Tuesday, March 15, 2005

How to Make a Glock Not Suck

Okay, so Glocks are just about the most popular single brand of pistol in America. 1911's are the most popular TYPE of pistol by far, but they are made by a couple dozen manufacturers, and there are several major competitors in every segment so I'm pretty sure Glock is the single best selling brand.

I own a Glock, and I probably always will, if for no other reason then if I ever have to give somebody a gun in an emergency, chances are they'll know how to operate a Glock.

Right now I own a G21 (full size .45acp), and it's a decent gun ( and I have owned a couple others). It's reliable, and it's accurate, but in stock form it is quite frankly uncomfortable to hold, even for me, a man with huge hands. More importantly, its a Glock. Glocks have horrible triggers.

I don't care what anyone says, if you have ever fired an S&W revolver, or a good 1911, no Glock trigger will ever seem really good, and the stock trigger is just this side of horrible. Gritty, stacky, creepy, too heavy for a good single action pull, too light for a standard double action, and frequently inconsistent shot to shot.

But there's hope for those of you stuck with Glocks, for whatever reason, or those who like them. I confess, other than the stock trigger, and the chunkiness (for concealed carry), I LIKE Glocks. I don't mind that they are ugly, because functionality and engineering excellence has a beauty all it's own. They are dead reliable, easy to maintain, easy and cheap to fix, and generally quite accurate.

So here's what you need to make your Glock not suck.

1. Rotary tool of some kind (Dremel moto tool etc...)
2. Hard polishing bits (pads and cones)
3. jewelers rouge
4. 000 and 0000 Steel wool
5. A fine, Japanese stone, water stone, or ceramic slip stone with a flat edge and sharp angle
6. A 3.5lb connector
7. A reduced power striker spring
8. A reduced power trigger spring
9. a Glock buttplug
10. An A-Grip, decal grip, handall, or Glock Sock

Oh and two optional items, a lighter weight recoil spring, and a "tactical" slide stop.

One final item; near infinite patience. This process needs to be done slowly and carefully with very fine abrasives and very fine compounds or you WILL ruin your gun.

Now here's the disclaimer bit. If you do this, and then shoot or kill yourself or someone else, it's your own damned fault. If you break your gun doing this, HA HA, it's a Glock, you can fix it for $50 or less I can almost guarantee you. If your gun blows up, hell, I guess it REALLY sucks to be you. If you ND into the ground because you overstoned the connector, you'll deserve whatever you get. Guns are not for the stupid or the irresponsible.

Honestly, you should really just call Matt Kartozian at CGR and pay them to do this for you (or for that matter, Crispin Arms, my gunsmithing shop), but hey, I'm a glutton for punishment.

Ok, now that that unpleasantness is over with, let's get down to business.

The first step is to detail strip your Glock. Note, I said DETAIL STRIP. If you need me to explain how to do this, stop right now, pack up your Glock, and Matt a call. Trust me, they do great work. CGR makes Glock triggers that are almost as good as a 1911.

This is a details stripped Glock. This one in particular is a G17, but they're all the same. The springs that in part control trigger pull, are in the action block; the largest black plastic part in the middle of that exploded view.

Like I said, Glocks are easy to maintain, and easy to fix. I broke the ejector on this G21, ordered a new action block with ejector (it comes as a single part) for $8.50, and I replaced it within 5 minutes.

Glockmeister has been nice enough to put up step by step instructions on how to take a Glock apart (with pictures), and I'll link to them here.

  1. Field Strip
  2. Receiver Strip
  3. Slide Strip
It's pretty damned easy if you know guns at all, and again, if you actually need those links, this is not something you should be doing without a gunsmith. I will once again recommend Custom Glock Racing, or my own Crispin Arms.

The second step, once the weapon has been detail stripped, is to replace the striker and trigger spring with the lighter versions. You should have no reliability issues so long as you replace BOTH springs, doing one without the other could cause problems. Even with the reduced power spring, the striker should have no problem igniting hard primers. These springs by themselves significantly improve the feel, and weight of the trigger pull.

Now what we're going to do, is debur, smooth, polish, and cut the edges on every functional spot of metal to metal contact on the pistol.

Here's a picture blatantly stolen from the web because I'm too lazy to take one myself

The link for this pic takes you to one of the many sites explaining what is commonly referred to as the "$0.25 Glock Trigger Job", which is a lot of what I'm explaining here, only I go a bit further (and it costs a bit more), and get better results.

