During World War II the Colt 1911 was the standard sidearm of the US military, arming American soldiers across Europe, North Africa, and the Pacfic. One common practice among GI’s was to modify their pistols by replacing their grips with so called “sweetheart grips”. Soldiers would remove the standard wooden grips from their Colts, then replace them with handmade grips featuring a photograph of a loved one.
The grips were made from transparent materials, such as plexiglass and whatever forms polycarbonates were available in the 1940’s. Typically, the photos used to create the grips were of wives and girlfriends, but could also include family members, parents, and other significant people.
The practice of creating custom transparent grips was not limited to sweetheart grips. Sometimes GI’s would use pinups, personal artwork, or other interesting materials. Nor was such a practice limited to Colt 1911’s. Sometime a GI would create sweetheart grips of captured enemy pistols taken as war trophies. Regardless, the customization of sidearms by American GI’s is an interesting part of World War II history, and it’s not uncommon for such pieces to be discovered by family after the death of a veteran.