Glock 19 Upgrades: Building a Better Blaster

— Daniel ReederCADRE Dispatch

Last time we spoke, we discussed the all-encompassing assembly of accessories you can slap on the Glock 19, but today, let’s get a little more fundamental. Instead of Optics, lights, and holsters, we’re diving into Glock 19 upgrades. Think more of barrel swaps, slide replacements, and trigger changes.

Let’s enhance your shooting experience by crafting a better foundation for your Glock 19.

Why Upgrade Your Glock 19 At All?

The Glock 19 is respected for all the right reasons. While it’s a reliable and versatile blaster right out of the box, it’s also one of the most popular handguns on the market. 

Glock 19 Breakdown
dissembled Glock 19. (Photo Credit: Glock, Inc.)

It has a solid history of reliable usage in law enforcement and civilian carry ever since the first gen was released back in 88′ to the most recent gen 5, which came out in 2018.

While the Glock 19 may have started as a compact alternative to the 17, it’s developed and evolved into a much more robust firearm since. It’s received ergonomic improvements, a universal rail, a better extractor, a more robust recoil spring, increased modularity with its back straps, better stock barrels, and with Gen 5 — ambi support with the slide stop.

It’s no surprise it’s built the cult following that it has.

The Glock 19X. (Photo Credit: Glock, Inc.)
The Glock 19X. (Photo Credit: Glock, Inc.)

That popularity pays dividends to the consumer. Think of it as what happened with Civics and cheaper Toyotas over the years; if you have that many people buying them, usually, you’ll have a ton of after-market goodies to upgrade it since there is an existing market.

The Glock 19 lands squarely into this same general principle; it’s versatile and has the market to back it. It’s an excellent platform for making it exactly what you want, and today, we will talk about how you can make that happen. Hopefully, by the end, you’ve got the exact idea of your ideal Glock 19 upgrades, and how to incorporate them.

Bringing Your Best Barrel To Bear

Threaded, fluted, and match barrels — oh my! Let’s talk barrels. This could be an entire article, but we’ll keep it as brief as possible. We mentioned upgrading your fundamentals before, and how much more fundamental can it get than the barrel?

Glock 19 Stock Barrels

So, if you’re getting a stock Glock, you’re getting a barrel right out of the box. Typically, with something like this, we probably wouldn’t even mention the stock barrel, but if you’re planning on buying a Glock 19, we need to discuss barrels and the generations briefly.

One of the most significant upgrades the Gen 5 received over the previous was the Glock Marksman Barrel, colloquially known as the “GMB.” Basically, the upgrade adjusted the rifling method from the polygonal rifling used in Gen 4 to the more traditional rifling methods Gen 5 uses to reduce lead build-up, among other things. 

Glock claims this improves the accuracy of previous models overall. So, even if you decide to upgrade every other facet of the pistol, make sure you pick the proper generation for your preference to start with. Also, if you want to get weird with it, the Gen 4 barrel is compatible with the Gen 5 model because they’re approximately the same size.

Glock 19 Match Barrels

Match barrels are another standard barrel you’ll find on a modified Glock, especially for those invested in competitive shooting. They’re some of the first people who typically want to do full-blown upgrades to build their perfect race gun.

CMG Triggers Glock 19 Match barrels. (Photo Credit: CMG Triggers.)
CMC Triggers Glock 19 Match barrels. (Photo Credit: CMG Triggers.)

Usually, their construction involves much more meticulous machining for tighter tolerance to squeeze every little bit of performance out of your pistol. Many of them are made using stainless steel or more specialized alloys to prevent general wear and tear from the stress of matches. 

The barrels are designed to have an overall tighter fit inside the slide, typically to reduce movement and vibration. These little adjustments help enhance the existing skills that professional shooters possess. It is up for more debate, though, if these barrels make as much of a difference for your average shooter, so keep that in mind; these guys can run expensive! Depending on the manufacturer, a decent match-grade barrel will typically run you anywhere from $90 to $230.

