May 17, 2023
Glocks are the most popular pistol design in America. Between Glock itself and the increasing number of clones, if you own a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol in this country, chances are it’s a Glock in name or form. Glock advertises that their pistols are “perfection,” but in truth, they’re lacking in just about every area other than reliability. That is why you see so much custom work done and so many clones with non-factory features.
There are reasons to buy a clone (modular frames with a different grip angle, more stylish slides), but there are also reasons not to. No Glock copy is more reliable than the original, and with some of the clones, there’s a recommended “break-in” period. And then there’s the fact that many people don’t even know about: the frame material itself. While the modular frames provide a number of functional improvements, they’re stiffer. The polymer in factory Glock frames is just about the softest polymer found in any firearm anywhere, which means the frame flexes more when shooting, absorbing more recoil. This combined with the low bore is what makes Glock pistols so controllable.
This means that even in today’s market flooded with clones, buying an actual Glock and having work done is a valid option. In fact, that’s my preferred and recommended route. One of the most well-known companies doing custom work on Glock pistols is Wilson Combat.
I know — Wilson Combat is known as a custom 1911 company, but they’ve been doing custom work on competing handgun designs for years. Wilson Combat offers a wide range of services if you want to improve or customize your Glock. I had a new Gen 3 Glock 19 at home and recently sent it to Wilson Combat for them to perform their magic. While Glock is currently on their 5th generation, there are still more 3rd Gen guns than any other. In part, that’s because Glock is still making Gen 3 guns. They are my favorite, as the finger grooves on the frame feel like they were made for my hands.
Let’s cover the work done to the pistol in what I think is the order of importance and review why you might want them to do the same to your Glock.
1. Action Tune (Trigger Job)
It wasn’t until the 5th generation that Glock trigger pulls began to approach the pull weights advertised. Since the introduction of their pistols in the 1980s, Glock has been claiming that the trigger pulls are “~5.5-lbs.” That has never been true until recently. Glock Gen 1 through 4 pistols are equipped with 5.5-pound connectors, which provide trigger pulls at or above 7 pounds. The factory trigger pull on my Gen 3 Glock 19 was 7 pounds.
Even the 5.5-pound trigger pulls found on Glock Gen 5 guns are too heavy in my opinion. Once you’ve internalized the four rules of gun safety, including keeping your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target, you better understand that lighter trigger pulls are safe and allow you to shoot faster and more accurately.
Jeff Cooper thought 3 pounds was the perfect trigger pull weight for a 1911, but that pistol was an entirely different animal. In my experience, it’s relatively easy to bring a Glock’s trigger pull down to 3.5 pounds or so without compromising reliability, but below that, things get iffy.
Wilson’s standard “Action Tune” polishes your factory trigger parts, replaces the connector with an Apex piece, and lighter striker and trigger return springs are installed. This provides trigger pulls between 3.5 to 4.5 pounds. When the pistol was returned to me, the 7-pound trigger pull was reduced to a crisp 4.25 pounds. From experience, I know that a few thousand trigger pulls will shave another quarter-pound off that pull.
2. Front and Rear Sights
The polymer factory sights of the G19 are hot garbage.
Now let me equivocate a bit. The factory sights are simple and work, but anyone who knows anything understands how flawed they are. The best description I’ve heard of them by people who understand their quality is “dovetail protectors.”
The Glock factory sights pair a post front with a notch rear. The front sight has a large white dot, and the rear sight has a white outline around the notch. If you line up the top of the front sight with the top of the rear, the bottom of the white dot is cut off. If you can see the entire dot, as is your natural inclination while aiming, your front sight will be elevated, and you’ll hit high. Beyond that basic design flaw, which hasn’t been corrected after nearly 40 years, the sights are made of easily-damaged plastic.
The Glock dovetail protectors were replaced with steel Vickers Elite Battlesights, designed by special forces veteran Larry Vickers and made by Wilson Combat. The front sight has a serrated ramp and a tritium insert. The rear sight has a generous U-shaped notch that’s wide enough for the right amount of daylight around the front sight with a tritium insert at the bottom of the U. The front of the rear sight has a vertical face, so you can rack the pistol one-handed if necessary.
Wilson Combat also does slide cuts for optics. Red-dot-equipped pistols are the new hotness, and if you can’t see your sights at all, red dots are a valid option. Aside from that, I feel the disadvantages of red dots for carry/duty guns outweigh the advantages, which is why you don’t see one on this gun.
