Competitive Shooting

Customizing a GLOCK Pistol: Best Practices

customized GLOCK pistol on orange target

Among the most popular handguns in the world is the GLOCK. The GLOCK is reliable, affordable and offers good performance for those that practice.

The pistol is coming into its own in the race for customization as well.

The 1911 has been the subject of a great deal of modification and upgrade for almost 100 years, beginning with the Army gunsmiths at the National Matches.

While the 1911 is a formidable handgun, the GLOCK is less expensive and easier to modify. The 1911 may be said to have paved the road.

Man shooting GLOCK Pistol
The bottom line is reliability. Never compromise the GLOCK pistol’s inherent reliability.

Why Customize a GLOCK Pistol?

Some folks appreciate the GLOCK, but simply want to personalize the appearance or fit of the pistol.

Others want to increase their speed and accuracy with upgrades. There are many ways to upgrade the pistol.

You may mismatch parts from different makers, such as sights from TRUGLO, a Rival Arms barrel, Magpul magazines and another brand of trigger.

You may have a beautiful collage or a witch’s brew, so choose well. The parts should be carefully chosen for quality and proven reliability.

A big question is the shooter’s ability to install parts without the aid of a gunsmith. The GLOCK isn’t complicated, but attention to detail is important.

GLOCK Pistol Customizations to Consider

Experienced designers and machinists are needed to offer good quality parts. Companies like Rival Arms are among the best choices.

Rival Arms offers 17-4PH forged stainless billet slides, strikers and other parts.

This material is important for long-term corrosion resistance and wear. The barrels are 416R stainless steel.

This material is used for precision barrel cutting.

The slides are coated with a QPQ case hardening. I have seen several of these slides in use for thousands of rounds with minimal wear.

Barrels feature a vacuum PVD coating, a state-of-the-art coating offered in several colors.

Boron nitride is used on barrels. Rival Arms’ slides are offered with window cuts that promote airflow in long-term range sessions and competition.

Flutes in the barrel are designed to allow easier cooling, and they also offer more than a little style.

If you want an optics-ready slide, Rival Arms may provide. They also feature forward cocking serrations.


You may obtain a suppressor-ready barrel. I have recently tested the Rival Arms striker.

The Rival Arms striker is well-made of good material and seems an improvement over the standard GLOCK striker.

While GLOCK strikers do not fail to the best of my knowledge, the Rival Arms is designed to offer a faster lock time.

With the modern coating and increased wear resistance, the new striker is an improvement.


The slide build is pretty easy. Whatever slide you choose, fitting the striker, barrel and sights isn’t difficult at all.

Purchasing a parts kit from Rival Arms will solve any problems with wear on the old parts.

I have always thought it incredible that the original GLOCK plastic guide rod lasts so long.

I have seen exactly one in many years of shooting and conducting classes that seemed worn to the point of degrading performance, and this was a long-slide pistol subject to thousands of +P+ loads in competition.

Just the same, I like the steel guide rod assembly. There are a number of proven units that look right and perform well.

I believe that if you use a good quantity of +P loads the all-steel unit has merit.

This is a standard GLOCK 19 9mm with TRUGLO sights, a great start.


As for triggers, if you are carrying the GLOCK for personal defense, then the factory trigger action is more than suitable.

Aftermarket units reducing the trigger action from 5.5 to 3.5 pounds are unacceptable. These units are for competition use only.

There are connectors that may be used to provide a crisp 4.5-pound let-off, but use extreme caution.

Best to leave the factory trigger action as issued for this use.

customized GLOCK pistol
This is a properly set up Rival Arms slide on a GLOCK 9mm pistol.


Nothing wrong with the original GLOCK barrel, save polygonal rifling isn’t well-suited for use with lead bullets.

A conventional rifled barrel allows use of bulk lead bullets and handloads.

A top-flight barrel, such as the Storm Lake or Bar-Sto, will provide excellent accuracy.

Rival Arms slide
Rival Arms exhibits excellent fit and finish in all of their products.


