UPDATE 8/20/2022: Laws regarding the ownership, serialization, and building of 80% firearms have changed. Please be sure and follow all state and federal laws.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- I got asked to do a unique project a little while ago. I was having a conversation with a guy that I know about some of the best out-of-the-box pistols and he stated that Glock makes the best. Another gentleman in the conversation joked with us and dropped a very common line.
“Every time I get a Glock, I change out the sights. I hate the plastic sights.”
The first man defended the maker’s choice. “Sights don’t really matter on a fighting gun.”
“Well, everyone that buys a Glock puts new sights on. Then they put a new trigger in, new springs, a new barrel, and so on and so forth. I wonder sometimes that, when I’m done, how much of my original Glock is even there in the end.”
By the end of the conversation, I made my peace with the fact that people buy what they buy because of their own ideas and their perception of reality. This did, however, get me thinking about the possibility of building a ‘Glock’ completely out of non-Glock parts. So began my venture.
For this article, I worked with a variety of spectacular companies both large and small. I quickly found that there were a plethora of options for the enthusiast, some practical and others, well, not so practical. Virtually all the parts in this article are available at the Glock Store and Brownells. Except for M2 Tactical Solution’s Polymer80 holster, you’ll have to visit them directly.
We’ll start with the frame of the gun and then move on from there. The frame, as you may have guessed, is a Brownell’s exclusive and is the same general size as the Glock 19 and takes the same mags and parts. Note: only Gen 3 parts work in the Polymer80 frame.
The frame comes in 80% configuration and, contrary to what your average California political puppet may say, isn’t even close to a firearm and the remaining 20% of the frame can take hours to complete and troubleshoot. I won’t go into full detail on this process. But, I will say that finishing the frame can be accomplished with hand tools, files, and sandpaper. I wanted to use basic stuff to do this because not every person has the ability to install a drill press or mill, but could certainly go purchase and easily store a Dremel tool and hand drill.
The short version to complete the frame, one must remove a fair amount of material from this part. There isn’t much room to mess up, especially when drilling the holes where the pins go through. As mentioned, I used only hand tools to finish this. I removed some pieces with a jeweler’s saw and then ground with a Dremel to the point where I could use sandpaper. It did take me several hours to really get everything fitted the way it needed to be and working. There are a few things that I would do a different way if I was to do this again, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Most of the frame parts came from Glock Store. I wanted to be flashy with it, so I opted for gold plating with red inserts. Note the brand new flat-faced Pyramid trigger, which is simply awesome. The trigger comes in several configurations and is available with diverse springs, a matching firing pin, and other small parts. I love how this trigger looks and it really performs like advertised.
Getting the pins right by hand is difficult at best and the fit is very tight. The finished frame checked out and I completed it with Magpul magazines and a Ghost slide stop. I ended up removing a very small bit of material in some areas to relieve stress on the trigger parts and to decrease friction inside the gun. Since this entire thing is made of unique parts, some hand-fitting was necessary to ensure reliable function.
Do yourself a favor and get stuff ordered before everything sells out around the holidays. It would be a shame to start a fun project like this and not have parts on hand this winter.
The slide assembly turned better than I could have hoped for. Made by fellow Michigander at JagerWerks, the slide is the most striking feature of the gun. The slide is cut for an RMR, and has functional and tasteful cuts all over. A wonderfully made carbon fiber cover completes this part. I am always a guy that loves to see what can come from my local area and its stuff like this that really makes me proud to not only be a part of this industry, but also to be able to represent local craftsmanship to a national audience.
Inside the slide is a SilencerCo barrel. I’ve been a SilencerCo fan for some time. As a result, it was a no-brainer for me to give them a call because I’ve come to trust the quality of their products and knew that I would get a second-to-none barrel for this unique project. Everybody knows that threaded barrels are super-fashionable right now, so it was a must.
Finishing out the slide is a tungsten guide rod and spring, a matching extractor, internals, and a set of Heinie night sights. I have long favored this style of sight to others and believe that they are among the fastest and easiest to use.
Fine tuning this machine took me some time. For those of you that imagine that you will be able to just slap this thing together in a half hour, you’re in for some disappointment. It took me, an accomplished gun builder and former gunsmith, several days of trial and error to get the tolerances correct using this set of parts. The devil is in the details on this project. Taking a little off at a time is what makes all the difference.
The gun that I ended up with at the end is a far cry from a true Glock. Because I started with more material, I was able to selectively take down certain areas around the guide rod, slide rails, and trigger housing. I was able to play around to make certain that the gun had solid slide-to-barrel fit and tighter tolerances. The reward was in the accuracy department. The reliability came second and I came to realize that Glock-pattern guns don’t like to be tight. Forcing it to work was a chore, but once it got running it was both reliable and accurate.
All loads were fired over an Oehler 35P chronograph on a 75 degree day while five feet from the muzzle. Velocity is an average of ten shots. Accuracy is in inches at 25 yards from the bench.
- Hornady 147gr XTP—————————————————-989fps——-2.3”
- Hornady 135gr Critical Duty +P————————————–1193fps——2.2”
- Lehigh Defense 70gr HERO——————————————1710fps——1.5”
- Lehigh Defense 90gr Xtreme Defense +P————————1520fps——1.75”
These loads were selected for accuracy after the gun was assembled. Initially, I tested the pistol with lower pressure 115gr ball from several makers. I had failures to eject and feed. I cleaned up the plastic around the guide rod near the front metal insert to allow for more clearance. This seemed to fix the issue.
To break it in further, I loaded some high-pressure handloads in and smeared the internals with jeweler’s abrasive polish. The high-pressure loads ensured movement and the polish allowed the gun to work itself in ways that I couldn’t with a file. It is important to note that you must not allow this polish in the trigger assembly. I cleaned up the weapon and removed the abrasive. The gun ran smoothly and had no further issues. At the time this was written there are around 1,500 rounds safely fired.
I took this gun out to some area shoots. My friends at M2 Tactical Solutions provided me with a visually and functionally striking set of holsters made for the Polymer80 frames. I really do love the fact that I get to work with small businesses on projects like this. Many of you would have never heard of M2 and JagerWerks had you not read this article, and you would’ve been missing out. These guys make great stuff and you should take a long, hard look at these and other small companies for your next project.
In addition to the holsters, I dyed some Magpul PMAGs to match and loaded up some of HSGI’s famous TACO pouches. My red-tan-gold scheme carried over to my rifle and I went in style like an Eastern European high-roller. Not only did the finished pistol look amazing, but it performed far better than I imagined.
If you’re looking for a fun and challenging project, head over and see my friends at Brownell’s, Glock Store, SilencerCo, HSGI, and M2 Tactical Solutions. The options available in today’s aftermarket for Glock parts will surprise you.
Have fun and remember to be extremely cautious when building guns and firing them!
About Josh Wayner:
Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan.