Eye-Grabbing Grips: Andrews Exotic Leather 1911 Grip Panels

posted on February 13, 2019

Every now and then, the urge hits us all to reassert our individuality. While it may not be as colorful or chaotic as teenage rebellion, one example where this drive for individuality manifests itself is customizing our firearms to meet our personal needs/tastes.

Much like early Americans individualized their riflestocks by embellishing them with copper and iron nails, when it comes to sidearms many choose to gussy up their guns with a new pair of grips, often opting for exotic woods such as ebony, French walnut, holly, buckeye burl or African blackwood. In fact, today it’s become much more common to see exquisite examples of John Browing’s masterpiece inside gunshop display cases and holsters sporting much more costly grip panels of musk ox, and elephant ivory and European stag.

Whether you own a treasured safe queen in need of some class or carry a handgun daily, upgrading a handgun’s grips is akin to adding a fine tie or high-end timepiece to your daily ensemble, and Andrews Leather has developed a truly unique means of handgun customization with its new line of 1911 Exotic Grips.

A true artisan with leather, company owner Sam Andrews developed a passion for making holsters as a teenager—a passion that spilled into adulthood and even into a brief law-enforcement career.  Though it was short-lived, it provided the opportunity for his hobby to grow by allowing his love for holster-making to branch into the realm of law enforcement.

He regularly made holsters for his fellow officers, and they in turn offered feedback that he would later use to refine and improve his designs. Following his law enforcement career, Andrews decided put his leatherworking skills to good use and opened his own business, where he has been making his custom holsters full-time for more than 40 years.

Though all of his holsters are custom made, when it comes to his newest product, however, Andrews is the first to point out the idea was not his own, but rather the byproduct of a phone conversation with the owner of a high-end custom 1911 gunsmith whose customer desired a pair of grips made of exotic animal hide. Lo and behold, the seed was planted and he spent the better part of a year researching what was needed—from the right type of grip to use as a base to the best bonding agent to anchor the hide in place.

The grip panels, which are supplied by a well-known maker in the industry, are purposely designed on the thin slide to minimize unwanted bulk once the leather is added. But, don’t let their svelte profile fool you. They fill the hand well and each pair is designed to be compatible with standard-length grip-screw bushings. (Slim-line bushings are not required.) Similarly, like all Andrews’ holsters, the edges of the leather are expertly burnished, silky smooth and sport a glass-like shine with virtually no tell-tale trace of a seam.

Currently the grips are available for Government and Commander-size frames and are being offered in more than a dozen different type of exotic hides, such as black spinal stingray, hornback gator, cape buffalo and cognac ostrich leg. In addition to the touch of class that each pair of grips bring to your pistol, the rich hues of color will not only complement a variety of gun finishes, they are  truly unique in that they are unlike anything else on the market.

Another benefit leather brings to the table is that the texture offers ample purchase without being overly coarse or overly aggressive, which is a welcome departure my many of today’s other offerings.

Prices for these one-of-a-kind works of art range from $125 to $225, depending upon the material you prefer.


silver 1911 facing right
silver 1911 facing right

First Look: Kimber Rapide Dawn & Scorpius 1911 Pistols

Kimber recently introduced two new models of 1911s, the Dawn & Scorpius, to the Rapide family. 

First Look: MasterPiece Arms DS9 Commander Pistol

MasterPiece Arms (MPA) is known for making high-performance pistols, chassis systems and bolt-action rifles, and now the company is adding the new MPA DS9 Commander to the wide-body, double-stack 1911 pistol lineup.

Why Lightweight Carbines Are a Game Changer

Technology and demand are driving a light-rifle trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Purpose-built, flyweight guns are a dream to carry and shoot, but the additional machining, exotic materials and manufacturing methods that can bring something like an AR rifle down to 4.5 pounds make it expensive.

Black Friday Bonanza

If you’d rather visit the dentist than attend the annual Black Friday stampede, Shooting Illustrated has a solution for all your holiday shopping needs.

I Carry: Springfield Armory SA-35 Pistol in a Galco Holster

In today's episode of "I Carry," we have the brand-new Springfield Armory SA-35 9 mm pistol carried in a Galco Summer Comfort holster along with Mec-Gar and ProMag magazines.

2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Outdoors

Check out these gun-related products for that firearm-enthusiast friend or loved one. Whether he or she spends time at the range, tinkering with their guns in the shop, in their special space at home, whipping up food and drink in the kitchen, driving to or from work or in the outdoors, we’ve got you covered this holiday season, no matter your budget.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.