Stippling M&P full-size – How to prepare, practice and go for it!

I have previously stippled the detachable backstrap of the M&P9 with a soldering iron. It added some grippiness to the gun, but one a big portion of the M&P9 that is part of my “grip” is still very smooth (e.g., the portion that meets the meaty part of the palm). So I finally went for the full frame with a wood burner (fine tip).

Scale pattern on the backstrap done using soldering iron tip

Scale pattern on the backstrap done using soldering iron tip

For the ‘scale’ pattern that was used for the M&P backstrap, the soldering iron did the job alright (picture above). However, I wanted a finer pattern for the actual frame. So I got a wood burner with several interchangeable tips. It is a $18 investment.

Before I decided to stippled the whole frame, I went with GT-5000 grip tapes. It added a bit of grip, but it was prone to shifting a bit and still not as grippy as I would like to be. So I figure I’ll go for stippling the whole gun.


  1. Soldering iron / Wood burner
      • I used the Walnut Hollow woodburner (~$15). Any other wood burner would do fine, just make sure it comes with a very fine tip.
  2. Polymer-type surface to practice on (e.g., ammo tray, pmags)
  3. Masking tape (easier to make a straight line)

Since stippling on the actual frame is a permanent alteration, my first idea is to get some practice. Everyone on the internet talks about using extra rifle magazines (Pmags) to practice on. Well, I don’t have a rifle, but I have a lot of empty ammo tray. That works. It is a different ‘hardness’ than the actual frame, but it is enough to get some practice in.

Identifying patterns I wanted to do (Practice!)

Use Pinterest or google-image to find some nice patterns. Youtube videos also showed how some people achieve a certain pattern. I decided to try some bigger and smaller dots using a fine tip and rounder tip. Also tried some curvy line pattern (see picture below). The feel of the bigger dots are smoother, and maybe suitable for the side of a CCW gun that actually touches skin. The small dot on the left of the bigger dots gives a very grippy feel, but I didn’t like the look of it. I tried another version of small dots on on another tray,  but instead of lining up all the small dots, I went a more circular and random motion. It allowed some overlap, ending up with the pattern on the right side of the picture, which is what I eventually went with for my M&P9.


Left: Small dots with fine tip lined up and bigger dots with round tip lined up. Top line patterns were not grippy enough. Right: Small dots with fine tip done in circular and overlapping motion.

After I felt good with the pattern, it is time to just go for it.

Actually Stippling

Masking tape helps to make a straight line for the intended pattern to stop.


Used masking tape to define border. Stipped the border carefully.


And then I just went for the whole frame 🙂


Completed grip.

Cautions if stippled gun needs to be used for competitions

I have read some stories on how people accidentally overheat the frame. I took my time and allowed the frame to cool-down after a patch is done.  It took about a full hour since I gave it some time to cool down in between. The result turned out pretty good for a first-try in stippling the frame. I didn’t go all the way to the top in case I ever want to use this gun for competition.

USPSA rule for stippling

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