Beyond the Roland Special: Custom Precision with Nomad, Trijicon and Grey Ghost

The Roland Special was a concept of pistol that has become legendary in gun culture. It consisted of a highly customized Glock 19 with frame modifications, a compensator, and a light. Using quality parts enhanced performance while maintaining duty gun levels of reliability.

I wanted to build a no limits handgun. My goal here was not to make a Roland Special. Inspired by the vision of a duty reliable competition accurate handgun, I set out to get the best parts from my favorite companies to build my very own special to serve my purposes.

There is nothing better than getting exactly what you want. I set out to build my own supergun with the Nomad 9 Frame. Rather than a custom framework, I found the Nomad had all the features I wanted and some that I didn’t know I wanted. Big wants: undercut trigger guard to get my whole hand on the grip and the cutout Gen 4 magazine release to allow mag changes while maintaining my firing grip. The ledge to index my support hand thumb was an unexpected bonus.

When this gun came together, I was expecting great things. It was even better. The feel and accuracy were impressive. Manipulations were smooth and my hand fit the frame like a hand made glove. I have over two thousand rounds through it now and it gets better each day.

Ten round group at 25 yards. The Grey Ghost slide and CMC barrel did not disappoint. The quality remains after the price is forgotten.

I know that testing from a bench gives better details about the theoretical accuracy. Einstein said “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” I prefer to hold the gun. Now I will admit that I was having a good day when I shot the target above, but it was repeated many times over the last few months. Even with the fliers which I claim as my own, the hits stay in the anatomical scoring zone of the NRA Law Enforcement head at 25 yards, standing unsupported. If I need that shot, I have complete confidence in this little gun.

The CTS Steel does not lie. At 50 yards it gives great feedback and makes that happy sound we all know and love.

Clang! Even at 50 yards, my special Nomad continued its winning ways. As long as I could hold the sights and press the trigger, the bullets, following the immutable laws of physics, flew joyfully into the target.

Nomad 9 comes completely striped and is completely compatible with Glock 19 Generation 4 parts. It has some cool features, but the thing that really grabbed me was the blank canvas to make a whole new pistol.

Aggressive undercuts, a support thumb ledge, and an extended beavertail work together to support a high grip for recoil management.

Nomad Defense was founded by a mechanical engineer and an expert on plastic injection molding, with a simple goal: to build what they wished was on the market. Their dream is our new American made frame.

The Nomad 9 frame has all the features you see on high dollar striker-fired designs. The slim feeling textured grip with interchangeable backstraps provides a custom fit with great ergonomics even for small shooters. An expanded trigger guard accommodates wearing gloves.

The Nomad 9 Frame is sold as a stripped frame and is compatible with Glock 19 Gen4 components. You also get three interchangeable backstraps, a trigger housing retention pin, and a backstrap retention pin. Most flashlight capable holsters will work with the Nomad 9. Dedicated Nomad 9 holster options are currently available from Talon Retention Systems, TXC Holsters, and Silverback Gunworks.

Image courtesy of Nomad Defense

Nomad 9 Frame Features

  • Flared Magwell – providing every advantage when you need it most
  • Contoured Grip – better comfort and better control
  • Three Interchangeable Backstrap Sizes – Custom ergonomics tailored to you
  • Accessible Mag Release – easy to reach without accidental release
  • Rock Grip Texture – engineered traction in all conditions
  • Slide Stop Guard – precise activation
  • Extended Beaver Tail – recoil management
  • Enlarged Cold Weather Trigger Guard – optimized for use with gloves
  • Forward Thumb Ledges – better control for faster follow-up shots
  • Single Locking Block Pin – strength, simplicity, and reliability
  • Proprietary Polymer Blend – high impact strength with enhanced rigidity
  • Weight 3.4 oz

You can find out more about Nomad 9 HERE. Buy it now at Rainier Arms. $200

Now the real fun begins, I needed a slide. I decided to go with a Grey Ghost Precision (GGP) because they make great stuff and have the most innovative optics mount available accommodating two major brand red dot handgun sights, the Trijicon RMR, and Leupold DeltaPoint. I guess I need an optic too.

I love the “golf ball” serrations!

