Here's How to Rock Your Glock

Thanks to an unseemly selection of aftermarket products, we evaluate a few straight-forward upgrades for your Glock.

Here's How to Rock Your Glock

As of 2015, reports show Glock pistols coming out of U.S. production facilities at the approximate rate of 250,000 per year.

That number gets blurry because only frames, slides and barrels are made in the United States. Everything else is manufactured in Austria, as are more frames, barrels and slides. As a result, some Glocks are assembled in the United States while others are produced in Austria and imported. 

The net-net of all this math is that hundreds of thousands of Glocks enter the market every year, which also means many of the gun owners reading this article own Glock pistols. And one of the side benefits of so many Glock owners is the vast array of aftermarket opportunities for functional, performance and even cosmetic upgrades.

If you’re a guy (or gal) who doesn't mind taking apart your pistol, then you’ll want to read on. Let’s evaluate some fairly straight-forward upgrade opportunities. All of these upgrades can be done with a few basic, affordable tools and just a bit of know-how.

Barrels

A standard Glock 19, .40 S&W to 9mm conversion, and threaded and fluted barrel. Photo: Tom McHale
A standard Glock 19, .40 S&W to 9mm conversion, and threaded and fluted barrel. Photo: Tom McHale

Glock barrels are pretty darn good right out of the box, so why would anyone want to spend their hard-earned dollars to replace what they already have? 

There are four good reasons:

Swap Calibers. Glocks haven’t exactly made their reputation by offering radically different models over the years. In fact, many of them are virtually indistinguishable from one another. The fact that a Glock 17 looks exactly like a Glock 22 offers an opportunity. As just one example, changes in caliber agency preferences are resulting in a glut of Glock 22 .40 S&W pistols.

Say you own one of those .40 S&W pistols and would, instead, prefer a 9mm? No problem — and no need to swap guns. Just purchase a conversion barrel such as the Glock 22/32 to 9mm model. The Lone Wolf example carries an MSRP of $99.95 and provides a “no gunsmithing” installation. You’ll want to swap out the recoil spring and magazines for reliable function, but those are also field stripping only changes.

Silence! So the Hearing Protection Act still hasn’t passed, but suppressors remain a compelling upgrade, even with the onerous $200 tax stamp requirement. Few pistols come with threaded barrels, a “suppressor” option is feasible for your existing everyday gun. It’s a drop-in and out operation. Drop in the extra threaded barrel for range outings and switch back to the standard for concealed carry, duty or home defense use.

This Glock 19 has a Lone Wolf Alpha Wolf barrel installed. It offers not only threading but also fluted cuts. Photo: Tom McHale
This Glock 19 has a Lone Wolf Alpha Wolf barrel installed. It offers not only threading but also fluted cuts. Photo: Tom McHale

Get the Lead Out. We’ll stay out of the controversy over whether shooting lead bullets from a Glock barrel will cause imminent global disaster. The fact is that the polygonal rifling of Glocks isn’t as lead friendly as traditional cut rifling patterns, so the practice is generally frowned upon. No worries, most replacement barrel manufacturers such as Apex and Lone Wolf offer products that are just fine to use with lead bullets.

Make it Personal. On a stock pistol, a jazzed-up barrel with cosmetic cuts and finish doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because you can’t see it. However, when combined with a slide upgrade, it can be a sexy addition. With a stock slide, this barrel upgrade doesn’t make as much sense. However, when you combine it with a custom cut slide, a fluted barrel becomes much more compelling.

Performance Upgrades

Part of the benefit of Glock’s standardization over the years is that many parts and components are compatible across models and even generations. That makes it easier to install pieces and parts like takedown levers, extended slide releases, firing pins and more.

Titanium Firing Pin. Here’s a performance upgrade with safety and accuracy benefits. An ultra-light firing pin reduces striker weight by more than 60 percent, offering the reduced likelihood of a drop discharge. The lower weight also reduces lock time by more than 30 percent so, in theory, there is less opportunity to come off target between the time you press the trigger and the bullet leaves the muzzle.

