Adding a light and/or laser to a handgun is a must for some, a much sought after option for others. While laser grips have been around for a long time, one usually had to opt for a railed firearm in order to accomplish mounting a light. If your handgun did not have an integral rail, there were some solutions, not all of them elegant. (I shudder to think of trigger guard mounted lasers I have installed for customers in the past). The next problem would be how to carry the gun once you placed a rail mounted light and/or laser on it. Recover Tactical has come up with a system that addresses both issues, and they were kind enough to send it over to me to try out.
Both the CC3H “1911 Grip and Rail” and the HC11 Holsters (one with active retention, one without) were easy to understand and install. Both the grip and the holsters came with all tools needed for installation and adjustment. Installation of the grips was simple, just unscrew and detach the old grips, place the new ones on, reattach the grip screws, and tighten 2 smaller screws in front of the trigger guard and at the front of the rail. While installation was fast, I did notice an issue. If I fully tightened the 2 small screws, they stuck out of the rail frame a bit, enough to be tactile and impede the attachment of my Surefire X400. I backed them out a bit to resolve the issue. For purposes of the test, I did not apply Loctite.
The test platform I installed the grips on was a Wilson Combat 10mm. Ammunition used was American Eagle 180 grain FMJ, Buffalo Bore Heavy 10mm 180 grain, and Cor-Bon 200 Grain RNPN. I chose the 10mm as the recoil impulse would be greater than that of a .45 ACP, to see if any stress fractures appeared in the grips or the screws backed out at all. Once installed, the grip did feel noticeably different in the hand. The wraparound nature of the grips added .23 inches to the grip circumference versus the standard G10 grips I had on the gun previously. The grips did not impede the function of any of the controls including the ambidextrous safety. There was a small gap between the dust cover and the rail portion of the grip, and there is a bit of flex to the front part of the rail. Other than that, fit was very good, with no wobble or rattling. The grips are designed for full size, single stack frames with barrels 4.25 inches or longer. Per Recover’s website, they only have had fit issues with Rock Island GI 1911s and some Taurus PT1911s.
The HC11 holsters are designed as a system with the CCH3 grips. This means they will only work with firearms equipped with the grips, not 1911s with an integral rail. The holsters are fully adjustable for cant, with a very good locking wheel adjustable by hex key. They are paddle style, and are very flexible, if not overly so, at the top of the paddle. The top part of the holster that encompasses the slide is harder plastic, but the plastic around the trigger guard was very flexible in order to accommodate the insertion of different light/laser platforms. These would not be the best holsters for concealed carry, as they are bulky and sit quite far out from the body. They are also loud when unholstering and reholstering, with an audible “clack”. The holsters will only work with a gun that has the CC3H grips installed. The active retention model’s release is activated by your trigger finger. I will just go on record by saying I am not a fan of active retention holsters, especially ones that use a trigger finger release. However, for some departments retention models are required. I can understand having this option available for LEOs and military personnel that require it, being that they are also more prone to be carrying OWB with a light/laser attached to their sidearm. The button and release of the mechanism were smooth, with no rocking or pushing down on the firearm required.
Before firing the 1911 with the CCH3 grips installed, I ran a few practical tests with the HC11 holsters. I went hiking and trail running with them on a 1.5 inch belt. They stayed on securely, and the firearm stayed put. Comfort was very good, with no apparent abrasiveness. I then tested them by putting the unloaded firearm in the holster, turning them upside down over a pad, and lightly shaking. The passive retention model released the firearm rather easily during this test. The active retention model did not.
At the range:
I fired a total of 110 rounds through the gun with the Recover grips and holsters. The gun felt secure and steady in my hand even while shooting the “Heavy 10mm” rounds. My accuracy was unaffected even with the slightly larger grip circumference. The firearm holstered and unholstered easily in both models, with and without under rail attachments (Surefire X400 and Insight M6). Using a CED 1000 shot timer and Surefire X400 light/laser, I measured time from draw to an aimed shot at 10 yards. I started with my hand on the grip as to eliminate any other variables. Results are as follows:
- Regular grips, Blade-Tech non-retention holster: .85s
- Passive retention, no light: .87s
- Passive retention, light: 1.08s
- Active retention, no light: 1.10s
- Active retention, light 1.08s
I noticed some hang-ups and jerkiness upon reholstering with both models. Upon inspection after shooting, I noticed gouges already appearing in the softer, flexible lower plastic of the holster. Checking all the screws on the grips after firing, none had backed out. There were no visible cracks in the grips either.
Being that I live in an environment where it can snow 8 months out of the year, I wanted to test the holster and grips in the cold. I left them overnight in a chest freezer. In the morning, the retention release button still worked fine, but when I went to put the holster on, the top of the paddle cracked. Something to keep in mind for those who live in cold environments who are considering using this system. (Recover has since contacted me in the comments section on this issue, saying that they have updated the stiffness and reinforced the paddle to alleviate this issue.)
Overall, I do believe the CCH3 Grip and HC11 holster do fulfill a role. For those who have a non-railed 1911 and wish to use a rail mounted light/laser without having to buy an entirely new firearm, they do provide a low-cost solution. For those that are required to use active retention, the holster works well, although the paddle style holster is not the best (and could possibly not be authorized) for duty use. I would like to see a more durable type of plastic used for the holsters as well.
- MSRP: Grips: $49.99, Holsters $59.99
- Grip and Rail system also available for Beretta 92 series
- Low-cost rail solution
- Easy installation and use
- Comfortable grips
- Lifetime warranty on the grips
- Comfortable holsters
- Accommodates a wide range of lights/lasers
- Works with or without light/laser mounted
- Smooth active retention release
- Fits most full size 1911s
- Durability of holster material
- Degree of flex in the rail could lead to stress fracture over time
- Paddle is too flexible
- Not easily concealable
Thanks to Tamarack Sports and Aaron Hughston Shooting School For technical assistance and range time