It has been well established that many products and some of the techniques used by our elite military and law enforcement units originated in the competitive shooting arena. Competitive shooters are always looking for an edge, as it brings notoriety among their peers (i.e., winning) as well as a financial incentive. Military and LE motivations are survival and lethal efficiency.
After a vetting process, select Special Operations units separate the wheat from the chaff and adopt, or source, variations for their specific needs. Typically this trickles down to other military units and the LE market, as everyone wants what the varsity team uses. The popular 3-Gun stance, belt-mounted mag pouches and red dot sights on service pistols are examples of crossover.
A very specific pistol is gaining popularity across the Internet and is being referred to as the “Roland Special,” or the “Gunslinger Special.” It is essentially an open class carry pistol. You might be asking yourself why this monstrosity would become so popular. The answer can be found with the demographic of its end users.
Members of one of our elite national assets conceptualized the Roland Special as a concealed carry pistol. While their world might not necessarily be everyone’s world, they are required to make pistol shots in excess of 25 yards, shoot their pistols while using night-vision goggles and make low percentage shots while a threat, a no-shoot and themselves are all in a state of motion, i.e., hostage rescue.
Some of these shooters previously preferred long slide, iron-sighted pistols, such as the Glock 34/35, for their longer sight radius and increased ability to make precision shots. Many have now transitioned to the smaller, more concealable Glock 19 equipped with a red dot sight, finding them to be just as accurate as their long slide pistols. With a compensator affixed to a threaded KKM Precision match barrel, these operators have found the pistol is lighter in weight, softer recoiling, flatter shooting and more accurate than their previous pistols.
When adding a red dot into the equation, you take away sight radius, so there is no accuracy benefit to having a pistol with a longer slide. When compared to a long slide pistol such as a Glock 34 or Government Model 1911, compact pistols like the Glock 19 are easier to shoot rapidly with a red dot sight because there is less slide travel, which equates to faster follow-up shots. If you have a good handle on recoil management, the red dot will never leave your field of view, making it far easier to track the dot during rapid fire.
The 3.25 MOA red dot found in the Trijicon RMR RM06 gives a precise aiming point that, to the eye, is approximately half the width of the front sight blade. It is considered by many to be the ideal size for both speed and accuracy.
A significant mechanical accuracy isn’t gained with an increased barrel length, compared to this Glock 19 equipped with a KKM Precision match barrel, which is capable of 1½-inch groups at 25 yards with full-power duty ammunition found on the commercial market. KKM’s barrel locks up tighter and increases accuracy by approximately 30 percent over a stock Glock barrel with no decrease in reliability. The addition of the KKM barrel also allows the owner to practice with lead projectiles without fear of damaging the factory Glock polygonal barrel.
Due to the extended, threaded barrel and KKM compensator, the Roland Special is the same length as a Glock 34, but shoots softer, flatter and has a more concealable grip.
SureFire’s X300 Ultra, also referred to as the “Uboat,” currently is available in two models, A and B variations. The A model features a rail-grabber mount that produces 500 lumens, while the B model attaches with a T-slot mount and produces 600 lumens of white light.
That takes care of the who and why; let’s get down to the what. The Roland Special recipe is as follows:
When ATEi fits a Trijicon RMR to a pistol slide, they mount the sight as low as possible, about .125-inch deep. When using suppressor height sights from AmeriGlo, the sight picture is visible in the lower third of the window of the RMR, with the dot sitting on the blade of the front sight. This provides a familiar sight picture when presenting the pistol, and is a seamless transition should you experience failure of the electronic sight. For users of the Roland Special, ATEi mills the RMR in front of the factory rear sight dovetail. This protects the RMR from rear impacts and maintains the factory sight radius. If the sight experiences complications, you’re right back to where you started with factory iron sight placement.
ATEi individually fits each RMR to the host slide for a perfect fit. Screws with a larger diameter and a finer thread pitch are utilized and do not require thread locker, unlike the screws Trijicon provides. Full-size sight bosses are also machined into the slide — the more locating points, the better. Doug Holloway, owner of ATEi, reminded me, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”
Aside from the RMR mounted on the slide, the most notable feature of this pistol is the unique slide serrations. The modifications made to the slide are chosen based on their function in the field, not social gatherings with friends.
ATEi’s top serrations are a unidirectional set of curving edges machined into the top of the slide. Single-hand manipulations are improved with or without gloved hands and bite into virtually any available surface or edge to rack the slide.
“Sure, you can use your notched rear sight because it ‘always’ works on a sunny 80-degree square range. But, if you’ve fallen and broken your wrist, you’ve been shot in the hand, you’re holding your 2-year-old child and the bad guy back by the neck — you’re in a gunfight for your LIFE and now your gun just stopped working. You might be able to hit that small spot on another small spot to operate the slide and fix a malfunction, or you might not,” said Holloway.
ATEi changes the geometry of the rear serrations by deepening them and cleaning up the bottom. Each valley is wider and peak narrower, allowing more meat to get between serrations. Narrower peaks grip your skin better, providing a solid purchase on the slide.
Forward slide serrations match the enhanced rears and have been spec’d to assist the shooter in press checking their pistol without getting their hand too close to the muzzle. Always know the status of your firearm, right?
The combination of these modifications enables shooters to safely, effectively and efficiently rack the slide of their pistol, even in the worst situations. Think sweaty, muddy or bloody.
While the above is the original recipe for the Roland Special, many aspects can be modified to suit individual preferences. For example, instead of having your factory slide milled to accept only a Trijicon RMR footprint, another option would be a new slide from Unity Tactical called the ATOM.
The ATOM slide comes in stripped form, sans internals, barrel, recoil spring assembly, etc. If you are already in possession of a complete Glock 19/23/32 pistol, you can simply transfer these factory parts to the ATOM slide with common hand tools in about five minutes.
The stripped slide is available in either an FDE Cerakote (shown) or black. Either color costs $479, with each adapter plate setting you back an additional $55. Unity Tactical’s own suppressor-height iron sights are included and present a very sharp, uncluttered sight picture and allow co-witnessing of most optics. Due to the way the adapter plates slide into the dovetail cut into the rear of the slide, it was necessary to place the rear sight in front of the optic, just behind the ejector. While this shortens sight radius, I noticed no difference in my presentation times or the shootability of the pistol with irons. An added benefit of the rear sight location is that it will protect the glass of the optic from frontal impacts.
As manufacturers seem to be in a race to create the best mini red dot sight they can, their footprint and designs are bound to change, and many already have. If you’re always upgrading to the latest and greatest and would prefer to have a system that can adapt to these changes, then the ATOM is worthy of your consideration.
So, how is this thing carried? Two words: Raven Concealment. Here is what you order:
Raven Concealment Phantom Light Compatible Glock Holster
Model: Glock 19
Light: SureFire X300 Ultra
Retention: Friction Fit
Color: Wolf Gray
Cut: Minus Cut
Body Shield: Full Shield
Extended Barrel: KKM Compensator
Sights: Suppressor Sights
Slide Optic: RMR
Belt Size: Your Choice, my choice is 1.5-inch
Belt Loop: OWB Quick Mount Straps (QMS)