The Ultimate Home Defense Glock Build Part 1: Budget Blaster ~VIDEO

U.S.A.-( Glock pistols have a legendary reputation for both reliability and durability. This makes them very well-suited for a wide variety of tasks ranging from casual plinking and competition shooting to law enforcement and military use. Because of these attributes, the black polymer pistol quickly became one of the most prolific handguns in both America and abroad.

This popularity doesn’t just pay dividends to Gaston Glock’s namesake company – it also spawned an enormous aftermarket parts industry, allowing shooters to fully customize their Glock to suit their needs.

But with so many options available, it becomes very tough for shooters to separate the junk from the gems. Especially given the fact that price isn’t a reliable indication of the quality or utility of any given accessory – Just ask anyone who bought a pistol bayonet.

Glock Budget Upgrade Guide Header
While not the coolest or newest gun by Glock, the Gen 3 G17 is still a formidable weapon. IMG Jim Grant

So while the pistol bayonet might not serve any real purpose, most accessories for the Glock do. Though, some are better suited to certain situations than others. That’s why upgrade guides for the Glock that list the best trigger, or best ammunition – all-around best anything – should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Which is why this guide only concentrates on tuning the pistol for a very specific task – home defense. God forbid anyone actually be attacked in their home, and is forced to use their firearm for self-defense. But the unfortunate reality is that it does happen. And when it does happen, a person’s weapon, their resolve, and training are the only things standing between their family and an unspeakable tragedy.

That said, picking upgrades or accessories for a home defense weapon must never be done haphazardly. Every component must objectively increase the user’s odds of survival. To further clarify, no attachments or upgrades should affect any of the following four aspects of the gun’s design: reliability, durability, safety or effectiveness.

Using these basic tenants as guidelines, I’ve assembled two different Glock builds that forge the already formidable Glock handgun into a nearly perfect home defense weapon.

Budget Build

The first of these two builds is a more budget-friendly, non-NFA regulated option. Nothing in this list is cheap, but some of the items are less expensive than alternatives without compromising the gun’s core capabilities.

Just in case shooters haven’t actually decided on a specific Glock pistol, for the budget guide I’m going to recommend a 9mm full or compact handgun – the model 17 or 19. Which isn’t to say that a .40 S&W or .45 ACP Glock is inferior, but in my experience when combined with modern defensive ammo, 9mm parabellum offers the best balance of capacity, controllability, affordability and terminal efficacy.

Host Gun: Glock 17/19

Jim Grant With Glock 17
Inexpensive used Glocks like this Gen 3 Model 17 are plentiful, affordable, and still very potent. IMG Jim Grant

For my particular build, I’ve chosen my personal third-generation Glock 17. This gun has proven itself to be 100% reliable after 25,000 rounds fired. The internal components are mostly original, but I did have a Glock armorer replace the recoil spring at a GSSF match a few years ago around the 18,000 round mark.

The reason I haven’t upgraded to a gen 4 or 5, is because I have thousands of hours of muscle memory on this gun to the point that it feels like a natural extension of my hand. It’s also the same model of Glock that I first learned to shoot nearly 20 years ago.

But personal experience isn’t the only reason to go with a full-sized handgun. Because they have more mass than smaller pistols, larger guns have less recoil. This means getting follow-up shots on target is faster, and easier.

Additionally, the added barrel length squeezes more velocity from the 9mm round. For rounds like 9mm that rely more on velocity than projectile weight, this added speed makes defensive ammunition more likely to fully expand and dump its energy into a target.

Lastly, the full-length slide equates to a great sight radius. AKA, how far apart the front and rear sights are. The advantage of this is that it allows for finer aiming and potentially greater accuracy. Though within the confines of a house, the advantage of this is questionable.

Sights: Glock OEM Tritium Night Sight

Glock OEM Night Sights
Glock’s factory night sights work great both in daylight and night. IMG Jim Grant

There are several schools of thought on combat pistol sights. Some people prefer bright fiber optics, others like old school serrated steel, and some people even like aperture style sights.

For me, the perfect iron sights are those that are effective regardless of lighting conditions. Ideally, they should also reinforce good shooting habits like proper sight alignment.

