So You Want To Build A USPSA Open Glock

  1. 40caljim
    I know there are some of you out there that have wondered, "Can I build my own USPSA Open Class Glock?" Well, the answer is yes.

    First off, you have to have a Glock in the category for USPSA competition. Most shooters are shooting 9 mm or .40 cal. Two of the most popular models to use are the Glock 34 in 9 mm and the Glock 35 .40 cal. The build I will cover in this article is a review of my G35 build for the USPSA Open Class major category.

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    So we have the base gun picked out. What's next? If you said custom parts you are correct. The basic list of parts used includes:
    • A replacement threaded barrel like a Lone Wolf or KKM (I chose the LW)
    • A good holo red dot sight (my choice was the C-More STS)
    • A compensator (my choice was the Jager Products 4-port)
    • A good trigger (Glockworx in this case)
    • A light weight connector (ZevTech 2 lb race connector from Glockworx)
    • A custom guide rod (I used the Wolfe uncaptured rod and springs)
    • A custom spring kit (Glockworx here)
    • A magwell (from the Glock Store)
    • Some new extended magazines (I choose the factory 22 round ones)

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    Let's get started. First thing is stripping the gun down and cleaning everything. Now we get to the hard work; installing all of the new toys we bought. First, I installed the new barrel and compensator. This is pretty cut-and-dried. The one thing you have to get right is the compensator to slide fit. The compensator cannot be resting against the slide when in full battery as this will affect the lockup on the gun. So leaving a small gap between the compensator and the slide face is critical.

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    While we are working with the slide we need to spill its guts and replace a few small parts. Pull off the rear cover plate and remove the striker assembly and extractor rod and spring. The custom spring kit has a new striker spring along with a lighter drop safety spring. While here we can replace the stock recoil spring assembly with the new guide rod and spring. I chose the uncaptured rod and standard recoil springs as this option makes it easy to change spring rates to accommodate the new compensator and/or different velocity loads.

    Now that the internal slide parts are done we can mount our new red dot sight. The reason I chose the C-More STS red dot was due to its small size and ability to set as low to the bore line as possible. The dovetail mount (sold separately,of course) mounts in the factory rear sight slot. Then the sight simply attaches with two Allen-head screws.

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    Now we are ready to move to the next project; the frame. The Glock is an extremely easy gun to disassemble and modify. Remove the three assembly pins in the frame (two by the trigger guard and one at the rear of the grip). The entire trigger assembly and ejector housing will lift out. There are a few parts here that will be swapped out. The connector bar is a popular upgrade to any Glock. I chose the ZevTech 2 lb race connector from Glockworx. While here we also replace the trigger spring. The stock trigger and transfer bar will work fine, but can be replaced with several different options. Replacing the ejector housing with one having an adjustable over travel stop is an option as well. There are also several trigger options which will result in reduced over travel and trigger reset. But again, these are not a must but they do improve the guns performance.

    Once the internals are complete we can add our new magwell. Magwell installation is really simple. There is a plug that goes up into the hole in the rear of the grip. Then the magwell slips on the bottom of the mag entry hole and one Allen-head bolt is tightened up and presto. Now we have enhanced magazine changes.

    Another addition I made was the beavertail grip enhancer from the Glock Store. This is a very easy part to install and is worth every penny of the $24 cost. It really does enhance the feel of the grip. The G34 and G35 already have an extended mag release on it but I chose a big button one from the Glock Store. One great thing about the Glock Store website is their library of installation videos. These are great videos that make installation of any of the parts very simple.

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    We have all of our new parts installed and now its time to take her out and see how it shoots. More importantly, we need to sight in the new red dot sight. If you have never shot a gun with a good compensator you will be amazed at the reduction in recoil and muzzle flip. When sighting in the new red dot sight, shooting from a sandbag rest is a must. Trying to hold a red dot or a laser sight is really difficult unless you have a good rest. About 12 to 15 yards is a good distance to start with. This is roughly the average at which a lot of USPSA targets are shot, with many closer than that. I usually shoot 3 shot groups before I attempt to re-adjust the sight screws. The instructions from C-More are very easy to follow. One thing you will have to do is cover the small light sensor on the front of the sight with a small piece of black electric tape to reduce the dot brightness. The STS sight has a manual and auto setting but the auto setting is the best as the manual is just too bright. The sight is super easy to adjust and has a locking screw to keep everything on target.

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    The aftermarket barrels are made to accept cast bullets for those who choose to reload, but I have shot several brands of factory ammo as well as custom reloads with zero problems. My current favorite load is custom reloaded USPSA spec .40 cal loads from Bulletworks in Arkansas. They use 180 gr plated bullets and are loaded to the USPSA major power factor.

    Whatever round you choose the important thing is to get out there and shoot. If you have never shot a handgun with a red dot sight you will be amazed at how fast you can acquire targets, fire, and get consistent hits. Competing in local USPSA matches the past two seasons has been incredible. It is the most fun I have ever had shooting a handgun.

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    One question I haven't answered yet is what did all of this stuff cost me. A good ballpark figure would be around $1,500, but that includes the price of the gun. Compared to what a custom race gun costs, $1,500 ain't bad.

    That's my story on my Glock 35 USPSA Open gun build. If anyone decides to tackle a project like this feel free to holler at me and I will give you all the encouragement and help I can. Most of all, just have fun with it. You will be amazed at what you can do with a few aftermarket parts and a little time. Good luck!

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    Jim Snyder
    USPSA "C" Class Shooter

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