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Cold Bore Customs Glock Work

9/1/11 - The Glock pistol is one of the most (if not the most) popular modern handguns in current use in the U.S., and the demand for Glock custom work has grown, rather than shrunk, over the past couple of years. One of the most common custom services that Glock owners look for are grip modifications. Featured here is a grip modification performed by Cold Bore Customs in Texas.

While Glock's slogan is 'Glock Perfection', I'm sure that some would be quick to disagree. The Glock pistol is damn good, but it's definitely not 'perfect' as far as I'm concerned, and by that, I mean that there's really no such thing, since 'perfection' is quite subjective. The current abundance of aftermarket Glock parts and accessories is a testament to the desire for folks to swap out parts or configure their Glocks to suit their specific needs and preferences. When the Glock was first introduced in the early 80's, there wasn't much that could be customized, unlike the Colt 1911, which already had a large selection of aftermarket parts and custom gunsmiths available. You really didn't 'smith' a Glock. Since the frame was polymer, it was basically accepted that there was little that could be done to it. So Glock owners for the most part were limited to changing out parts themselves with aftermarket ones.

The Glock frame, or grip, is a single molded piece of polymer, with steel inserts. The grip couldn't be swapped out or changed. This was one of the main complaints I had about the Glock - the grip wasn't perfect for me. But, I stuck with the unchanged grip for years because I didn't know that anything could be done. I bought my first Glock, a model 19, in August of 1990. My second one was a G24C in 1996. The only things I changed on them were the sights - I ditched the plastic ones and replaced them with metal ones. Things have changed since then, and besides aftermarket parts, there are companies that offer both grip modifications and slide machining.

Home brewed grip mods - Over time, American ingenuity, never content to leave things as they are, developed ways of making changes to the grip. A soldering iron could be used to stipple the grip to provide a rougher, grippier surface. A dremel or belt sander could be used to reshape certain details of the frame, like an undercut under the trigger guard, or to remove finger bumps. Both my G19 and G24 had 'Gen 2' frames, which had no finger grooves on the front strap or thumb rests. One day, I decided to take my trusty dremel and soldering iron and finally make some mods to the frames, to suit my needs. It helped that these weren't brand new guns I was experimenting on, and were already scratched and dinged up. I have small hands, and reshaped the grips by removing some material to make it more ergonomic for me. I added both firing hand and support hand undercuts to the trigger guard and put magazine well cutouts on the side (to aid in removing non drop-free mags). I also used the soldering iron to add a more aggressive texture to the grips, as I've felt that the stock texture's a bit slick. The results are shown below (the G19 frame's been krylon'd):

They're not pretty, but definitely feel better than they did before. When the S&W M&P was first introduced, I bought one, eager to try out Smith's new 'Glock killer'. I was, however, eventually disappointed with the M&P (I had to send it back twice to the factory to fix issues), and found that I preferred my Glocks to it. My Glocks had less felt recoil and I shot them better than the M&P 9. So, I started shooting my Glocks again - mainly the G19. I also converted my .40 G24C to a 9mm G34, after obtaining a G34 upper from a friend, and swapping out the ejector.

My renewed interest in Glocks - I have a few other handguns; several 1911s, Browning Hi-powers, a Sig P226 etc, but I kept reaching for the Glocks when I headed out to the range. This made me realize that the platform, imperfect though it was, worked well for me. It was the combination of simplicity, reliability and 'shootability' that kept me coming back. They're also insanely simple to work on, and take but a couple of minutes to disassemble completely, if that. So, deciding to stick with the platform, I kept my eyes out for another Glock or two. I first bought another G19; this time a Gen 3. The only difference was that it had finger grooves on the front strap and a thumb rests on each side of the frame. Why another G19? Because I've found it to be the most practical size - not too small nor large, and I wanted another one that I hadn't chopped up. A couple of weeks later, I found a G17 RTF2 and picked that up as well. I swapped out the sights immediately on both pistols, and that was that.

Grip mods? - As I mentioned before, I have small hands. The G19 and G17 feel different in my hands. If you look at the overlay photo below (red is the G17 frame), you can see that they differ not only in length, but in shape as well. Due to the shorter grip length, the backstrap 'hump', or palm swell on the G19 is located higher than that on the G17. The G17 grip actually feels comfortable to me, and doesn't need the hump removed. The finger grooves on the G19 are also more closely spaced, and actually fit my fingers very well. I wanted the hump on the G19 flattened out, but didn't want to do the fill and grind method. I didn't have a heat gun for the heat and flatten method. So, after letting the pistols sit for a bit, and contemplating doing the frame modifications myself, I decided not to take the task on myself (since they were brand new and I didn't want to screw them up). That's when I looked at the different folks offering grip modification services.

Cold Bore Customs - I did some looking around at the various companies that perform Glock grip modifications, looking for a good balance of texture functionality, services offered, aesthetics, reported turnaround times, and forum feedback. Besides the hump removal, I looked for a company that offered textures that I couldn't do myself. I can stipple and do the 'tree bark' type textures decently. One of the companies that I kept going back to look at was Cold Bore Customs in Texas. CBC is owned and operated by Lane A. Owens a law enforcement officer. The thing that caught my eye were the five different textures he could put on the grip. From his website photos, his work looked very professional and neat with attention to detail, so I contacted him. CBC also performs work on other polymer pistols like the XD and M&P.

