Monday, May 29, 2017

Glock 26L Chopping a G19 - The Best Carry Gun I Have Ever Owned

Glock 26L Chopping a G19 - The Best Carry Gun I Have Ever Owned

For well over ten years, I have been a Glock guy. Sure I carry my Walther PPS & PPQ and HK P30SK & VP9, and certainly have a love for Sigs and many other guns, but likely 300 days a year, some type of Glock is riding in my waistband. The reasons I swap between guns usually has to do with concealment and less about that I want to carry a particular gun. After all, the size of small Glock G42, G43, and G26 models all have concealment advantages over a Glock 17 or 19 sized handgun - so I have been swapping back and forth and of course have more than a few guns in the inventory as a result.

Left top G26, Right top G26L
Bottom left G42, Bottom right G19
Notably my biggest issue is that bottom extra 1/2-inch of my Glock 19 grip will print with some clothes and my wife calls it out… leading to a weapon swap to something smaller. Obviously when wearing something slimmer fitting, a slimmer gun is in order, but usually my big issue is the height of the gun grip. Lining up some of those smaller format guns I swap to, they all fall into a 4-4.5-inch height range such as a Walther PPS, Glock 43/42, Walther PPK, Glock 26 and H&K P30SK. For the last five years I have noted that concealment of my Glock 19 has suffered in these wardrobe constrained moments due to just that last 1/2-inch of the grip regardless of the cant of holster or any holster I have used - and yes I have tested pretty much all of them. It really comes down to wardrobe and body shape.  Enter the Glock 26L - the Best Carry Gun I Have Ever Owned… that you cannot buy.

G19, G26L and G26 - left to right
Back in 2012 a fellow writer, Rob Pincus, wrote a rather interesting build article about a Glock 26L which is a chopped down Glock 19 that ends up having a Glock 26 magazine sized grip - thus a Long Glock 26 or G26L. He cited many of the same reasons noted able. Thank you Rob, I have drank the G26L Kool-Aid and love it.

Yes, in fact we are talking about chopping a perfectly good Glock 19 grip here so it can accept shorter 10-round format G26 mags. Since Glock 17, 19, and 26 magazines and even those 33-rounders will all fit just dandy in a the baby Glock 26, this format delivers a ton of carry and capacity options.  There is a huge array of aftermarket +1, +2, +3...etc, magazine extensions which can be used on the Glock 26 magazine as well which further expands capacity options.

G26L and G19 stacked
The G26L even with a +3 magazine extension delivers 13+1 capacity with a gun that is roughly ½-inch shorter than a Glock 19 while only losing 2-rounds of capacity in the process. In fact there is one gun that is very close to this format which drove the concept of this entire project for me - the Sig P224 SAS was just a hair shorter and not quite as long as the Glock 19, but is had a 12+1 capacity. I felt this was the perfect balance of capacity, firepower, and size for a defensive gun, however I simply did not shoot it as well or as fast as my Glocks, so I sold it. The good news is that anyone with marginal Dremel experience and patience to not screw it up can make a Glock 26L… that is if you have the guts to do it. Below are some dimensional stats to give you an idea of the concept and final dimensions.

G19 HEIGHT: 127 mm / 4.99 in. LENGTH: 187 mm / 7.36 in.
G26 HEIGHT:  106 mm / 4.17 in. LENGTH: 163 mm / 6.41 in.
G26L HEIGHT:  106 mm / 4.17 in. or 4.5 in. with Taran Tactical +3 extension

Sig Sauer 12+1 9mm 224 SAS was Perfectly Sized in between a G19 and G26
HEIGHT: 41⁄2"  LENGTH: 6.7"

G26L and G26 stacked
The driver for me for this project was that I love the Glock 19, the way it shoots, how I shoot it, the balance, pointability, sight radius and literally everything about the gun, but I did want to conceal it better and never have to worry about swapping guns.  Everyone will ask why not a G26? Well I have one and owned six over the years, but the G26 feels snappier shooting and thus is not as controllable even with a grip extension, the sight radius is a little smaller and I am not as accurate with it, and it does not ride as well on me.  

G26L and G42 stacked
I have also run timers and scoring pitting my best with my Glock 26 and with best with the Glock 19 and I am always faster and more accurate with the Glock 19. At this year’s Glock Party at SHOT, I was privileged to have an fun argument with one of their Austrian engineers about why I was shooting a 19 better than a 26, he said it should not make a difference, but as we know there is always a human component in there. The G19 and G26 both had equal grip sizes due to extended G26 mags, so all that magic must be in the extra ½” of barrel and spring on the G19, so why not just shorten the grip on the G19. That was the logic and… it work beautifully.

