For any customer walking through a retail store, they see plenty of easy upgrades for the AR-15, including everything from handguards, muzzle devices, triggers, rails and all manner of easy DIY polymer and billet add-on upgrades. As the customer looks for upgrades to trick out their Glock, arguably the most popular handgun in the world, the customer usually only sees magazines and holsters in the isles. For whatever reason, most retailers overlook the surging custom tactical and competition Glock upgrade markets that are delivering full margins, higher frequency sales and overall higher accessory revenues than firearms alone.
Easy To Upgrade
The AR-15 platform is easy to upgrade, but the Glock is still far easier typically with little more required than a straight punch as the upgrade tool and access to YouTube. Part swaps are easy even for a first timer. The Glock can be completely disassembled with a simple field strip and pushing out just three pins. Glock upgrades are not the nightmare of other pistols that require custom fitting — conversely, every Glock upgrade part is considered “drop-in.”
The hardest part to upgrade is the sight system, which can still be easily accomplished with just a standard handgun dovetail sight press and a Glock front sight wrench. Any of the prolific Glock Certified Armorers could also offer in-store installation service for a fee. Retailers should be asking why they would not want to begin offering a selection of affordable full margin drop-in parts for customers to keep customers coming in and potentially driving other impulse purchases.
What makes stocking Glock upgrades so profitable for retailers is the Glock parts’ interchangeability across most the 9mm, .357 Sig and .40 S&W models. For example, the common extended slide stop, performance trigger kit and polished plunger performance upgrades only require a retailer to stock a total of three aftermarket SKUs that will support all “small” format 9mm, .357 Sig and .40 S&W Glock models. There are still many model-specific upgrade parts, but the majority of aftermarket parts support a large array of models. The slide, trigger kit and barrel upgrades are more expensive, but most other upgrades are less than $20 to $30, which can keep customers coming back each week for a new upgrade. The new G43 and G42 Glocks are also becoming custom platforms even if that means just new sights and plus-capacity magazine extensions.
Showcasing The Goods
Tactical Retailer looked into the many Glock accessory manufacturers and chose a few that offer products available through retail distribution channels or offer strong direct retailer sales programs. The goal was to also showcase a few common upgrades to retailers that are easy, five-minute, added-value installs for a DIY’er or an in-store gunsmith.
Although Geissele has become well known for triggers, the sister company ALG has been pumping out a stream of very innovative Glock-related products. The $95 weighted competition ALG Flared Magwell is designed to operate with extended “+” capacity magazines and enhance reloading speed. ALG’s 3-Second Mount is designed to mount an Aimpoint Micro T1 or RMR in a non-reciprocating manner on a Glock to avoid the destructive effect of recoil on slide-mounted red dots. The $250 ALG 3-Second Mount is specifically designed for hostage entry teams, but 3-gun competitors have begun using the rock-solid mount as well.
Apex Tactical offers a multitude of drop-in aftermarket performance trigger upgrades for many manufacturers including Walther, Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer and of course Glock. The Walter PPQ trigger I tried made the already amazing PPQ trigger even better, and it did the same for my test Glock. Each of the Apex drop-in triggers deliver an enhanced billet aluminum trigger shoe design and a significantly crisper break, reduced take-up and less overtravel — all without any user tuning. The customer only need to push out a couple of pins and then slip in the new trigger for greatly enhanced performance. Apex represents one of the most affordable trigger assembly options for customers at only $99 MSRP. The $18 Ultimate Safety Plunger is also recommended for further smoothing out the Glock trigger feel.
Deus Ex Machina (DEM) CustomGlockBarrels.com
DEM is a newcomer to the custom Glock barrel market but is capturing both trophies and extra looks due to its design style. The small veteran-owned custom barrel manufacturer offers premium custom drop-in match barrels for the 17, 19, 22, 23 and 34 in titanium, gold or black with threading, custom dimpling or fluting as options. The barrels are stunning, but they unfortunately were completely sold out and I could not showcase them here. I was able to obtain the company’s billet flat trigger, stainless guide rod and tactical magazine funnel, which were incredibly high detail quality. For those customers looking for something different with ultra-premium quality and head turning looks, DEM is worth stocking for retailers who can hand sell Glock upgrades.
KKM Match Barrels
Definitively, barrels have become one of the go-to upgrades for competitors seeking to squeeze every last drop of performance from their raced out Glock. KKM has become the brand Glock competitors reach for the most. The company has a legacy of delivering competition-winning, drop-in Glock barrels paired with flawless button-rifled barrels with outstanding fit and finish. The barrels do not have the dimpled or fluted look of some of the other premium barrels, but most of the company’s barrels start affordably at a $165 retail price. Additional threaded barrel upgrades are available for compensators and suppressors.
Installation and upgrade only requires a customer to field strip the Glock and a simple barrel swap in place of the factory barrel. According to Luke McIntire of KKM, “Our most popular dealer-stocked, aftermarket barrels remain the Glock 19 and Glock 17 barrels, but we can support dealers with quick shipment on any other barrels as needed.”