I asked Lane to give me a bit of history about how he started his business and how he developed his processes, and he replied:

I have been working on and with guns since I was about 5 years old. I grew up in a family of avid shooters, hunters, and law enforcement. I started as a police officer in 1993, about the time Glocks started gaining poularity in Law enforcement down here. Like so many others I never really liked the grip much on the Glocks. Specifically the full sized frames never did fit me well. I sent my duty G22 off to Robar to have a reduction done to it about mid 2003. I was impressed with how the pistol felt, but wan't all that impressed with the way it looked. After about 6 months of duty use the textured finish began chipping off. Robie Barkman was great and offered to repair it, but I didn't cherish the thought of being without my duty pistol for another 8 plus weeks. That is when I set about messing around with grip reductions and texturing to see what I could come up with.

I tried several methods, ones that were in use by most of the reduction companies. I actually purchased a few different Glocks that were reduced by various companies and then proceeded to cut them up to determine what methods each company used. The first reductions I did were of the standard fill and grind method. Fill the backstrap and grind away the polymer to get the desired shape, size and contour. The only drawback to this process was the texture had to be applied via epoxy, or spray. This worked fine and looked great, but eventually wore and flaked or chipped off. I spent lots of time trying different materials to try and find something that would work, but never found anything that would meet my expectations. There were several other methods I had been trying, but never really put any to the test.

Then I ran upon a post on a local Gun site, "GlockTalk.com". It involved heating and reshaping the backstrap of the Glock. I had thought about this method but never tried it out. After working out the logistics of the process, and doing my own current G23, I decided that this way the way to go. I was able to come with my own little methods of this process to produce a reduction that offered superior ergos for the Glock grip. The process does not grind away polymer on the backstrap leaving the filler material exposed. It allows the texture to be placed on the grip with heat rather than using foreign material. The material used is the parent frame material; nothing is added and the texture is "melted" into the polymer on the grip. The texture becomes part of the frame permanently and will not flake or chip off.

I started with my own and my wife's duty weapons. Then on to some fellow officers' duty weapons. After a while, lots of folks were telling me I ought to start my own business and do this for other people. I figured why not, it beats working a steady extra job and it was something I knew how to do already. I did several test pistol for individuals that I knew would test the durability of the reductions and the other work. I did several rental pistols for a local shop, so they would truly get a real world test.

To date, none of the reductions or other work has failed. This was important, as I didn't want to have redo the work. Quality work should only have to be done once. I also wanted my modifications to be useful first, asthetically pleasing second. The other thing I wanted to do was maintain a resonable and relatively quick service time. I do not particularly like to have my weapons away from me for long periods of time. I found most other people feel the same way. The standard in the reduction businuess seemed to be about 6 weeks. That seemed a little long to me, so I try and keep my turn around time around one week.

I understand other companies may have a higher volume, and offer some custom work that I don't. I wanted to offer the most popular and most useful modifications, and offer them at a resonable price and offer good customer service. I have known several custom gun smiths during my lifetime, and my favorites are the ones who will sit with you, talk with you and get you what you want out of the work you want done. I am not in this for the money, or to become big and famous in the gun business. I simply want to be known for good cutomer service and quality work. There is a saying: quick, cheap, and good, pick two because you can't have all three. I wanted to break that rule and I think I'm doing an ok job so far.

- Lane Owens

So, I sent out my G19 and G17 RTF2 frames to Lane. I received them back about a week and a half later - door to door. This included shipping time both ways. Lane advertises a current (at the time of this writing) average turnaround time of approximately one week, not including shipping to and from him. Note: Please contact Lane directly to inquire about turnaround times, as those are subject to change based on work load and the extent of the modifications.

G17 RTF2 - As I mentioned above, the backstrap hump on the G17 frame doesn't bother me, as it's low enough. I'm not enamoured with the front strap finger grooves, but I don't mind them. The RTF2 (rough Texture Frame) texture is actually much grippier than the standard texture molded into the Gen 3 frames. Some people find it too rough, but I like it because I shoot with gloves on, and don't carry it concealed or otherwise. I can see where the RTF2 texture could be too rough in those cases. So, while I decided to leave the RTF2 texture as-is, I asked Lane to do a double undercut under the trigger guard. In addition to the standard undercut for the firing hand middle finger, there's also an undercut forward of that, for the support hand. The modification is more for comfort than trying to get a higher grip. The undercut is more comfortable for me as it provides a little more room for the middle finger. This gets rid of 'Glock Knuckle', where the downward hump of the unaltered guard can rub the 2nd knuckle of the middle finger.

The undercuts done by Lane are perfectly done - very symmetrical with the edges rounded to match the radius on the original trigger guard. I expected the undercuts to be left unfinished, as I've seen photos from other companies that do that. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cuts were finished with a texture that very closely duplicated the original 'crinkle' factory texture that was there before; both in look and feel. The cuts are blended so well into the frame such that you've got to look pretty closely to see the difference.


G17 RTF2 frame - trigger guard undercuts


Gen 3 G19 - As I mentioned above, the backstrap hump on the G19 is higher up than on the G17. With my small hands, it doesn't feel as comfortable. Grip angle is of secondary concern to me, as I can always adjust the angle of my wrists. The backstrap hump removal is part of CBC's 'Grip Reduction Package', which includes different texturing options. Here's the list of CBC's most requested services. I opted to have 360° texturing, with the 'Tactical Texture' which is the most aggressive texture. I elected to keep the front strap finger grooves since they work well for me. I also requested the double undercut trigger guard (with texturing in the support hand undercut), rounded trigger guard, forward frame flat texturing (for the support thumb), and magwell cutouts.

Grip Reduction - In the left hand photo below, I've overlaid the modified frame over a red outline of the original shape. You can see the difference in the outlines. The backstrap hump is gone, and the rear of the frame now comes straight down, which greatly improves the feel of the grip in my hands. The difference is similar to having a flat vs. arched mainspring housing on a 1911; I prefer a flat one. As Lane described, he doesn't do the 'fill and grind' method, but instead heats up the backstrap and carefully remolds it. The advantage of this method is that none of the original material is ground away, and the subsequent texturing is done in the original polymer of the frame.