This is why I normally choose Glock’s white tritium iron sights for serious use handguns. Constructed of stainless steel and finished with a black corrosion-resistant finish, these sights are offered on many newer Glock handguns.

They are dimensionally almost identical to older OEM polymer sights but have a few key advantages over them. For starters, the tritium inserts make the irons glow a pale green color in low or no light conditions. This is critical for obtaining a proper sight picture on these conditions.

That said, I recommend shooters with factory sights on their pistol just purchase the front sight post without the rear notch. Besides being around half the cost of the set, this configuration forces the shooter’s eye to focus on the front sight where it belongs. This might seem counter-intuitive for low light shooting, but home invasion encounters are statistically very close range. And within these ranges, any disadvantage of not being able to align sights in total darkness is negated. Visit Brownells for more info and availability.

Controls: Glock OEM Extended Slide and Magazine Release

Glock 17 Extended Mag and slide release
Although tough to initially spot, the OEM extended magazine and slide release are tremendously helpful to shooters with smaller hands. IMG Jim Grant

For some shooters, the controls on a Glock are a little out of reach – especially on older models that don’t feature interchangeable back straps. I personally have smaller-sized hands and find that on my Gen 3 Glock 17, I have to shift my shooting grip to drop a spent magazine or release the slide.

In a defensive situation where a shooter’s heart is practically beating out of their chest, fine motor skills often go right out the window. This can equate to a shooter dropping their firearm while trying to quickly reload.

Best case scenario: you drop the pistol before quickly recovering it. Worst case: after losing control of the gun, your would-be attacker now has possession of it.

The best solution to this is for a shooter to practice reloading under duress at the range with live fire, and at home with snap caps. When under extreme stress, humans fall back on old habits and training.

But given how inexpensive both of these components are, it makes sense to double down and install these if a shooter has a difficult time reaching any of the Glock’s controls. I will add one caveat though. If a shooter has particularly large hands, they should shy away from the extended magazine release simply because they may accidentally depress while firing. Though in all the time I’ve taught shooters how to shoot, I’ve only had one individual with large enough hands for this to be an issue. Swing by for more information.

Illumination: StreamLight TLR-8A Flex

StreamLight TLR8A Flex
The Streamlight TLR-8A Flex delivers 500 lumens of white light and a red laser aiming module.IMG Jim Grant

The next addition to our pistol is definitely the most expensive, but arguably one of the most important – illumination. After all, it’s impossible to reliably hit something a shooter can’t see.

Before I go into why I choose this tactical light, there’s an elephant in the room that needs addressing. Utilizing a weapon-mounted light is a clear violation of firearm safety rule number 2, “Never aim at something you’re not prepared to destroy.”

They are partially correct. If a shooter aims their weapon-mounted tactical light at a potential threat, they are in fact aiming a firearm at a possibly innocent target. Some people suggest aiming off to the side of a target, or using an independent hand-held light. The latter of which negates the largest advantage of using a handgun for home defense over a shoulder-fired one. Namely, freeing up a hand to open doors, flip lights or grab loved ones.

The academic arm-chair answers to this problem are numerous. But the real-life answer is more circumstantial and common sense. If a shooter awakens to the sound of breaking glass followed by loud voices and heavy footsteps at two in the morning, it’s probably not the Girl Scouts making a Thin Mint delivery. In other words, use your head, think rationally and act accordingly. A bullet is forever.

Glock 17 With Home Defense Upgrades
The TLR-8 series of lights blend seamlessly with the trigger guard on modern Glocks. IMG Jim Grant

With that out of the way, let’s get back to the weapon light itself. I recommend the new Streamlight TLR-8A Flex. Both the TLR-7A and 8A series of lights emit 500 lumens of retina-searing bright white light from their LED emitters. The 8A differs from the 7A with the inclusion of an adjustable red laser sight.

While the older, “non-A” models of TLR-7/8 have identical performance, I still prefer the newer models because of the interchangeable rear switches. These allow shooters to configure the switches to best fit their shooting grip and hand size. Also, like all TLR lights, these new Flex models include six different mounting plates. So the light can be positioned perfectly on any pistol with an accessory rail.

