Dream - Gun Come True
A Fighting Glock from Cylinder & Slide
By Shane Gericke 

Originally published in
American Handgunner . 2004 Tactical Annual Issue
Click on images to see extra detail.
I've always wanted a tactical pistol combining the artistry of Michelangelo, the metalwork of Vulcan and the reliability of Old Faithful. Unfortunately, I also wanted the price tag of Scrooge McDuck, so I never ventured further than leafing through gunsmith catalogs and sighing. The a family medical crisis that consumed most of 2003 convinced me that life dreamt is life unlived. So I emailed Cylinder & Slide in Fremont Nebraska.

"We can start immediately," owner Bill Laughridge wrote back. And dream became reality.

Cylinder & Slide Magic

Laughridge is justly famed for his 1911s and Hi-Powers. Less well known is his ability to turn the mother of all tactical pistols----the tough, reliable and incredibly ugly Glock----into a sleek little sculpture that looks as nice as it performs. beauty and tactical perfection is the ultimate marriage of form and function, and that's what I wanted here.

Bill agreed, and turned me over to gunsmith Ralph Gutekunst, who'd manage the project and do the work. we kicked ideas around, stopped and U-turned as we went, and eight weeks later I possessed the finest, most user-friendly home defense weapon on the planet: A Cylinder & Slide Glock 17. My hefty hunk of factory black was now the pistol equivalent of the Sistine Chapel, or Statue of David. More importantly, it's accurate, operable by any size human----short or tall, big hands or small---and as reliable out of the box as any pistol made.

Glock's are notoriously good running machines, so imagine what a little tweaking and polishing would do. Here's how Ralph and his "artist's little helpers"---Aro-Tek, Bar Sto, Ghost, Glockmeister, Haugen Leather, Insight, Metaloy, Wolff and XS Sights ----turned "stock" to "spectacular."

Base Gun
    No contest here, the full-size, 9mm, Glock 17. A tidy package and only 25 ounces unloaded, it's compact and light enough for anyone
in the family to operate. Steel-and-polymer construction makes the gun tough, ergonomics are well thought out, and reliability --- well, remember the manure. While it's not true Glocks never malfunction----"Glocks never break, until they do," quips Bob Houzenga, six time national pistol champion and Camanche, IA, police chief----they're less prone to it than most. The next good thing is ammunition. Nines don't recoil much, making the caliber a good choice for children, arthritis sufferers and the recoil-sensitive. Nines are cheap, buying more bangs per buck. the gun holds 17+1 rounds with a high-cap magazine, making combat reloads mostly theoretical. And, the stopping power of a top rated JHP is every bit as good (or lousy; pistols aren't .308s, you know) as the hairer-chested .40s and .45s. Finally, new Glocks go for just $450-700, with used ones so cheap my inner Scrooge McDuck quacks with happiness.

    Beauty is fine but performance is final, so Ralph performed a complete action job. "I took all the 'gritchy' out of it," he explained, tweaking and smoothing all internals. He then polished the feed ramp and radiused/tensioned the extractor to ensure cartridges enter and exit when they're supposed to.

    Fingergrooves drive me crazy; they splay my fingers and alter my grip. Ralph has heard the complaints and sympathizes. "Fingergrooves don't fit half the population," he said. "And they make the grip too big for small hands. Let's mill them flat." Done! He also rounded the hooked triggerguard and stippled the dehorned polymer with the pattern he uses on metal 1911 front-straps. The stippling looks like miniature peacock feathers, and its gentle ridges will not gouge you like checkering. Yet it holds fight through recoil, sweat, rain or blood.


    "These things shoot like a house on fire with Bar-Stos," Ralph enthused. Not surprising, as Irv Stone's stainless-steel replacement barrels are match-accurate and standard-rifled. That allows you to shoot both jacketed and lead bullets. Contrast that with Glock's polygonal rifling, which can't handle lead. While I nearly always shoot jacketed---cleaner gun, less lead to breathe----its nice to have the option.

    Lighter slide = less muzzle flip. So Ralph milled two lightening slots atop the slide, then beveled the rest of the steel. It's exactly what glock does on its G18 machine pistol to steady the muzzle during burp fire, and the effect is miraculous. It's sort of like porting , without the flash and body burns. He then milled front cocking serrations to match the factory rear, assuring a non-slip grip anywhere on the slide.

Metal refinishing
    Thanks to its diamond-like Tenifer coating, "A Glock slide is very hard on the outside and soft on the inside, sort of like an M&M," said Gary Smith of Caspian Arms, who manufactures stainless-steel replacement slides. Since the lightening process milled away much of that rust-fighting Tenifer, my slide needed refinishing. I love the look of silver against black-cat polymer, so I asked Metaloy Industries' Steve Davis to drench my slide in satiny hard-chrome. (The kink that looks like polished stainless, not the pimp-gun-glittery I loathe.) Metaloy does the plating for many top-drawer manufacturers including Wilson Combat, so it was a natural choice here.

