Glocks are the most popular service pistols worldwide. This has created a very large aftermarket of accessories and parts to pop up for Glocks. Here are some of the most popular modifications users make to their Glocks, worldwide.
Improved Iron Sights.
The default iron sights on most Glocks are plastic. While some end users are fine with stock Glock sights, many military users require the sights to be metal as the plastic sights can wear down from extended use. As a result, some Glocks are fitted with metal sights from the factory as per contract, making them perhaps the most common Glock “modification.”
Users who expect to use the pistol in low light or night conditions often will fit tritium-illuminated night sights to their Glocks.
Glock pistols have incorporated an accessory rail on their pistols since the 3rd generation. While this rail can mount a variety of accessories, the most common is a weapon light. Weapon lights are critical to pistol usage in low-light environments, as it allows users to identify their target before making the decision to engage. Weapon lights can be also used to stun or disorient targets.
Soldiers from many nations have been seen with larger holsters meant to accommodate a Glock with a weapon light, indicating wide adoption of weapon lights on Glocks.
Red Dot Optics
In late 2018, a large contract for a red dot meant specifically for handguns was awarded to Trijicon by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). As USSOCOM is known to make wide use of Glock pistols, and there have been reports of U.S. Army Rangers being issued Glock 19s with slides meant to mount red dots, it’s safe to assume that USSOCOM is putting red dots on their Glock 19 pistols.
Red dots are seen by many. the future of handgun aiming systems, as they greatly increase speed and accuracy when shooting under stress. While they have been present on “race guns” used in shooting competition for many years, the technology is finally rugged and reliable enough to be used on military firearms.
USSOCOM is likely not alone in putting red dots on their Glocks. The commonly circulated photos of a British SAS operative saving civilians in Nairobi show him equipped with a holster meant to take a Glock with a red dot.
In another instance of a “competition” modification crossing over into military usage, flared magwells have seen use by elite American forces equipped with Glock pistols. These magwells act as a “funnel” of sorts, allowing magazines to easily slide into the body of the pistol during reloads, speeding up reloads and making them more consistent.
U.S. Army special forces are reported to use flared magwells and have been seen using Glocks equipped with them in combat.
Glock has incorporated a semi-flared magwell into their 5th generation Glock pistols, including the Glock 19M adopted by the FBI.
While most Glocks are designed as semi-automatic only from the factory (with the exception of the Glock 18), it is fairly easy to convert them to fully automatic, only requiring the installation of a “chip” on the rear of the pistol that alters how the disconnector functions. These chips can be cheaply and easily made, so a myriad of variations on the standard design exist, some with a sliding bars and others with a switches
While some of these chips are used by law enforcement and military forces worldwide, the majority of users of converted “chipped” Glocks tend to be criminal or irregular in nature. A full auto Glock is very imprecise and hard to control, being a machine pistol firing at over 1,000 rounds per minute.
Most official users would prefer the compensated, more controllable Glock 18C if they had a need for such a weapon. “Chipped” Glocks are especially common finds in the gun markets in the Middle East.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.