First time stippling – M&P backstrap

I wanted to make my full-size M&P 9 more “grippy”. Previously, I’ve used grip tape to achieve a more grippy effect. They work fine on flatter surfaces, but the more contour part of the gun is difficult to to make the tape stay in place. A bit of googling led me to the idea of stippling the polymer frame of the gun.

In short, stippling is using hot iron to melt patterns onto the polymer frame of the gun to give it a rougher surface, which increases friction, thus creating a more grippy feel. Stippling the whole frame of the gun is time consuming and irreversible. Since I had no experience in stippling, I was hesitant on making irreversible changes to my gun. The good thing is, the M&P 9 has a removable backstrap, which also happens to be the part of frame that I wanted the most improvement on in terms of adding more grip -over grip tape-.

A cheap investment of $6 gets me an extra backstrap that I can stipple without the fear of irreversible mistakes (I can always get another backstrap and do it again!)

Scale pattern on the backstrap done using soldering iron tip

Scale pattern on the backstrap done using soldering iron tip

– 25W soldering iron with a tapered tip (usually use for electronics)
– Moist sponge to clear off the tip
– Fan (blow any fumes away from yourself)

– Backstrap
– Empty ammo tray (or any plastic to try pattern on; $0)

25W soldering iron with tapered tip

25W soldering iron with tapered tip


  1. Research the pattern you want to try (e.g., fish scales, line, dots, etc.)
  2. Try the desired pattern on another piece of plastic (e.g., ammo tray that comes with factory ammo).
  3. Put masking tape around the part of the frame/backstrap that needs to be stippled with a particular pattern.
  4. Stipple away!
  5. Repeat 3-4 until all areas are done.

I used two patterns: A fish scale like pattern on the side of the strap that gives more friction from side-to-side movement. And a horizontal line pattern at the back of the strap to give more friction preventing up-and-down movement. The scale-like pattern was done by pressing the tip of iron in into the polymer with an angle. The line is done by simply dragging the pointed tip of the iron across the polymer.

L: scale pattern; R: line pattern

L: scale pattern; R: line pattern

Finished version!
It does provide more grip than my backstrap without stippling. And there is no tape pilling off anymore. Not bad for a first try 🙂


One thought on “First time stippling – M&P backstrap

  1. Pingback: Installing the APEX Forward Set Sear (FSS) Trigger Kit with no prior gunsmithing experience | Explore, Expose, and Experience

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