3. Stipple the Frame
On later generations, the texturing on Glock frames has improved. On Gen 1 through 3 guns, the texturing is, shall we say, sub-optimal.
It was the lack of traction on Glock frames that caused the explosion of stippling on polymer-framed handguns. But traditional stippling is done by hand, with a soldering iron or similar heat tool. It is both labor intensive and time consuming, and that cost is passed on to the consumer. It’s great fun to do yourself, at home, to customize your gun, but for a company who wants to lower costs and speed production, hand stippling isn’t great.
Wilson Combat is the first company I’m aware of that used lasers to do grip texturing/stippling on Glocks. Using lasers to cut patterns into the polymer grips is genius. It’s quicker, and you can get patterns just not possible when doing it by hand.
Wilson Combat’s gun surgeons stippled the sides of the frame with their starburst pattern. It is noticeably more aggressive than the factory texturing on the side panels and will keep your hand in place without chewing through your skin or the fabric of your covering garment.
At this point, I should mention that after all the work was done on the pistol, Wilson treated both slide and frame to a black Armor-Tuff finish. I’ve got enough time behind Glocks that I immediately felt the difference of the Armor-Tuff. It’s a little rougher under the hand than the factory plastic, but you want that. You don’t want slick surfaces where you’re gripping the gun, which brings us to our next addition.
4. Front Cocking Serrations
Glock has tried out various steel finishes over the years, but as a general rule, the slides of Gen 3 guns are slick. Combine that with the lack of forward cocking serrations, and trying to work the slide from anywhere but the rear could be a pain. As a quick/inexpensive workaround, I occasionally saw people slap friction tape on the sides of their slides, but this doesn’t work with a lot of holsters.
Wilson Combat machined cocking serrations into the front of the slide identical to those found at the rear: seven flat-bottomed serrations with the identical dimensions (at least on the right side). Aesthetically, I really like the way this looks.
The Armor-Tuff finish adds a little bit of grip as well, compared to the slick factory finish, so the end result is a slide that is easier to cycle, no matter where you’re gripping it.
5. High Cut Under Triggerguard
The Glock triggerguard already has a bit of an undercut, but that polymer triggerguard is thick enough to shave down without compromising strength, hence the more aggressive undercut done here.
The Glock already has a very low bore, and as I said, that’s the main reason for the shootability and popularity of the design. It’s basic lever/fulcrum physics; the lower the bore, the less muzzle rise you’ll get with each pull of the trigger. That’s doubly important on light, polymer-framed pistols. If there was any extra material at the rear of the frame, Wilson (and everyone else) would be doing relief cuts on the backstrap as well, to get the pistol sitting as low as possible in your hand.
6. Slide Top Serrations
Serrating the top of the slide became popular with custom 1911s. Ostensibly, it’s done “to reduce glare,” but unless you’ve got a high polish blue finish and shooting outdoors in the desert, this won’t be an issue. Instead, serrating the top of the slide simply looks damn good. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Glocks, as they come from the factory, are ugly. The beauty is in their performance. Slide-top serrations help to pretty them up.
You can’t see the serrations when you’ve got the sights lined up, but as you’re presenting the pistol to target, that landing strip machined atop the slide might help draw your eyes to the front sight, so that’s a good thing.
The folks at Wilson also did a few extra tweaks to the gun not on the above list. The factory striker plate at the back of the slide has been replaced by one with a Wilson Combat logo. The WC logo has also been etched atop the slide, just forward of the rear sight. And sharp eyes might notice that the front of the slide has been radiused just a bit, for easier holstering.
You’ll notice none of the work done to the pistol has been to improve reliability. Glocks are eminently reliable. Where they lack is in controls/features and looks. People buy Glocks in spite of their looks, not because of them. Their most well-known nickname is “Tactical Tupperware.” Adding a little bit of style and flair to the lines of a Glock, to personalize it in addition to prettying it up and making it more user-friendly, is now common. Wilson Combat can do anything you need done. In fact, I’ve only covered maybe half of the custom work they offer on Glocks.
The work you see here, including the night sights, added up to $995 atop the cost of a new G19. If you compare that to the cost of a new “custom” gun, you’ll see it’s very competitive. The end result was a completely custom Glock 19 that shoots and handles as good as it looks.
As Wilson Combat is a custom shop, you can pick and choose services, spending more or less but getting exactly what you need and want.