Tactical texturing - Lane offers five different grip textures. The most requested texture is the 'Carry Texture', which closely resembles the Glock OEM texture, but is a bit grippier. I chose to go with the 'Tactical Texture', which is the most aggressive texture. Since I plan on shooting this G19 usually with gloves, I wanted a texture with good bite. The Tactical Texture reminds me of the pattern on the TangoDown SCAR rail panels. It's definitely grippy (on par with sharp stippling), and is exactly what I wanted. From the photos on the CBC website, the Carry Texture looks similar, but is just a 'toned down' version of the Tactical Texture. If you plan on carrying for daily use, I'd go with the Carry Texture.

Lane can texture as much of the grip as you want, or as little. Seen here is his standard pattern. On the sides, he extends the texture above the thumb rests similar to where the Gen 2 texturing was. The texturing wraps around the backstrap below the trigger housing pin - the area in the web of the hand is left smooth. Instead of texturing between the finger grooves, I asked to have the entire front strap textured the same, including the grooves and humps. As you can see from the photos, the texturing is very neat and professional in appearance, with straight borders. I've seen some professional grip work that looks very functional, but left something to be desired in the aesthetics department. In my opinion, the grip work that Lane did enhances, rather than detracts from the original look of the pistol.


G19 grip mods


Undercut trigger guard - I requested the same double undercut that was performed on the G17 frame, except that I wanted the front undercut textured the same as the rest of the grip. The rear undercut was blended in with nicely with the rest of the frame finish.

Round trigger guard - For a slightly different look, I asked that the front of the trigger guard be rounded. I initially suggested thinning the entire guard for a sleeker appearance, but Lane recommended against thinning it excessively. Thinning the trigger guard can be aesthetically pleasing, but can remove more material than Lane is comfortable doing. His reasoning is that the trigger guard actually takes quite a bit of the recoil impulse during shooting, and that there is no internal brace between the front and back rails on the Glock. While he's never seen a thinned trigger guard fail, he'd rather err on the side of caution as far as reducing the structural integrity of the frame by removing too much polymer. He re-textured the guard to blend in with the crinkle finish on the frame, and added a small patch on the front with the Tactical Texturing.

Forward frame flats - As requested, Lane also textured the forward frame flats in front of the slide lock. I usually rest my support hand thumb there and like having the added traction on the side of the frame.

Mag well cutouts - Semi-circular cutouts on each side of the magazine well aid in removing a stuck magazine, or the older non drop-free mags (of which I still have a few of). I did my own on the older frames shown above with a dremel sanding drum. They're relatively easy to do. Lane goes one step further and adds bevels on the inside of each cutout to aid in smooth magazine insertion instead of leaving them squared-off.
The cavity behind the magazine well is turned into a 'Speedwell' as part of the grip reduction process. This is the hole that some buy plugs for to close up to prevent debris from entering the empty space behind the mag well inside the grip. Lane fills this cavity up and creates a ramp to help facilitate magazine insertion.


Grip details

Trigger guard details

Magwell vs. unmodified

Magwell cutouts


Notes/observations - With the introduction of the Gen 4 Glocks with their interchangeable backstrap inserts, Glock has acknowledged that not everyone has the same size hands or likes the same size grip. 'Perfection' is relative and personal. Unfortunately, the Gen 4 Glocks still retain the backstrap hump, and changing the inserts only varies the front-back thickness of the grip. If they had designed it such that a person could swap out humped and flat inserts, that might have eliminated the need for all these custom grip reductions. But since they didn't do that, and there's no shortage of Gen 2 and Gen 3 Glocks out there, the Glock customizers should be kept busy for some time to come.

One of the things that some folks worry about is resale value of customized weapons. Unless the work is done by a well-known gunsmith or the buyer is looking for something similar, custom work costs can be difficult to recoup when selling a gun and can sometimes hurt resale if they're very specific or personal modifications. One of the problems with Glock grip mods is that some make an ugly gun look even uglier in some people's opinions (I personally like the look of Glocks). If the Tactical or Carry Textures are chosen in particular, I feel that they actually add to the aesthetics of the pistol and won't hurt resale value as Lane's work is very professional looking, with obvious attention to detail.

At the range, the difference in feel between a stock Glock and the CBC modifed ones is significant, more so the G19 than the 17 of course. The tactical texture works like a charm; with gloves and without. I didn't find it too harsh on my bare hands, but I only shot about 100 rounds through it like that. I intended to use the G19 with gloves most of the time, so that's what I did.

In my personal opinion, a grip reduction package is probably one of the most worthwhile modifications you can do for the Glock if you have small to medium hands or dislike the hump, instantly improving its feel in the hand tremendously. The vast majority of shooters who have held or shot my G19 comment on how good it feels vs the unmodified grip, and all of them note the quality of Lane's work. If you're looking to get some custom grip work done on your polymer pistol, definitely put Cold Bore Customs on your list of considerations.


Cold Bore Customs G17 Grip Modifications

2/21/13 - Shown here is my Glock 17 RTF2 frame, which I originally sent to Lane at Cold Bore Customs in Texas for some minor modifications. But, after shooting that pistol for more than a year alongside the fully modified G19 that he did at the same timer, I realized how superior the fully modified grip was, so I sent it back to Lane so he could perform the same grip work on the G17 RTF2 that he did to the G19.

