We’ve changed the sights on the Glock 34 and we’ve modified the grip to make it work a bit better with our anatomy…so what’s next?
While I have larger hands than most, they are configured oddly in that my fingers are actually kind of short. My social finger (middle finger) is actually shorter than the length of the palm of my hand. This means that on occasion I run into problems positively manipulating some of the Glock’s controls at speed.
The first item I replace is the magazine release as it helps have a greater margin of error when I hit the button. The stock Glock release is perfectly functional but in practice I’ve found that when trying to do speed reloads occasionally I don’t get my thumb on the button just right and the magazine doesn’t end up clearing the pistol. An extended magazine release protrudes a little bit more, allowing you to apply a little more leverage to the button and that gives you a better shot of getting the release moved enough to allow the spent magazine to drop free. Some use an extended magazine release so they don’t have to shift their grip to release the magazine, but don’t believe you should be shooting for the same goal. In my experience relatively few people can reach even an extended mag release on a Glock pistol without at least some shift in their grip.
There are a number of extended mag release buttons for the Glock on the market including one made by Glock themselves, so if it’s a modification you want to make you won’t be short of options. If you’re running an open-class competition gun then pretty much any one that tickles your fancy will do. If, however, you ever use the Glock you are modifying for concealed carry (or even duty use) then the wrong magazine release button can prove to be problematic. A release that extends too far can often get accidentally engaged by holsters or by just moving around. That leads to a magazine that’s still sitting inside the grip without being locked into place. If the person carrying the pistol draws it, nine times out of ten the loaded magazine will fall to the ground as the pistol is presented to the target. The shooter gets one bang and then a click and then how long it takes them to fix the problem depends on how good their remedial action training is. I’ve watched people attempt a tap/rack/bang drill on a weapon with no magazine multiple times before realizing that they were trying to “tap” a magazine that wasn’t there.
What you’re looking for, then, is an extended release that’s out just far enough to give you better leverage without protruding so far that you risk unintentional ejection of the magazine. The cheapest way to get the Goldilocks mag release is to buy one of the Glock factory extended releases and apply Dr. Dremel until it fits just the way you want it to. It’s a pretty simple modification and the part itself is only a couple of bucks so you can afford to buy multiple releases and perfect your polymer modification skills. If you have neither the time, patience, or desire to customize your own part you can do what I did an purchase one of the extended releases from Tango Down. I’ve used the Tango Down extended releases on my Glocks since I learned about them some years ago and, for me at least, they are dead center in the Goldilocks zone: Big enough to make a meaningful difference in ejecting the magazine when I want to, but not so big that they cause unintentional ejection of the magazine.
One of the benefits of the Gen4 Glocks is the ability to swap the magazine release to either side of the pistol. A number of right-handed shooters have found that they actually prefer having the button for the release on the right-hand side of the pistol so they can engage it with their trigger finger. It’s often faster because you don’t have to alter your grip on the pistol when you have the freedom of using the trigger finger. Because I carry a 3rd generation Glock as well, however, I’m going to keep the button on the left hand side of the pistol for the sake of consistency.
The second modification I make to aid with reloading is the addition of the Glock extended slide release. The Glock 34 and 35 in 3rd generation and Gen4 trim come with this part installed from the factory, but it can be installed on the other Glock pistols. There are certainly other extended releases on the market, but the one from Glock is cheap as chips and still works very effectively. The one caution I’ll give about extended slide releases on Glock pistols is to make sure you practice with it to ensure that you don’t have any grip-related issues that can bite you. I’ve found that some folks with larger hands end up accidentally holding the release down, preventing the weapon from locking open on an empty magazine. A smaller number of shooters, myself included, can actually accidentally engage the release as the weapon is under recoil. The first time I fired a Glock with the extended slide release the weapon locked open on me after seven shots. When I felt the slide lock to the rear I reverted to training and performed a speed/emergency reload and kept shooting…but I only made it through three shots before the slide locked open again. I performed another speed/emergency reload but during the process I noticed the weight of the magazine I was ejecting and distinctly remember thinking to myself “…something is not right, here.” Less than halfway through the next magazine it happened again and that was when I put two and two together.
If you’re a lefty and you are using a Glock, the Glock factory extended slide release is a godsend. It makes it very easy to use your trigger finger to release the slide from lock so you don’t have to shift your grip or get stuck using the slow and inefficient overhand method.
The last modification I would file under the “helps with reloading” category is the Grip Plug. This little doo-dad just fills in the gap behind the magazine well of the Glock pistol with a little plastic plug that, under the right circumstances, can help guide the magazine towards the mag well. It can serve other purposes like keeping grit and debris from getting into the pistol’s working parts through the opening in the backstrap, but the primary reason I purchased the grip plug was to avoid those (admittedly fairly rare) occasions when I managed to hang a reload by getting the bullet from the next mag caught in that space behind the mag well. The Grip Plug is cheap and installs in seconds with no permanent modification to the pistol, so I tend to view it as one of those “Why not?” modifications.