GLOCK17/22 OPEN DIVISION CONVERSION
by:Josh Mazzola of Team AR15TargetsThis thread/article has been written in an attempt to provide new Open shooters with a step by step analysis and discussion of converting a stock Glock 17/22 to an Open Glock. The following is my opinions on the matter based on my experiences, nothing more. I am not affiliated with any of the Glock Open-gun smith's or companies. I too, am new to Open Division but have a fairly decent track record in 3 Gun, Production, and Limited.
General Points of Discussion
What is Open Division? - Much like in racing, in the world of competitive shooting there are different divisions which allow different modifications to both the shooter's firearm and gear. Open division is basically the, "no holds barred" division and almost all modifications you can think of are allowed; from red dots and compensators to custom milling on slides.
(Jerry M. shooting his Open Gun at the Arkansas 2011 Multigun Championship)
What does it normally cost to get an Open-gun setup?- While this is an extremely subjective point of discussion, open guns normally range in price from $2000.00 at the absolute cheapest, to upwards of $5000 or more. When you start adding in magazines, gear, etc. the price just keeps going up. It is definitely the most expensive division in the practical shooting sports.
How does the Glock stack up in Open? - Most Open-guns are built on the 2011 (juiced up 1911) platform. So many rightfully ask, "how well can a striker fired polymer gun fare in this division?" Well the answer is, we really can't gather accurate stats on the topic. Very few Open shooters shoot Glocks, so to make a direct comparison on which platform is the best based on what the winning shooters are using, would be a flawed interpretation of data. With this said,the fact that not many Open shooters use Glocks definitely counts as a mark against Glocks in the Open division. Despite this fact, Dave Sevigny, formerly of Team Glock, was an absolute beast in Open with his customized Glock, and the new Glock team-shooter, KC Eusebio, is equally as impressive (having just won the 2012 Ohio State Open Championship with a Glock). So what it comes down to, in my opinion, is that simply put, the shooter makes the gun. However, if you have mad cash to burn, the 2011 would probably be the more "appropriate" choice for a pure Open build.
What are the differences between a DIY Open Glock and a true custom built Open Glock?- I referenced Dave Sevigny and KC Eusebio's custom Glocks above (I believe both shot builds from SJC Customs), so let's discuss the differences between the guns they are shooting, and something you can put together at home. What you are going to be doing does not equate to the guns that these guys have, but then again, you aren't doing this conversion with the hopes to become the Open champion with the gun right? We are going to be piecing together parts, we are not going to be perfectly blending each part together. This equates to sloppier tolerances, and more chance for failures in a DIY gun than a custom gun which has been tuned by a professional smith (who has most likely done hundreds of builds).
So then why DIY? - With all that said, a DIY Glock might sound like a lose-lose. But the purpose of this at-home conversion as I see it, is primarily for creating a "water tester". By undertaking this project, we can create a gun that gives us a chance to shoot in Open when we want, and see if it's something we are truly interested in. Not to mention we can swap back to stock configuration very easily if we don't care for Open without any permanent alterations having been made to our weapon. Another reason you might attempt this conversion is because it can provide a way for you to get your significant-other into shooting. Lady shooters, don't be upset, but sometimes women who don't shoot are hesitant to do so because they simply don't like the feel of recoil. This conversion will cut down on some of the more unpleasant parts of shooting, and this can be an inviting way to convince someone (man or woman) to come out and try shooting or the action shooting sports. This project can also be completely for purposes devoid of the competition realm, and moreover be designed as a way for someone to simply juice up a stock gun that they otherwise don't use, giving them something fun to shoot with their buddies in the backyard.
So what's the total cost of your DIY Open Glock? - the modifications you will be making should cost you about $850.00 at the higher end. This price does not include the cost of the stock G17/22. If you don't already own a Glock, I'd strongly suggest looking into a used Open 2011 or custom Open Glock if you're really wanting to get an Open gun. The price difference might not be as horrible as you expect if you have to buy the stock Glock on top of the price of the modification parts we'll be purchasing. This conversion is very much direct at those who have already spent some of their overall budget on a stock Glock.
What parts will I need to install/purchase? - The $850.00 I just mentioned will get you a new: trigger, firing pin spring kit, magwell, slide racker, RDS, threaded barrel, guide rod and recoil spring, and compensator. Please note, not all of these items are required to make the gun function as an Open gun, so you can save money as you go through your build by eliminating parts which are a luxury and not a necessity. These are also not all of the parts you could end up buying. What I've tried to do is bring together the parts I feel are most important and present that information to you based on my experience.
