How to Install Talon Grips on an XD-S Mod.2

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People love to personalize their stuff. Guns are not only no different, they might be some of the most personalized and customized objects we own. It’s just our natural way of not only making what’s ours just a bit different than it was when we got it, but it can also be a great practical exercise, depending on the personalization. The downside of customizing a gun is that most often it can be expensive — and permanent.

Today, I’m going to give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to install Talon Grips on your Springfield XD-S Mod.2 pistol.

Don’t let the simplicity of the Talon Grips fool you. These can radically alter how the gun feels in the hand.

The Why …

The folks at Talon Gun Grips have been feeding the need for practical modifications for years. And best of all, these are inexpensive, non-permanent and easily DIY. I’ve been installing them on most of my polymer-framed handguns for years. That was not because all those handguns really needed an improved grip, though.

Completed installation of Talon Grips on Springfield XD-S pistol
Once the installation on your XD-S Mod.2 is complete, the Talon Grips should look like this.

In fact, many new pistols such as the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm I selected for this project have superior grip texture and ergonomic design. So why make the change? Under certain conditions, like extreme heat or wet conditions, some added grip texture can be appreciated. Also, I think my primary reason is that I’ve become accustomed to the feel of Talon’s rubber material, and I like the consistency of having it on most of my pistols.

… and the How

So, that’s the “why”. You might have a different why — or just be curious about the process. So let’s get to the “how.” I’ll break it into just a few basic steps, and the companion video at the top of the page will further show each of these steps.

Tools needed to install Talon Grips on Springfield pistol
All you need is the provided alcohol wipe, an optional brush for cleaning the texture, and a hair dryer or heat gun.

Like any good DIY project, no matter how simple it is, the best way to start is to gather and assemble together all the stuff you’ll need. Relax, it’s a short list: The alcohol wipe that is provided with the Talon grip; an old (but clean) toothbrush or similar for getting into the texture and scrubbing out any crud; and a hair dryer or heat gun. You might also want to have a pair of scissors at hand if you want to remove the protective backer in two sections instead of one.

Making the gun safe before starting the  modification work
Before Step 1, there is what I call “Step Zero” – make the gun safe. The best way to do this is to remove the slide.

Before starting — I call this “Step Zero” — make the gun empty and safe. Take my advice, just remove the slide and magazine and be done with it. Besides, you’ll be able to handle the lighter empty frame much easier for the application.

Cleaning the gun prior to installation of new grips
Step 1 is to clean the surface of the grip frame where the new grip will be applied.

Step 1: The official first step is to clean the substrate. Adhesive won’t stick well to a dirty surface, and even less so to one with any oil on it. Use the little alcohol wipe to thoroughly clean the area to be covered by the Talon grip.

Wrapping the Talon Grips to the frame of pistol
Wrapping the adhesive-backed grip around the frame is easy if you follow a few tips.

Step 2: This is the big step. Peel the backer from the adhesive (you can choose to do this in two halves — watch the video for an example of this) and fit the grip onto the frame. I advise doing a dry fit first to get familiar with where it will go and to make note of what I call “index points,” which are the spots you want to align it with.

Start from the left side of the grip, and gently lay the adhesive side against your polymer frame, following the index points and being careful to keep it level and straight. One of the easiest indexes for this is the bottom near the magwell, where it’s easy to see if it is crooked. You can lift and re-apply the grip several times to get it just right — but try to avoid touching the adhesive with your fingers.

Most application of the Talon Grip require the portion of the panel that covers the frontstrap to be tucked under the left panel. This means lifting the edge you started with a bit and firmly pressing the finger tabs (which can be one or multiple tabs) into place. Then, recover the left panel edge and seal. The accompanying video will show this in better detail. Definitely watch the video!

Step 3: When you’re satisfied with the application, the next phase is one of the most important. Do not skip this if you want a long-lasting application of the grip panel. Using your dryer or heat gun, heat the newly applied grip tape until it is very warm, even hot, to the touch. Then press down firmly all over the applied grip to push the softened adhesive into the texture below. I call this the “smoosh” process, and it is the key to a great install.

Heat and press the adhesive onto gun after installing new grips
After heating thoroughly, press the adhesive into the textured frame for a good bond. Then re-assemble the slide to frame – and you’re done!

Conclusion

Now that you’re done, re-assemble the slide to the frame and admire your newly customized handgun. The best part is that you spent very little money and time doing it — you did it yourself — and it can be easily removed in the future with absolutely no permanent marking to the gun!

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