Installation is easy and requires nothing more than a pin to relieve pressure on the firing pin spring. Just press down (toward the muzzle) on the spring spacer sleeve so you can remove the slide cover plate. Once that’s out, the striker and spring replacement is a drop-in swap.

Slide Cover Plates. While you’re replacing the firing pin, how about personalizing the slide cover plate? Dozens of colored and engraved options are available, and it’s a low-risk way to personalize a pistol. As with the firing pin upgrade, installation requires nothing more than a punch or pin to relieve spring pressure while you slide the old one out and the new one in.

When installing a new slide plate, use the pin punch to first depress the firing pin spacer sleeve and lastly the extractor spring. Photo: Tom McHale
When installing a new slide plate, use the pin punch to first depress the firing pin spacer sleeve and lastly the extractor spring. Photo: Tom McHale

Extended Slide Stop/Release. An easy and dramatic performance upgrade opportunity is to swap the standard slide release/lock lever with an enlarged one. The factory part is subtle and recessed. That can make a quick slide release a bit uncertain, and therefore slow. As with other simple upgrades, this one requires nothing more than a Glock Armorer’s tool (pin punch). Investing in a couple of tools like the Real Avid Accu-Punch set and Apex Tactical Armorer Block will make this job easier.

An extended slide stop provides a longer surface and extended bump for sure operation. It's a small change that creates a big usability improvement. Photo: Tom McHale
An extended slide stop provides a longer surface and extended bump for sure operation. It's a small change that creates a big usability improvement. Photo: Tom McHale

Trigger Upgrades. A good trigger does nothing to change the mechanical accuracy of a pistol, but it goes a long way toward making one easier to shoot well. Once you get the hang of how a Glock pistol functions, upgrading components such as the trigger system become straightforward operations. (One way to gain knowledge and increase your familiarity with the way a Glock works is by taking an armorer’s training course.)

The standard Glock has a definite “service” feel by design along with a 5.5-pound pull weight. Whether you’re looking for a lighter and smoother trigger for competition or just an improved one with adequate weight for defense use, there are a lot of options out there.

Three simple components can be mixed and matched to provide the precise trigger weight and action you want. A new trigger face can offer adjustable pre- and over-travel along with an improved feel and cosmetic improvement. Swapping out the connector bar can adjust the pull weight up or down from the standard 5.5 pounds while improving the feel. The trigger spring can also impact pull weight by providing more or less assistance to the trigger press motion.

So, what do you get from a trigger component upgrade?

One of my Glock 19 Gen IV pistols averaged a 5.75-pound trigger weight. Before the break, I could feel about 3/8 inch of gritty take-up. At that point, I hit a shelf of higher pressure followed by 1/4 inch additional travel before the break. The reset occurred after 1/4 inch of let-off. After installing the trigger upgrade (a service weight connector) the press was right near 4 pounds, the grit was gone and overall travel shrank to 3/16 inch. The trigger resets with just 1/8 inch forward travel. Quite an improvement.

These three different trigger connectors offer three different choices of weight and trigger sensation. The six-pound trigger spring reduces the pull weight by assisting the press motion. Photo: Tom McHale
These three different trigger connectors offer three different choices of weight and trigger sensation. The six-pound trigger spring reduces the pull weight by assisting the press motion. Photo: Tom McHale

Whether you love Glocks or hate them, their pervasiveness and reliability as a platform have created a seemingly boundless market for aftermarket parts and upgrades. Whatever the component, someone out there has designed an alternative that performs the desired function differently and sometimes better.

Maybe it’s a good time to consider some of the things you can do with your “plain ol’ pistol.”


If you'd like to make any of the Glock upgrades mentioned but hesitate to do the upgrades yourself, consider having a gunsmith or your local gun shop do the work for you. Many shops offer such services at reasonable rates. 

A version of this article was originally published in Tactical Retailer magazine. 


Featured photo caption: This Glock 19 has a Lone Wolf Alpha Wolf barrel installed. It offers not only threading but also fluted cuts. (Tom McHale)
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