If you’re in the market, there are more than a few companies that sell these, including but not limited to CMC Triggers, Lone Wolf Arms, Matrix Arms, Grey Ghost Precision, Faxon Firearms, Brownells, and more. Like we said, the Civic situation — you’ve got choices aplenty. 

Glock 19 Threaded Barrels

Here’s the big one: most folks who swap out their barrel — that aren’t looking to push their blaster to the limit — are looking right here. Folks install threaded barrels to attach suppressors, compensators, or other various flavors of muzzle devices. Obviously, the predominant devices here are suppressors because who doesn’t want to pew, but with less ear trauma? Even WITH good hearing protection equipment, having a little less loud in your life can’t hurt. 

Silencer Co Threaded Barrel. (Photo Credit: Silencer Co.)
Silencer Co Threaded Barrels. (Photo Credit: Silencer Co.)

Now, we can discuss the benefits of all these muzzle devices later, but the barrel itself is an upgrade in and of itself, so we need to make sure it’s worth it, too. An after-market barrel usually comes made with much better construction, again with things like stainless steel or other custom materials. They’re often treated or coated for corrosion resistance, like most barrels. 

Make sure when you’re picking one of these up that the accessories you want to attach to the barrel itself match the thread pitch. A standard thread pitch for 9mm pistols like the Glock 19 includes 1/2×28 TPI — so always double-check. This can vary depending on the generation, too.

Most places mentioned in the Match section also produce threaded barrels, but threaded barrels have developed a sub-niche in the manufacturing space. Even SilencerCo, which is much more focused on the suppressor side of things, makes threaded barrels for various firearms.

Glock 19 Fluted Barrels

Fluted barrels are different from our previous options, which focused more on adding benefits like performance and the ability to adjust what you can use on your firearm. Fluted barrels are more about taking away. 

Faxon Glock 19 Fluted Barrel
The Faxon Glock 19 fluted barrel. (Photo Credit: Faxon Firearms)

One of the significant benefits of a Glock 19 is its ease of concealed carry for people who don’t want a hand cannon on their hip weighing them down. Fluted barrels push that a little bit further; here are the major benefits of picking one of these over other performance barrels:

  • Weight Reduction.
  • Heat Dissipation.
  • Aesthetics.

Weight reduction is the big one. In something as complex as a pistol, reducing weight can have wide-reaching effects on the integrity of the design. Fortunately, plenty of ballistic wizards are working on this for us, and Fluted barrels are one of their finer and lighter works.

The next is heat dissipation. Barrels, as we all know, get hot as all hell whenever you’re doing any shooting for an extended period. The fluted barrels effectively increase the barrel’s surface area, allowing it to transfer heat quickly.

The final benefit benefit to fluted barrels is aesthetics — because looking cool is pretty important. Right… Right? Look at this thing; don’t you want it just because it looks nifty?

Slide Into Some Glock 19 Slides

Slides are another one of the more popular upgrades for pistols at large, and especially Glock 19s. We keep saying that the significant benefits are performance and aesthetics; the slide is no different. 

What better place to customize and upgrade your aesthetic than the slide? It covers a substantial portion of the real estate on the firearm, especially the part you’re not covering with those meat hooks you call hands. How else will everyone on the range know you’re the taxi-coolest when you’re running your high-speed drill on the range?

Grey Ghost Precision Glock 19 Slides.
Grey Ghost Precision Glock 19 Slides. (Photo Credit: Grey Ghost Precision)

From a more practical standpoint, custom slides are often required for pistols to use optics. Now, the Glock 19 MOS is designed with specific optics, but you may want something more specific if you’re already playing build-a-bear with your gun.

Keep in mind the compatibility and purpose of whatever slide you land on. Do you want one that is more focused on supporting accuracy and smoother ejection or to look like John Wick’s cooler cousin, Jeff? Additionally, make sure you’re picking up a slide that is easy to swap unless you plan on going to a Gunsmith. Agency Arms, Zev, Brownells, Lone Wolf, and Strike Industries have options if you’re looking for some places to shop. 

