10 Jun Village Praxis: Why Glock? Recommended Modifications for a Fighting Gun, Part 2 by Andy Rutledge
Publisher’s Note: Here is Part II of the scintillating essay series by Andy on why the Glock very well be the only pistol to give us a path to perfection until the 40watt plasma pistols make their debut. -BB
Glock’s promotional tagline is “Glock Perfection.” Points for hyperbole, but as most of us know, a new Glock pistol is far from perfect. In fact, I have long maintained that a Glock is not a perfect pistol, but it is the perfect pistol hobby kit.
I view a new Glock pistol as a platform for creating a personalized fighting tool that is superior to any other pistol. I believe that it comes out of the box as serviceable, but far from proper. As such, there are a number of modifications that I make to all of my Glock pistols on day one in order to achieve that “perfection” Glock glibly promised me.
In this article I’ll detail mods I believe every Glock pistol needs, some optional ones I can recommend, and a few popular modifications I believe one should never make to their Glock pistols. As stated in Part 1, my evaluations here are couched firmly in the context of a fighting gun. I won’t waste our valuable time here touching on aesthetic or sport-specific mods. Those I mention here are about more comfortably and more effectively meting out startling violence in counterattack with a gun that survives the fight intact.
The Must-Have Mods
Unless the pistol came with the factory iron night sights, and it’s hard to find one that does, the first thing every Glock pistol needs is new sights. I’m still not sure why Glock persists in shipping its pistols with those useless polymer sights, but they do and we must get that crap off the slide and replaced with irons.
Glock’s polymer “U-notch” sights work just fine for sighting. The issue that necessitates replacement is the fact that they’re plastic and cannot hold up to the necessary abuse particular to training and fighting with a pistol. Things that can damage these plastic sights include the pistol falling to the ground; racking the slide on a belt buckle, mag pouch, furniture or other objects; or being bumped against objects on one’s environment while training or fighting. Any of these or other common or uncommon actions can move or even rip Glock’s plastic sights right off the slide. There’s a reason pistols have iron sights and a Glock needs them if it is to be anything more than a static, target-practice gun.
– – –
Here’s a short video showing racking the slide one-handed off my belt. Glock’s polymer sights can’t stand up to this compulsory abuse.
– – –
You won’t have trouble finding replacement sights, as every sight manufacturer makes options for every Glock pistol model. There are all sorts of options to suit your needs or preferences, including blacked-out rear sights, hi-vis front sights, narrow (precision) front sights, fiber-optic sights (I recommend you avoid most of these), glow-in-the-dark sights, Tritium night sights, 3-dot sights, 2-dot sights, lolly-pop sights, ghost-ring sights, and even other configurations.
I mention that you should avoid most fiber-optic sights because most models feature exposed tubes of fiber, necessary for gathering the light that makes them effective as sights. As such, they’re far too susceptible to breakage, as the fiber strings are quite delicate. Unlike most fib sights, Truglo TFX Pro sights do a good job protecting the fiber so that it’s far less apt to be damaged. Since they combine the fiber optic qualities with a hi-vis, contrasting front sight AND Tritium for night-sight ability, they’re one of my two preferred replacement sights.
Sight replacement is not difficult, but it does require specialized tools. Get and learn how to use those tools or instead take your slide and sights to a skilled armorer (found at most indoor gun ranges) for replacement. After replacement, be sure to properly zero your pistol at 25 yards.
Glock’s nickname as a “Block” is well earned. Though the edges of the grip and slide are rounded, the overall shape is that of a rectangle; flat sides, flat top. This un-ergonomic approach makes its most egregious violations in the areas of the main grip area and the junction between the trigger guard and the grip.
The flat-sided grip (left and right) is not too difficult an issue to warm up to, but many shooters simply don’t like it and so they opt for rounder, more ergonomically shaped grips found on other pistols, like M&P, Sig Sauer, Walther, etc. Due to a lack of grip material, it is not really possible to reshape the Glock grip into a rounder-sided version, so this is something we have to live with if we want the best pistol. I don’t have any problem with it, but I hear that some people do.
Where we can make amends is with the trigger-guard-to-grip junction. This area on a stock Glock pistol can cause significant discomfort for most folks after shooting 50 to 100 rounds. It’s just poorly designed, but it’s nothing that a Dremmel tool with a barrel sander head can’t fix in a jiffy. I always contour this area, on both the right and left sides (proper training means shooting righty and lefty!), so that my primary hand middle-finger knuckle can comfortably rest there when I grip the pistol. The comfort difference between a stock Glock and one contoured in this fashion is remarkable. I do this contouring on day one after a purchase (I own 7 Glock 19s) and won’t spend time with a Glock not made to fit my hand.
Every polymer-famed pistol that is a fighting gun needs to be stippled. There is not one made that has proper grip texture out of the box. So stippling is another day-one modification I give every one of my Glocks. I’m well practiced at stippling, but I deem that anyone can do a credible job with just a few moments’ practice (practice on the extra backstraps you’re not going to use). Much is made about the aesthetics of a stipple job, and as a designer I can appreciate such things, but the ONLY thing that matters is the proper purchase on the gun that stippling affords us.
