Perfecting the Perfect Pistol
Mod Your Glock For Combat or Competition!
By Brian Jensen
|Three Glocks, each customized for it’s own role. The Glock 35 is a tactical tackdriver. The Glock 19 is the single best selling Glock for everything from home protection, CCW, to police sidearm. The Glock 27 is a popular and effective choice for CCW.|
I am of the school that today’s modern Glock is the absolute “perfect” pistol. Let’s face it, the Glock is today’s police service weapon of choice, with more agencies carrying it than any other weapon. Above that, it is a top choice for civilian shooters. It is simple, reliable, and pretty much idiot proof as it comes right out of the box. As for me, the Glock passes my personal test for a combat weapon: draw, pull trigger, gun goes “bang”, bullet comes out (the correct end of course) and with proper aiming, the bullet hits bad guy. The Glock does this with stone cold reliability, every time.
With such a great weapon, you may ask, why would you want to tinker with it? The Glock is not really known as a “customized” type gun; not like the 1911’s you see on the IPSC course, and I even see many 1911s in concealed carry holsters with what I know are customized parts. But some of us can’t help but want to tinker with our Glocks and there are practical improvements that I have found useful. The Glock is at its finest when it is used as a working gun, and these improvements help it to work better, as a combat weapon, and with the advent of competitions like IPSC and GSSF, in competition as well.
Customize to the purpose of the Gun
Sometimes we don’t tinker just to make the gun run “slicker,” like you would a Smith & Wesson revolver. Sometimes we are aiming for practical functionality to serve specific needs. In any weapon used for self-defense, you want to eek out every last bit of combat performance to get every edge in a gunfight. (Remembering that skill and practice are of the greatest importance when it comes to winning a gunfight, and any gadgets will only serve to enhance those.)
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Also, on a gun used for personal protection, I generally don’t like using after market parts for vital items such as trigger springs or other critical internal parts. The guys at Glock know what they are doing when it comes to these pieces and I would like them in my corner of the courtroom if the performance of a gun I am required to use in a gunfight is called into question later. Reliability is still quality #1, and Glock is second to none in that category.
Any customizing needs to take into consideration the mission of the gun. If it’s a gun for self-defense or carry, you don’t disable safeties, or do things that incur liability. Because even if there is no criminal liability issues in your gunfight, the issue of civil liability comes up in almost every shooting incident, even completely justified ones. The plaintiffs often win because the lawyers accuse the shooter of making the gun “more deadly” by some way or the other. For customization on a weapon you depend on for your life, emphasize things that enhance reliability and combat readiness.
|Three sets of sights, Meprolight on the left, Trijicon center, and the standard Glock factory sights on the right.|
|Shooting the Glock, either for fun or competition is enhanced by picking the right modifications for your gun.|
|Trijicon Night Sights (left), Meprolight Night Sights (right)|
|Meprolight Night Sights provide a better sight picture than the Glock factory sights, and are much more durable.|
|Standard trigger spring (left) will give a trigger pull of 5.5 lbs with a standard connector, while the NY1 trigger (right) will give you a 8.5 lb trigger.|
|The ridged trigger (front) comes from the smaller Glocks, these are used to gain import points as a “target trigger”. The flat trigger (rear) has a smooth face and makes shooting more pleasant when shooting the more powerful loads in .40 S&W.|
|This mini Glock has been set up for carry. It has a smooth faced G22 trigger, low snag night sights from Meprolight, and Pierce +1 magazine floorplate.|
|The nice thing about customizing the Glock, it is so easy to work on.|
If the gun is for competition, accuracy and speed – basically performance, are the orders of the day. Liability can take a back seat because all of our rounds will be pointed downrange. In a competition gun you want speed for rounds on target. GSSF or IPSC, either way you are competing on a timed event. Things such as magazine wells to speed reloads, and a light trigger that would make a civil litigation attorney jump for joy will be the order of the day. Match grade barrels from such groups as Storm Lake and Bar Sto can be had from suppliers like Midway USA to increase accuracy as well.
Once you decide the mission for your Glock, you can start making choices for the things you tweak.