The CBC-modified G19 and the original modifications done to the G17 RTF2 frame are covered in the writeup above. For the G17, I originally asked Lane to undercut the trigger as I liked the looks of the RTF2 textured frame, and felt that the hump didn't bother me. I was wrong. After shooting both pistols side by side at the range over the course of a year, the difference was more than I had originally thought. The G19 was superior in every way - feel, comfort, grip etc. The addition of a Grip Force Adapter to the G17 frame definitely improved the natural wrist angle for me, but it just fell short of the G19, especially when shooting single-handed. The Tactical Texturing that Lane did on the G19 provided a better grip without being as sharp as the RTF2 dots. I finally decide to contact Lane a second time around, and ask him to do the full grip job on the G17.

Lane had already done the trigger guard undercut previously, so this is what I requested the second time around:

Undercut trigger guard texture - I requested the same tactical texture be added to the support hand trigger guard undercut, just like on the G19. I had originally left it smooth, but found that having it textured did help my support hand obtain a more secure grip on the pistol.

Forward frame flats - As requested, Lane also textured the forward frame flats in front of the slide lock. In addition, I asked him to extend the texture all the way up to the top of the frame, right below the slide. In his pistol class, Kyle Defoor had mentioned how he pushes his support hand thumb right down in that area to better control the muzzle during follow-up shots, so I wanted better traction there as well.

Grip Reduction Package - The Grip Reduction that Lane did on my G19 improved its feel so much that I wanted the same in the G17 RTF2 - it's the 'Option 2' package that has the texturing performed around the entire grip. To flatten the backstrap and get rid of the hump, Lane doesn't do the 'fill and grind' method, but instead heats up the backstrap and carefully remolds it. The advantage of this method is that none of the original material is ground away, and the subsequent texturing is done in the original polymer of the frame. The cavity behind the magazine well is turned into a 'Speedwell' as part of the grip reduction process. This is the hole that some buy plugs for to close up to prevent debris from entering the empty space behind the mag well inside the grip. Lane fills this cavity up and creates a ramp to help facilitate magazine insertion. I left the finger grooves on the front strap intact, as I do like them.

Tactical texturing - Lane offers five different grip textures. The most requested texture is the 'Carry Texture', which closely resembles the Glock OEM texture, but is a bit grippier. I chose to go with the 'Tactical Texture' again, which is the most aggressive texture and what I have on the G19. I found it to be great with or without gloves.


G17 RTF2 frame - before and after

Frame forward flats



Here's the modified G17 next to the G19 below. The only difference in the trigger guard is that the G19 one is rounded. Both modified trigger guards are still compatible with all holsters, including the Raven Concealment System Vanguard 2. With the hump on the G17 backstrap gone, the pistol points more naturally without the need for a Grip Force Adaptor.


G19 and G17

Vanguard 2 holster



Notes/observations - As with the G19 that CBC did, the texturing on the G17 is very neat and professional in appearance, with straight borders. One of the reasons I sent the G17 back to CBC, besides wanting to have the G19 and G17 match, is that In my opinion, the grip work that Lane did enhances, rather than detracts from the original look of the pistol. As I mentioned in the previous writeup, one of the things that some folks consider is resale value of customized weapons. Unless the work is done by a well-known gunsmith or the buyer is looking for something similar, custom work costs can be difficult to recoup when selling a gun and can sometimes hurt resale if they're very specific or personal modifications. One of the problems with Glock grip mods is that some make an ugly gun look even uglier in some people's opinions (I personally like the look of Glocks). If the Tactical or Carry Textures are chosen in particular, I feel that they actually add to the aesthetics of the pistol and won't hurt resale value as Lane's work is very professional looking, with obvious attention to detail. Plus, his name is becoming more well known, and his work recognized. He's also getting busier.

At the range, the difference in feel between the unmodified G17 grip and the CBC newly-modifed one was immediately apparent. I shouldn't have waited so long to do it. After more than a year of shooting the G19 with Tactical Texture, I have not found it to be too aggressive when shooting with bare hands, because the key abrasion areas (backstrap web and trigger guard undercut) are left smooth. The modifications that Lane did to my G17 make it so much more of a pleasure to shoot in every way.

My only regret is that I didn't send in the G17 sooner to get the full grip reduction mod. If you're thinking about sending your pistol to Cold Bore Customs for some work, don't wait as long as I did.


Vickers Tactical/TangoDown Glock Mag Release and Slide Stop

9/17/11 - The Vickers Tactical Extended Glock Magazine Release and Slide Stop are upgrades to the stock parts on a Glock. They're a collaborative effort between Vickers Tactical and TangoDown LLC, and result in improved manipulation of the pistol's controls. Both the Extended Magazine Release and Slide Stop have been out for a while, so I've had a chance to use them quite a bit on my Glocks.

While Larry Vickers (LAV) is known for his work with the 1911, he's also a big fan of the Glock G17 and G19 in 9mm, and refers to the Glock as the 'universal service pistol'. He actually recommends the Glock over the 1911 platform for most people, because of its simplicity and reliability.

Extended Magazine Release - This is a slightly extended magazine release for the Glock series of 9mm/40/357SIG (model GMR-001) and the Glock 20, 21, 29 and 30 series of pistols (model GMR-002). It does not fit the Glock Gen 4 models. The black plastic magazine release is molded from the same material as the factory original but is slightly extended and has rounded edges. LAV has always felt the Glock standard magazine release was too short and the extended Glock release was too long. In addition both versions have sharp edges. After wondering if anyone was ever going to offer a better version he decided to partner up with TangoDown and offer it as a Vickers Tactical product.

The Vickers Tactical Extended Magazine Release was also designed to prevent the magazine from accidentally being released if laid on a flat surface. As shown below, the GMR-002 is slightly longer than the GMR-001 to account for the larger caliber frame. They're both compared below to a standard Glock 9mm magazine release, and also installed in a 9mm/.40 frame. The GMR-002 will extend the same distance in the larger frame as the GMR-001 in the smaller frame.