The professionals at GGP have extensive backgrounds in the military and in manufacturing. They base their designs on three non-negotiable requirements: the product has to be Accurate, Reliable, and Attainable. The GGP Glock 19 Slide does not disappoint. All GGP slides are stripped slides

Features of the Grey Ghost Precision Glock 19 Gen4 Slide

  • Machined from 17-4 Billet Stainless Steel to have tighter tolerances than a factory slide
  • Stainless steel slide cut and Black Nitride Coated inside and out
  • Available with an optic cutout for Trijicon RMR (no plate needed) and Leupold Delta-Point.
  • RMR Cut slides include a custom G10 cover plate and proper screws

Get a GGP slide HERE. MSRP $449.99

I have become a big believer in pistol mounted red dot optics. A red dot puts the target and the sight in the same focal plane. Shooters with vision problems get a great benefit from this. It promotes shooting with both eyes open for better situational awareness when you need it the most. Taken together, these benefits allow you to shoot faster and more accurately at longer distances. This should result in not shooting things you shouldn’t shoot and quicker and better hits on things that you should.

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is a simple rugged design with a unique horned housing shape that absorbs impacts and diverts stresses away from the lens.

Trijicon has been the leader in any-light aiming systems since 1981. Famous for ruggedness, the RMR has been the standard for red dot handgun sights since its inception. The American made Trijicon RMR Type 2 sights feature a new button lockout mode and battery saving features, which make this optic ideal for concealed carry and law enforcement use.

The Trijicon RMR is available in three models with a variety of dot and triangle reticle patterns appropriate for virtually any sporting or professional application. I went with the 3.25 MOA Red Dot. I find it easy to pick up and precise to aim.

Trijicon RMR Type 2 Features

Dependable Electronic Design

Adjustable LED RMR


Button Lockout

Battery-Conservation Mode

Compatible with All Mounts

Dual-Illuminated RMR

Unique Patented Housing Shape

Versatile Sight

Easy Adjustable Windage / Elevation

True-Color Multi-Coated Lens


Waterproof to 20 Meters (66 ft.)

Get your very own Trijicon RMR Sight Adjustable – 3.25 MOA Red Dot TYPE 2 from Rainier Arms. $499

If you want to get all the advantages the red dot can provide, you need to get the red dot mounted on the side down low so that your presentation doesn’t change dramatically. Then you need to find iron sights that match the height of your dot. When you get this right, you will see your sights, dot or not, under any conditions.

Attaching electronics to the moving slide of a handgun puts them under tremendous stress. Conditions in the field may put water and or dirt in your sight. Batteries eventually run down. Loss of a primary optic can be a devastating loss in a combat, self defense, hunting, or competition. 

Co-Witnessing is the ability to use iron sights in coordination with a red dot or a holographic optic. The point of co-witnessing is to line up the electronic dot with the sight plane of back up iron sights. A proper co witness will allow you to transition seamlessly from your optic to your back up iron sights without shifting your head. 

Absolute co-witness: Both iron sights and red dot have the same point of impact.

The good news is, preparing your pistol and optic to run in coordination with iron sights is easy. if you pick the right gear. With an absolute co-witness, both iron sights and red dot have the same point of impact. The bad news, is that your sight picture can be cluttered with a rear sight, a front sight and a red dot, which could impede your field of view. You have to coordinate your slide cut, red dot sight and iron sight height. If you pick the right components, line of sight coincide and all you have to do is run the trigger.

I decided to go with XS DXT suppressor height sights. In Day-Light, Half-Light, or Low-Light, all you have to do is “dot the i”. Fast, simple and effective. This is the ultimate self defense sight system that provides sights you can see around the clock.

Some instructors advocate blacked out iron sights with red dots. I find that the white dot on the XS DXT stays out of the way, I don’t even notice it when the dot is on, but it is there in any light when I need it. Using the center of the dot up close and the top of the dot for precision, XS sights are fast and practical.   In low light, the dot’s photoluminescent properties produce an intense glow that is visible before the glow from tritium is noticeable. XS products are made in the USA and backed by a 10 year no questions asked warranty.

You can get your XS sights Here $112.57

Once you have your sights installed, zero the RMR and co-witness with your iron sights. It’s important to maintain your skills with iron sights. Co-witnessing doesn’t matter if you can’t shoot with iron sights.