Many pistols’ texture is fine for good purchase when your hands are dry and you’re standing still. But what about when you’re in a fight for your life; when your hands are sweaty, wet from rain, …or bloody? Sweat and especially blood is damn slick. If you’re ever in a gunfight, you’re likely going to get hurt; your hands will be bloody. Try slicking up your hands and performing a malfunction clearance and reload, while running, with a non-stippled gun. I bet you fail 5 out of 10 tries. Stippling can save your life so don’t forget this lifesaving necessity on your Glock.
Glock pistol triggers are not the worst in the world, but they’re certainly not the best. Luckily, there is much one can do to improve on the action of a stock Glock trigger. Advisable modification here is as simple as replacing the 5.5lb connector with a 3.5lb connector. Doing so does not bring the trigger-pull weight down from 5-6 pounds to 3.5 pounds, but it does smooth out the press and reduce the weight to around 4.5 to 5 pounds. It also makes it a bit more mushy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The other thing I can sort of recommend is replacing the trigger shoe with another polymer shoe/safety. I am not fan of the weird, pointy trigger that Glock uses. It’s not very comfortable and that strange shape makes it easier for us to pull or push our press to one side, affecting accuracy. I prefer a flat trigger face. It’s more comfortable and it helps coach me toward a straight-back press. Replacing the shoe alone is certainly an option, but it requires that you destroy the stock shoe. I’ve done it a few times and am confident doing so, but it’s a bit tricky and so while it can be learned in relatively short order, a mistake could mean you have to purchase another trigger bar.
So far as replacement trigger groups or trigger bar/shoe combos go, keep this vital fact in mind: an aluminum shoe/safety found on almost all aftermarket triggers will destroy your Glock’s frame in short order. I’ve had an aluminum shoe/safety destroy one of my Glocks in less than 20,000 rounds. That’s just 4 months of use; and the pistol is entirely useless, destroyed by a $150 replacement part.
The rule is this: plastic moves against plastic, metal moves against metal. Glock got this right and their pistols follow this important doctrine, but many aftermarket manufacturers invite you toward disaster with their stupid, negligently made aluminum replacement parts. Do not violate this polymer-for-aluminum prohibition. And for goodness sake, don’t carry a pistol that does!
I can recommend only one manufacturer’s trigger. That is the McNally trigger. Their trigger shoes are flat and made of polymer; just like Glock intended. They are adjustable for reset, but don’t touch that screw. Leave it as it comes from McNally, unless it won’t properly reset when you install it (I’ve never seen this happen).
Because Glock pistols are so modular and so easily modified, there are some popular modifications that make little sense, as well as some that one should never impose on their carry pistols. The most popular and seemingly innocuous of these is the grip plug. Glock pistol frames are made with an opening behind the magazine well. You need that space in the back of the grip in order to get better purchase on a magazine that is stuck firmly in the gun because of a double-feed malfunction. You can’t clear that malfunction until you get the mag out and if you’ve plugged that hole, you’ll be sorely taxed to remove it. And before some of you think, “but you said Glocks don’t malfunction!” remember that while the Glock seldom if ever malfunctions when properly run, a person can easily induce a malfunction if they’re not doing their job properly.
You don’t need a flared magwell. If you think you need one, it means that you don’t train enough and even with that useless gadgetry you will still suck at speed reloads. The base of the Glock’s grip is just fine for performing a speed reload; it’s you that is flawed. Train to become flawlessly automatic with your reloads. I work reloads into every aspect of my training, even training that is 100% about trigger discipline. Reload the same way every time (more on this in the next article, on recommended practice).
I recommend that you do not replace your takedown bar with one of those extended trapezoidal versions. The extended sharp corners will catch on everything. It’ll also likely destroy your holster. Takedown is not something that has to be done under pressure in fractions of a second. Keep your stock takedown bar and learn to use it well.
Some folks like to have an extended slide-stop lever, mostly because they prefer to use it as a slide release. A primary problem with the extended versions is that they are more easily engaged by a proper grip on the frame and prevent the slide from locking back on the last round of a magazine. I recommend against needing an extended lever and recommend 1) never using it as a release, and 2) learning to use the stock lever well if you do want to use it as a release.
As for maintenance, I’ve written extensively elsewhere on this topic, but can say that several parts in your Glock require regular replacement based on round count. Primarily, replace your recoil spring assembly every 5,000 to 8,000 rounds, your trigger spring every 10,000 rounds, and your slide-lock spring every 10,000 rounds. There’s more you need to replace, so learn when and how to do so.
Your Glock pistol is only the “perfect hobby kit” if you know what needs to be modified, and how, and it’s even better and easier if you know how to do these things yourself. I hope you found this article useful in highlighting those modifications that are efficacious and those that are potentially harmful. I also hope you take time to learn how to perform these operations so that you can extend the joy of owning a Glock pistol to more than just training with it.
In the next article, I’ll discuss some necessary skills and advisable training drills for acquiring and improving your manipulation and defensive skills.
Stay safe, train hard.