    Since this gun was designed for combat, not bullseyes, Ralph recommended "Big Dots" instead of my favorite Novak Lo-Mounts. Known formally as XS Sight System's 24/7 Express Big Dot Tritiums," they're the single-fastest way to get you on target in a crisis. "With all the accuracy changes we're making, a set of Novaks would let you shoot one-hole groups at 15 yards, "Ralph explained. "The Big Dots are too, well, big to allow that. But you'll get 10 to 20-percent more speed because of the ease of use." In other words, I can launch that critical first shot a quarter- to half-second faster than with precision sights. Big Dots it is!


"I've been shooting Glocks since 1985, and was unhappy with the mush and over travel of the factory trigger," Ghost Inc. President Arthur Viani told me. "I invented one." His Ghost tactical Connector preserves the factory's five-pound trigger pull, but eliminates the mushiness and accuracy-robbing over-travel. "it's the best connector on the market," Ralph said. "What's so cool is it limits over-travel so much, which translates to better accuracy. You'll love it."

Recoil Spring

Spring and slide weights must match so the slide snaps into battery like a piston in Beemer. So Ralph whistled up a 19-pounder from W.C. Wollf Co. to replace the factory's 17. And now? Forget the Beemer; this baby locks up like a Rolls!

Other Goodies

I really like Aro-Tek's tactical magazine release, slide stop and guide tube. The former are bigger than factory but shaped to not interfere with the pistol's operation. They're also closer to the grips, letting small hands easily reach them. Don't scoff, Mr. Big Fingers; if you're wounded, Junior might have to take over, and you certainly want him to reach the controls! the guide tube (not a rod; it's hollow for lighter weight) captures the spring like the factory polymer, but it's crafted from titanium so it won't bend. Don't worry; gun disassembly remains pure factory.

Carry Rig

A gun in a nightstand drawer doesn't need a holster. But you'll be practicing your shooting regularly (right???) and sharpening your skills at gunschools. A good carry rig is a must. My favorite comes from Haugen Handgun Leather in Bismarck, ND, where Jerry Evans handcrafts holsters, belts and mag carriers for all popular pistols. (Or will make any design you can dream up.) Jerry's leather is exquisitely shaped and sewn, fits the gun like a watch cap, and ranges from cowhide to horse to exotic snake and shark-skin. I own several of Evan's rigs and every one's proved a winner.


It's a crying shame to use Bill Clinton's 10-rounders in a gun that hold 18, so I rang up Glockmeister in Mesa, Arizona. Ben Paz stocks new and used high-caps in addition to glock parts and accessories (full guns, too), and his prices are fair for the insanely expensive world of high-caps. A week later I was the proud owner of a drop-free billy buster, and it didn't require a second mortgage to buy.

White Light

The most important accessory next to your ammo is a flashlight. It ensures your shooting a bad guy, not little Jessica sneaking some leftover pizza from the fridge. Two styles dominate the tactical world: the handheld lights typified by SureFire and Streamlight, and the gun mounted lights represented by Insight technologies. the latter's M3 Tactical Illuminator is my gun-mounted favorite. It's palm-sized, lightweight and operable with any finger or thumb. If you prefer handhelds, Cylinder & Slide offers and intriguing device that lets you wear it on you belt or snap it on your gun as needs indicate. Adapters allow virtually any small tail-operated light to fit, and it's the best way yet of allowing your handheld to serve two masters.


Insight also makes an impressive laser/white light combo called the M6. It weighs 3.7 ounces with batteries. One switch lets you choose laser-only, light-only or both, and the other activates it. Lasers let you aim when you're off-balance or can't otherwise see the sights. They're even more useful for practice---that bright red dot shows every jiggle you make. It's great feedback for fine-tuning your arm.


Formal 25-yard testing seemed pointless as the gun is far more accurate than the Big Dots would allow. Easily gauged, however, was reliability and defensive accuracy. I got things started by firing 200 "white box" FMJs as fast as I could pull the trigger. No failures to feed; nice tight groups. I followed up with a box each of 115-gr. Cor-Bon; 147-fr. Winchester Silvertip and SXT; 124-gr. Remington Golden Saber; and 135- and 147- gr. Federal Hydra-Shok --- six JHPs street-proven enough to bet my family's live on. Everything fed perfectly and grouped 2.13" or less at 25 feet.

So there you have it: Vulcan, Michelangelo and Old Faithful in one handsome little package. Which leads me to my final question; If Michelangelo had sculpted in polymer instead of marble, would the Statue of David's little, uh, "roscoe" look like a Glock?