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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Cory Frost said...

Agreed! Great read. Many guns have come and gone in trades but I can't give up my gripchopped G23. I love it with my TLR-3 light!

Unknown said...

Perfect solution for us living in CA with a 10 round limit. We want a LONG slide and 10 rounds, that's all. The 26L based on a 19 is the perfect CA CCW.