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Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells – Review

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Article first appeared on Ammoland.com

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U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”  Arguably one of Shakespeare’s best-known lines.  Sure, it contains iambic pentameter, but the genuine need echoed in this line from the King is what we’re interested in today.  My shop is primarily a custom shop.  You don’t walk in and find glass display cases with rows of guns under them.  You open the door to see technician benches, welders, mills, a big lathe, etc.  If I’d had a pallet of G19s lying around when the rush hit, oh the inventory I could have turned!  But…  That ship has sailed.

Plan B.  If you can’t go out and buy a G19, build it up yourself.  That’s the American way, right?  20 years ago, the assembly of your own weapon was a foreign concept.  Today?  Confident men and women now construct and/or modify AR15s, the venerable Ruger 10/22, and many others often.  The Polymer 80 folks helped pave the way forward for Glock folks to come on in for the big win.  And they aren’t the only ones.  You can buy an 80% frame, utilize a fixture, and finish the end production holes and reliefs necessary for that same frame to then accept parts.  Heck, you can even buy aftermarket complete frames that are serialized and ready to go.

These are guns.  When things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong.  Don’t mistake this for the gluing up of some maple boards in junior high shop class and handing your mom a nifty little cutting board.  There are deeper considerations afoot.  However, with proper planning and some natural aptitude, you can really do well.  Besides, there are a handful of very simple and basic handguns on the market.  The Glock pistol is among them.  It contains few parts compared to many, and the parts are surprisingly simple and easy to work with.  No Rube Goldberg machines or mechanisms are necessary to get one of these up and running.

I wanted to start simple, so I chose a Gen 3 Glock frame I had lying around.  I’m not sure what the story was on this thing, but I took it on trade and it didn’t have a home.  That’s how a lot of gunsmith stories start by the way.  Admittedly I did want to upgrade from the stock Glock configuration a bit.  Why not?  Many people buy a stock model and then spend the cost of the gun again on upgrades.  Doing it this way actually saves some green since I’m only buying what I need and want instead of buying a second slide, trigger, etc.  I put on my best ‘shopping face’ and hit the Brownells website.  This is what I put in the cart:

This is what I put in the cart:
This is what I put in the cart for the G19 build.

Essentially this is the top half of the pistol with a trigger.  My friends at SilencerCo sent me a threaded barrel for it, so that was the icing on the cake.  I may or may not run a can on this real soon, but it doesn’t add much length or hamper my draw to have a threaded barrel, so I moved forward with it.  Besides, the SilencerCo barrels have been pretty darned consistent for me.  They drop-in, so there shouldn’t be fitting problems or concerns when you build yours up.  There is no shortage of videos and tutorials to put these together.  It truly isn’t tough.  Just like any good framer, measure twice and cut once, yeah?  Don’t be in a rush.  Take your time and make double sure things are installing and working correctly.  Don’t be afraid to budget a few bucks to have a qualified armorer or gunsmith look it over.  We’re talking about a gun here people, so not only do we need this to work and work well, but you could be sparing lives with it at some point and it needs to go “bang” and not “click” at crucial times.

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

I’ll admit freely there are modifications I would make to this in order to remain a viable option for me.  I will perform them in the future.  Things like frame texturing or stippling for grip along with a trigger guard undercut so my middle finger knuckle isn’t rubbed raw are high priorities for me.  For now, though, it was important to offer you what things will look and function like if you bought a new frame from Brownells or you sourced a used unit elsewhere.

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

After I was done with the assembly, it was time for testing and adjusting.  I hit the range and tweaked the iron sights and the RMR so my point of aim and impact were coinciding, and then worked through my learning curve using a red dot instead of the iron sights I was so used to.  That took some time and effort, but this is different for each of us.  That particular story was one I’ll write about to share with you as well.  For now, I want to stick with the build-up of a gun you can complete yourself.

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

My gun is very accurate.  I was able to use all kinds of testing ammo from cheap ball goodies to self-defense rounds akin to missiles and even the wide mouth hollow points that look like little ashtrays.  This gun seems to eat them all.  I like that.  It should do that.  I will say I was particularly glad about my choice of triggers.  The standard Glock trigger is fine.  But the wide shoe of the APEX unit I installed has a better feel to me.  There is no trigger shoe safety down the center to push into my trigger finger.  The trigger safety exists, of course, the APEX trigger just doesn’t make a pest of itself like the standard Glock trigger does.

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

I spent some time on the phone with APEX and they encouraged me to use their components as a set.  I agree with this sentiment.  When you buy different parts from different places, the tolerances can be a tad different on each component.  Not enough by themselves to cause any issue of course, but once you have a slight variance on each of five different parts from five different sources, you could end up with what we call “tolerance stacking” and have a problem.  This isn’t uncommon in the AR world, but admittedly it has gotten better over the last 10 years and not worse.  Here’s an example.  If you’re going to buy an APEX trigger, you would be wise to use their trigger bar, connector, and safety plunger.  They are essentially a matched set.  This can cut down on question marks, especially when you’re unqualified to chase the problems down.  I measured plenty, checked and rechecked dimensions, camming, operation, movement, etc.  Thus, I was confident in moving forward with what I had.

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

At the end of the day, I was very pleased with this.  Honestly, it makes me seriously consider buying a bunch of Polymer 80 frames and getting them ready.  I can’t tell you how many 80% AR lowers I’ve bought and machined, but I don’t remember doing any Glock frames.  I can see the draw this concept seems to have.  It isn’t hard work to choose quality components from quality suppliers and put a really great Glock together.  Right now, and probably for the foreseeable future, these will be hard to find and buy compared to just a year ago.  I like the idea behind buying it up and doing it yourself.  This was a worthwhile project and if you compare it to buying a stock unit and then modifying it, you’ve saved money to go this route – no question.

For those of you wanting a great Glock, this is an option that brings the overall cost down, allows you to have some creative sway on your weapon, and is usually available more often than stock goodies when times are tough.  This is a consideration you should be making.  There are options, accessories, and parts out the wazoo for this weapon.  Create your own and hit the range.  What are you waiting for?

Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells
Building a Custom GLOCK 19 from Brownells

About Michael Ware:

Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.

Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.

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