By AGI Student Don Harden
I have always been partial to rifles and shotguns. Those are the guns I grew up with and learned to shoot from my Dad. I remember Dad owned some handguns, but we just never shot them much. Additionally, I couldn’t hit a bull in the butt in a phone booth when trying to shoot any of them!
When I was farming, I taught myself to shoot the Ruger MKI carried in my pickup. Whenever I needed to start up an irrigation engine, I had to wait for pressure to gradually build to avoid splitting the underground line. So, I would shoot at cans. I got to where I could consistently hit empty 22 ammo boxes at about 15 yards. I started taking the Ruger with me on the tractor and began thinning the rabbit population. Moved up to a Colt revolver and learned to shoot it.
After enrolling in the Pro Course, I figured out I needed to learn to work on handguns. After watching Gene Shuey’s DVDs on building 1911s and then Glocks, I was hooked. What a marvelous craftsman Mr. Shuey is! I am astounded by the quality of his work! Okay, I just cannot allow this to go to waste, so I enrolled in the Glock Master class.
I had never owned a Glock before, although one of my daughters is a dedicated Glock owner. It may have something to do with being in law enforcement! My youngest son has several Glocks, but he is a “nut.” How to start? Buy a used one and modify it, or build from parts?
A search of local shops, distributors, and Gun Broker made me decide a combination would work. As Gene teaches, answer some questions before you start.
I decided that perhaps this gun would be just a showcase of what I could do with Shuey‘s guidance. I love the 40 S&W so that would be my caliber choice. I didn’t need a carry gun, so why not a target pistol. A model 35 was my pick and I started gathering parts. For those not familiar with the Glock models, the Model 35 is built on the standard full-size frame but uses a 5” barrel as opposed to the standard 4”.
I found a used Model 17 Frame assembly on Gun Broker and bought it. I purchased a 40 caliber Storm Lake barrel from Brownells. The slide came from Lone Wolf. I was influenced by Gene to add the Cominolli safety kit. I reshaped the trigger guard and the trigger area. I took Gene’s advice and used the trigger that came installed in my used frame. I installed a Ghost 3.5# connector in the Cominolli trigger housing after I gave it a high polish. I then polished the snot out of the trigger bar and firing pin block plunger! In addition, I polished the contact surfaces on the locking block and the barrel ramp, cam surfaces, and hood and chamber. I then applied one of the Cerakote dark greens to the frame.
For parts in the slide, I purchased a titanium firing pin and installed a lighter weight spring on it. I polished the firing pin block to a mirror finish and installed a lighter spring in it. I double checked the extractor for fit and made some slight changes. The rest of the parts in the slide remained stock.
I had just recently obtained a small mill and was anxious to mill my first slide. I liked what Mr. Shuey did to his slide in his video. His treatment was simple, and not terribly hard to duplicate. But, I wanted to cut a window in my slide. That wasn’t hard either. I decided I would follow the example in the video but add my own touches. I could see it would be easy to get carried away with too much machining and took a more conservative approach.
The green Cerakote finish on the frame looked great but how about the slide and barrel? I gave this some thought over a few days. I took into consideration what would be done to the slide as far as the machine work to be done. It just all came together in my mind and I knew what I was going to do. I would do the barrel in gold and do the accents on my slide in gold as well. I polished the sides of the slide to a high luster. I had previously sandblasted the top of the slide to eliminate glare. This gun was coming together nicely, and I sent pictures of the progress to my Glock fanatic daughter. She doesn’t care for 40 calibers and I don’t think she was impressed with the longer barrel and slide, but she said she thought it looked great so far.
It just so happened my wife and I had been planning to go see the kids, so I assembled the gun to show it off. I had not decided on sights at this point, so it had none. I took several other handguns as well, since I knew my kids and grandkids would want to shoot. While we were visiting, my daughter Ashley and her family put us up. They live in a rural area with a few acres surrounding them. They have a safe place to shoot, so we set up some targets. As planned, my law enforcement daughter joined us for the shooting session. I showed her the custom Glock and she was impressed. She asked if she could shoot it. I said sure but there aren’t any sights on it. She just wanted to see how it felt and try the trigger. From about 10 yards she proceeded to put fifteen rounds into about 2”! She said, “nice gun dad.”
After the shooting session, there were a couple of items I wasn’t happy with. First, the trigger pull was too light, and some of my mill work on the slide didn’t suit me. Also, the gold barrel was showing way too much powder residue. Please keep in mind this build was taking place between other work in the shop, so it took about 3 months. During the time I was working on the gun, my daughter Jana had been notified she would be promoted to Captain. She wouldn’t actually get her bars until another Captain retired, which might be another 30-60 days. Jana invited my wife and I to attend the ceremony and I told her I didn’t think my schedule would allow us to do so. There would only be about two days’ notice before the actual ceremony and she is 5 hours from where I live! During the wait, her twin sister and I were discussing the promotion and whether or not I could come to Topeka for the ceremony. In passing, I told Ashley I had been thinking about gifting the Glock to Jana in honor of her hard work! “Oh Dad, she would love it!!” Ashley said. As things worked out, when the day came for the ceremony, I was able to make a mad dash to Topeka and I totally surprised Jana! She was even more surprised when we went to her home and I presented her the Glock. With conditions!! First, she had to let me fit sights of her choice on it. Second, she had to let me correct a mistake I made in machining the slide, and she had to let me have it long enough to put it in our local gun show. We ordered the sights that day.
I brought the gun home and decided that now, it must be perfect! I put the slide back in my mill and changed the V shaped racing stripes on each side to 1/8” wide grooves. Next, I removed the gold Cerakote from the barrel. I polished the 3 flat sides of the chamber area. I removed the Cerakote I had applied on the slide. I then taped it up again and did the Cerakote again. I added a blue stripe where there had been a gold stripe and repolished the sides of the slide to a bright finish. I then took the slide to a local trophy shop and had Jana’s name engraved on it. I returned the gun to Jana 3 weeks later and she was thrilled.
This is without a doubt the most enjoyable custom I have done to date. Even though this is not the first gun I have done for either of my daughters, the learning experience on this one and the pleasure I got from her appreciation was immeasurable.
I guess I will have to build another Glock to use for taking to gun shows. Oh darn!!!! Needless to say, the training I have received from AGI is invaluable in learning what and how to do it right!