In a class with Ken Hackathorn some years ago, he described the Glock from the box as a pistol starter kit…a functional weapon that benefitted greatly from a couple of intelligent alterations from the stock form to enhance usability. The ubiquity of the Glock family of pistols and the relative simplicity of the design has led to a bewildering number of aftermarket parts that often finds the new owner asking themselves: What should I do to my Glock?
Good question. I recently purchased a new 4th Generation Glock 34 and in the next couple of weeks I’ll take you through what I do to my Glocks in hopes that it gives you some ideas on what you can do to your combat Tupperware make it easier to use and easier to live with. I view any Glock I own as a potential carry gun and so I tend to set them up with parts/modifications that make the pistol more useable in that role…so if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide for turning your Glock into a space-age blaster that would make Han Solo jealous, you’ll just have to Google the details on one of Costa’s customized Glocks.
Modification Number One: SIGHTS!!
The very first thing I would advise anyone to do with a new Glock is to install some decent sights. The factory Glock sights are truly deplorable pieces of garbage. I discovered this many moons ago in my first firearms training when performing one-handed reloads. I watched a fellow student catch the rear sight of his Glock 17 on his duty holster during a one handed reload and with the application of only moderate vigor he ripped the rear sight right off. He brought the pistol up to fire on the plate rack and missed because it turns out hitting an 8” plate at 25 yards with just the front sight isn’t exactly easy. At the time the front sights were even worse than the rears, basically held into the hole of the slide with two spreading tabs in an arrangement you’d expect to find holding together what passed for the trim of a first generation Hyundai Excel. I have to admit that I took some delight in goading overly-confident Glock owners into performing one handed manipulations and seeing the look of sheer horror on their face as they watched their sights leave the weapon at high speed. Lately Glock has improved at least the front sights by using a screw that runs the full depth of the front sight so you can no longer remove it from the slide just by flicking the front sight with your thumb.
The sight picture offered by the stock sights is also, in my opinion anyway, terrible. Preferences differ, but I’ve always found it difficult to use stock Glock sights with any precision because they typically allow no light around the front sight. This makes it hard to judge the exact orientation of the front post in the rear notch, which in turn makes it difficult to shoot with precision at longer ranges or extreme precision at even short range. (Like hitting a 1” square at 7 yards)
Lots of people seem to agree with me about the deficiencies of the stock Glock sights, as the aftermarket options are legion. Whatever application you can imagine from a pure competition gun to a suppressor host, there’s a sight setup for it.
For a Glock meant primarily for serious social purposes, I prefer the Warren Tactical 3 dot sights. I first encountered the Warren sights on an M&P Todd Green was torture testing some years ago and I greatly preferred it to the stock night sights on the M&P I was using at the time.
I often refer to the unusual shape of the Warren rear sight as the “Batman cut” because it kind of looks like something Batman would have on his gun…if he wasn’t such a gun hating hippie. It allows a good sight picture without obscuring too much of the target downrange, which is helpful when it comes to judging a shot. I can typically see the edges of the bullseye a bit better with the Warrens where I can’t with other sights. It doesn’t make a radical difference in my shooting, but it’s nice to have.
The notch on the Warren is nice and wide while the front sight is as narrow as it can be while still securely fitting a tritium lamp in the post. This combination results in a sight picture that’s easy to pick up at speed. Using a wide rear notch and a narrow front post takes some getting used to if you’re accustomed to making fast shots on larger targets with the front sight somewhere in the rear notch. If you are used to using a more conventional sighting arrangement you have to relearn how much slop you can have in the sight picture and still make the acceptable hit. If you don’t understand what in the devil “slop” in the sight picture means, let me know in the comments section and I’ll try to do a write-up explaining it.
My absolute favorite thing about the Warren sights, though, is the low light sight picture. The rear sights have two small, subdued tritium vials and a larger standard sized vial in the front. The benefit of this is seen in this close-up view of the sights in low light.
The front sight appears bigger and brighter than the rear sights, naturally drawing your eye. Typical 3 dot arrangements use the same size vial for all three “dots”, which results in the two rear “dots” appearing bigger and brighter than the front dot since they are closer to your eye. The front dot can actually be hard to find in setups where the “dots” all use the same sized tritium vials. The Warren arrangement is exactly the opposite, making the front sight easy to find while the smaller, dimmer rear dots provide a very quick windage and elevation check. Using a target-focus it’s very easy to simply superimpose the low light picture of the Warren sights on the target and make excellent hits. In low light shooting I actually tend to shoot a little bit better as I find it’s easier to follow the glowing ball than to use the standard iron sight picture in even ideal lighting conditions.
I’ve used a number of different types of sights, but so far I haven’t found anything I like better than the Warrens for all-purpose use. Fiber-optic sights might be great for competition guns, but personally I’ve not found the ones I’ve tried to be durable enough to trust on a carry gun. They’re also not terribly useful in low light. For iron sights, tritium is the way to go if you want a reliable low light sighting reference.
Warren also produces a two-dot arrangement (one on top of the other) and while the two-dot arrangement is certainly useable, I find that I tend to misjudge the size of the gap between the two dots and get vertical stringing, typically pushing shots high. It’s by no means the end of the world, but it’s enough that at 25 yards I would miss a standard NRA bullseye’s 8 ring. The three-dot arrangement eliminates the problem as I find it much easier to put the big dot in the center of the gap left by the two small ones.
We all see the world uniquely, and that makes sighting preferences intensely personal. What works for me may not be ideal for you…another reason why there are so many different sights on the market. That being said, I think most folks with normal vision would find the Warren sights a very worthwhile addition to their Glock.