I’m not a competition shooter, so my modifications are more for a defensive or combat weapon. Keeping that in mind, I look to several “must have’s” when I do any modifications to a Glock. However, of those of you who want a competition gun, there are also a lot of “Must Have’s” you may want. I’ll give a few suggestions here.
The plastic sights that come with the Glock are OK for the occasional shooter and if you have nothing else, but after a few hundred draws, the front sight loses the crisp edges needed for a good sight picture. The plastic wears down and becomes rounded making accurate shots much harder. The front sight eventually become useless. After fifteen years with Glocks, I have seen a lot of front sights fly downrange while the gun is being drawn, leaving a blank slide at the muzzle and a blank stare on the face of the shooter.
At a minimum I would replace the front sight with a metal one. But I would prefer to go with night sights; in today’s world they’re pretty much a “must have”. Their cost is easily justified when you consider most shootings happen in poor lighting conditions. Makers such as Meprolight™, Trijicon™ or XS make so many variations that there is surely one to fit your needs. Glock even has their own set. These sights can add a margin of accuracy that could save the day (or night as it were) in a gunfight.
Now, if this is a competition gun, I like the Warren Tactical Dave Sevigny sights. The narrow front sight with the generous window on the rear set make for an outstanding sight picture. That’s why shooters like Dave Sevigny use them, and I’m sure it’s why Warren Tactical named the sights after him.
Triggers and Other Internal Parts
After the sights, I would consider the trigger spring. You can have anywhere from a 3.5 lb. to a 12 lb. monster from Glock depending on trigger spring and connector combinations.
The best way to pick is to ask what your needs are based on the role of the weapon. For a target gun, the 3.5 pound trigger can be a good option to consider, whereas the 5.5 (standard) or 8.5 lb. (New York 1) is the general rule for police or combat weapons. Lighter ones can be found after market, but the ones from Glock tend to work best in my experience.
The next thing I always have to put in for anything other than a deep concealment gun is the extended magazine release for my Glock. (This is essentially a Glock 21 magazine release put into a Glock 22 or 17.) It gives you more leverage and is easier at dropping the magazine; which is not something you want to be fooling around with in a firefight. The last thing I want to be doing is fumbling around with any more thumbs than I already have, especially when someone is shooting at me.
A competition gun is no different in this respect. You want your magazine changes to be fast and sure, since a fumbled magazine change means lost time and a lower score. An extended release will make them quick and reliable.
There are also some other after-market mag releases, but I haven’t tried them. If the gun is for competition, the aftermarket ones can be larger and easier to use. Now, with the advent of the Gen 4 guns, however, with their larger, reversible buttons, this may change some, but we have yet to see. People who like to mod like to mod and they will most likely continue to mod regardless of what comes stock on the pistol.
For those with the smaller 9mm and .40 S&W Glocks, such as a Glock 23’s or 27’s, I like to do one other addition: I like to put the Glock 22 trigger with trigger bar on. It is essentially the same part, but the trigger and bar for the smaller guns are “target” triggers with ridges on the trigger face. Glock does this for importation points. After a prolonged amount of shooting, my finger can get a little bit raw from all the ridges. (Yeah I know, wimpy fingers…) I have found the smooth face of the G-22 trigger is just more comfortable to shoot with. It is important to shoot your carry gun, and if something impedes your ability to do that, I say it has to go.
I also round the trigger safety to match the contour of the trigger. While I consider the Glock an outstanding weapon, this has always been a pet peeve of mine. They could make the trigger far better by molding the trigger safety to match the trigger face. Since they don’t, we are left with either paying big bucks for an after market unit, or using a discreet amount of elbow grease and emery paper to do it ourselves. Fortunately parts are so easy to get for Glocks that you never have to worry about botching something and not being able to fix it inexpensively.
Mini Glocks for CCW
For the mini Glocks, – they deserve special attention, since these are generally CCW guns, and they serve very well in that position. As a Detective, I carry one everyday, and I’m not alone. In my department’s roster of off-duty guns, the G27 is the most popular by far. For the civilian concealed permit holder, they are an excellent choice for concealment and power.