Easiest Trigger To Scratch

Three of the main subcategories you will run into shopping for aftermarket Glock triggers are adjustable, flat-faced, and competition triggers. Let’s dive in.

Adjustable Triggers

As the name suggests, adjustable are adjustable. When you’re getting down to the nitty gritty for truly high-end shooters, you will likely want to narrow this down to an exact science. Typically, adjustable triggers will let you manage your pre-travel, over-travel, and pull weight.

Pre-travel is the distance the trigger needs to be pulled back before it engages the firing mechanism. So, faster pre-travel means a faster break, resulting in a shot — not necessarily for everyone, but it may be a must in a competitive environment.

Over-travel is that little bit after the click of the break when it’s still going back but before the reset. This comes back to essentially distance traveled and time taken, resulting in a crisper and more precise trigger break.

The Lone Wolf Ultimate Adjustable Trigger.
The Lone Wolf Ultimate Adjustable Trigger. (Photo Credit: Lone Wolf)

Pull weight affects both; it’s the amount of force required to discharge the firearm. Common knowledge suggests typically a heavier trigger pull for safety and a lighter pull for performance. So this, in conjunction with the travel speeds, encompasses the whole trigger-enchilada that the adjustable trigger is made for. This might be the best option for someone who doesn’t quite have the budget for multiple race and range guns and enjoys tinkering more than the average 2A enjoyer.

Flat-Faced Trigger

Again, with the name right on the nose! These have a flat surface, providing a different feel for finger placement. The flat surface supposedly allows for a more consistent trigger press than a curved one, like the stock one that comes with the Glock 19. But much of this is up to personal preference that’ll adjust from shooter to shooter. It’s a common issue to see on the range, especially with new shooters, that a lot of improvement in their groupings can be made with their trigger press, so finding one you’re comfortable with is significant.

The Cross Armory Flat faced trigger.
The Cross Armory flat-faced trigger. (Photo Credit: Cross Armory)

Competitive Triggers

So, let’s talk about competitive triggers. They’re similar to the last two but are often much more specialized for lighter trigger pulls and crisper breaks. While they may be similar to adjustable triggers, their focus is wholely on competition so that more effort can be put into the quality of construction and specificity of the pre and over-travel. Brands like Zev Technologies, Agency Arms, Apex Tactical, and Overwatch Precision are known for their competitive triggers for Glock 19s.

The Apex Enhancement kit for the Glock 19 Gen 5. (Photo Credit: Apex Tactical)
The Apex Tactical Enhancement Kit for the Glock 19 Gen 5. (Photo Credit: Apex Tactical)

The quality is often nothing to scoff at, but neither is the price. Sometimes, you’re looking at a third of the retail price of a stock Glock 19 for just one of these custom triggers. Ultimately, you’ll need to evaluate this as a shooter if you can manipulate the firearm to the point it’s worth the price of entry.

Magazine & Slide Releases

So, aftermarket mag releases are when we start squeezing a lot more in the min-maxing side of these Glock 19 upgrades. Their purpose is to facilitate a quicker magazine change, so you’ll mostly see these primarily used in the competitive scene, like more than a few of the options on this list. 

But ultimately, it is also more of a preference; you may find yourself one that is more comfortable or longer to fit your particular grip better. There are also textured releases and specific low-profile mag releases advertised as beneficial to concealed carry. Brownells, Zev, Taran Tactical, and Ghost Inc carry them if you’re in the market.

Tear Drop Extended mag release from Glock Store. (Photo Credit: Glock Store)
Tear Drop Extended mag release from Glock Store. (Photo Credit: Glock Store)

The same thing applies to slide releases, with the difference being a more pronounced ledge or better general ergonomics to fit different hand sizes. We know some of you have some monster claws out there. If you’re in the market for one of these, many of the same places that carry magazine releases carry these, too, but you might also check out Vickers Tactical or Tyrant CNC.