I'm a lefty, and find the stock magazine release a bit short when using gloves, and the corners too sharp. I replaced my stock magazine release with the Vickers one, and also rounded the bottom corner even more. It's the perfect length, in my opinion, and releases the magazine more positively, especially when wearing gloves. I tried rounding off the sharp bottom corners on the stock magazine release, but it was too short, and didn't actuate very positively. For right handers, the VT mag release is easier to depress, for folks with smaller to average size hands without significantly shifting the grip on the weapon.

For those who like a longer mag release in their 9mm/.40/.357 sig Glock, but want the rounded edges of the Vickers, you can always install the GMR-002 instead of the GMR-001, as it'll stick out from the frame further, but be advised that it'll be more prone to accidental release.

The GMR-003 is for Gen 4 Glocks.





GMR-001 in 9mm frame

GMR-002 in 9mm frame




Slide Stop - The Vickers Tactical Slide Stop is not an extended slide stop, but a differently contoured one. The stock slide stock sits flat against the frame, and doesn't provide much traction, especially when thicker gloves are being worn. Extended slide stops can accidently lock back the slide while the pistol is being fired, due to some people's shooting grip on the gun.

The VT Slide Stop shape is inspired by the S&W M&P slide stop, and is the same length as the stock Glock slide stop, but extends out slightly from the frame to form a shelf, then curves back under. This shelf makes it much easier to drop the slide, either with the left or right thumb (for right handers), or with a straight index finger for lefties. The surface of the slide stop has grooves which also provide much better traction than the stock slide stop. Extensive prototyping and testing created the optimum slide stop shape enabling positive slide lock and release, especially with gloves. It's precision stamped and formed from 4130 chrome moly steel with durable hard coat. While professional gunsmith installation is recommended by the manufacturer, anyone who works on their own Glock can swap it out in a minute or two.

In my opinion, the VTSS is one component that's a "must-have" for any Glock. It really makes a great difference. As a lefty, I cannot easily lock the slide back without swapping the pistol to my right hand and pushing up on the slide lock in the normal manner with my right thumb. With the VTSS, I can push up on the slide stop with my straightened index finger while pulling the slide back, locking it to the rear. That's something I've never been able to do with the stock slide stop.

The VTSS fits Glock models G17, G17L, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35.


VT Slide stop

LAV with a VT-equipped G19


4/18/12 - Vickers Tactical Glock Mag Floor Plate - The Vickers Tactical Glock Mag Floor Plate from TangoDown is a direct replacement for the stock Glock base pad. The VT Base Plate allows a tight or stuck magazine to be more easily stripped from the magazine well. The VT base plate is slightly wider than the stock Glock base plate, molded out of 15% glass filled impact modified nylon, and has a ridged scallop on each side to provide purchase on the plate. On the bottom of the plate are eight dimples, which can be used to identify individual mags by colouring them in with a silver Sharpie or paint.

The VT Base Plate installs exactly like the stock base plate. I've always struggled a bit to remove the stock base plates, but once they were off, the VT base plates slid right on. All my Glocks have half-moon cutouts on each side of the magazine well to facilitate tight-mag removal, but having the VT base plate allows you to do the same without having to permanently altering the frame. The wider base plate also makes it easier to extract the magazine from mag pouches; especially with gloves. You can also strip a stuck magazine on a belt or other edge.

The Vickers Tactical Glock Floor Plate currently fits 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 SIG and .45 GAP Glock models. It will be available from TangoDown and Vickers Tactical dealers shortly.


VT Base Plate

VT vs. stock

SPRINCO Springs and Recoil Reducers

4/10/08 - Sprinco USA, also known as Tactical Springs LLC, hails from Texas and manufactures high-quality springs and recoil reducers amongst other products. Featured here are some of Sprinco's Recoil Reducer kits. Note that we're talking about felt recoil; and more importantly muzzle jump/flip. Generally speaking, in order to reduce the recoil of a weapon, you either need to add weight to the weapon, or utilize a compensator on the barrel that redirects some of the gases to angle backwards to counteract the rearward motion of the gun (Newton's third law applies). Guide rod replacement systems like these are more 'Recoil Management' systems rather than recoil reducers, as they do not reduce the actual recoil force of the pistol.

How a firearm moves in relation to the shooter depends on quite a few variables. The height of the bore above the grip determines the moment arm which contributes to muzzle flip. For example, if you have a 10lb weight and hang it off a 1-foot long stick, it'll take much more effort to hold the stick horizontal than if the weight were hung only 2 inches from your hand. The weight hasn't changed, but its distance from you will affect the force needed to hold it out there. Where the weight of the firearm is concentrated also makes a difference - if it's closer to the hand or out by the muzzle. Adding weight at the muzzle helps reduce movement of the muzzle from recoil. That's why heavier guide rods like tungsten do work to reduce muzzle flip.

Sprinco's Recoil Management Guide Rod Systems work by utilizing a secondary spring to manage the peak recoil forces within the handgun. The secondary (or sub spring) assembly is incorporated onto a full length, heat treated, stainless steel guide rod to cushion the slide to frame impact. As the slide moves rearward, instead of bottoming out on the frame, it contacts a sleeve on the guide rod and pushes it back, compressing the secondary spring just prior to impact. This decelerates the rearward slide velocity and some of the recoil energy that would have been transmitted through the frame from the impact is used to compress the secondary spring. It's supposed to work like the shock absorbers on your car - the road vibration is absorbed by the shock instead of being transmitted to the frame of the car, so your ride feels smoother. The graduated sub spring is engineered and critically positioned in each model to ensure normal cycling and reliability. The secondary spring concept is not unique and I've seen numerous similar-looking kits. However, Sprinco's look to be the best made out of all those I've seen.