I decided to use a CMC Match Glock 19 Precision Barrel. CMC makes great upgrade drop-in barrels for Gen 3 & 4 Glock 17,19 and 34 Pistols. Precision machined from 416R premium grade stainless steel to extremely tight tolerances and exacting details. 416R stainless steel is recognized for its corrosion resistance, machinability, and high tensile strength; ideal for premium barrel manufacturing.

The pre-hardened 416R stainless steel is stress relieved to an exacting recipe after rifling and final hardness is 38-42 Rockwell C before final barrel profile machining is completed.

100% Manufactured in house, in the great state of Texas, CMC’s propriety in house machining, production and quality control inspection process’s promises an ultra-precise barrel with enhanced slide fit & lock up for improved accuracy.

SAAMI, Match Grade specification chambers, precision cut and finished to a maximum Roughness Average (RA) of 16. CMC barrels are 6 groove, cut rifled, 1:10 Twist Right Hand, fully QC inspected, double honed (rough and finish). Finished bore dimensions are held to  +/- 0.0005″ tolerance from nominal groove and bore dimensions but the dimensions are uniform to within 0.0002 for maximum consistency, accuracy, and quality.

I chose the Black Diamond Like Coating, with ultra-low friction Hexagonal Boron Nitride Bore & Chamber with suppressor threads in 1/2-28 TPI RH.

Barrels are bead blasted to create a satin finish prior to plating and are available in 3 Stainless, Bronze and Black. The barrel dropped right in with a tight lockup. The accuracy did not disappoint.
You can get you CMC barrel HERE. MSRP $210

Streamlight’s TLR Vir II Rail – Mounted Infra-Red Illuminator runs in visible and IR. A recessed three-position mode selector switch selects: IR Illumination/IR Laser, Safe OFF, Visible Illumination

The Streamlight TLR VIR II is a low-profile, weapon-mounted tactical light with integrated IR LED Illuminator/Laser and visible White LED Illuminator. You can transition from white light to IR without having to remove eyes from the target or shift your firing grip. Not everyone has night vision goggles but if you are in this situation, there is nothing better than the TLR VIR. The Infrared Illuminator lights it up and the Infrared Laser marks the target.

  • Click here for Data Sheet
  • Two modes:
    • Visible White LED:
      • 300 lumens; runs 1.5 hours
    • Infrared Illuminator/Infrared Laser:
      • IR Illuminator: 850 nm, 600mW/sr (min) radiant intensity provides optimum illumination when using night vision equipment
      • IR Laser: 850 nm, Class 1, eye-safe with 3 adjustment increment markings; output power less than 0.8mW

No ultimate handgun is complete without a suppressor. The CMC barrel is threaded. I find that compensators on 9mm handguns aren’t noticeably effective. Their biggest advantage is weight forward to reduce flip. A suppressor does that even better and doesn’t disturb the neighbors.

The GSL Stealth suppressor pairs perfectly with SIG Elite Performance 147gr V-Crown JHP

GSL’s 9mm Stealth suppressor has a modular design which mounts on interchangeable adapters. The piston core is ideal for handguns. GSL promises a silencer as good as or better than anything on the market at a lower cost. The Stealth is so versatile, it is the only 9mm can you will need for any application.

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Sound Reduction: 34 dB
  • Length: 6.875”
  • Diameter: 1.375″
  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Finish: Hard Coat Anodized
KCI USA 15 round mags and Norma Envy ammunition were an accurate and reliable combination.

Last but not least, magazines are a vital source of reliability in any build. I have had great luck with KCI USA Glock magazines. The 15 rounders were the perfect finish to this build. Steel lined, they worked well and should hold up for a lifetime.

Build List

Nomad 9 Gen4 Frame

Grey Ghost Precision Glock 19 Gen4 Slide

Trijicon RMR – 3.25 MOA Red Dot TYPE 2

CMC Match Glock 19 Precision Barrel

Glock OEM internals from

Streamlight TLR VIR II Rail – Mounted Infrared Illuminator

KCI USA 15 round Glock Magazines

I could not be happier with this build. I have a friend who bought a new Glock 19 Gen 4 just to have donor parts to build a Nomad 9. You can do better. There are many options on the market now to build the exact gun for your application and price range.

We live in inspiring times. In the 21st century, American manufacturers have combined inspired design with computer-guided production to reach manufacturing excellence unachievable even a few short years ago. Quality has never been higher and prices for a truly custom gun have never been lower. Build your dream.

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About the author: Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

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