I’ve been aching to be like one of the cool kids on the range and hot rod my Glock 17 Gen 4 with a red-dot sight. What started as a simple slide swap ended up with a complete teardown and upgrades to the major components. The end result was a pistol with a sight that’s faster to pick up and upgraded or tweaked components that make it better shooting. This pistol is as fast as it looks.
The Glock 17 Gen 4 is one of my go-to handguns, a workhorse and a flawless companion in firearms training classes. When I bought it, a friend replaced the OEM trigger connector with one from Ghost Industries and swapped out the stock sights to Ameriglo’s black rear sight with a tritium front sight in yellow. The older I’ve become, the blurrier the front set gets, so having one that stands out gets me back on the target quicker.
For the latest upgrades, I decided to get flashy and ordered a Patriot Ordinance Factory (POF-USA) Glock P17 stripped slide with an optic cut for a Trijicon RMR. I chose the POF slide because it’s beautiful and I know the manufacturer’s obsession with quality. Machined from 17-4 stainless steel with a nitride finish, the slide is ported and the rear serrations are wide and chevron-like for a secure grip. The slide is barebones — it has an optic cut for the RMR and the inner sleeve for the firing pin assembly. All the other parts that make it go bang — the striker assembly, firing pin safety, extractor, recoil spring, and barrel — were absent.
Once I installed the POF slide, it smacked the 1990s out of the pistol and gave it a very modern, racy look. The ported slide begged for a colored barrel. Before I knew it, I slid down the slippery slope and updated or improved every major component.
Rival Arms is a new company, and their parts are not cheap OEM knock-offs. Rival Arms produces quality parts that are better than the factory Glock components. But they aren’t cheap. Their slide completion kit included all the internal parts for the slide. Their precision drop-in barrel is a match-grade, stainless steel barrel that is CNC machined. It’s treated with a BORSLICK boron-nitride DCD treatment to resist heat and carbon build-up. The rifling twist is 1:10 inches with six grooves and features a target muzzle crown. It’s offered in black, graphite and bronze coatings. I choose the loudest color. Surprisingly, the single-spring guide rod looks like a Gen3 guide rod instead of a dual-spring Gen4.
For sights, I used Rival Arm’s M.O.S. tritium sights. The sights are great for day and night and are taller than standard sights to be cowitnessed to the red dot. The benefit to running these sights is that they also serve as a point of reference when you bring the pistol in the periphery of your vision. For the red dot, I chose a Trijicon RMR.
As I waited for parts to come in, I couldn’t help but think about other upgrades. I visited my local gun shop and walked away with an aftermarket slide stop lever with a larger thumb shelf and a slightly wider slide lock. Both make the controls easier to engage.
Once I had all the parts, it was time for assembly. Just because I know how to clean my Glock, it didn’t mean I knew how to assemble the intricate parts of the slide. For this task, I watched the American Gunsmithing Institute’s (AGI) DVD “Glock Pistols, Technical Manual and Armorers Course.” The instruction covers the complete assembly and disassembly of the firearm. What’s great is that they show you how to test the firearm to make sure it’s working safely.
I looked into aftermarket triggers, too, but several competitive shooters I spoke with told me they use the Glock OEM trigger and do a trigger job on it. A trigger job involves polishing the surfaces of the trigger bar, firing pin and firing pin safety. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, I wouldn’t recommend this without instruction. You can make your pistol unsafe if you go too far. Step-by-step instructions can be found on AGI’s Building the Custom Glock, Volume 1. I followed the video and it made a noticeable difference. The trigger went from being spongy to consistently smooth.
To add some octane to the mix, I dropped in a Rival Arms two-piece magwell and Taran Tactical Innovation’s Base Pad in OD Green to my mags. The magwell makes it easier to insert a magazine, while the green base pad extends the capacity of a G17 magazine from 17 to 22 and looks awesome.
A hot-rodded Glock is not complete without frame stippling. I kept it to a bare minimum and stippled the side of the frame where my support thumb rests and the underside of the triggerguard where my support index finger presses up into the frame. The texture is a bit aggressive. I left the rest of the frame as is. After shooting it more, I’ll decide whether to continue stippling the grip and contouring it.
For the holster, I chose a StealthGear USA Ventcore holster. I like the comfort of the ventilated fabric, and the retention is solid. Some may find the strip of fabric along the slide a hinderance, but if I keep my thumb parallel to my fingers, it doesn’t get in the way.
I spent the first few minutes dry firing the pistol to get used to seeing the red dot. I had to break myself of the habit of aligning the iron sights and just look for the dot. As long as the dot is in the window, you’ll hit whatever it covers. Once acclimated to the red dot, it made target acquisition speedier. Since I only had time to take it to a public range, I couldn’t open the throttle up and blast away.
The upgrades refreshed my Gen 4 Glock 17’s performance and feel. The new slide with the red dot felt like it recoiled less snappily than the original and had less muzzle rise. The magwell kit and the stippling improved my grip on the pistol. Because the magwell kit flares out, it helps keeps my shooting hand in place. The stippling locked my support hand fingers onto the grip. The larger slide stop lever made it easy to swipe as my support hand’s thumb. Lastly, the trigger is infinitely better; there’s no sponginess in the travel.
In the end, the red dot, trigger job and stippling made the biggest performance difference. I got on target quicker (once I learned how to use a red dot), the trigger press was smoother and I have a better grip on the handgun. An overhaul like mine isn’t necessary, but the little tweaks are noticeable improvements that I’m glad I did. By going off the deep end a little, and with the help of the AGI DVD’s, I learned the insides and outs of my Glock, which is a reward I didn’t expect when embarking on the project.