A few years ago, I bought a Glock Model 23 in .40 S&W caliber. The third generation, mid-size gun had frontstrap finger grooves, a Picatinny rail, night sights and four factory magazines. I like the mid-size Glock 23 as an off-duty choice for concealed carry. I appreciate the idea of its 13-round magazine capacity combined with the powerful .40 S&W cartridge.
While Glock pistols fit the hands of most officers very well, I discovered the opposite. I had several problems, specific to me and the way I shoot, that made my range sessions a bit disappointing. Finger Grooves
The finger grooves that are molded into the frontstrap of all current Glock pistols are positioned and contoured to accommodate average-sized hands. My hands are bigger than average, and my fingers do not line up with the finger grooves. My fingers actually hurt after extended range sessions or competitive shooting.
The underside of the trigger guard also rapped my middle finger’s knuckle under recoil with every shot. The .40 S&W produces some serious muzzle flip in the Model 23’s lightweight polymer frame. Again, shooting caused pain.
Due to my hand size, Glock pistols also point radically upward when I thrust my hands forward in a modified Weaver stance. Although my right forearm remains level, the gun’s muzzle still points way up. I fired my newly acquired Glock 23 in an “off-duty” police pistol league competition. Part of the course of fire required the gun to be drawn from a covered (by jacket, vest or shirt) hip holster and then fired twice in just 4 seconds. I spent a considerable portion of those short 4 seconds hunting for my Glock’s front sight as it did not point naturally for me.
No matter how much we train to use our sights, sometimes police officers still fire instinctively. Using a gun that points naturally in your hands is always a good idea. For me, and other officers with big hands, Glocks just don’t always point instinctively.
Cold Bore Custom
That said, I wanted the finger grooves removed but wanted to keep the grenade style checkering between the grooves. A Google search including the terms “Glock grip reduction” resulted in a cottage industry of companies ready to make the Glock fit officers’ hands better. Cold Bore Custom stood out from the others due to customer testimonials and budget-friendly prices.
Lane Owens runs this one-man shop outside the Houston, Texas, area, and he alone performs the various services offered. Owens has more than 16 years of experience in law enforcement and is a full-time police officer. He started out modifying the frames of his own duty weapons because they didn’t fit him as well as he felt they should.
The quality of his workmanship led to modification of his fellow officers’ weapons. Owens soon realized that his talent and attention to detail could become an enjoyable side job. There seemed to be many other police officers with big hands, and their Glock pistols didn’t fit them very well either.
Owens’ Cold Bore Custom offers rounded trigger guards, magwell cutouts, finger groove removal, undercut trigger guard, extra texturing and grip reduction. His prices are a bit less expensive than some of the bigger names in the world of Glock customizing. Work is performed on black framed Glocks, Springfield Armory XD and XDM pistols, and S&W M&P pistols. Owens offers five choices in custom gripping surfaces ranging from mild to aggressive.
I asked to have my gun’s finger grooves removed ($15), the trigger guard undercut ($10), and grip reduction performed ($135 including return shipping). What I got was this work with just a single day turnaround.
When the frame arrived back in my hands, I racked the slide back in place and gripped the weapon in a two-handed hold. It was like receiving a whole new gun. Not only was I impressed with how good the gun looked, but I was very pleased with how good it felt. My Model 23 now fits my hands. My fingers are no longer jabbed by the edge of the raised finger grooves. The newly reshaped pistol also points much more naturally when I grip it. I can pick up my front sight quickly when I push the gun forward toward the target.
The frontstrap of my Glock is now straight. The sharp-edged finger grooves have disappeared. The backstrap is now virtually parallel to the front. The hump near the bottom of the grip is gone. Removing the hump is similar to changing a 1911 pistol’s arched mainspring housing to a flat version. Upon close inspection, it was clear that the custom work was professionally executed.
Under the trigger guard, not only is the little bump gone, but the polymer has been refinished to match the factory texture. The hollow bottom of the rear grip area was filled with Cold Bore Custom’s proprietary mix of marine epoxy and polymer and then allowed to harden for eight to 10 hours. Then the backstrap was taken down to the proper proportion, and it was refinished to perfectly imitate the factory texture.
The “carry texture” on the front, back and sides of the frame is much more useful than the factory stippling. There is no need for skateboard tape to secure your grip with this permanent aggressive texture. Cold Bore Custom retains the Glock logo on the left side of the grip and the patent dates on the right; this touch is one of those small details that perfectly blends the custom look of the pistol with a factory appearance.
Owens accomplishes the texturing process with a heat tool that he must set at just the right temperature. Various temperatures are needed for the various polymers used in XDs, M&Ps and Glocks, and there is even a temperature difference between second- and third-generation Glocks. The five different available textures are applied slowly, one dimpled mark at a time.
Lone Wolf Conversion Barrel
Lone Wolf offers a drop-in replacement 9mm barrel that simply swaps out with the factory .40 S&W barrel. This match grade barrel is made from 416 stainless steel forgings and is CNC machined and heat treated. They feature standard broach cut, land and groove rifling. No gunsmithing is required because the thicker 9mm bull barrel fills the circumference used by the factory .40 caliber barrel. Simply field strip the weapon and change the barrels. Even the extractor and recoil spring remain stock, and I’ve never had a malfunction of any kind, despite hundreds of rounds fired in competition.
The 9mm magazines that fit the Model 19 are all you need to complete a full caliber conversion, and then you’ll be shooting less expensive 9mm rounds. Because a box of 9mm ammunition costs quite a bit less than .40 S&W cartridges, the ammo cost savings is welcome. So is the lesser recoil when shooting the 9mm.
Lone Wolf also offers several other caliber conversion barrels for Glock pistols, including 10mm to .40 S&W and 10mm to .357 SIG. Changing from a large caliber to a smaller caliber works well because the outside diameter does not need to change. However, the inverse is not true, and barrels are not available to switch from smaller to larger.
Options for Polymer Frame Pistols
Custom grips on steel frame pistols and revolvers have always been common on police duty guns. Grips to make the guns fit an officer’s hands have always been considered a viable option. Many of today’s duty guns sport polymer frames, and few options have been available to change their appearance or feel because they don’t have removable grips.
Glock’s newest Gen 4 pistols have recently hit the market with interchangeable backstraps. These new versions may solve some grip troubles, but they still come with the front finger grooves and the trigger guard that can smack your knuckle. Used Glock pistols come up for sale often, and their inexpensive initial cost may leave some money to customize one to fit your hands much better than stock.
Steve Tracy is a 22-year police veteran with 20 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.