Primary Weapons Systems
At the 2016 SHOT Show, PWS unveiled production versions of the feature-loaded Enhanced Duty Slides (EDS) for the Gen 1-3 Glock 19 and Glock 17 pistols. At a time when custom-milled Glock race gun slides are selling for $400+ stripped, PWS took a different approach with its EDS slides. The EDS19 and EDS17 are designed as defensive gun duty upgrades where a customer does not want to modify any of the factory lower trigger components. The EDS includes an upgraded firing pin, springs, plunger and either polymer factory sight/slide unit ($449 MSRP) or slide with Trijicon Night sights installed ($549 MSRP).
The same company that took over the AR-15 ejection port door market with a beautifully designed heavy-duty polymer replacement also offers a number of innovative Glock upgrades. Strike was one of the first companies to offer very reasonably priced +2 G42 and +3 G43 polymer magazine extensions. Now, the company also offers several very affordable Glock upgrades including no-mill retrofit red dot sight mounts, enhanced grip magazine bases and an exceptionally well-made $25 All-In-One Glock Tool that provides all the necessary tools customers need for working on a Glock. For a customer wanting a simple quality tool, this Glock Tool is a must-stock item. I used it extensively during the upgrades of these featured Glocks.
Taran Tactical Innovations
Taran Butler is a renowned 3-gun champion and the founder of Taran Tactical Innovations (TTI), which offers all those great parts he designed and uses on his competition winning Glocks. TTI also offers upgrades for M&P, PPQ, XD and CZ pistols, but it is the stunningly gorgeous billet aluminum +2/+3 capacity magazine extensions that should grab attention at the gun counter. Taran recommends its retailers start with stocking the Glock $45 TTI Connector/Plunger Trigger Tuning Kit to greatly improve the factory trigger feel, $89 TTI Fiber Optic Sight and $29 TTI BIllet Mag Extensions for various models. Dealer feedback is that these upgrades hook customers into the upgrade process and other more expensive upgrades become easy future sales.
This innovative product line is driven by the design and special operations experience of Larry Vickers, as well as the production and distribution of Tango Down. Vickers Tactical offers the tactically minded shooter extended magazine and slide stop releases and magazine grip plates for the Glock 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP models. The Vickers designs are not expensive or overtly large, but are designed to be less than $20 to $30 and just large enough for operation with tactical entry gloves. One of the company’s more unique products is the Grip Plug Take-Down tool, which delivers an inexpensive onboard disassembly tool. Vickers also offer several unique upgrades for the G42 and G43 models including the extremely popular Vickers Tactical Slide Stop and extended magazine grips.
Customers only need to field strip their Glock, move their barrel and spring over to the EDS and reassemble. The result is a tighter overall fit, upgraded sights, added front serrations and a crisper, consistent, reduced 4-pound trigger pull weight — all with just a slide swap. The design intent was not to deliver a race gun upgrade, but a simple upgrade that would assure a lighter, more consistent trigger pull, upgraded sights and added front serrations for a chamber check.
This company offers an enormous breadth of Glock upgrades available through distribution that includes every part on the Glock except the frame and extended slide release. ZEV has a long history serving the target and competitive shooter markets, but “recently we are seeing more Glock shooters upgrade their defense guns as well,” noted Dave Roberts, ZEV vice president of marketing. The company’s best-selling accessories are the ZEV Fulcrum Adjustable Trigger, Fiber-Optic sights, Pro Magwell (which seats factory magazines), extended mag plates and Match Replacement Barrels. ZEV premium tier quality has created a large customer following in the Glock community with stunning parts offering shooters feature and performance benefits. If a retailer wants improved performance a huge breadth of upgrades, and stunning looks that impress, ZEV parts are the one to stock.
Glock OEM Factory Parts
It would be a gross oversight to forget that Glock itself offers a number of extremely inexpensive upgrades including a 3.5-pound link to lighten trigger pull, extended slide release to deliver more positive slide release during reloads, “+” magazines extensions and factory night sights. Glock factory replacement parts are inexpensive to stock for customers replacing worn components and the DIY customer looking for a few easy upgrades. Just as there are customers who are excited to upgrade beyond stock, there is certainly a contingent who refuse to substitute any part that is not factory Glock.
More Than Factory Magazines
Glock magazines are well known for their reliability, however during the great magazine shortage several other companies began offering high quality magazines with unique features. ETS offers clear, heavy-duty polymer magazines that are extremely handy for viewing ammo during training, and Magpul GL9 magazines deliver a price-conscious 9mm option to factory magazines plus new compact 17- and 27-round models.
The Glock is a forgiving and flexible pistol format that has shown to also extend into the world of upgrade accessories available to the retailer. The economics of upgrades make sense, as they provide a simple self-selling gateway for retailers to increase sales that can quickly equal the original cost of the Glock handgun itself.
Featured photo: The G42 and G43 platforms also get simple upgrades with Vickers slide stops and extended +2 magazine releases from Vickers, Taran Tactical and Strike.