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If you've spent any time browsing gun photos on Instagram or other social media platforms, you'll know that so-called Gucci Glocks are all the rage these days. It seems like everyone and their mother is upgrading a Glock with fancy parts until almost nothing remains of the original gun, and that's not even including the 80% builds that provide a blank canvas for customization. Although these projects may receive a deluge of likes on social media, we're sometimes left wondering how many of them are just safe queens or temperamental range toys.
As preparedness-minded individuals, we like plinking at the range as much as any other red-blooded American, but we also prefer our weapons to remain practical and reliable for real-world defensive use. Form over function isn't really our thing. We want to know that we can keep that weapon close at hand in case of emergency, and trust it to go bang every time we pull the trigger. Anything else is probably just an entertaining novelty item to flex on people with less disposable income.
So, what are some upgrades we can add to a plain-jane Glock 19 that will improve function without downgrading dependability? We started by looking at the slide and barrel, since these parts can easily be swapped out for the stock counterparts if we ever want to return to the original configuration. They offer more serrations for gripping the slide, tighter tolerances for improved accuracy, and they provide the ability to add an RMR or other micro red dot optic as well as a suppressor or compensator. And, of course, they make for a nice cosmetic change as well.
You may recall our recent review of the Grey Ghost Gear Gypsy backpack. The guys at Grey Ghost have also been expanding more into the gun market with parts and even complete pistol and rifle builds under their Grey Ghost Precision brand. Relevant to our aforementioned search for G19 upgrades, GGP offers both slides and barrels for several Glock models. Stripped slides are available for the G17 Gen 3 and Gen 4, G19 Gen 3 and Gen 4, and G43.
The Grey Ghost Precision G19 slides are machined from billets of American-made 17-4 stainless steel, and feature tighter tolerances than the OE Glock slides. Each slide is finished in a durable black nitride coating. Each also includes an RMR red dot cut, and comes with a GGP-logo G10 blanking plate and mounting screws.
Two patterns are offered for these slides — V1 is composed of diagonal serrations with lightening cuts at the front, while V2 has a hexagonal “geoscale” texture. As we said previously, there are versions for Gen 3 and Gen 4 guns.
As for the barrels, they're currently available for the G17 and G19. They're constructed from 416R stainless steel, with tolerances of +/- 0.003″ and match chambers that meet Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) specifications. The barrels have a 1:10 twist rate, and can be had either uncoated or with a black nitride finish. For those who want to run a can or a comp, GGP offers optional 1/2 x 28 threads with an included thread protector.
We decided to try out the V1 slide ($450 MSRP) for our Glock 19 Gen 4. It arrived in a neatly-packed foam case, along with the pre-installed blanking plate, two long screws for use with an RMR optic, and an assembly/installation guide. The manual also has a QR code that points to the slide assembly guide video:
The Grey Ghost Precision slide is stripped, so we still needed completion parts before it'd be usable. Per the manual, you'll need the following items to complete it:
We headed over to Brownells.com to pick up these items. The all-in-one Glock 19 slide completion kit ($80 MSRP) was out of stock at the time, so we filled our cart with the individual components we needed:
Since it was so easy to swap, we re-used the original recoil spring assembly from our G19 rather than buying a replacement. We also selected a set of Trijicon HD night sights ($141 MSRP), with a combination of tritium and bright orange paint for visibility in all light conditions. It's worth noting that you'll need to be cautious when selecting sights for any aftermarket slide, since large-footprint sets like the TruGlo TFO may not fit with the RMR cut. The Trijicon set, however, worked perfectly.
Lastly, we knew that a heavy stock trigger would be out of place on this build, but we also didn't want an ultra-light trigger for a gun we plan to carry. So, we chose an Apex Action Enhancement Kit ($123 MSRP) to reduce trigger pull by about 1 pound, eliminate excess travel, and smooth out the reset. This drop-in kit includes the trigger, connector, and safety plunger.
Using the process shown in Grey Ghost Precision's video, we assembled the slide internals at home with a set of punches, and also installed the Apex trigger. A local shop easily pressed in the Trijicon sights, completing our slide.
GGP G19 Match Grade Barrel
The last piece of the puzzle was the barrel, and we chose one with black nitride finish and threading ($190 MSRP). It features machined GGP lettering, 9mm designation, and recesses on top that match those on the slide. The thread protector ring has a machined texture that provides a cool visual touch and offers plenty of grip for quick removal.
After installing the barrel and lubricating the gun, we could finally load up and head to the range.
To check the reliability of our newly-upgraded G19, we ran through several boxes of our typical Federal 115gr FMJ range ammo. About 20 rounds in, we got a single nose-up failure to feed:
However, more than 100 rounds later we were unable to replicate this jam. Next we shot 20 rounds of Federal HST 147gr hollow-points, and the Glock ran smoothly with these as well. Aside from the isolated malfunction shown above, there was nothing unusual to report.
Although we didn't conduct scientific testing, we noticed a slight improvement in groups which we attribute to a combination of the match barrel's tighter tolerances and the improved Apex trigger. The high-vis Trijicon sights were also helpful for follow-up shot placement.
Overall, we felt our upgraded G19 ran great. The single failure to feed was worrying at first, but its early occurrence and our inability to replicate it later leads us to believe it may have been a break-in issue. We'll continue to run the gun at the range with various ammo to further bolster our confidence in this conclusion, but for now we're satisfied in its reliability. A pattern of jams would be a cause for concern; an isolated one on brand-new parts is not.
Racking the slide is easy thanks to its aggressive serrations, and its lightening cuts add a little visual flair without going into over-the-top space gun territory. There's also the option to add an RMR, which we plan to do in the future. For now, we're very pleased with the Trijicon HDs.
The GGP match barrel offers a slight improvement in accuracy due to its tight tolerances, but a bigger selling point for us is its threads. This provides the means to add a suppressor or compensator — we shouldn't have to explain the many benefits of a suppressor, but if you're curious about the benefits of carry pistol comps, check out this article by RECOIL's Dave Merrill.
As for the Apex Action Enhancement Kit, we'd consider it a nice incremental upgrade for a carry gun. It maintains most of the weight of the trigger pull while smoothing the action and adding a crisper reset. We've shot enough Glocks with 2-pound triggers to know that's not what we wanted, and so we're glad we added the Apex kit to our Brownells order.
Though we may not have achieved full Gucci status without ostentatious frame work, brightly-colored magazine base plates, and a custom Cerakote job, we're happy with our tuned-up G19. The total upgrade MSRP was $1,011 not including the gun, and many of you may prefer to allocate that kind of money to buying another pistol — an understandable choice. But if you're looking to make your existing Glock even better without destroying its reliability, adding a few carefully-chosen parts is a good way to go. All those Instagram likes you'll rake in are just a nice bonus.
For more information on Grey Ghost Precision Glock slides and barrels, or the company's turn-key Combat Pistol, go to GreyGhostPrecision.com. For slide completion parts, sights, triggers, magazines, ammo, and other items you'll need, check out what Brownells has to offer.