set of Alumagrips. Mr. Kim Son then had all he needed.
Approximately a month ago, I reviewed Vu Kim Son's 1911 grips for the first time. Those were buffalo bone grips. After work last week, I found a notice on my mailbox that another package awaited me at the post office. It was five days before I was able to leave the hospital before the post office closed. When I was finally able to pick up the package, I saw that Mr. Kim Son had sent me another pair of grips to review.
This set was his "Dust of Life" grips, fabricated from buffalo horn. Kim Son Handicraft Co. manufactures horn grips from the tip of the buffalo horn, and area that is naturally thick and stable. Other cheaper and inferior grips are freqently made from the thinner areas after the horn is flattened, which causes shrinkage problems later on. By using the tip of the horn, Mr. Kim Son prevents this impermanence. On his "Dust of Life" grips, Mr. Kim Son chose to allow some of the rough texture to remain, creating a beautiful contrast between the rough natural and the highly polished surfaces of the material. When I first saw Mr. Kim Son's handgun grips, I found these grips in particular, to be the most attractive. I openly wondered if the rough surface would provide a better grip on the gun during recoil.
I decided to place a set of the "Dust of Life" grips on the pistol I shoot the most. I unscrewed the rubber grips from my SW1911PD, and dropped Kim Son's grips into place. As expected, the fit was impeccable. Mr. Kim Son uses brass inserts in the screw holes to reinforce the material, preventing damage from frequent installation and removal. This is really unnecessary, but nevertheless, a very nice detail.
I took the pistol shooting after church, a not uncommon practice in Louisiana. I ran 400 rounds through it. The day was hot and humid, and I was sweating, not to mention cussing. The grips did not loosen under the pressure of rigorous use, but I found myself wanting the rubber grips I had removed. The "Dust of Life" grips did not give the same level of purchase as the rubber when in sweaty hands. I was not surprised, very few materials would exceed the "grippiness" of checkered rubber under those conditions. There is a reason tires are not made of buffalo horn.........
I placed the other set of horn "Dust of Life" grips on a Colt Commander. They, too, fit perfectly. The edges were parallel to the pistol lines, and the spacing of the screw holes was dead on. Earlier, Mr. Kim Son had made the magazine release indentation a bit tight, causing binding on some pistols. This is not surprising, since he did not fully appreciate the function of that indentation, not having a 1911 to examine first hand. He has now fully resolved the issue, leaving ample space for the magazine release to operate.
Whereas the rubber grips that I prefer on a working gun provide an unsurpassed gripping surface, Mr. Kim Son's "Dust of Life" grips provide something the rubber does not. The lining of a sports coat slides smoothly along the horn grips, providing excellent concealment. The same fabric tends to find traction on rubber grips. The "Dust of Life" grips are also exceedingly beautiful. I like the visual tension created between the polished and natural textures. The depth of these grips is difficult to photograph, but it seems as if you are gazing into smoked glass. The lustre is deep and lasting. I encourage readers to click on the photos provided to view the enlargements.
Mr. Kim Son has done an exceptional job in the manufacture of these 1911 grips. I sincerely hope he finds a distributor in the United States and I wish him all the best in his endeavors.
Update: It seems as if Kim Son has disappeared and has stiffed several people who helped him, never sending them the grips he promised. Caveat emptor.
Labels: Vu Kim Son