October 21, 2022
By Keith Wood
The Glock is, without debate, the striker-fired pistol by which all others are judged. Gaston Glock’s masterpiece and its offspring have become some of the most prolific handguns of all time. Glock established an entirely new standard of reliability and durability and made polymer a widely acceptable substrate for firearm construction. All of that said, Glocks do have their shortcomings. The ergonomics aren’t a perfect fit for every shooter, the sights are nothing to brag about and, frankly, the triggers can use some serious improvement. Due to the guns’ popularity, and the fact that these shortcomings exist, there is virtually no end to the aftermarket upgrades available for Glock handguns. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.
Glock Aftermarket Sights
The sights on factory Glocks are adequate for casual range shooting, but are not ideal for self-defense or competitive scenarios. One upgrade that I’ve performed on every Glock handgun that I’ve owned is to upgrade the sights. For my competition guns, that usually means a fiber optic front and black steel rear sight. For defensive pistols, I am a big fan of the Ameriglo Protector system, also known as Hackathorn sights. These sights combine a plain black rear with a high visibility orange front sight that has a tritium lamp at its center. These sights are highly visible in nearly any lighting conditions.
Another great option for defensive handguns are the XS Sights Big Dot night sights. These sights, which mimic the express sights historically found on dangerous game hunting rifles, combine a shallow V rear with a large circular front sight. I became an ardent fan of these sights after using them in a force-on-force class several years ago. My fellow students and I found that, no matter, how chaotic the scenario was, we were able to quickly focus on the front sight if the handgun was equipped with Big Dots. Those who claim that this system isn’t precise enough for taking shots at extended ranges either haven’t tried it or need spend more time on the practice range.
Glock Competition Triggers
Due to the spongy and relatively heavy triggers found on factory Glocks, drop-in trigger kits are a common upgrade. It is worth mentioning that aftermarket triggers can pose problems if a firearm is used for self-defense so carefully consider the risks before installing a trigger on a carry gun. There are some great triggers on the market, but I’m currently using the Alpha Competition triggers from Timney. These drop-in products reduce the pull weight to a reasonable three-pounds, and vastly improve the overall trigger pull characteristics. Best of all, this product maintains the factory safeties and doesn’t compromise reliability.
Glock Performance Barrels
Until recently, Glocks were made with polygonal-rifled barrels. Though these barrels shot well enough for most shooters and had extremely long service lives, they weren’t as accurate as some of the better aftermarket barrels out there. Additionally, these barrels were incompatible with lead bullets, which was a turnoff to many high-volume shooters. Glock addressed these concerns in the Gen 5 guns with a “match grade” barrel that uses traditional land and groove rifling. These barrels have quickly built a reputation for accuracy. Still an aftermarket barrel may still be attractive for a variety of reasons.
Non-factory barrels may be useful to improve accuracy, to facilitate the attachment of a suppressor, or when a compensator is desired. If an aftermarket barrel is in order, there are dozens of choices available. If accuracy is paramount, Bar-Sto is worth a look. KKM makes a selection of Glock-compatible barrels and their quality is excellent. I’ve used a Zev barrel on a Glock 19 that they tricked-out for me several years ago and it has performed very well.
Unlike many of today’s polymer handguns, Glock users cannot readily swap-out the grip module since that component is the serial-numbered frame. Legally, the Glock’s grip is the firearm. There are many shops out there that specialize in reshaping Glock frames to create more user-friendly designs. These grip conversions also usually include making the grip surface more abrasive. Though there aren’t many effective drop-in products that can re-shape the grip, there are many that can add texture for a more secure hold. One example is produced by Talon Grips and is a simple adhesive that can be applied to the frame by the end-user. If you’re simply looking to change the appearance of your Glock without an expensive paintjob, GunSkins makes a variety of simple-to-use vinyl “skins” that include various camo schemes, flags, and other patterns.