Finally, the reason I suggest the model with a laser sight is human nature. When confronted with a possible threat, we humans want to keep our eyes locked firmly on it. So while accurate shooting is dependent on proper sight alignment, in the middle of a violent confrontation it’s easy to forget fundamentals. The laser gives the shooter a visible confirmation that their muzzle is aimed squarely on target. For more info, including pricing and availability, visit

Magazine: Glock OEM Glock 17 Magazine with +2 Extension

Glock Extended Baseplate
A great magazine for everything from concealed carry to home defense is the 19x 19-round magazine. IMG Jim Grant

Arguably the Achilles heel of semi-automatic weapons, the magazine is one of the most crucial components of a firearm. If the magazine doesn’t feed reliably, it quickly turns any autoloader into an awkward single-shot weapon.

In the world of Glock magazines, there are some enormously capacious offerings available. 100-round drums. Most aftermarket magazines work just fine, but some of them have spotty reliability.

If a shooter is using their handgun for home defense, the last thing they want if pushed into a gunfight is a malfunction. That’s why they should run whatever the highest capacity they can that is still flawlessly reliable.

Glock 19x magazine
While the Glock 19x, and 17 magazines only have 17 witness holes, the +2 base plate increases their capacity to 19 rounds. IMG Jim Grant

One great option is the Glock 19x extended magazine. In my personal experience, the most reliable cost-effective magazine extension is the factory Glock +2. As the name implies, it adds two rounds to the total capacity of a given stagger-column Glock magazine.

The reason shooters should go with a model 17 magazine over others, is that it is universally compatible with all 9mm Glock pistols except the single-stack 43. With a base capacity of 17 rounds, the +2 brings your Glock to 19+1 rounds of 9mm ammo that doesn’t add too much bulk or weight to the gun. For home defense duty, shooters should purchase at least two magazines, and ideally three. This ensures that extra ammunition is readily available, and reduces the amount of downtime spent loading magazines when training at the range.

Ammo: Hornady Critical Duty 135gr FlexLock +P

Hornady Critical Duty
Hornady’s Critical Duty ammo functions 100% in Glock handguns and is a top-notch defensive round. IMG Jim Grant

When it comes to picking defensive ammunition, there are three aspects of the cartridge design that determine whether it is suitable for self-defense. Expansion, penetration, and retention.

An ideal self-defense round expands to a greater diameter than the original round, penetrates at least 12 inches of ballistic gelatin, and retains as much of the original projectile mass as possible.

Additionally, the round should be accurate, consistently loaded and not impede reliability. This is why Hornady’s 135gr Critical Duty is my ammunition of choice for home defense and concealed carry.

Hornady Critical Duty Ammo Second Image
Hornady’s Critical Duty ammo was designed to meet tough FBI ballistic efficacy standards. IMG Jim Grant

Designed to meet the FBI standards for penetrating automotive glass while still properly expanding in tissue, the 9mm Critical Duty rounds check all the right boxes. The 135gr rounds are loaded extra hot and feature nickel-plated cases for increased resistance to corrosion.

But the star of the show is the little red polymer ball at the tip of the round. This Flex Tip fills the FlexLock hollow point cavity to prevent premature expansion and under penetration. So even if your would-be attacker is wearing a double layer denim jacket, the round will reliably reach vital organs with proper shot placement.

Another noteworthy feature is the crimped case and cannelured bullet to prevent setback when the round is repeatedly chambered. In fact, the only downside to the round that I’ve ever heard, is that in SMG or larger capacity magazines, the added friction of the polymer tips can jam magazines. But after firing a thousand rounds of the ammunition through dozens of guns that are rarely cleaned or oiled, I have yet to encounter this issue. More info is available over at Brownells.

Complete Package

Budget Home Defense Glock
Tactical light, quality ammo, night sights, and two extra rounds of ammo. A gun that can do almost anything. IMG Jim Grant

With the exception of the Streamlight TLR-8A, none of these upgrades cost more than $100. But if a shooter simply can’t afford them, the most critical addition for home defense is proper expanding ammunition.

The good news is that none of these upgrades increase reliability, because the Glock is already damn near perfect in that regard. As for as a great all-around firearm, shooters would be hard-pressed to pick a better handgun than a 9mm Glock.

