A little while ago, I wrote an article on why I choose to carry the Glock 19 over all other concealed carry pistols. It’s a fantastic little gun, but can still be improved, and I’m not very good at leaving good enough alone when I can spend a little more money to make a gun even better! The Glock is so good from the factory that I had to think carefully about my modifications, because I don’t want to make the gun worse instead of better. Here are some areas I’ve addressed with my personal Glock 19, which you might consider as well. I am even going to admit that in one area, I screwed it up and went BACK to the stock Glock part.
Sights: Ditch Plastic, Go Steel
If the Glock has an Achilles’ Heel from the factory, it is the plastic sights. The stock front sight features a white dot and the rear sight a U-shaped white outline which shooters have dubbed the “ball in a bucket” sight picture. Ball in a bucket is simple and works pretty well, but the plastic construction is unfortunate. If you are just shooting your Glock at the range and it never sees any work from a holster, you might do fine leaving it alone. Those of us who carry our Glocks and practice drawing from concealment will soon find the front sight wearing down from scraping against the inside of the holster on the draw and while re-holstering. Worse are the stories of sudden failures where the front sight breaks off entirely, leaving the shooter with a flat slide and nothing to aim with. That may be an internet fish story, I’ve never actually seen that happen with my own eyes, but why chance it? It is my opinion that night sights on a carry gun can be a big benefit, so I went with a full set from Ameriglo. The front dot is your standard green tritium night sight, and the rear dots are amber colored. The amber ones are not as bright, so in low light my dominant eye finds the front sight quickly, and it really stands out. In daytime, I ignore the dots and focus on the shape of the front sight. Because Ameriglo sights are made of milled steel and use tritium inserts from Trijicon, I have complete confidence that they will last. Honorable mention goes to the XS “Big Dot,” which sacrifices precision in favor of an even faster sight picture. My friend Brad swears by his and I can’t fault his reasoning for putting them on his Glock. Lastly, skip the “ghost ring” style sights unless you have tried them and really like them for some reason. Peep sights work great on my AR15, where my eye is extremely close to the rear ring. On a pistol, I didn’t see any advantage to them and boy were they weird to look through after years of shooting with standard pistol sights. At least I was willing to try them.
Trigger: A Step Too Far
The first thing I did with my Glock’s trigger was to carefully polish the engagement areas where metal rubs against metal as the trigger is pulled. This is often called the 25 cent trigger job because you’ll use up twenty five cents worth of polishing materials to do it, assuming you already have them lying around. I was a gunsmith before I came to work for Cheaper Than Dirt, so for me this sort of thing is second nature. First timers will want to be cautious. Make sure that you are polishing metal and not removing metal, you do not want to change any of the engagement angles or the amount of surface area. The idea is to have the same effect as if the gun had fired thousands of rounds and all those parts had rubbed each other smooth over time. That’s all. After polishing the internals my trigger was wonderfully smooth to pull, with a predictable reset that I could feel “click” when the trigger was ready to be pulled again. I should have left it alone there. However, another shooting buddy has a Glock with a Ghost, Inc. 3.5-pound connector installed. It was also a very nice trigger, so I installed one of those too. I thought the combination of my polishing job and the lighter trigger pull could make for an amazing trigger. Folks, this is why we test out each modification with live fire. I’ve trained myself through thousands of repetitions to feel for the Glock’s trigger reset, which is one of the strong points of its firing system. Firing the gun for the first time with the Ghost connector installed went something like this: I would pull this butter-smooth, now very light trigger, and then find the reset, and as soon as the reset clicked the trigger would pull again instantly. As I found myself “milking” the trigger this way, I bump-fired the Glock like a YouTube redneck with a Slide-Fire stock shooting up free ammo. Yee haw! Sure, it was fun to have a Glock dumping off ammo at about 600 rounds a minute as the trigger wiggled back and forth on its reset–yay, a poor man’s Glock 18 machine pistol! However, this is a serious concealed carry gun, not a toy, and the point of having a good trigger is to maximize my control over that gun as I save my own life or someone else’s. A trigger that gives me less control of the gun is nothing but a liability. I removed the Ghost connector, and reinstalled the factory 5.5 pound connector.
Slide Stop And Magazine Release: Vickers Tactical For Subtle Improvements
I like the idea of an extended magazine release to make my reloads faster, but I dislike the factory extended mag release that Glock puts on their big models 34 and 35. It has sharp edges and can scratch up the palm of my left hand as the gun recoils. For a low-round count range session, I can tolerate it, but just barely. Vickers tactical has a better solution. Their mag release extends just a bit more than the factory piece, not too much. It is nicely rounded to prevent scraping on your hands or being accidentally hit. For me its perfect, I still have to shift the gun in my hand just a little bit on the reload to mash down on the mag release, but not nearly as much as with the stock unit that hardly sticks out from the frame at all. I also have a Vickers slide stop installed. We carry the Glock extended slide stop, which again comes installed on the 34 and 35, but I prefer the Vickers. Like the extended mag release, the Vickers slide stop makes subtle changes. Overall it is the same shape as the factory slide stop, but is made of thicker metal, with a bit of a ridge on top and strong serrations underneath. I’ve trained myself over the years to normally avoid the slide stop completely when shooting with both hands– I manipulate the entire slide instead. However, it is still handy to be able to use the slide stop as a slide release with a thumb or trigger finger if I’m shooting one handed. Its also easier to lock the slide open using the Vickers slide stop. Are these parts really necessary? Heck no. Thousands of Glock shooters do just fine without them, and the changes they make to how I shoot are pretty minimal. However, they do optimize the gun and make it just a bit easier to manipulate. They are inexpensive parts and haven’t hurt the Glock’s reliability.
Modifications I Won’t Do
There are a few Glock mods that I am not going to do. I’m not going to swap out any of the internal slide parts. When you dry fire a Glock you get a strange sproing! feeling that some people don’t like. Sometimes folks will swap out strikers and striker springs for aftermarket bits to “fix” that. The problem is that these parts are intended for competition guns and high end shooters. These folks are trying to decrease lock time and do other high-end trickery, and they are willing to pay a bit of a reliability penalty to make magic at the 3-gun match. The titanium strikers and aftermarket springs can cause occasional misfires. On a concealed carry gun, I’m not going to take that chance. I’m a mere mortal and lock time makes no practical difference to me, so all the slide internals are stock and left alone. In fact, all the internals on the gun are factory Glock, I just polished a few areas to help the trigger. Reliability comes first, and I will not do any modification that I think will hurt reliability even in the slightest bit. Another modification I don’t need is the “grip reduction” where folks trim and stipple their polymer frames with heat guns. This pretty much ruins the resale value of the gun (not that I ever plan to sell mine) and for me it’s totally unnecessary, as the Glock 19 fits my hands wonderfully as it is.
A Modification I Might Do
There is not much else to do to the Glock that I haven’t already done. One thing I am considering doing is replacing the standard plastic guide rod with a steel one when the time comes for me to replace the recoil spring. There are a few scary stories about the plastic guide rod breaking. On the other hand, many thousands of Glocks shoot flawlessly with the factory plastic ones and old springs that are beyond their service life. I’m going to do some research on the aftermarket guide rods and whether they have any effect on reliability before I plunk down the bucks for one. This is what I recommend for each of you to do as well–before you modify your concealed carry firearm, do as much research as you can with a mind towards enhancing reliability first and foremost. After you’ve installed the part or done the modification, rigorously test the gun again to make sure nothing has changed for the worse before you start trusting that gun with your life again!
Train hard, and be safe out there.