Sprinco's kits are made of 17-4 heat treated stainless steel polished to a mirror finish. In the past, I've tried a couple of other recoil reducers of similar designs, but have been turned off by the low quality and malfunctions that they induced. Sprinco's kits are of the highest quality. The polish is so good on them that some people have mistaken them for chrome plating and wonder if it'll flake or chip off. So, as far as quality of manufacturing goes, the Sprinco kits are impressive.
There are minor differences between each kit for different pistols, but in general, the guide rod necks down to a smaller diameter towards the rear. A sleeve rides on the smaller diameter portion and partially encloses a secondary chrome silicon spring which keeps the sleeve tensioned in the forward position. The sleeve and secondary spring are retained by the end cap/button which is threaded onto the guide rod and is not user-removable.

Sprinco makes kits for most popular handguns out there. Shown below are the Sprinco recoil reducer kits I got to try out:

  • 1911 Full length guide rod - this comes with a replacement guide rod plug with a hole
  • 1911 "short" CMP/Tactical - This is a shorter guide rod that is CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) legal. As for the 'tactical' use, the short version functions like the standard USGI guide and allows clearing of jams/stuck rounds by placing the muzzle of the pistol against a hard object (barrel over object) and pressing the slide backwards to clear the jam, if it's too difficult to rack the slide manually. You can't perform this with a full length guide rod. The standard plug is used.
  • Para-ordnance P14.45 - this is the same as the 1911 full length guide rod, just marked for the specific weapon to avoid confusion.
  • Glock 19/23/32 - non-captured chrome silicon standard spring included. Guide rod length for the mid-size Glock pistols
  • Glock 17/22/24/31 - longer guide rod for the full size and long slide Glocks, recoil spring included.
  • Browning Hi-power - Includes chrome silicon recoil spring.
  • Sig P226 - replaces stock guide rod and uses stock spring.

1911 FLGR

1911 Short

Para P14.45

Glock 19

Glock 24


Sig P226

Shown below are the handguns I installed the kits in.

  • Stock Kimber Warrior .45 - FLGR kit
  • Custom Colt 'MARS' 1911 .45 - short 1911 kit
  • Custom Para-ordnance P14.45 - FLGR kit - extensively worked by Aaron Harris from Smoking Hole pistols for match use; it has a Cominolli tungsten full length guide rod in it.
  • Glock 19 9mm
  • Glock 24C (ported barrel) .40 S&W
  • Browning Hi-power 9mm
  • Sig P226 9mm


1911 FLGR

1911 Short

Para P14.45

Glock 19

Glock 24C


Sig P226

Installation of the Sprinco kits is generally as easy as installing the stock guide rod system with no modification to the firearm. They basically drop in as replacements. The full length guide rods install like any other FLGR in the 1911, and the short one installs like the standard guide. As far as full length guide rods go for the 1911, there are those that think that they're less than worthless, and are more a liability in a 1911 than an improvement. The main argument against them are the inability to do perform the clearance procedure mentioned above, and also that it's a solution to a non-problem (spring binding, etc). However, there are many other pistols that utilize full length guide rods like the Sigs, S&Ws, Glocks and Berettas in service with both the military and law enforcement and that hasn't been cause for issue. Granted, the 1911 wasn't designed with one, but there are tons of aftermarket parts it wasn't originally designed with. I'm ambivalent - if it works as good as or better than before, than that's good enough for me. But it HAS to work and not be the cause of malfunctions.

The Glock kits include springs, and the springs are non-captured. The Sig P226 kit includes a small metal forward bushing/donut that's installed onto the slide before the guide rod and spring.

When racking the slide to it most rearward position, you can feel that the slide contacts the secondary spring just before it stops, cushioning the slide to frame contact.


1911 FLGR

1911 Short




At the range - Seven handguns and ammo is a lot to lug to the range, so I decided to do this in two sessions and take the .45's first and try the others at a later date. I also just sent out my BHP for some gunsmithing, so I'll have to wait for that to come back.

I brought 100 rounds per pistol of .45 230gr ammo (300 total). It's amazing how quickly I went through that - it wasn't really enough. The main purpose of the test was to determine whether I could perceive any difference in felt recoil or muzzle jump. The second was to see if the kits induced any malfunctions. Note that I'm by no means a 'competition/competitive' shooter. I've shot in a few IDPA and IPSC matches, and local club steel matches, but I'm more of an average enthusiast than a very experienced or good shooter. So, when it comes to perceived recoil and muzzle jump, I'm writing from my average Joe frame of reference, who doesn't put a thousand rounds down range per week.

I didn't have a shot timer to measure split times, so this was just going to be based on my subjective 'feel'. My plan was to load up as many magazines as I could, fire one or two mags, then change out the stock guide for the Sprinco kit as fast as I could and shoot the again for comparison. I kept the same recoil spring in the pistol. I repeated the process for a few different holds - one handed, two handed, and different speeds of firing. I stuck to one pistol at a time and kept switching the guides back and forth between stock and Sprinco kit.

One handed - This is where I thought (incorrectly) that a recoil reducer would make the most difference. I fired all three pistols carefully, trying to notice before and after muzzle jump, recoil and twist, and I really couldn't make out a difference. The P14.45 had the tungsten Cominolli guide rod which puts 3 oz of weight up front, so switching it out with the Sprinco kit actually added a bit of muzzle jump as the Sprinco FLGR is lighter.

