So you have bought a Glock for personal defense and you now want to make some upgrades. This is a question I get every week from a Glock owner. Lets tackle this issue from a personal defense firearm perspective. There are a lot of aftermarket upgrades and parts for Glocks. In fact, there are probably more aftermarket parts and upgrades available for Glocks than any other handgun out there. First I would say, you need to be very familiar with your stock Glock before you start to add new/upgraded parts to it. If you have less than 2000 rounds (a good multi-day training course) through it, you probably won’t know what feels like an enhancement to your firearm.
Let’s explore the low cost factory (OEM) options, before you spend large amounts of money, that in my opinion do not give you a real advantage over your stock Glock. The real issue is, what upgrades actually give you a measurable defensive advantage vs. what is a waste of money. A stock Glock, that is carried by an estimated 65% of law enforcement officers in the nation, is about as reliable as you are going to get. Now a Salient Arms or ZEV upgraded Glock is a very nice firearm (I would love to have one myself) but is it worth the 1000 to 2000 dollars of work, and does it give you a huge advantage (defensive firearm) over a bone stock Glock with some minor/low cost upgrades?
I have been exposed to several viable upgrades to your Glock pistol vs. what is throwing large amounts of money at an extremely reliable 400 dollar firearm, to make it an extremely reliable 2500 dollar firearm. That kind of money, does not make the firearm function any better/more reliable for the expenditure of that money. There are a few relatively inexpensive things you can do to slightly enhance your Glock’s function and feel from its bone stock configuration. Anything beyond and including these few minor upgrades, is your personal preference and/or expensive, internal or cosmetic want. When braking in a new Glock defensive firearm or going through a good defensive handgun course, you will shoot 1500 to 2000 rounds. This smoothes out the trigger and other parts in your Glock. It also lets you know how the firearm is performing (reliability). If you do not have a minimum of 2k rounds through your Glock, I would wait to modify any internal parts until that round mark. Keep in mind, these are my suggestions for inexpensive improvements for defensive carry.
The absolute first and arguably best upgrade you can make to your Glock is a quality set of sights. The stock Glock sights are 100% recognized as crap across any industry professional. There are a lot of sights out there to choose from but as long as you replace the stock sights with a quality iron or night sight set, you have made a huge improvement. Quality aftermarket sights will give you improved sight picture, accuracy, speed and follow up shots, on your target.
The best bang for the buck, I have found, are Ameriglo sights. Ameriglo sights are very affordable and come in many configurations and options. Remember most aftermarket (night sights) use Trijicon lamps as they have the U.S patent on night sight Tritium tubes. If you have the money, I recommend Trijicon HD sights.
Magazine Release & Slide Stop:
There are several aftermarket magazine releases available. I have found the Vickers magazine release, whether in the Gen2/3 or Gen4 configuration to be just right. It has the right length to function extremely well, but not be too long, avoiding accidentally/inadvertently hitting the release. For me, this is the second upgrade/accessory I usually add on all my Glocks.
There are only two slide stops that I would recommend. The Glock OEM extended slide stop or the Vickers slide stop. These upgrades are under 20 dollars and may give you a slight advantage in ease of uses over the stock slide stop. Having used several slide stops, it really does not make much of a difference for me. The Glock is not a 1911, so running the slide stop as a slide release is not the preferred method of operating a Glock.
On Gen3 Glocks, you can get the OEM extended mag release and dremal it down and round the edges, for half the price of the Vickers magazine release. This will look nice if you take your time and do it right.
A lot of people don’t see the reason to put in a grip plug, other than for cosmetic looks to plug the gap. I usually add one on my Glocks. There is a slight advantage to using a grip plug. I find that it makes speed/emergency reloads easier/smoother and faster. It makes a slight feed ramp for the magazine and gets rid of the curved ridge between the magwell and backstrap of the Glock. Sometimes you can get the lip of the shell casing hung up in this area. With a grip plug, you completely avoid those hang up issues. It provides smooth, snag free insertion of a magazine into your firearm. It’s easy, cheep and worth the expense.
Trigger upgrades are a complex issue with Glocks and can become very expensive. There are so many aftermarket triggers and parts out there, it is hard to know where to start. So let me start by saying, Glock has arguably one of the best overall triggers in the striker fired market. A lot of companies really try to duplicate the forceful and audible reset of the Glock triggers. I feel the stock Glock Trigger is one of the last things you should mess with. I cannot stand the serrated triggers that come in the compact and sub-compact Glocks. The first trigger part I replace in those firearms is a full size smooth OEM trigger with trigger bar. Just doing this in a compact or sub-compact Glock will make a huge difference in trigger feel. Especially when training and when firing a lot of rounds.
When you start thinking about putting in aftermarket, non-OEM parts, you need to rethink that in a personal defense firearm. If you want to mess with the Stock 5.5 lbs. trigger, stick to a few OEM Glock parts that can significantly change the trigger dynamics.
For close to 20 dollars you can buy a Glock New York One (NY1) trigger spring (OD in color) and a Glock OEM – Connector. The NY1 and OEM – Connector combination, will clean up a little trigger travel and give you a more pronounced positive trigger reset.
All around, this slightly improves the stock trigger and this combination keeps the trigger in the 5 to 5.5 lbs. range, for those who are restricted to these lbs. by duty carry policy. I have this combination on some of my Glocks. Other Glocks I have left alone, because their triggers just happen to be very good and you should not mess with one that is good to go.
For a personal defense firearm, I would not suggest after market, reduced lbs. firing pin springs, connectors or trigger springs. The reduced lbs. firing pin spring can produce light primer strikes on defensive ammunition and this is the last thing you want.
The last thing I would consider for upgrading your Glock is professional frame stippling or modification. This usually does not affect the mechanical function or reliability of your firearm, but may improve your grip and handling of the firearm. If you want to do it yourself that’s fine, but I would warn against doing it yourself. The reason I warn against doing it yourself is for two reasons: First, unless you are very experienced, it’s only going to look good to you and you could screw it up badly. Second: You significantly devalue the firearm and make it almost un-resalable.
There are numerous business’s that do very nice frame stippling and modifications. This is going to cost you,(100 to 300 dollars), but it will probably add some resale value to your Glock.
Hopefully this has given you some things to think about. Don’t go crazy on a personal defense firearm. It does not get much better than a stock Glock. Some of these suggestions will really make a difference for some of you and some won’t. Several of these suggestions are my personal preferences on what I have learned over the years. Nothing I have suggested is something you must have, except for replacing the stock sights. Now, if you are throwing money at a competition/race Glock, the sky is the limit if you think the upgrade will help your score/points. For a personal defense Glock, don’t mess to much with arguably one of the most reliable stock firearms ever made. All of the parts/upgrades I have talked about here range from 1.00 dollar to 20.00 dollars each, (except for sights and frame modifications of course). You can tweak and test them out for a relatively low price, to see if some of these upgrades might improve you defensive Glock. Think wisely about parts to enhance your firearm. Wasted money on upgrades and parts, that don’t really enhance your defensive firearm beyond the stock configuration, just take away from you’re ammunition and training budget.