How to Build a Budget Glock 17 Competition Pistol, Part 1 – Introduction

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.

BACKGROUND

Classic Steel

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

Budget Glock 17

Project Budget Competition Glock 17

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.

CHANGING FOCUS

Practical Pistol Match

Changing Focus to Competition

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.

FUNDAMENTAL MODIFICATIONS

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.

 

Summer 3-Gun On an Injured Ankle, 2012.08.17

THE SETTING

An absolutely gorgeous day to take an afternoon off of work and head to my local range for a little Summer 3-Gun.  Unfortunately I severely sprained my ankle (while shooting) six days ago and am still in a walking boot-type cast.  Lucky for me the stages were not very movement intensive as far as Three-Gun matches go and there were no weapon transitions.  However having to cover about 30 yards of ground on surface that is akin to decorative rock each stage made for some slow times, low rankings and a lot of ankle soreness.  The upside is that I was able to get a bunch of trigger time in and enjoy the camaraderie of some great people.

THE STAGES

The three stages were pretty simple this time with a common obstacle setup for all three and common targets among the rifle and pistol stages.  The Match Director, Walter T., did this to keep things moving during the match and be done in our 2.5 hour window so the Friday night Practical Pistol Match could start on time.  We did fairly well and were able to get all three stages in before the PPM.

Practice to Practical (Shotgun)

I love shotgun stages.  I never was that into the shotgun as a platform until I started shooting Three Gun.  This stage had seven steel pepper poppers, two birds and three plates on the Texas Star.  The course description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with shotgun loaded with safety on in low ready
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 birdshot (10 steel and 2 frangible).

Start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9).  The smart play here was to whack all four targets on the left through the tire (5) load four as you’re moving to the right (9).  Engage all three poppers (6) and the two flipper birds (4).  Then run hard up to the 16 yard line and engage the three plates on the Texas Star (1).

What I did was start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9), nailed all 4 targets on the left (5), limped over to the right side while loading four (9), engaged all three poppers (6) and went up for the birds.  I got one bird (5) but the second one never came and that’s when I realized that I missed the popper on the right.  I reengaged it and got the bird as well (3).  As I was limping up to the Texas Star I went to load another four but was only able to stuff two until I felt some severe binding that stopped me (5).  I got my mount back with the two spare shells in my support hand and engaged the Star, knocking down all three plates in three shots (2).  Why did I load another four when I had enough to neutralize the star?  Well I had to limp instead of run anyway due to my walking boot so I figured that I would give my self a bit of insurance while getting one more practice repetition in for the weak hand reload during competition.

Chip Off the Shoulder (Rifle)

Course description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with rifle loaded with safety on in low ready.
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 rifle (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays. Knock down or any part of bullet hole to score.

The rifle stage was less eventful for me.  I basically cleaned out the targets on the left fairly quickly, limped over to the right, cleaned those out and then engaged the far targets from the barrel on the zero yard line.  I nailed the target stand that was holding the frangible target (primer tray) because I forgot about my height over bore offset.  I have a zero at 50 yards and verified at 200 yards so I should have placed my 4 MOA Aimpoint dot directly over the top of the frangible target.  That little mistake cost me 20 points.  Another little lesson learned there is to pay attention to the scoring as I would have tried a bit harder if I knew they were scored targets instead of “bonus” points.  Oops.

Chip Off the Shoulder (Pistol)

As I said earlier the pistol stage was the same setup as the rifle which was awesome because you could compare your rifle and pistol times to see which you were more proficient at.  The stage description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with pistol loaded in holster hands relaxes at sides.
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 pistol (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays.

The smart play on this one was to run down to the 16 yard line to engage the far targets.  I had to limp down but I was able to knock the right frangible off in one shot.  Unfortunately the left frangible took me three shots.

SHOOTING FOOTAGE

RESULTS

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Overall:

LESSONS LEARNED

All the basics were in action during this shoot.  Sight alignment, trigger control and all that jazz.  It seemed it was even more important for me because I took a lot longer to cover any ground that need be covered.  Each shot counted because I couldn’t just run faster to make up for the extra time at an array or a missed target.  That said, there was no way in hell that I could have shot fast enough to make up for how slow I was to get to each array.  One of the things that I like most about Action Shooting and specifically Three-Gun is that they are very athletic sports and require just as much fine motor skill precision as they do brute strength and agility.  Even though I wasn’t competitive this time around the facts remains that any trigger time is good trigger time and competition will always teach you things about your skills and abilities.

Tueller Drill In Action is An Eye Opener – Practical Pistol for Personal Defense


THE TUELLER DRILL

The Tueller Drill is one of those famous drills in self defense, gunfighter and shooting lore.  Basically the premise is that an assailant armed with a knife can cover a 21 foot distance faster than you can draw your pistol to defend yourself.  This study was originally performed by Sergeant Dennis Tueller and published in SWAT Magazine in 1983.  With the rise of concealed carry in America, the Tueller Drill has experienced a resurgence and was even featured on the popular television shows The Best Defense and Myth Busters.

PRACTICAL SHOOTERS IN ACTION

Ben G., the Match Director of the Friday Practical Pistol Match at my local range, built a sled and engineered a simple method to activate the sled with a rope and a runner.  It is pretty interesting to watch this video compilation that I put together.  Even though each of us knows that the sled is coming many of us are startled or hesitate and many guys can’t get a lot of shots off in the time necessary.  It is important to note that this experiment consists of a guy towing a sled behind him and not just running.  In real life the assailant would cover the ground far quicker.  To switch things up in subsequent rounds Ben G. added a second target, a third and then cover while slowing the sled down to a walk or jog.

TAKEAWAYS

Deescalate – If you can, always deescalate the situation. Tell the aggressor anything he wants to hear to get out of the situation.

Cheat The Draw – If you can’t deescalate and things are getting worse, get your hand on your weapon at minimum. If things have gotten very bad, get your weapon out of the holster.

Get Off The “X” – Move! Get out of the way of the aggressor to buy yourself time on the draw.

Find Cover – Place anything you can between you and the aggressor to slow his progress. Cars, light post, trash can, etc. Any fraction of a second counts.

The Other Side – If you are ever caught in an active-killer, mass-shooting in progress and for some reason you don’t have your CCW, you CAN do something about it.  From this drill I’ve learned that rushing a person can catch them off guard and cause them to hesitate even if they are anticipating the attack.