Two handed - I first started with single shots, slow fire, observing and trying to 'record' in my mind how much the pistol recoiled and jumped in my hands by carefully observing the front sight in relation to the target. I used my normal hold, squeezing with the support hand quite firmly. This is where I perceived a slight change in the impulse. It felt like the impluse was not quite as sharp as with the stock guide, on both the Warrior and MARS 1911. With the P14.45, I could not discern any difference - the Sprinco kit seemed to work identically to the heavy tungsten Cominolli rod, which has two shock buffs on it. As far as muzzle jump, I did not notice a difference with slow fire. Moving onto controlled pairs and then to faster strings, I tended to grip the pistols a bit more firmly and found that it made a difference in how it felt. I believe that I did perceive a subtle reduction in muzzle jump/recovery. Later on, when I discussed my experience with Sprinco's Alan Dugger, he said that I had discovered for myself that the firmer the shooting platform, the more efficiently the secondary spring performs. I wouldn't say it was a big difference, and it took running a few mags though repeatedly, then changing the guide out to notice the difference in impulse once I was used to how the gun felt. One or two mags wasn't enough. I expended my ammo coming to a conclusion that the Sprinco kits reduced the sharpness of the recoil stroke I felt, and a very subtle reduction in muzzle jump due to that. Not a big difference, though.
A couple of weeks later, at another range, I brought only one pistol (the MARS 1911) to concentrate on and ran another 200 rounds through it rather quickly. Again, I felt the slight difference in impulse transmitted to my hand, and subtle difference in muzzle jump, but not enough to make every shooter immediately notice. I'd estimate the difference to be a bit more effective than installing shock buffs on a guide rod, except that the Sprinco kit will never wear out or result in pieces of shock buff material coming apart in the gun.

I did not experience any malfunctions of any kind with the Sprinco kits, and I was able to 'slingshot' release my slides, even though it took a slightly more forceful tug on the slide to compress the secondary spring and push the slide stop down. All slides locked back on the last shot as well. Do the Sprinco kits reduce slide to frame impact? I'd say that they do, which I feel is a good thing. So, for the .45s, I did feel that the Sprinco recoil reducers reduced the sharpness of the slide to frame impact, and I felt that there was a very small reduction in muzzle jump/follow up shot recovery.

Besides recoil reducers, Sprinco also makes .45 chrome silicon springs, which are all colour coded (shown below). Very good idea, as it helps keep track of what's and out of the gun. They also manufacture extra power buffer and extractor springs for the M4/AR15. I've installed a couple in my carbine and mid-length ARs to see how they perform and have had no problems with them (I had no problems with my stock buffer springs either, though, so that's not saying too much). Sprinco also makes Machine Gunners Lube, which is an extended duty firearms lubricant. It's carried by LaRue Tactical and other dealers, and has been getting a lot of praise. The little bottles are great for on-weapon storing in buttstocks or vertical grips.

.45 chrome silicon springs

Extra power M4 buffer spring

Machine gunners lube


Browning Hi-Power Facelift

7/19/08 - The Fabrique Nationale Browning Hi-Power is one of the most prolific and classic handgun designs which I've always had an affinity for, along with the 1911. I've had two; a Mk III which I bought in 1993 and a Practical model (two-tone), which I now kinda regret selling. When I got my Mk III (a bone-stock Mark III is shown directly below), I shot it stock for a while, then set about changing some parts, like I always do, to suit my preferences.

I changed out the trigger, sear and hammer with Cylinder & Slide components and added nice Spegel rosewood grips. Changed out some of the springs with Wolffs and did a trigger job on it. I also tightened up the slide to frame fit at the front of the frame so that there was practically no slop with the slide fully forward. It shot very well, and was very reliable, so I didn't see the need to do anything else to it internally. The epoxy baked-on finish was a bit slick, so being too cheap to send it out for checkering or texturing, I added grip tape on the front and back straps. A few years later, as I started shooting more with gloves, I changed out the ambi safety to a wider C&S one, as the stock ambi safety was too low profile to engage or disengage positively with gloves. I place my thumb on top of the safety, and the stock one has an uncomfortable pin right in the middle of the pivot which dug into the web of my thumb. The photo below shows how my Hi-Power ended up with these mods minor mods, and that's how I shot it for years. Better than it was out of the box, but still left something to be desired.

Shin Tanaka - Fast forward to 2007, and I was having a conversation with my friend, Shin. Many of us have seen the slick, full colour Japanese gun magazines with gorgeous photography - he's responsible for some of those articles. He's a photographer and writer who writes articles on guns, training and events (such as the SHOT show) for the Japanese ARMS gun magazine, and also for Gunner DVD.

Now, when I first met Shin, I wondered to myself; what does a Japanese guy know about real guns? I was pleasantly surprised to learn, when we started talking about guns, what an incredible amount he knew. Not only just about the weapons, but how they operated and their history. In Japan, he worked for a movie prop maker and an investment bank. Then, following his love of firearms, he moved to the U.S. to go to gunsmithing school and attended Lassen Community College Gunsmithing School for three years (2002-2005). At the present time, he only works on his guns and friends' guns, and does not take on outside gunsmithing jobs. However, he's expressed interest in starting a full time gunsmithing business in the future, specializing in tactical and competition pistols. His main philosophy when working on pistols is to improve reliability, sights, trigger, grip, control interface and of course, looks.

Shin also believes that in order to be a gun writer and gunsmith, you have to be a good shooter as well. He shoots IPSC Limited A class and IDPA ESP expert. Shooting competitions enables hm to find out what kind of guns and equipment work and what do not. He also takes shooting and tactical courses regularly with different companies.

