From the factory, I was never impressed with Glocks. The chunky ergonomics, trigger stacking, and rattles were enough to keep them out of my collection for over 15 years. I am by no means saying it’s a bad gun, it just wasn’t for me at the time. When I was first looking at striker fired pistols, the XD had just come out and by comparison felt much better in hand. Until now, Glocks were never part of my collection or seriously considered. With all the new aftermarket options available for Glocks, I finally decided it was time to change that, and build a Glock I liked.
Glocks simplicity, and reliability have made it wildly successful in both LE and civilian markets. Its popularity has brought out a vast selection of drop in components and accessories for anyone wanting that custom feel. The only pistol I can think of that has as many aftermarket options available are 1911’s.
I recently won a ZEV Technologies Gen 4 Glock 19 Spartan (currently discontinued) slide with Trijicon RMR cut and a threaded Dimpled Bronze match grade barrel in a local charity raffle. The Spartan slide is machined from billet stainless steel featuring front and rear angled serrations, window cuts on the top edge, and an RMR adapter plate. It looks great with the bronze barrel showing through the windows. I decided to stick with ZEV Tech. for the remaining parts in this build since I already had the barrel and slide. ZEV Tech was nice enough to send me the remaining parts to complete the build and slide. (A complete parts list and links will be at the end) Here’s what they sent me:
These were the first components I acquired and soon after started researching frames.
There aren’t many companies making their own frames- most are customizing Glock factory frames. I wasn’t interested in doing a Polymer 80 build since most of my tools are currently in storage and I wanted a cleaner look. Purchasing a factory frame then having it customized to my liking would be well over $400. Other frames I found were not available and never in-stock. Further research led me to Nomad Defense and their new Nomad 9 Gen 4 Glock 19 frame.
The Nomad 9 frame was designed from the ground-up, improving all aspects of a standard Glock frame. Everything I didn’t care for on factory frames bas been thoughtfully reimagined. Nomad Defense added interchangeable back-straps. Getting a proper grip and fit in your hand is arguably the most important part of being able to shoot a pistol accurately. If you can’t get a good grip and it’s uncomfortable you won’t shoot it well nor want to shoot it. The added rock grip texture paired with front-strap serrations are comfortable in the hand and allows for you to maintain control in all conditions. I have no problems gripping the Nomad 9 while sweating at the range here in Houston.
An extended beaver tail with an undercut trigger guard lets you get an even higher grip for better recoil control. They’ve added textured forward thumb ledges where your support hand thumb rests while shooting. It’s subtle but makes a big difference in keeping the gun in control when shooting. The frame also has a standard 1913 front rail for accessories and an enlarged trigger guard.
Going through my parts I thought I was ready for assembly, but I forgot three key parts- the locking block, magazine release spring, and guide rod assembly! The locking block and magazine release spring are the only two Glock factory parts used in the build. For the guide rod, I purchased a Lone Wolf stainless steel 4th generation guide rod assembly.
Once I got those final parts in, putting it all together was easy. I won’t bore you with the details- there are many videos and articles outlining how to put together a Glock. It’s very simple and requires minimal tools. The only tool I didn’t have was a rear sight pusher – which I ended up borrowing from a friend.
After piecing it together, I mated the frame with slide for a quick function test. I racked the slide, pulled the trigger and everything felt as it should- even better than expected. The Nomad 9 fits my hand well and doesn’t even feel like a Glock- which is a good thing.
The final component to install was the Trijicon RMR Adjustable Type 2 – 3.25 MOA. Removing the torx screws from the slide was the easiest part. Getting the cover plate off was extremely difficult. There is a small lip under the front edge where you can slide a tool between the plate and slide to wedge it out, but I was scared to scratch the slide. I sprayed it with some lubricant hoping it would release from the posts. Several hours later and it still wouldn’t budge. I had to take a flat head wrapped in painters tape to wedge the top plate off.
The RMR comes with a base plate that seals the optic against the slide and prevents moisture from getting in. The plate wouldn’t fit on the slide- the holes for the posts were too small. I had to take a metal step drill bit and bore out the holes on the thin mounting plate for it to fit. It’s not that big of a deal, just annoying. After getting the plate squared away, the RMR sat on the posts with no problem. The completed gun has an aggressive look and only somewhat resembles a Glock.
The RMR sight is crystal clear and the automatic illuminating LED is perfect. The only time I adjusted the LED manually was at 20 yards to get a finer dot for better accuracy. It operates off a single CR-2032 battery and has a battery life of over 4 years of continuous use.
My first range experience was pure joy. I put 200 rounds down the pipe with no failures. The gun cycles flawlessly and the Nomad 9 frame feels like an extension of my hand. It points and shoots naturally. The added thumb shelf and improved grip angle make it enjoyable to shoot all day. The extended beaver tail and undercut trigger allowing for a higher grip make a huge difference over the stock frame.
Zeroing the RMR was simple and only took 20 rounds for me to get it dialed in. I started at 10 yards and shot a group of five, adjusted the RMR, and shot another five rounds. I made my final adjustments and the next five round group was right on target. I sent the target to 20 yards and confirmed my zero was still on target. Once you get it zeroed, it’s almost silly how accurate it is. I’ve let several people and friends shoot it at the range and everyone ends with a huge smile and one big ragged hole down range.
For me, the RMR points naturally and every time I aim the gun the red dot is there. I don’t have to search for it. The rounded corners on the optic allow it to be snag free if you wish to concealed carry.
The ZEV Pro trigger has a smooth take up and a short crisp break. The reset is positive and quick. Using a Wheeler Pro Digital Trigger Gauge (not impressed), I measured the trigger weight to average just under 4 pounds. The factory trigger on a Gen 3 Glock 19 I measured at 5 pounds. ZEV’s match grade dimpled barrel has proved to be accurate during all my sessions. I’ve put just under 1,000 rounds through it with no issues. At least 250 of those were suppressed.
Inspecting the gun after use, the finish on the inside of the slide is wearing slightly from the barrel, but doesn’t seem to be getting any worse. Everything seems to be in good shape and no extra wear is appearing on other components.
The Spartan slide always get’s compliments when I’m at the range. I found myself using the front and rear cocking serrations with ease and they are made to be snag free for concealed carry. And because it still has the Glock form factor, you can use any Glock 19 holster for it.
I’m more than satisfied with how the build turned out, and there is nothing I would change. The only thing the Nomad 9 frame lacks is the ability to add an aftermarket magwell. Which come to find out is in development and should be released soon! So I really have no complaints on this frame.
It was fun building and piecing together my own gun, but it does get pricey. Total build cost without the Trijicon RMR would be right at $1,550. Still cheaper than buying a custom gun off the shelf or direct from ZEV, but only you can decide if it’s worth it. Had I not won the slide and barrel, I’m not sure I would have ever built my own. I’m glad I had the experience and I’m already working on my next build featuring an aluminum Glock frame!
You can find the Nomad 9 frame exclusively at Rainier Arms for $200 without the locking block or $224.95 with it. It’s a perfect choice for anyone looking to upgrade their factory Glock or build their own “Gucci Glock.”
- Nomad 9 Frame with locking block
- ZEV Parts:
- Glock Magazine Release Spring
- Glock Slide Lock Spring
- Trijicon RMR Type 2 Adjustable
- Magpul Magazines