First off, I dump the factory sights and put on a set of Meprolight’s for night sights. They have a set that is made especially for the mini Glocks, which are slanted somewhat to help them from snagging. I also avoid the extended magazine release since that’s just not my priority for a concealed gun.
I always add the finger extensions for all my magazines. For the Glock 27 and 33 I would put on the +1 extender from Pierce Grips. (This turns into a +2 for the 9mm model.) These add a round, making the capacity a full 10. That extra round can mean the difference between going home or not, so I heartily suggest this addition. It does not add enough to make the gun print through my clothing, at least for me. In addition, that added surface to grip with my little finger, which makes shooting the little Glocks more controllable. If you are using the G27 as a pocket pistol you should try it with and without the extender, and they can make the back end of the Glock more “catchy” coming out of the pocket.
Another worthwhile addition you may consider for your Glock are the rubber grip sleeves by Hogue and Pachmayer. These make the gun more comfortable to shoot, and give a more positive grip. This is especially true if you carry the gun in a marine environment like I do: between salt mist and water on the grip, they can get a bit slippery. Some shooters have even used skateboard tape for better grips. However, if this is a concealment gun, these add-on grips can snag clothes, and cause the gun to “print” the outline of the grip through your clothes, which usually is an un-tucked shirt. (It’s pretty embarrassing when someone in the check out line let’s you know, “Hey mister, your gun’s showing??!!”)
One last “must ” I have is purely cosmetic. I like to put the after-market plugs in the back strap of the Glocks. While the amount of dirt that actually gets up into the gun that way is very minimal, with the water environment I live and work in, I feel better with the gap plug in. It also just plain looks better to me. (I know, oh, the vanity of it all…)
Some additional ideas are out there as well. Companies make “match grade” barrels that will really tighten groups up, but while that’s a necessity in a competition target gun, I am not convinced it is as necessary in a combat gun. The Glock will fire reliably with the barrel from the factory and give ample combat performance. I do not know the reliability factor of these other barrels, good or bad, but if you lose reliability to go from a 4″ group at 25 yards to a 1 ½” group at 25 yards, then I don’t see it as a benefit.
There are all sorts of other accessories for the Glock, such as various light attachments and laser sights. These are useful under different circumstances, but you need to evaluate them each for their own merits. Flashlights are really useful when its dark, and laser sights can be used as a good attention getter. Translation, nothing says, “Get the Hell Away from me!” like a small red dot on a would-be attacker’s chest.
Beyond What you Can Do Yourself
There are other accessories and treatments to Glocks that go beyond these listed above. If you don’t like the finish on your Glock (I don’t know why…) you can always get them plated with NP3 from Robar, or other similar finishes.
There are also companies that will customize the grip of your Glock pistol, slimming it down, making different textures, and making it even more compact. They will even put cocking serrations on the front of your slide for those who really want it. Bowie Tactical and Robar both do this well. The sky is really the limit for what you can do. I have seen quite a few Glocks that after all the work was done on them looked, well very un-Glock like.
The Things You Don’t Want…
OK…so there are a bunch of things you can do, but what are the things you shouldn’t do?
A few things I have learned over the years is that you never, ever, do things to a combat handgun to make it ripe for some liability lawyer to use against you. These are the things such as lowering a trigger pull weight unreasonably (I usually say under 3 ½ – 4 pounds) that can make for a negligent discharge.
Another thing, while I know it looks “hard core” to put on a rear slide plate with a skull and crossbones on it, think again. Imagine that you use that weapon in self defense and possibly injure or kill your attacker. That plate on your Glock will be exhibit #1 for someone who is suing you afterwards. It will not matter one bit that it was a fully justified police or civilian shooting that you did everything right, things like that plate will make it possible for counsel to paint you as bloodthirsty. (Mr. Plaintiff, can you say just how many zero’s you want on that check for damages…)
In the end, you need to evaluate these custom changes for yourself. Some may work for you, others not. There are surely some other add-ons I haven’t even mentioned.
Good luck, good shooting, and above all, be safe.