Building A Custom Glock Pistol (Part 1)

Shueyby Gene Shuey
AGI Instructor and Master Pistolsmith

Building a custom Glock is a little different than building a custom 1911. There are a few important factors you need to decide in the beginning. This applies whether you’re building a custom Glock for a customer or for yourself.

If you’re building one for a customer it’s a good idea to start by asking a few questions.

Ask them if they have more than one Glock. If this is the only Glock they have, it’s more than likely they are a new gun owner and will need help in deciding all the different options available. But, if they have more than one they probably have a pretty good idea of what they want.

Compact or full-size, 9mm or .45, all Glocks show the potential for customizing.

Compact or full-size, 9mm or .45, all Glocks show the potential for customizing.

The next question I like to ask is what the gun is going to be used for. This is important because sometimes their perception of want doesn’t match the need the gun is going to be used for. It’s like driving a Corvette off-road. A guy may want a Corvette, but if he needs to go off-road with it, it’s not going to work. A customer may want certain things that are designed for competition on his gun that he takes out backpacking in the wilderness.

Glock Carry Guns

The biggest market for custom Glocks is the owner who wants to modify his carry gun. A lot of these customers are first-time Glock owners. They chose a Glock because it’s simple to use, and they’re getting a CCW or a concealed carry permit. For a customer like this I usually recommend several things. I recommend a better trigger job, better sights, and some work on the frame.

For example, the trigger guard is blocky and square, and with prolonged shooting, it can beat your secondary finger. This really becomes an issue if you go to a shooting school and shoot a few thousand rounds in a weekend. You need something there to make the gun more comfortable in your hand. If you plan on doing a lot of shooting but you’re on a budget, you’ll probably want to shoot reloaded ammo. If you reload yourself, or the customer does, you can use cast bullets and plated bullets but you can’t use a standard Glock barrel with these bullets.

Glock Barrels

Here’s why—Glock barrels use polygonal rifling. If you look inside of one, it looks like an octagon. It doesn’t have the raised grooves that we call cut rifling that are found in American rifles and handguns. They do this for several reasons. One, they use hammer-forged barrels, and it’s a much faster, easier, and less expensive process to hammer forge polygon rifling than it is cut rifling. Also Glock was originally designed to be for European police and European military personnel, who only shoot jacketed bullets.

They wanted to be able to shoot jacketed bullets under all kinds of adverse conditions with dirty barrels without losing accuracy or raising pressures with extreme fouling – and sometimes even underwater. It was never designed to be a competition or sporting pistol. When it comes to firearms, the American market is quite different than the rest of the world. We have greater flexibility. We can use the same pistol to shoot all types of competition, hunt, and use it for self-defense.

Other Custom Glock Considerations

There are four things I suggest. Better sights, better trigger, complete grip enhancement with a textured surface to keep it from being slick – and a good after-market American-made barrel. With that, you have a foundation that you can build on for many specific purposes and cosmetic things, as well as functional designs.

More on Barrels and Fit

A Glock chamber is loose and it was designed to be that way. You have two choices when using an American barrel. You have a drop-in or you have a gunsmith fit. Now, I assume that most of you are a gunsmith or training to be one. Don’t be afraid to put in a gunsmith fit barrel. They are not difficult to do. Glocks have a simple design so don’t be afraid to do a little bit of experimenting. However if you really want some advanced help I made several DVD’s on customizing Glocks. They will walk you through all phases of trigger jobs, accurizing, cosmetic work, and a lot more. They will give you a head start on your competition and teach you a lot more than the average person or gunsmith knows about Glocks.

Frame and Grip Enhancement

There are several factors to consider for grip and frame enhancement. You want to make the gun fit your hand as comfortably as possible. When a customer comes in I have multiple Glocks I let the customer hold to see which one fits the best. You can do grip reductions, change the shape of the grip, and take the finger grooves off. The reason for removing the finger grips is because the finger grooves don’t really line up properly for most people. Another reason for removing them is because when you’re drawing the gun out of your holster or picking it up off the counter in a fast fashion – you don’t always grip the gun the way you would if you were to draw it slowly or place it in your hand.

Another thing I will often do is open up the trigger guard. In addition, the trigger guard itself is flat and has some sharp edges on it. I modify it and make it look more like a 1911 or a Sig. I also undercut the trigger guard. That helps get the hand higher up on the gun, which helps reduce some of the muzzle rise and recoil.

