Customizing a GLOCK Pistol: Best Practices


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!

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