First we need a sacrificial G19. I know… I know I am devaluing a Glock 19 to half of the original price, but never fear if this terrifies you.  Stripped Glock lower receivers can be had reasonably on the market to chop away on. Glock was nice enough to provide a Gen 3 G19 for the article.. thought I may have omitted that I was going to cut it down.

The key here is to have a Glock 26 to pattern the chopping to. I really do not recommend doing the deed unless you have a G26 and magazines to use as a pattern for the modification. I see far too many really horribly bad grip chops done where someone just draws a line and then hacksaws the grip straight across. Of note, the G26 does have a front and rear lips and so should your Glock 26L to preserve the second finger groove. It is very key to the preserve the shooting comfort, gun control, and ergonomics of the Glock 19 that you have prominent forward and rear lips on the mag well. The second finger groove is very important as is the rear lip of the magwell and without them a flat chopped G19 grip feels like a block of wood.
Note the front and rear lips

The rear of the magwell should also dip down so you do not have a hard right angle cutting into the center of your palm.  With all that said this is more of a hacksaw cut of only ¼-inch and then a delicate precision fitting of the contours with a Dremel down to the proper reliable fitment and seating of a G26 magazine. The key here is go slow, because you cannot go backward.

Light stippling with the wood burning iron
Another tip is to leave the rear lip of the magwell a little long for a standard 10-round Glock 26 magazine and heat up the lip with a heat gun and reform it down and around into a more round shape. The result is a grip that should actually be comfortable to hold.

At this point a lot of people doing these conversions aggressively stipple the grip to finish the look, however I am not a fan of aggressive stippling for CCW firearms. I have found that even some factory grips have a surface which is abrasive on the skin during carry. My preference is to use a lower temperature wood carving tool with a blunt tip and lightly go over the entire grip surface to smooth it out. Even this simple surface will deliver plenty of grip in wet environments while not eating your skin throughout the day.

I am not a huge fan of copious upgrades on defensive guns, but I have tested, trust, and like a couple key upgrades on defensive Glocks. The Apex Triggers kits with their Connector and Plunger Spring are excellent and totally dependable with a better feeling, slightly lighter, and faster resetting trigger. Vickers slide releases are subtlety extended with just a tad of edgy grip to facilitate positive slide release on reloads even with gloves. There are great sights out there on the market, however this Glock 19 came with factory Glock Tritium Sights, so that is good enough for me.

The only other upgrade on this gun were Taran Tactical +3 and Glock +2 extensions I added to factory magazines. The interesting thing as I was planning through this project was that these +2 or +3 extensions deliver just enough extra length to allow for a full grip without a pinky dangling.  

Taran Tactical did recommend that I use Glock 19 springs with their +3 extensions on a Glock 26 magazine. Both extensions deliver the same overall length but the Glock’s tapered design ends up about ⅛-shorter at the back of the magazine.  Personally I favor the Taran Tactical extension because for whatever reason the aluminum glides on my shirt material, clings less, and therefore conceals better than the plastic and it does deliver one extra round for a 13+1 round capacity of my G26L.

My G26L does in fact shoot just like my Glock 19, it's fast on target, accurate, and managed recoil just as well as my un-cropped G19. I lost nothing from a timing or accuracy perspective over my full sized G19. Really the G26L is everything I love about the G19 with the concealability and magazine flexibility of the G26. With a 10-round factory G26 magazine in place, I get all the concealment of the 3/4-inch shorter G26 grip with all the benefits of the G19. With a +3 extended magazine, my pinky has a place to perch. The trade off is two less arounds than a full sized G19.  Let me say that 1/2-inch on me makes all the difference in the world from a concealment perspective.

As a test, I have been carrying the G26L for the last two months straight covering every conceivable event with my wife ranging from shopping, traveling, movies, and dinner and not once did my wife poke the butt of my G26L and tell me I was printing. For me, this is the perfect gun.

It is highly likely that my wife is the only person in the world who would pick up the unusual divot my factory G19 would cast. Even many of my trained friends never knew a lot of times that I was carrying. After all there are many holster manufactures who make excellent holsters and sure I could just slide my holster forward ½-inch and the bulge would high itself, but I like where I carry my gun at 4-o’clock and damn it that is where I want it. After years of dealing with this problem I found a remedy and it was not in the form of a holster. For many this will seem like an extreme customization, however it really is not. For the weary, I say find and buy a stripped G19 lower and do the customization. Yes Rob… I agree this is Glock Perfection.  Stay tuned… a Glock 19L is coming soon as well.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Let There be Weaponlight - Streamlight TLR-2 HL G and Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro

Let There be Weaponlight - Streamlight TLR-2 HL G and Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro

The biggest weapon lighting trend at this year’s SHOT show was integrated weapon light and laser combos. Streamlight and Crimson Trace both had some of the most well integrated models I saw at the show each with their own unique features.