GLOCK sights are ridiculously easy to change. TRUGLO features fiber-optics with tritium inserts.

These are offered in several versions with excellent integrity and visibility. XS offers the F8 and R3D sights, excellent choices.

If you don’t do any other upgrade, sights are probably the base and foundation.

Conclusion: Customizing a GLOCK Pistol

When you begin to consider modification, it is possible to diminish a pistol’s performance with added features.

The bling factor is good for some of us, but practical performance is the baseline.

Carefully choosing GLOCK parts will improve accuracy, performance and even aesthetics.

Pistol with XS Sights
The XS sights F8 sights are good choices for personal defense.

What parts do you like to upgrade and customize on your GLOCK pistols? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. I thought the article was straight forward and not overly wordy. It was quick and easy to digest and packed full of information. I really appreciated the comment about sticking with the factory trigger if you carry the weapon for self defense.

  2. I really enjoyed this article. I plan on doing something with my Glock 21 this year. I had planned to send it to Robar Company, only to find out they are no longer in business. That said if I am not mistaken Wright Armory has assumed ownership of proprietary processes and assumed the mantle of Robar’s excellence. What I really like is the “silver” slide on the weapon that I believe Bob Campbell is firing? I just like the simple no fuss no muss clean silver look without all the extra cut-outs. So I am open to any advice. I know they can be Cerakoted etc. Is there a stainless offering I am missing? Thanks to many & all for your advice.

  3. The biggest reason to keep the stock trigger is that if you have to use the pistol for self-defense, the modifications will not be used against you in a civil or criminal court. If you are not going to carry it, a modified pistol is great. Personally, I like the extended mag release and extended slide stop.

  4. I have issues with Glock using plastic in their guide rod…as the article stated, the author has only seen 1 instance where it caused a problem but mine has a slight curve and would expect that over time the curve will become more pronounced which will jam the gun.

    Trigger in a stock Glock is not that great, IMO H&K and the S&W Shield offers a better trigger than the Glock.

    Now that ammo costs so much $$$, purchased a laser targeting system by LaserHIT — it allows us to practice at home and just like at the range, my wife and I can shoot the H&K much more accurately than the Glock.

  5. I would recommend leaving your Glock standard for concealed carry defensive use, as well as factory ammunition. You will have to defend yourself again in court and any changes to make your weapon ” more deadly” will be jumped on by prosecuting attorneys. Good advice from the great Massad Ayoob.

  6. I agree with Bob regarding the trigger modification. It should only be performed on competition firearms. Modification of a firearms trigger can quickly turn a justified shooter who, was protecting his self or someone else from great physical harm, into a defendant. Lawyers will be all over a modified trigger and turn the user into a modern day gunfighter, that was looking for a fight. As a certified gunsmith, I build Glocks into virtual race guns for IPSC, USPSA, and 3Gun competition firearms. However, I caution my clients that a modified trigger should not be used as a carry gun for self defense. My Glock 20 is my personal protection carry gun. It has a lightened slide, a rifled barrel, a Trijicon red dot sight, co-witness sights, larger beavertail, tungsten guide rod with captured 22# spring, and sports Talon grip tape. All of the modifications are to make the firearm more controllable, accurate, faster target acquisition and reduce recoil. No modification has been performed to the trigger. I refuse to be a victim of an assailant or a broken court system. Furthermore, I can tell you that one well known 3.5 Connector I used in a competition build felt “funny” in dry fire testing. When I took it to the range for live fire testing… the connector had turned the G34 into a full auto pistol! On further examination, the angle of the backend of the connector was several degrees (3 to 4) out of normal. So, as Bob says, be very careful with trigger modifications.

  7. Good article but I disagree with the author on one area, the trigger. I have the Glock 3.5# trigger with the New York #1 trigger spring. This was recommended by an original Glock armorer (his wife worked for Glock). I have this on all my Glocks. It is a very reliable trigger set up with a trigger pull of about 6 pounds. Very good guns. Love all of mine.

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