Ultimately, the most important part of the home defense puzzle is the shooter and their mindset. A strong will to survive can make all the difference in the world, even with a sub-standard defense weapon. But when the stakes are life and death, hedging your bets with these upgrades just makes sense. After all, no one ever won a fair fight.

Stay tuned for part two of the Home Defense Glock Build, where we crank our polymer pistol to eleven.

About Jim Grant

Jim is one of the elite editors for, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.

When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

Jim Grant

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Unless the power goes out I don’t have to worry about “shooting in the dark” in my house. I have a LED night light plugged into one wall socket in each room besides the master bedroom. And there is one in the master bedroom bathroom that bleeds light into the master bedroom. I also have a couple of four legged early warning systems that are not going to take kindly to some stranger entering their living space. And I am not going to trust factory ammo for my self defense when I have been making my own for 50 years.… Read more »

Deplorable Bill

Roy D, I have seen the same thing, a round with no flash hole. Like you, I depend on personally loaded ammo. EVERY piece of new brass goes through the de cap, that gets rid of anything without a flash hole.

Arm up, carry on.


RoyD, that’s fine, but do you have family? Taking a chance that a) there won’t be a power failure at the worst time, or b) that scum won’t go around from house to house when there IS a power failure may not be a good idea. The dogs are a big help too (my dog’s low, deep bark scares _me_ sometimes :-). But understand you can have a light mounted and just not use it when you don’t need it. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.


What is wrong with you people? Jus’ go out on the porch and shoots a shotgun into the air.


18 – 25,000 + rounds sounds like pushing the limits of internals without changing parts prior to experiencing failures. I will not attempt to play the part of expert or even quite knowledgeable. And, because of that self-assessment I am constantly looking for the experience of others to learn what I might expect when from those firearms I most familiar to me. Clearly the article is discussing a 9mm Glock 17. And, what follows is focused on other calibers and perhaps older designs. But, are those differences irrelevant to the useful life of internals of a 3rd, 4th, 5th generation… Read more »


Ditch the pee-wee ammo and the non-tactical light (which merely gives away your position to the bad guy) and you are good to go.




Gen 4 Glock 20 full size 10mm at my night stand with light and Hornady XTP 180 gr…well you know in case it’s a polar bear..

Operator Z

147g HST hollow works well for my. Plus I always add a 3.5lb disconnector. The rest I leave stock besides the night sights and addition of a light. Approximately half of every 24 hrs is night time.


I have had failure to feed with polymer tipped rounds in my Glock 23, so I use FMJ. As a student of Jeff Cooper, I have confidence in 180 gr .40 FMJ reliability and performance.


Bad choice, amigo. Why do you think the police ditched FMJ for duty use years ago? Ever hear of jacketed hollow point ammo?


Penetration is more important than expansion – which cannot be guaranteed, no matter what the manufacturer and testing shows, although it _is_ more reliable with hollow point ammo these days than when I worked the streets. There is nothing wrong with FMJ, especially +P, and the flat tip FMJ loaded by hand – or by many ammo companies – is slightly better than the round nose ball ammo that’s been available since forever. That being said, I usually load my G21 and G30 with the 230gr Rem Golden Saber, my wife’s G23 with .40 165gr Golden Saber. I don’t carry… Read more »


There is nothing wrong with your ammo choice as long as it always goes bang when you press the trigger. Carry on.


“After all, no one ever won a fair fight.”

I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean but the way it is written it doesn’t make any sense.


What does a light on a gun do? It tells the enemy you are coming as you wave it around. It says “Here I am..shoot me!” Use ambient light in your home, not a light on your firearm. NEVER let the enemy know where you are. I got in an argument with a noob on Survival Monkey about flashlights. He said “Well, how will you travel at night?” I said that travelling at night in a survival situation is not a good idea. You can’t see the tiger pits or booby traps. Also, as you are waving that flashlight all… Read more »

Ej harbet

I use a g34 for home defense.i love the gen5 24rd factory glock mag for the home def role.this gun is a foot away as. I write this and i carry it with me when i change rooms. Although i use federal 124hst jhps in +p preasure i do like the 135 critical duty +p it breaks 1100 fps and that weight penetrates well.downside is its a little higher in cost and i prefer my accuracy with hsts


Golden Saber ammo is very, very good. It loses accuracy past 50 yards due to the pre-failed petals. So, in a home, Golden Saber is a great round.