Previously, I was not a weaponlight kind of guy and really saw these as entry tools for the tactical elite, but my mind has been changed. After getting literally destroyed but a guy a Streamlight TLR-2 equipped airsoft trainer during the Armed Movement in Structures training course by Shivworks, I left convinced that a combo light and laser weaponlight is an undeniable advantage… literally the guy destroyed us round after round. Where the advantage of these lights becomes clearly apparent is when working through clearing or defending very dark areas or in mixes lighting areas.

The light and laser equipped gentleman in question had gone through the Armed Movement in Structures training before and had experienced the same in-training realization that lights and lasers are game changers.  If you are clearing a dark room the light delivers the ability to illuminate those dark areas or areas you think you might have seen something. Creative backlighting and/or use of reflective surfaces with a weaponlight can also help you see hiding silhouettes which were not visible before.

Yes, green lasers are better than red. What you will see is that red lasers wash out easier in light or on darker colors. Green lasers are much higher contrast for the eye, so even during very fast movement on a shooter, you can still stay on target.  As a defender hunkering and bunkering these light/laser give you an option to surprise, identify and engage targets extremely effectively and quickly. There were more than a couple situations where we were surprised to see a green dot on our chest followed by a painful airsoft reminder of our exposure.

Light, Laser or Light and Laser Combo
The idea of a weapon light with laser is not to take the place of a hand held light, but as a tool to help identify, distract, control, disable, sight and engage after a potential threat has been identified. Most people would understand that using a loaded gun as a flashlight is not the best idea when checking on kids in the middle of the night, but neither is firing a gun and holding a flashlight at the same time if you have actually trained on this. A weaponlight takes over where the handheld light leaves off and allows for full weapon control and/or a free hand for opening door or securing a kid.

Both of these lights deliver on these weaponlight capabilities and feature a high output LED light with a high contrast green laser integrated into one unit. Both of these models deliver light only, laser only, laser and light combo and a laser and strobe light settings. On the street the retail price of either of these weapons light ends up around $300. Between these two units the decision really is size and convenience versus brighter longer range power. There are certainly a number of manufacturers offering combo laser light weaponlights, however I liked the execution of these two models the best of all the models I have handled.

Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro - Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro packed a bright 100-lumen LED light and green laser weapon light combo into a super tight small concealable package compatible with any weapon with a picatinny rail. The little LED is far brighter than you would expect and the green laser is plenty bright for daylight use. The Railmaster Pro is literally only a little wider than most weapon mounted compact laser sights with a MSRP of $380. The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro is about half the size and a third less weight than the full sized Streamlight.

What I really like about this unit is that it is the basically the same size as most compact trigger guard integrated weaponlights, but is in a format that can be easily moved from one handgun or rifle to another. If you have a smaller compact gun like a Glock G26, Walther PPS, HK P30SK or other similar sized compact gun or do not want a giant weapon light hanging off the end of it then this is the right sized weaponlight for your gun. I also really like this for small compact AR15 pistol builds which when mounted at the and of the rail acts likes a handstop. Attachment is via two bolts and a variety of included weapon specific rail adapters.

In a time where we have access to 800+ lumen lights 100-lumen may not seem like a lot or enough, however in reality it is more than enough for movement inside a home or office building, and sufficient for distraction and positive identification of a threat. There are a lot of people who consider anything over 200-lumens too much light for typical defensive room clearing, because an overly bright light can actually blind the use from reflected light off walls. This light fills the requirement for a weapon mounted light which can more than sufficiently identify an attacker from your son slipping into the window at 3AM. 100-lumens is quiet enough to illuminate most standard sized rooms, stairs, and closets when you hear a bump in the night.

The function is really simple and the paddle actuators are about the same size as a full sized light and are hard to miss offering tap on tap off functionality. These large paddles are an important feature of the Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro which is that it feels and operates like a full sized weapon light in a compact size. Often the finger operated buttons on the small trigger guard attached lights/lasers are something you have to think about to use and can be easy to miss with a finger in a tactical situation. More importantly most of these small flat integrated buttons can be literally impossible to use with gloves. The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro has a giant cannot miss paddle on each side which allows a finger thumb or even a boot heel to activate the light. This is a really unique feature that made this light stand out for me during the review and a feature which clearly stands out when you move the light to an AR15 pistol or SBR.