Many of these magazine & slide releases can be installed without a gunsmith, but don’t be afraid to get help if you’re getting into unfamiliar waters, especially if you’re working on the fabled Gucci-Glock.


Here’s one of the Glock 19 upgrades where we get picky: the grip has to be one of the first, arguably one of the more essential upgrades you can do to a firearm. Establishing your master grip when you draw is super important, and you don’t want your hand to slip when it’s wet, sweaty, or bloody. Funny enough, this is one of the more accessible Glock 19 upgrades, too. 

Talon Grip for the Glock 19. (Photo Credit: Talon Grips)
Talon Grip for the Glock 19. (Photo Credit: Talon Grips)

There are more than a few options for aftermarket grips that are easy to install. They are wrap-around adhesive grips with rubber or other granulated textures. There are also a few options that slide on. Check out Talon Grips, Hogue Grips, or Grip Force Adapters if you’re in the market.

Magwell, Oh Well.

Well, well, well, we made it to the magwell. Good reloads are essential in competitive settings or even something much more severe. The whole point of aftermarket magwells is to help you with that. They function effectively as a funnel for your reloads, helping you in those high-stress situations. 

Killer Innovations Universal magwell for Glock 19. (Photo Credit: Killer Innovations.)
Killer Innovations Universal magwell for Glock 19. (Photo Credit: Killer Innovations.)

Plus, and this is one of the reasons we run one, they act as a little stop at the base of the grip, an excellent little notch for your hand to rest. They can also help balance out your Glock 19, potentially reducing muzzle rise and improving stability. That, and they look cool. If you’re in the market for one of these, you can check out Agency Arms, Magpul, or Zev.

Remember these sort of swings two ways: some are easy to install, and others are more permanent. If you do decide to nab one of these, make certain that it works with your generation of Glock 19, and check to see if you’ll need tools to install it.

Tungsten Guide Rods

The humble guide rod is less shiny and glamorous than the other Glock 19 upgrades, but just relevant. The guide rod in semi-autos like the Glock 19 supports the internal recoil spring and helps prevent your blaster from falling apart on the range while you’re mag dumping to show your buddy your new Gucci-Glock.

Tungsten Guide rods for Gen 4 Glock 19s. (Photo Credit: Glock Store)
Tungsten Guide rods for Gen 4 Glock 19s. (Photo Credit: Glock Store)

That’s where tungsten comes in. Tungsten is dense and heavy, so tungsten rods are more durable — that’s the skinny. You’re replacing a part that is often factory-standard polymer or steel with something more expensive but much more durable. So, it’s more stable, depending on your preferences, more balanced, and it’s going to last longer. Lone Wolf, Wilson Combat, and Zev Technologies carry them if you’re in the market.

Firing Pin Upgrades

We’re reaching the end of our humble quest for the best Glock 19 upgrades, and we’ve landed on firing pins. There are two big reasons to grab an aftermarket firing pin: durability and reduced lock time.

Durability: the firing pin can wear out, and finding an aftermarket one made with titanium or steel can extend its shelf life for a while. 

Reducing lock time: Lock time is the little bit between the trigger pull and the pin striking the primer. Combined with everything we’ve discussed above, every little bit counts to speed up the process, so why not push it just a smidge further?

Glock 19 Firing Pin Assembly for Glock 19 Gen5 from Lone Wolf. (Photo Credit: Lone Wolf)
Glock 19 Firing Pin Assembly for Glock 19 Gen5 from Lone Wolf. (Photo Credit: Lone Wolf)

Also, some of the modifications we mentioned above may require a new firing pin to make it function. This includes some triggers, slides, and conversion kits, all of which can require firing pins.

So, we leave you with a question: where will you start your Gucci-Glock quest? We went with magwell first and then an optics-ready slide for our Glock 19. Will you grab a barrel? Slap on a new grip? Regardless, we hope it goes well, and if you need a holster to hold that new Primo blaster, we’ve got you covered. 

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