(Top: Open G17 Conversion, Bottom: Production G34)
Should I mount my optic on the slide or on a frame mount? -For the purposes of this build, put the optic on the slide to start. Not only is this cheaper for now, but it also keeps the optic where you're used to seeing your sights. In the future, if you decide to go with a full open setup, you can easily purchase a frame mount (if you decide you need one) that can accommodate the optic which you will buy for this project. While some people say you can't track the dot when it rides the slide, I haven't found that to be the case, the dot rises as I would expect and falls back to my point of aim as I would expect. With this said, there are certainly benefit to the frame mounted optic which we will discuss later.
(Slide Mounted JPoint)
Will I need a new holster or magazine pouches? - Based on which holsters you already own and which compensator you decide to go with, you might be able to make an Open Glock which still fits in standard holsters and use them until you decide you want to invest in a race holster (which can be quite pricey). A holster with an open muzzle-end that maintains the same profile as the Glock slide and a compensator which maintains the same profile as the Glock slide will both be required if you want your holster to still fit your Glock once your modifications are complete. The standard G-Code holsters are a good example of holster that will work. You won't need new magazine pouches until you decide for sure if you want to compete in Open.
(G-Code basic holster with open muzzle. Carver 4-Port Compensator)
Can I just buy the Jager Open Conversion kit? - Sure you can! It has most of the parts you need, but it doesn't necessarily save you money part for part and you can't pick and choose which manufacturer's parts you want. The difference in price from the Jager kit to the $850.00 budget we've created is that we are also purchasing a trigger, firing pin spring kit, magwell, and slide racker on top of the base parts. Remember, you don't need all these parts so choose what's best for you.
What are the risks to trying this? - Like anything in the world of modifying guns, there are risks to trying this project (which I take no responsibility for). It's important to mention that you might not be able to get the gun to function with a comp based on the ammo you use. You might break parts during installation or removal. You might lose reliability that you are accustomed to with your Glock. You might decide it was a bad idea and not like shooting with a red dot on your handgun, etc etc. But most importantly, there is the possibility that you are not familiar enough with the fit and function of the action of the weapon, and that you might end up seriously damaging the weapon or not assembling it correctly with the tolerances required for it to operate safely. Be sure to be safe while undertaking this project. If something doesn't seem right or feel right, don't try shooting it.
Step 1 - Frame stippling / Addition of Grip - This step is totally based on personal preference. I've found that shooting with a textured grip gives me far more control over the gun,specifically as my hands begin to sweat. We can add grip tape in key areas, add a grip sleeve, or stipple the frame to achieve the desired grip effect. Stippling the frame, in my opinion, produces the cleanest most professional looking results. Again, this modification is totally based on personal preference and is no way required as part of the build. Your comfort level with taking a hot-iron to your gun will also come into play here. While it doesn't take a whole lot of skill to produce a crude frame texturing, mastering a professional, clean stipple-job,will take practice.
(G17 with Stippling and undercut trigger guard)
Step 2 - Magwell installation - Once we've textured the frame (if we choose to do so), we can add on a magwell. In Open, the general rule is, the heavy the better in this department. The more mass you have, the more the weight keeps the gun from recoiling. However, if you own any Glock magwell already, there really isn't need to buy a new one for the purposes of this conversion. For example, I own a standard weight Dawson Ice Magwell which I use in IDPA ESP Class, so I can use that despite the fact that there are MANY better options for an Open gun,including the heavier version from Dawson. Brands to consider include Glockworx, SJC, Carver, Dawson, etc. Installation of most magwells is easy; you simply slide the adapter into the frame, secure it through the whole in the rear of the grip, and then attached the magwell via screws.
(Dawson Magwell riding on a G17. Screw attachment points highlighted)
Do I need to buy magazine basepads? - When using a magwell, depending on which make and model you choose, you might need to swap out the basepads on your magazines. For the purposes of this build, I'd suggest trying to find a magwell (like the Dawson) which doesn't require that you do so. In Open, you are going to want to take advantage of the higher magazine capacity allowed with the addition of some magazine extensions, but that's not really necessary right now. You can use factory mags until you make a more accurate decision on what we want to do in terms shooting Open. This will help save you some serious money; magazine extensions aren't cheap.
Edited by GorillaTactical, 15 October 2012 - 07:22 PM.