If you have a Springfield XD, you know that you have one of the plainest gun grips in the world and there is not a lot you could do to change that with a set of aftermarket grips as on other pistols. Let's face it, it's a polymer framed gun, which doesn't lend to a lot of customization on the lower. One very common DIY trick to fix this, especially for older pre-M series guns, is a stippling job. This act of burning holes in things that you love may (or may not) be the answer you are looking for.
What is stippling?
Basically put, this act of modification is accomplished by pushing something very hot and very hard (think steel) into your medium. While in our case it's done to plastic (err, we mean high impact polymer), it can also be done to wood or similar items. Its an outgrowth of the old-school scroll worker's inlay known as pyrography used to checker stocks and such.
(A very nice custom XD stipple job with small dots by Rockey Mountain Weaponry)
The 'stipple' that is left behind is the opposite of a 'nipple' in the respect that sinks in rather than pokes out. The best way to perform this act on a XD in question is with a soldering iron. Most serious stipplers use small, ultra-fine point battery-powered models to keep from having a cord get in the way. If you get too aggressive with it, you can always sand it back down as smooth as you like. The thing is, be careful when you do this as you can soon reach the end of the line as far as frame depth and soon wind up with a crack or hole in your gun.
Which would really suck.
Also, since XDs already come with a bit of factory-applied texture right from Croatia to the grip areas, its advisable to remove that before you get started on your stipple job as your first steps to prepping your area. This can be done with a dremel type tool, good old-fashioned sandpaper (really get some elbow grease up), or the hot edge of a soldering iron.
(Stay away from anything near the beavertail grip safety...for safety sake)
Also, another factor to keep in mind with an XD is to not stipple too close to that rear beavertail grip safety as doing so can render it either always off, or always on, or otherwise just plain old busted-- which is another bad thing, m'kay?
In this video, Billy, from Hyatt Customs, talks to us about stipple jobs and their effectiveness on polymer platform guns.
Why do it?
Stippling roughs up the surface of the XD's polymer frame much more than is done at the factory. This extra roughage can help maintain a steady grip on the gun in wet, muddy, or bloody conditions. Our forums include some nice examples of stippling in our "show-off" section.
(A nice stipple job from Nash Gun Worx)
Plus, a nice stippling job can really customize the look of your gun-- if you take the time to do it right.
This brings us to...
Why not do it?
This is not temporary. It's a permanent modification that you can't just peel off or unscrew. Since the frame is registered and serial numbered as a controlled item, if you destroy it, you literally destroy the gun itself. Therefore, your stipple job can be modified, sanded smoother, or reburned deeper or flatter, but can never be un-done. If you go too deep, you risk real damage and frame weakening to your firearm. In addition, your custom 7000-point stipple may mean nothing to a potential buyer down the road. In fact, it may turn them away.
Kitchen XD stippling at home with KTdevildog. KT uses the soldering iron to remove texture first and you can see what that looks like.
If you chose to stipple your perfectly good XD, the most important thing to do is take your time and remember that usually less is more. The last thing you want is a rushed or overworked stippled job because it will definitely show. Understand that you are gambling with the resale value of your XD from the first burn onward, so be methodical and careful with what you do.
(When/if you go to sell your gun, keep in mind that not everyone may like what you have done to it if you choose to stipple)
If you are 110% sure you can pull it off while sitting on the couch watching Survival Preppers, knock yourself out, if not, give yourself a better fighting chance by removing outside stimuli and setting up at the man cave isolation chamber. Be smooth, be methodical, and act like a machine.
It's best to practice on similar polymer (think about the plastic mag holder and holster that comes free in your XD box that you have never used).
(Tell the truth, have you ever used the accessories that came in your box?)
A nice stippling job can add to your gun and make more usable in a tactical situation, a horrible one will leave you a shattered specter of the man you once were. Roll the dice and weigh your options.
Moreover, watch out, those soldering irons can get hot!