Then, last but not least, I usually shape it a little bit different by taking off some of the square surfaces. Most importantly I’ll put a different texture on it.

Some people like to use skateboard tape or another nonskid, adhesive backed material. This works great in improving your grip but you probably don’t want to use it in a carry gun. Skateboard tape will rub or wear out the lining on your jacket, and if you have it on the inside of the pants holster, it’s going to chafe your skin and maybe even cause some bleeding. So for a carry gun, I suggest using a textured surface or the rubberized, textured adhesive backed material. It works well and is nonabrasive. The grip is most important. If you lose your grip when you shoot, you’ve lost your sight picture and your trigger control. For a carry gun, that can be deadly.

It’s often helpful to relieve behind and underneath the trigger guard on the front strap. You can remove some material there and also where the web of your hand fits up underneath the beavertail. Removing some of the polymer there helps get the gun hand higher up — or I should say the gun lower down in your hand.

There are also many ways to texture a grip. You can cut it in, you can use a heating element, you can also use a cutting wheel that’s V-shaped. You can choose the method that best fits your ability.

This is covered in the advanced AGI course. I also show you how to make a template to put the adhesive back rubber on. It works very well and is quite comfortable. I have this on one of my carry guns.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article. Gene will cover sights, barrels, triggers, aftermarket parts, and safeties.


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One Response to Building A Custom Glock Pistol (Part 1)

  1. My own Glock 19 got a better trigger put in it, night sights added and most important a Cominolli manual safety installed.

    As far as a custom barrel, its only needed for extreme competition as most Glocks will shoot as well as most other plasticky pistols if they are being used and or evaluated for self defense.

    The lead bullet myth: I have been shooting Glocks since the 1980’s and have shot mostly but lead bullets out of them. They shoot ever bit as well with lead as they do with jacketed and they actually lead less than deeper cut rifling found in some other brands of pistols but many other brands use very shallow rifling as well. I have shot as many as 200 shots with lead bullets at one sitting and got only some small streaks of leading. A few passes of a bronze brush with Hoppe’s No. 9 is all it takes to clean out the few lead streaks. Any type of rifling, including deep cut rifling, can clog up with excess lead and blow up a pistol. When Glocks do blow up its because they fire from an unlocked position which can be due to a very dirty gun or improperly hand loaded ammo which is exactly why most all manufactures warn against using hand loads in any brand firearm with lead or jacketed bullets. Glocks can fire from an unlocked position with jacketed hand loaded ammo as well but its been the lead reloads that have gotten the blame, often unjustly.

    Just remember when shooting lead out of any gun he bullet must not be undersize to the barrel or extreme leading will result in only a few shots fired that can and will blow up any gun no matter what type of rifling is in the barrel. I often go 3 or even 4 thousandth’s oversize which cuts leading down to almost nothing and makes for an extremely accurate bullet despite the “old gun writer myth” that lead bullets shoot best at bore size or only 1 thousandth over which is not true at all and never has been true period.

    In my tests using nothing more than an empty case with a live primer a Glock will put a dent in the primer when firing from the unlocked position.

    The Glock also has a very weak ignition system as compared to most hammer fired guns something the people who cannot wait to modify their Gocks never seem to understand or want to do something about. It would be nice if we could increase ignition strength somehow without causing other problems but keeping the gun clean and lubed only with a light low temperature lube is about all we can do at the present if the gun is to be used for self defense. If the gun is to be used for a lot of practice then greasing of the outside of the barrel and the slide race ways will prolong the accuracy life of the pistol but harm the guns reliability when used in low temperature or when fired dirty.

    The firing pin channel is also vulnerable because it is open on the underside to debris and this can cause misfires if it is over lubed or dirty in cold weather. In my high primer tests even with glocks with no lube on them failed the high primer test while hammer fired guns that I tested all passed. I did this with empty cases that only had a primer in them not loaded ammo as a blow up could have happened.

    Sig Sauer was aware of Glock’s “weak ignition problems” and its newly designed Model 320 is 90 per cent cocked as apposed to Glocks 67 per cent cocked which is one reason the Military may have chosen it over the Glock for its new pistol.

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