The Streamlight TLR-2 HL G - The Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is decoded as Tactical Light Rail 2 High Lumen Green Laser. This is considered the beast in the industry with a blinding 800-lumen light with a super bright piercing green laser wrapped in a very durable billet aluminum casing with heavy duty mil-spec polymer parts. The giant full sized Streamlight TLR-2 HL G weaponlight lacks reasonable concealability, but it is a better option as a crossover light that you would move between a pistol and rifle while still delivering the light output needed for rifle use. The downside is that the TLR-2 HL G has an MSRP of $580, but the street price is shockingly similar to the Crimson Trace.

What I really like about the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is that is delivers a level of brightness far beyond what is expected for a light this size. You really do not expect 800-lumens from a light this size which turns night into day… and eyesight into blindness. If you get hit with this light you are not seeing anything until your eyes readjust which gives the owner plenty of time to take a shot or maneuver around you. The huge light output is both a blessing and a curse as there is so much light that in really tight confines or without a lot of attention to when the light is used, reflected light is so bright is can actually blind the user.  On the other side of the argument, you can hit any area of a room and light up every corner of the room with all that output. One of my friends note the green laser was sole piecing and it is crazy daylight bright. For those situations where you might reach out a bit further or even use this light for predator control, the brilliantly bright LED and laser in the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is a huge benefit.  If you want to add a pressure switch, the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is equipped with a remote-pressure switch port. Like most full-sized weapon lights, the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G offers an adjustable quick release style screw, but can allow the light to be attached or removed quickly.

One of the features I liked the most about this particular weapon light was that it allowed direct access to all the settings without going through a menu thanks to the lower toggle switch. The lower mini toggle can be easily changed on the fly from light only, laser only to both laser and light. The actuation paddles pivot up and down to activate momentary or constant on operation of whatever mode is selected. Double tapping the momentary switch accesses the strobe function. It is one of the most intuitive weapon lights I have found.

Of note, both Streamlight and Crimson Trace offer a wide array of mighty fine full-sized and compact-sized light and laser weapon lights however I personally liked the operation these specific models the best. It really came down to the ease of operation and use. Neither of these are cheap weapon lights, but they are a tool you can depend on with your life. Let me tell you first hand, you can die fast in the dark without one of these lights.

Check BROWNELLS for the best deals on firearms and accessories

The Rail Master Pro™ Universal Green Laser Sight & Tactical Light combines two tactical tools in a single compact unit. The versatile unit is designed to fit most modern pistols, rifles and shotguns with an M1913 Picatinny or Weaver-style accessory rail. A powerful green laser anchors the unit and provides up to 1 hour of continuous use on a single CR2 Lithium battery. The Rail Master Pro also includes a powerful 100 Lumen white light for target identification. The unit features four operational modes including: Laser/Light Constant On, Laser Constant On, Light Constant On, and Laser w/Light Dazzler. Activation is instant, with Tap On, Tap Off controls and a programmed Auto Shut Off at five minutes to conserve battery life.

Attachment Accessory Rail
Activation Mode Switch Activated - Light only, laser only, or both
Sighting Factory Sighted at 50' - (Re-zeroable)
Battery Type CR2 Lithium Battery X1
Laser Output Up to 5mW Green Laser
Activation Mode Switch Activated
Laser Visibility Approx .5 Inch Diameter at 50 Feet
User Adjustable Windage and Elevation
Installation User Installed
Warranty Three Year Full Warranty
Color Black
Dot Size Approx. 0.50" at 50'
Light Output 100 Lumen LED White Light
Light Specs 100 Lumen LED
Weight 2.5 ounce including battery
Size 2.25 L x 1.3 W x 1.4D inches
MSPR $380

LED and Green Laser combo tactical light.
Engineered optic produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination
Green laser provides high-visibility long-range targeting

Laser 510-530nm direct drive green laser
Light C4® LED technology, 50,000 hour lifetime, Impervious to shock
Lumens 800.00
Candela 15000
Range of Light 245 meters
Runtime 1.50 hours
Battery Styles Non-Rechargeable
Battery CR123A Lithium X2
Length 3.390 inches (8.61 centimeters)
Weight 4.780 ounces (135.51 grams)
Colors Black
Attachment Accessory Rail
Activation Mode Switch Activated - Light only, laser only, or both
Sighting Factory Sighted at 50' - (Re-zeroable)
MSRP $580