Gun Gear Test: Recover Tactical 1911 Grip and Rail System

This grip kit from Recover Tactical allows you to attach a rail and accessories to a traditional 1911.photo by David Maccar

Every once in a while, a product that looks like it has an 80 percent chance of being cheap and gimmicky actually turns out to be a surprisingly solid and useful piece of gear. Those moments are rare, so I was surprised when I installed the Recover Tactical Grip and Rail System on my 1911 and it turned out to be one of those hidden gems in the Internet soup of gun accessories.

The Grip and Rail System is a simple product consisting of two thin, molded pieces of plastic. In the packaging, they look like the disassembled halves of an incomplete toy. But once on the gun, that perception—along with the gun's capabilities—changes.

Say you have a 1911 that you love. You shoot well with it, it’s reliable, you’ve put it through its paces many times over, and it’s earned the right to be your go-to home defense gun. It’s important to have muscle memory for the gun you might have to grab in the middle of the night, in the dark. And there’s the rub.

That trusty 1911 from a couple decades ago doesn’t have a rail, which means there’s no way to attach a laser sight or a tac light. And you don’t really have it in your budget to have the frame drilled and tapped to accept some kind of harness or an aftermarket rail. Besides, you don’t really want to mar the balance and shape of the gun you know and shoot so well.

Or maybe you decided to splurge and you dropped some serious bank on a Wilson Combat, a Kimber, or even a custom gun, but you didn't want your pricey gun looking all tactical with a rail. After all, it's a 1911. But sometimes, at the range or for specific types of training, you wish you could attach a light or laser.

What it Does

The Recover grips offer a simple-to-install and utterly affordable solution to all these problems. The grips attach just like any 1911 slab grips: two screws on each side thread into bushings, which in turn thread into the frame. These grips are a bit thick, and won’t work if you have thin-grip bushings installed on your pistol.

The author also installed textured grip wraps made by Talon specifically for the Recover Grip and Rail Kit.photo by David Maccar

When the two halves are joined, they form a striated front strap for the grip. The plastic extends over the trigger guard and protrudes beneath the barrel. It uses the strength of the polymer and the anchor points (two sets of nuts and bolts) around the trigger guard to support the weight of any accessory attached to the rail.

The grip itself has a good shape with a decent texture, but it feels extremely plastic, especially when attached to an all-steel pistol. But there's an easy fix for this: Talon makes grip wraps just for the Recover Tactical grip kit in two textures: a typical grippy texture and a sandpaper, skateboard-tape texture. Both are easy to affix with a simple hair dryer and they cover the only seam in the plastic that interacts with your hand, on the front strap. With the wraps in place, the grips are downright comfortable, and the rail easily supports a tac light or laser sight.

I put more than 800 230-grain rounds of .45 ACP through a Taurus PT1911 with the Recover grips attached, with no visible weakening or damage. Also, the Crimson Trace Railmaster sight attached to the rail remained zeroed through every shot.

The grip kit retails for $50 and is definitely a worthwhile accessory that expands the capabilities of any traditional 1911, while adding an overall tactical look. The grips are available in black as well as Desert Sand and OD Green. The Talon grip wraps go for $17.99.

The author used the new rail to attach a Crimson Trace Railmaster laser sight.photo by David Maccar

Holsters and Disclaimers

So what’s the downside? Well, any holsters shaped for a 1911 will be useless with the grips attached. However, any custom or universal large-pistol holster made to accommodate rail attachments will work, which is what you’d have to use if you had a 1911 with an integrated rail anyway. Besides, Recover Tactical sells holsters designed specifically to work with their grips. They sent me the HC11 holster for the 1911 grip kit to try out. It’s available in passive retention (just tug and the gun comes free) or active retention (a lever on the side of the holster must be activated to release the pistol) and is designed so any accessory of any size can be attached to the rail. It holds the weapon securely, with a tab that locked into a corresponding hole in the grips—and fits and hangs as any rigid paddle holster does, though with a thicker duty belt, the holster is held quite far away from the wearer’s hip, almost like a competition holster.

The company also makes an EDC Paddle Holster with a velvet interior lining, adjustable tension support and a paddle with a slim profile; an inside-the-waistband Kydex holster; and a Level 2 Duty Holster with a locking hood system. Recover additionally has a grip system and holster options for the Beretta 92 family of handguns.

The other downside is that not all 1911s are exactly the same. Taurus pistols are notorious for having dimensions that are just a tiny bit off from the guns of which they are clones. Things were a little off when I had to perfectly line up two rigid pieces of plastic while covering most of the grip frame, AND line up with four screw holes. Hitting the inside of the grips with a file and sandpaper in a couple places got everything to fit just right.

The kit doesn't interfere with the normal operation of the pistol in any way.photo by David Maccar

My detachable magwell also caused some problems. The Ed Brown magwell I had previously installed is bolted into the mainspring housing on the gun. The Recover grips were just the tiniest bit too long, preventing the magwell from seating completely (just a half-a-turn of the screw) which kept some of my magazines from engaging the mag release lever. The file and sandpaper again easily rectified the problem.

Some shooters hate needing to modify any new gun accessory in any way, but I always see it as part of the experience. Not every iteration of a gun, especially one so widely produced over so many years as the 1911, can be exactly the same, so in turn, not every part can be truly universal. The slight fitting is part of the fun, as long as you can get it to work.

And, to be fair, the folks at Recover warned me of the issue when I told them I’d be using a Taurus, so it’s a very brand-specific problem that the company knows about and makes customers aware of.

Bottom line: The Recover Tactical Grip and Rail System is a well-made, useful accessory for any 1911, and it won’t permanently modify the gun.

For more photos, see the gallery below:

photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar
photo by David Maccar