One day, we were talking about Browning Hi-Powers and I found out he had a Mk III set up almost identically to mine. Shin likes the Browning Hi-Power as it is one of the few pistols which was a dedicated design for 9x19mm cartridge and is one of the slimmest, steel-only construction, single action, high capacity pistols out there. He had worked on his, doing pretty much what I would have wanted on mine, and I asked him if he'd work on mine too. I didn't need anything fancy done; I just wanted a practical, comfortable shooter, with specific changes based on my shooting it over the years.

My wish-list - Below is a list of the things I wanted done, which is very similar to Novak's Special Ops BHP package:

- Install new sights
- Hand matte front and back straps and under trigger guard
- Shorten slide stop pin and countersink frame (it often got in the way of my support thumb when shooting lefty)
- High cut front strap
- Dehorn/ smooth all sharp corners. Not a melt, more like a subtle carry bevel.
- Contour rear tang/beavertail (smooth edges and round)
- Contour and shape ambi safety for comfort
- Bevel mag well
- Bead blast and blue

Based on my wish list, and following his criteria when working on pistols to improve reliability, sights, trigger, grip, control interface and looks, this is what he did to my Mk III.

  • Install new sights - It seems that Hi-Powers and Novaks Lo-Mount Carry sights seem to go together. Shin recommended them as well, so that's what I went with. I chose a Trijicon tritium front and plain rear which is the configuration I run on some of my other pistols. I found the stock Mk III sights a bit busy, with the three vertical bars. Shin also pinned the front sight. The Lo-Mount rear requires milling of the slide and flattening the top of the firing pin stop.
  • Hand Matte Texture on front and rear straps, and under trigger guard - Hand matting instead of checkering is another popular treatment for the front and rear straps on custom Hi-Powers. Hand matting results in a crinkled texture which is non-slip, yet has no sharp edges or corners like checkering. Shin did a beautiful job matting the bottom of the trigger guard and front strap, and all of the rear strap except a portion under the rear tang. He also hand matted the grip screws so they'd match - a very nice touch.
  • High cut front strap - I like to have as high a grip as possible, and asked Shin to high cut the front strap. What he did was change the contour and radius the grip to trigger guard transition on the frame under the magazine release button. It's very subtle visually, but the difference in feel is immediately obvious putting it in my hand and comparing it to a stock Mk III.
  • Shorten slide stop pin and countersink frame - I shoot lefty, and my support thumb rides along the right side of the frame and comes into contact with slide stop pins. The slide stop pin end on the BHP is quite sharp, and not very comfortable to rest against. Shin cut the pin so it's flush with the surface of the frame, then countersank the hole so I can still pop it out. It's a great improvement for me and looks very clean.
  • Dehorn/carry bevel - I don't like the look of 'melted' edges, and Shin did a carry bevel job on the pistol. He took the sharpness off all the edges and corners. The result is best felt by running a finger over the pistol and comparing it to a stock Mk III. In the photos below, you can make out the differences in the muzzle end, slide and frame. No detail was overlooked; Shin also rounded the end of the trigger pin and edges of the hammer. The carry bevel makes it a much more comfortable pistol to carry inside the waistband.
  • Smooth and Round rear tang/beavertail - The rear tang/beavertail of the BHP is short, stubby and sharp. If you use a high hold and place the thumb on the safety, chances are the corner of the tang is poking at the base of your thumb the entire time. For people with more meaty hands, a beavertail is welded onto the end of the tang to eliminate hammer bite. Fortunately, I don't need that, and Shin was able to completely dehorn the rear tang. It's much more comfortable now.
  • Shape ambi safety - The stock Mk III ambi safety is very low profile. Not a problem when shooting without gloves, but with gloves on, I had problems engaging and disengaging the safety positively and quickly. I went with a C&S extended ambi safety, which solved that problem, but was quite uncomfortable. The right side safety is a huge flapper, with a sharp edge and no conducive as a thumb rest. You can see in the 'before' photo below of the safety that the rear edge is convex. This part digs into the web of the thumb, and combined with the sharp rear tang, was a no-go without gloves. It also looked quite clumsy. Shin did recontoured both sides of the safety, got rid of all the sharp edges and made the previously convex edge a concave one, which is how it should have been designed in the first place. The 'after' photo shows the extent to which he modified it. A really fantastic job.
  • Bevel mag well - Not only did Shin bevel the mag well, but he removed the ugly grooves on the bottom of the grip.
  • Reliability - Reshaped and polished internal parts, polished feed ramp and chamber.
  • Tune springs for good trigger.
  • Bead blast and blue - We went with a bead blast and blue on the entire pistol, for a non-glare finish and better purchase on both the grip and the slide than the original epoxy finish.

At the range, it functioned flawlessly and did its job when I did mine. The quality of Shin's work and the attention to details is evident in the photos below.

Tang and Safety before

Tang and Safety after

Comparison to stock Mk III mag well

Front strap

Slide details

Rear tang


Shown below are some other close-up shots. Shin took the ones with the red background.

I took some photos of a stock BHP MkIII and mine, for comparison. At the far right is a photo Shin took of our pistols, before he sent mine back. Except for mine having an ambi safety, they're almost like a pair of twins.

Stock Mk III (top) and Shin BHP

Twins? Shin's HP (top) and mine (below)

Here's the "beauty shot"...

At first glance, many of the modifications that Shin did are quite subtle, and are best appreciated when comparing it to a stock Mk III side-by-side and holding it in your hand. It's only then can you really appreciate the difference all those small details make. My 15-year old Mk III is completely revitalized and is a pleasure to shoot. As I mentioned above, Shin is not taking on any gunsmithing projects. But when he starts his own gunsmithing business and becomes famous, remember that you heard about him here first.


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