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

Sights

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.

Frame Contouring

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.

Stippling

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.

Optional Mods

Triggers

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).

Do-Not-Do Mods

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.

Conclusion

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.

Bill Buppert
thirdgun@hotmail.com
19 Comments
  • Wysharpshooter79
    Posted at 19:21h, 10 June Reply

    Mr. Rutledge,
    Do you have an email address I can send you some questions about Glocks? Was looking forward to reading this all day. Good to hear there will be a third part. Thanks.

  • Pingback:Recommended Mods For The Glock | Western Rifle Shooters Association
    Posted at 05:24h, 11 June Reply

    […] Buppert sends. […]

  • David LeVeck
    Posted at 07:21h, 11 June Reply

    Got my first 17 in 1987, for Dept evaluation. Fell in love! Your evaluation is spot on, we must have same size hands (19, middle finger knuckle- blisters unless contoured). Great article, great advice!

  • tinvowoot
    Posted at 07:35h, 11 June Reply

    Please elaborate on why you don’t recommend using the slide stop lever to release the slide when locked back.

    • B1B
      Posted at 08:50h, 11 June Reply

      I am curious about this as well.

      Wonderful article and this series is especially timely for me as I have just purchased my first Glock — a G19 gen 4 for concealed and open carry.

    • Andy Rutledge
      Posted at 12:47h, 11 June Reply

      Sure, there should be one way and one way only that one practices to manipulate the slide of a pistol. It should be fast, firm, and sure every time you do it; whether you’re reloading during slow precision practice or in a practical force-on-force encounter or a speed reload during a match. If you manipulate the slide during a malfunction clearance (bad primer, stovepipe, whatever) by grabbing with your support hand–as you’re supposed to/must do–that is your ONE way to manipulate the slide, even for reloads.

      There is a camp that says gross motor skills are better than fine motor skills when you’re gassed and fighting for your life, but others disagree. What no one can disagree on is that you will do what you practice thousands of times. If you practice different ways you induce indecision and action confusion when your body is running on auto and you’re thinking HOLY SHIT I’M FIGHTING AND HURTING AND BEING SHOT AT. I prefer to rely on unconscious, automatic, sure mechanics that I do every time I interact with my slide.

      • B_Rad
        Posted at 21:47h, 11 June Reply

        Wow, I normally agree with everything you type. I need to part ways with you here. On a mag swap releasing the slide lock saves a butt load of time. If I have a malfunction it’s a shock to my little brain on the onset. Appropriate critical action is required. Now I need to think. Just saying, either way it’ll cost you time. Yet another reason to carry a Glock. Keep up the good work bud.

        • Andy Rutledge
          Posted at 03:11h, 12 June Reply

          Thanks. It’s not about time, it’s about competence and unconscious habit. That said, I’ll bet my mortgage that I can effect a reload and rack the slide and get rounds back on target far faster than you can do so using your thumb. 🙂 And when I’m flustered and harried and gassed or fighting for my life I don’t have to think about anything. I just automatically do what I do 200 to 300 times every week, 52 weeks a year. Cheers!

  • Wysharpshooter79
    Posted at 11:13h, 12 June Reply

    Hey Andy,
    So racking the slide instead of using the slide release is more of a matter of training and repetition? I thought I had read somewhere that Glock had said not to use the slide release due to it wearing out the hold open notch on the slide. Have you heard the same thing? Thanks.

    • Andy Rutledge
      Posted at 02:38h, 13 June Reply

      Training and repetition matter, but it’s more a matter of surety. As for wear, you will not so much wear out the notch on the slide as you will wear the catch location on the slide-stop lever. It will get to the point where it won’t hold. This happens anyway and that part must be replaced in time. But if you use it as a release, it happens rather quickly.

  • StormN
    Posted at 09:48h, 13 June Reply

    Iron sights sounds like a good idea. And the trigger guard to grip mod for the middle finger. It’s now on my to-do list. Thanks.

    I don’t like the Glock trigger guard, the grip finger grooves, and I don’t recommend stippling on a Glock. Regarding the trigger guard, My trigger finger experiences too much friction at the end of the trigger pull. Because of recoil (10mm) my finger tends to slip down the almost straight trigger. I have a hunch the too-small trigger guard opening is designed as a substitute for that curved trigger. It has helped for me to dremel the bottom of the guard by more or less 1/16″ which has given me some welcome relief from friction but alas the slipping trigger finger is more pronounced. In combat, particularly in cold weather, you better not have any glove covering that trigger finger.

    Finger groves – dremel those suckers off. Stippling can too easily weaken the grip. While polymer is proven to be tough, you may have noticed that the grip is of very thin dimensions. Thus we can double stack 45’s with comfort. But I don’t think there is much room for error and stippling needs too much of it. ‘Sandpaper’ stickons seem to work for me but make sure that hot temperatures and frequent usage don’t overwhelm the glue. Ergo no cheap glue or cheap products.

  • Devin S
    Posted at 12:19h, 13 June Reply

    So Andy, you didn’t mention Extended Mag Releases, I just put one in my Gen 3 19 from Tyrant Arms. I can’t reach the mag release with my thumb one handed, I have to partially hold the pistol with my left hand to be able to twist my right hand enough to reach the mag release. Once I added the extended release I could do it one handed no problem, weird issue I guess. Anyway, do you think that is an acceptable upgrade?

    Also, I added an XS Big Dot immediately after buying my 19 and it made a night and day difference, but what do you think about those sights? Also, I never saw you make any suggestions for iron sights, you just had a picture of some crazy looking sight, what do you suggest?

    Lastly, I have a bit of an issue with my little finger coming off the bottom of my 19 grip, what would you suggest for that issue? It’s fine if you say more training is the answer, I know I need it, but I want to make sure I am practical. I’ve considered switching to a 17, but I have yet to actually hold one to see if it fits better or not.

    • Andy Rutledge
      Posted at 18:24h, 13 June Reply

      Hi Devin,
      I did mention to not use an extended slide-stop lever. You can read that part of the article for info on why.

      I don’t make recommendations for specific sights because they’re specific to the individual’s needs and preference. Glad you like yours.

      If your pinky coming off the bottom of the grip is a problem for you, switching to a 17 or a 19x or a 45 would seem to be a good choice; all have longer grips. If it doesn’t bother, you, stick with the 19. But keep training!

      • Devin S
        Posted at 11:38h, 14 June Reply

        OK, that makes sense. I assumed you meant the slide release lever, so you mean the mag release?

  • Anthony
    Posted at 10:24h, 15 June Reply

    I have never liked striker fired hand guns.
    If I were ever to have such an evil piece of plastic and metal in my house, it would be one with an exposed hammer and exposed safety of the 1911 and similar variety. In the end, have and carry what you are comfortable with. As with many things made today, why is the Glock in need of several hundred dollars of modifications? Why does Glock not incorporate the needed modifications to the original platform? It is the same problem with the original 1911 which spawned other manufactures like Kimber etc to incorporate the needed improvements. For just a few more dollars at most, hand guns such as Glock would be great rather than adequate.

    • Bill
      Posted at 15:46h, 15 June Reply

      But here’s the rub, if you made none of those improvements, the Glock would still be among the most reliable fighting pistols.

  • Tom Woodrow
    Posted at 20:42h, 21 June Reply

    Ummm

    That^

Post A Comment