In this series I’ll show you step-by-step how to build a competitive budget polymer pistol for IDPA, USPSA/IPSC or club-level Practical Shooting matches. You’ll see first hand how to tailor each modification to your specific needs and get the most out of your competition pistol.
My first and second pistols were the 1911’s shown at left. A Springfield 1911 GI and a Springfield 1911 Loaded Target. I’ve always liked the classic look of the famous design brought to us by John Browning and you just cant beat the feel of a giant, steel, .45 ACP-slinger in your hands as you’re tossing rounds downrange. I was a casual tactical-style shooter and was fine performing 2-3 times more magazine changes than my shooting pals because I enjoyed the pistols, the heritage and the mechanical “kerchunk!” each time it cycled.
Then in 2008 Barack Obama was elected President of The United States.
Almost overnight the supply of .45 ACP dried up from the local stores and online retailers. The prices skyrocketed from an “affordable” $0.29/round to an insane $0.49/round. This seriously put a damper on my pistol practice and I began looking at alternatives.
THE POLYMER TEMPTATION
My buddies had always teased me about shooting an antique at the range, always asking why I had so many malfunctions and why I had to reload so often. They all shot Glocks and one of them just happened to have a well-used Generation Two G17 for sale for the right price of $400. That price included a nice bonus of the original Tupperware-style box but unfortunately only one magazine. I tried it out at one of our range days and was impressed by how easy the 9mm round was to control and how well the lightweight, blocky pistol fit my hands and shot for me. I also liked that 9 mm Luger was slightly more available than .45 ACP and was about half the price. I went home that day with a new (to me) pistol.
That was nearly four years ago and since then I have sold one 1911 and barely shot the other one. While my original focus had always been Self Defense and Tactical shooting, last fall I finally made it out to my first Three-Gun competition at my local range. I figured it would be good practice for the type of Tactical shooting I normally did and would be great to get more trigger time, especially trigger time under stress. I was immediately hooked and have been to at least one multi-gun match each month ever since. This spring I also began competing in Practical Pistol matches at the local club. The club offers different Practical Pistol matches three nights a week and Summer 3-Gun matches every other Friday so I have been shooting practical matches 2-4 times each week all summer. Getting that much trigger time in a competition environment on my completely stock Glock 17 has given me the itch to start tweaking it a bit to better compete.
I have basically been growing a wish-list in the back of my mind of parts that I can modify, rework or replace to upgrade this gun without breaking the bank. I’d like to improve the major systems enough to shave a few seconds off my course times here and there but I will keep the modifications basic to stay in the budget-spirit of the original reason behind its purchase. So don’t expect any flames, compensators or red dot optics.
Another reason for the basic upgrades is that I intend to keep the pistol legal for Stock Service Pistol and Production classes in both IDPA and USPSA. While I have only shot one major USPSA match (Multi-Gun) and do not shoot any sanctioned matches on a regular basis, I would like to attend larger matches more often in the future and I would hate to be bumped into a race-gun class beyond my skills and abilities due to a modification I made to gain an edge in my local club matches. Some research into the requirements of the respective Production classes was required to be sure that I fell within the rules.
RACE PARTS ARE JUST A CLICK AWAY
I’ve cracked both the Brownell’s catalog and my piggy bank, filled up my online shopping cart and clicked “buy”. In later posts of the How to Build a Budget Glock 17 Competition Pistol series I’ll showcase each part I chose, explain what I hope to accomplish by installing or modifying them, detail the installation process and give a full range report.