More BS from Yellow Head. I practice at 50 and 100 yards every time I shoot my G21, loaded with 230gr Rem Golden Sabers. Where the hell does this kid get these ridiculous notions? “Pre-failed petals”? Loses accuracy after 50 yards only if you can’t shoot to start with and/or don’t practice. Unless you are using a crap gun with crap ammo, damn near anyone can learn to hit a man-sized target at 100 yards,especially with a Glock or a SIG. It DOES take practice though – another good reason to learn to reload. It cuts the cost in half,… Read more »


ESAD. Golden Saber has pre-failed jacket. Every round is just a small amount different. Seeing as how you were a city cop, hitting the target anywhere would be cause for elation from you. I am talking ten ring accuracy. Wow, you really should sober up before you puke out such laughable B.S.. Again, ever wonder WHY police never shoot in competition? Because they are miserable at firearm safety and accuracy. Also, when they get their butts handed to them by us stupid civilians, they get angry…probably go home and beat their wives. “Yellow Head”..another personal attack from you. For your… Read more »


All good info, but a couple of suggestions. I own several Streamlight weapon lights, with and without lasers. I like them, but Olight ( sells light/laser combinations: the Baldr Pro – only $150, but often goes on sale for under $110, about 1/3 of the price of the Streamlight laser combo, PLUS it is a green laser, easily visible during the day, and the light has two levels: 1350 lumens and 400 lumens; and the PL-2RL Baldr, at $130 (less on sale) with a red laser and two light levels – 1200 lumens and 400 lumens. Also, concerning iron sights,… Read more »


All a flashlight on your gun does is alert the enemy to your presence.


You gun store commandos sure are funny. I can imagine you walking around with a gun light on permanently, because you don’t understand tactics. So you spurn a light because you simply don’t know how to use one competently. Don’t judge true tactics and firearm use by what you see on the videos you watch, OK? You might want to check with those of us who have carried for a living. Yes, in the old days, Harries (not Harris) technique was a decent use of a handheld light, but today, weapon lights aren’t popular because of Hollywood. They are popular… Read more »


“gun store commandos”…you are really dumb. Your elitist attitude says two things: 1. You are an unconstitutional city cop. 2. You are a player of HALO and Call of Duty. “carried for a living”.. well, my wife was a Deputy Sheriff. She used a Pelican M6, not a light on her gun. Also, what I see from your comment is you don’t like a different opinion. You are trying, in your simpleton attempt, to equal force clearing with multiple officers to a homeowner in the middle of the night. It has been my experience that when it comes to police… Read more »


I forgot, I said you are an unconstitutional officer. Because you have NO Constitutional authority for existence. A Sheriff is a duly elected and sworn officer of the People. The People are the ultimate power in the Republic of the United States, says the Constitution. The Sheriff is bound by his Oath to the Constitution and the People that elected him. City cops, on the other hand, are hired guns for the City to force their edicts on the people, city cops are Code Enforcement Officers. You are there to enforce the City’s will. The local policing, according to the… Read more »

Wild Bill


Last edited 8 months ago by Wild Bill

By the way, “All good info” was a response for Jim Grant, not for tetejaun (“Blondie”, in French) the gunstore commando (Cajun, perhaps?). For the adults in the room, Jim Grant offers good suggestions on how to set up a pistol for home use, although there are ways to save a good bit of money shopping around. There aren’t any “tiger pits” or booby traps to worry for most of you folks who didn’t serve in ‘Nam (as I know Blondie didn’t). A real soldier wouldn’t be worried about those – especially now – unless he’s still dealing with a… Read more »


Wrong. Tetejaun is Yellow Hair. “tiger pits and booby traps” was a general description for lights on guns in a survival situation. I was correct. You are an incompetent local city cop, of which there is no Constitutional authority and you are smug in your ignorance and lack of education in firearms usage. It is you incompetent and untrained clowns that give good police officers a bad name. Tell us about YOUR military service. So, you keep telling yourself what a clever and tough guy you are and I will look at my trophies, gold medals and laugh as you… Read more »