The most critical bits here are the rounded end of the trigger bar, the trigger connector, the striker ramp, and the "sear" at the end of the trigger bar.

You are now going to have two different connectors, the original (5.5 or 7.5 lbs depending on how and where the weapon was purchased), and the new 3.5lb connector. You may want to practice this on the 5.5lb connector first just to get a feel of how to polish this metal properly.

First, use 000 steel wool, dry, on all of the surfaces circled above. Then using the edged Japanese stone, anywhere there is a sharp metal edge, square it up perfectly, remove any burrs, and make the edges "crisp". You want the edges to be perfectly abrupt, but not so sharp that the corners will break or dent. It's important you use an ultra fine grit Japanese stone, or a ceramic rod here, so that you don't induce more grittiness than you remove.

Once the edges have all been prepped, use the dremel and jewelers rouge to smooth and polish all the metal to metal contact points. You will also want to lightly smooth the ramp in the center of the slide. There doesn't need to be a mirror finish, but using your fingernail each point should be COMPLETELY smooth. Pay special attention to the squared off , bent up angle on the back of the trigger bar that acts like a sear, the rounded end of the trigger bar that slides along the connector, the underside of the connector itself, and the wedge shaped block at the end of the striker. These point really should be polished almost to a mirror finish with the crispest edges possible. The firing pin plunger, and the section of the transfer bar that rides against it are important, but no matter how smooth you make them, it wont make TOO much of a difference (or course every bit helps).

Next, your polishing will have broken the edges, so go back over them with the ultra fine stone very lightly, just to make them crisp again.

Between the connector, the polish job, and the springs, you should now have a trigger with a 2lb takeup weight and a 3lb trigger break, a much lighter initial takeup (Which makes the pull feel shorter), and little to no creep at the breaking point. Most importantly though, you will be rid of all the grit and stacking that are common to Glock triggers. The pull is smooth, light, and short, with a crisp break at the end. No, it's not the proverbial glass rod break, but its pretty good.

If you are worried about the WEIGHT of the trigger, you can keep the stock connector, and still do the polish and edge cut job, and you will get most of the same benefits (especially with the springs). In fact the trigger itself will feel much crisper because of the extra tension.

I've done this on the NYT, and it works with the 7.5lb too (though you cant use the soft springs with the heavier connector, and the NY2 trigger is just beyond help), greatly improving the feel, and making the break actually measure close to the 7.5 lbs it's supposed to, rather than the 9-12 that it usually measures out to.

Remember, with pistol accuracy, a crisp and predictable release with little creep and no stacking is more important to accuracy than a lighter trigger.

Finish up with a good quality medium weight lube (thicker than CLP, thinner than grease. I like Tetra) on the points Glock recommends.

Now on to the drop in bits:

Altering the recoil spring changes a lot of things about the way the gun feels. A lighter spring can give you a faster cycle time, and an easier pull, but can cause function problems. A heavier spring, can also give you a faster cycle time (because it comes back into battery faster), and can be more reliable with high pressure loads or with a dirty gun; but can also cause function problems, and increase muzzle flip.

If you are going to change, see if you can experiment with a few different weights for what is reliable AND feels good; and make sure you test with the loads you are actually going to shoot.

Don't bother with the special guide rods unless you want to increase muzzle weight by changing to tungsten. This can increase your smoothness and reduce muzzleflip, but it will slightly slow your transitions.

If you choose to install it (and I HIGHLY recommend it), the extended slide stop lever gives a more positive disengagement of the slide stop, especially with heavy weight recoil springs. The stock lever has very little friction to it,. and can be difficult to disengage. If you don't like the extended release you can roughen up the surface of the stock release, then glue a piece of grip tape over it.

The butt plug helps keep debris out of your glock, and also speeds reloads because your mag doesn't try and go into the empty space in the backstrap rather than the magwell; plus it just looks better.

The final step is to apply the grip of your choice. I personally like, and recommend the AGrip
, because it doesn't make an already chunky grip any thicker, and gives a really great, comfortable grip even when wet or oily. Just be careful when you apply it to get the edges stuck down right, or they will peel. If they do, use a rubber cement type adhesive to restick them.

So that's about it. I have, or have had all these on my Glocks, and I recommend them to anyone. They don't cost much, and you have a much better gun when you are done.

UPDATE: Added the section on using the full power connector prompted by reader comments. Also, writing another post on the liability issue.