Dream - Gun
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
A Fighting Glock from
Cylinder & Slide
By Shane Gericke
Handgunner . 2004 Tactical Annual Issue
Click on images to see
"We can start
immediately," owner Bill Laughridge wrote back.
And dream became reality.
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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!
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."
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!
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.
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.
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
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?