I bought my first Glock on a whim a few months ago. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent a good long time carrying my 1911 and loving every bit of it, but after years of hearing about the Glock’s reliability and charm, I walked into my local gun shop and scooped up a Generation 3 G19 on sale, arguing to myself that I’d need to OWN one to really be able to put it through its paces and figure out if it lives up to its reputation.
Now that I’ve spent a few months rattling through different kinds of ammunition, I’ve come to my conclusion: Glocks are great, but they’re better if you make them your own.
Now, modifying your everyday carry pistol isn’t something you should take lightly. Anything you do that could compromise the pistol’s ability to function reliably could mean certain death in a fight for your life, and as cool as some doodads look, if you’re not accustomed to using them, they just become extra weight when the going gets tough and you don’t have time to break out the instructions that came with your new laser sight. That being said, there are a ton of awesome modifications you can make to most model Glocks – and perhaps more importantly for the shooter on a budget – you can do them without having to enlist the services of a gunsmith.
Remember, anytime you change the way your weapon fires, you’ll need to spend commensurate range time working out how to use those changes to improve your draw time, accuracy, or familiarity with the way the weapon now handles.
So without further ado, here are the first five modifications I recommend you make to your own Glock – in order of importance (as far as I’m concerned):
Aftermarket sights. Okay guys, I know Glock owners love their guns, but can we agree that the sights that come on the weapon are pretty crappy? I’m not insulting your sister, I’m just making an observation about the cheap hunks of plastic they stuck on the top of what genuinely is one great handling pistol. It’s a weak point that needs to be addressed if, like me, you want to impact the paper exactly where you tell the gun to, instead of in the general vicinity.
The stock sights on my Glock 19 continuously impacted the target low and left, regardless of my efforts to adjust grip, trigger squeeze, and even switching from my usual modified Weaver stance in hopes a classic Isosceles one would straighten things out… to no avail. Passing the pistol around to my buddies confirmed two things for me: one was that the sights were indeed low and left, and two, that even my friends that were disgusted at my switch to 9mm were pretty impressed with my new EDC.
I opted to go with the TRUGLO TFO, because I live in the woods and the only times I’ve ever felt the need to grab a gun on my way out the door has been the result of some decidedly angry animal sounds in the vicinity of my little pup. They glow great in even the darkest of overcast Georgia nights and honestly, gave the entire pistol a meaner looking profile. They were, however, the most expensive modification I’ve made to my pistol, ringing in at around $120, and in the interest of total disclosure, I opted to have the local shop install them for free when I ordered them, instead of dropping another thirty bucks on a rear sight tool. If you’re interested in doing the swap yourself (with or without the tool) there are lots of YouTube tutorials out there to help.
Super Heavy Tungsten Guide Rod. After years of shooting .45s, I loved the comparative drop in felt recoil when putting together rapid fire shot groups with my 9mm Glock… which made me greedy. After speaking to a few law enforcement friends of mine, I decided to try the heavy guide rods offered by The Glock Store – and was pretty pleased with the purchase.
Using a heavier guide rod places more weight near the nose of the pistol, reducing the muzzle flip you experience while managing each round’s recoil. In effect, it keeps the nose of the pistol down a bit more, so you don’t have to make nearly as much of a correction when firing multiple rounds in quick succession. The result is a tighter group at just about any distance – though it’s worth noting that it does increase the overall weight of the pistol a bit and won’t make a bad shooter any better.
When purchasing an aftermarket guide rod, you’ll be replacing the spring as well. I chose to stick with the 18-pound spring, but you may opt for a lighter or heavier one. Really talented shooters can use different weighted springs to improve their speed and accuracy by choosing a weight that compliments their firing cadence, but us mere mortals may opt for a lighter spring if we have trouble racking the pistol (such as those of us getting a little long in the tooth or suffering from a disability) or a heavier weighted spring for heavier loaded hunting or self-defense rounds. The swap is about as easy as can be – just drop it in place of the stock spring and guide rod the next time you clean the weapon.
Sticky up the grip. I’m a Vermont boy by nature, so living in Georgia means being uncomfortably hot, pretty much all the time. After a few hours of shooting, that can translate into sweaty palms and a surprisingly slippery grip on the pistol. At a range, that might just mean wiping your hands on your pants every now and then, but in a survival situation, it could mean a whole lot of trouble.
They sell lots of options when it comes to improving your grip on your Glock. I opted to go with a cheap sleeve that gives the pistol a softer, but no less sturdy feel in your hand. They also make stick-on grips that you can pick up for just a few bucks. I chose a removable sleeve in large part just because I knew I’d muck up trying to align anything that sticks on and the pistol would end up looking silly.
Some folks opt to use things like a Dremmel tool to chew up their grips and make them easier to keep a handle on, but if I worried about my ability to apply stickers, I certainly shouldn’t be attacking my new toy with any power tools. For $5, the sleeve does a great job, and I can yank it off if I ever decide to go another way.
Swap out the little things. This one is sort of cheating, because it may actually amount to multiple purchases for you – as it will for me. The Glock is incredibly easy to field strip and clean, but the slide lock isn’t the easiest thing for you to get a good grip on – especially on a brand-new pistol. To remedy that, you can purchase extended or angled replacement slide locks that drop right into the pistol and can make it much easier to break the gun down quickly. Well worth it at around $10.
I opted to use an angled, but not extended slide lock. It doesn’t stick out any further than the stock slide lock did, but it’s much easier to catch and pull with even the biggest and dumbest of fingers. Although I haven’t done so yet, I also intend to buy an extended magazine release, as even with fairly big hands, I still have to adjust my grip on the pistol to hit the button – something that can really slow one’s fast reload time down.
Get some custom bling. Okay, I know some of you will hate the little customizations I’ve added to my pistol – but that’s what I love about them. The Glock 19 may be the most commonly purchased pistol in the country, but thanks to the subtle (and not as subtle) changes I’ve made to mine, it’s easy to pick out a line up. I grew up as a car guy, and always felt as though a car wasn’t really mine unless I did something to it to make it unique – even if it’s something small. I had to do somethings to my cars that screamed “this one’s mine!” And I’m no different with guns.
In my case (and you might laugh) I added a Batman symbol to my slide cover plate and a Gadsden flag as a grip plug. Yeah, I know Batman doesn’t use guns – but I do.
Each of these little trinkets only cost around five bucks, but they went far in setting my G19 apart from the rest of the crowd, which admittedly may not be as important to you. Seeing as I carry my pistol most of the time, I like how uniquely mine it is as a result of just a few bucks and five minutes with a screwdriver. I bought mine on Amazon, but you can also get custom ones made for less than twenty dollars – which I think is pretty neat.
So what comes next? Now that I’ve got the bug, I’ll likely swap out the trigger setup (which is honestly a bit squishy despite being fairly broken in) and maybe even add a match grade barrel (not because I’m so deadly accurate that I’ll fully appreciate the change, but because they tend to hold up to more abuse). Of course… I’ll have to wait until my wife stops asking questions about where all our money went first…
But I’ll report my findings all the same.
Feature image courtesy of Range365