Chopping a GLOCK 19…
For well over 10 years, I have been a GLOCK guy. Sure, I carry my Walther PPS and PPQ, and HK P30SK and VP9, and certainly have a love for SIGs and many other guns, but likely 300 days a year, some type of GLOCK is riding in my waistband. The reasons I swap between guns usually has more to do with concealment and less about wanting to carry any particular gun. After all, the size of small GLOCK G42, G43, and G26 models all have concealment advantages over a G17 or G19 sized handgun—so I swap back and forth. And, of course, have more than a few guns in the inventory as a result.
Notably, my biggest issue is that bottom extra half inch of my G19 grip will print with some clothes and my wife calls it out…leading to a weapon swap to something smaller. Obviously, when wearing something trim fitting, a slimmer gun is in order. Usually, my big issue is the gun’s grip height. Lining up some of those smaller format guns, they all fall into a 4 – 4.5-inch height range, such as a Walther PPS, G43/42, Walther PPK, G26 and HK P30SK. For the last five years, I noticed the concealment of my G19 has suffered in these wardrobe constrained moments due to just that last half inch of the grip regardless of the cant of holster or any holster I use. And yes, I have tested pretty much all of them. It really comes down to wardrobe and body shape. Enter the GLOCK 26L – the Best Carry Gun I Have Ever Owned… and that you cannot buy.
What Is a GLOCK 26L?
Back in 2012, fellow writer Rob Pincus wrote a rather interesting build article about a GLOCK 26L. It’s a chopped down G19 that ends up having a G26 magazine sized grip – thus a Long GLOCK 26 or G26L. He cited many of the same reasons I noted. Thank you, Rob, I drank the G26L Kool-Aid and love it.
In fact, we are talking about chopping a perfectly good G19 grip here so it can accept shorter 10-round format G26 mags. Since G17, G19, and G26 magazines, and even those 33-rounders will all fit just dandy in the baby GLOCK 26, this format delivers a ton of carry and capacity options. There is a huge array of aftermarket +1, +2, +3, etc., magazine extensions you can use on the GLOCK 26 magazine as well which further expands capacity options.
Why in God’s Name Would You Do This?
The G26L even with a +3-magazine extension delivers 13+1 capacity with a gun that is roughly a half inch shorter than a G19 while only losing 2-rounds of capacity in the process. In fact, there is one gun that is very close to this format that drove the concept of this entire project. For me, the SIG P224 SAS was just a hair shorter and not quite as long as the G19, but had the 12+1 capacity. I felt this was the perfect balance of capacity, firepower, and size for a defensive gun. However, I simply did not shoot it as well or as fast as my GLOCKs, so I sold it. The good news is that anyone with marginal Dremel tool experience and patience to not screw it up can make a G26L—that is if you have the guts to do it. Here are some dimensional stats to give you an idea of the concept and final dimensions.
- G19 HEIGHT: 127 mm / 4.99 in. LENGTH: 187 mm / 7.36 in.
- G26 HEIGHT: 106 mm / 4.17 in. LENGTH: 163 mm / 6.41 in.
- G26L HEIGHT: 106 mm / 4.17 in. or 4.5 in. with Taran Tactical +3 extension
- SIG SAUER 12+1 9mm 224 SAS (perfectly sized in between a G19 and G26) — HEIGHT: 4.5 in. LENGTH: 6.7 in.
The driver for this project was that I love the G19, the way it shoots, how I shoot it, the balance, pointability, sight radius, and literally everything about the gun. However, I did want to conceal it better and not worry about swapping guns. Everyone will ask why not a G26? Well, I have one and owned six others over the years. The G26 feels snappier shooting, and thus not as controllable even with a grip extension. The sight radius is a little smaller and I am not as accurate with it. It does not ride as well on me either. I have also run timers and scoring pitting my best with my G26 and with the G19. I am always faster and more accurate with the G19. At the GLOCK party at SHOT 2017, I was privileged to have a fun argument with one of their Austrian engineers about why I was shooting a 19 better than a 26. He said it should not make a difference, but as we know there is always a human component in there. The G19 and G26 both have equal grip sizes due to extended G26 mags, so all that magic must be in the extra half inch of barrel and spring on the G19. Why not just shorten the grip on the G19. That was the logic and it worked beautifully.
Chopping and Rocking the GLOCK 19
First, we need a sacrificial G19. I know, I know. I am devaluing a G19 to half of the original price. But never fear if this terrifies you. There are stripped GLOCK lower receivers reasonably available on the market to chop away on. GLOCK was nice enough to provide a Gen 3 G19 for the article…though I may have omitted that I was going to cut it down.
The key here is to have a G26 to pattern the chopping to. I really do not recommend doing the deed unless you have a G26 and magazines to use as a pattern for the modification. I see far too many horribly bad grip chops where someone just draws a line and then hacksaws the grip straight across. Of note, the G26 does have a front and rear lips and so should your GLOCK 26L to preserve the second finger groove. It is very key to the preserve the shooting comfort, gun control, and ergonomics of the G19 that you have prominent forward and rear lips on the mag well. The second finger groove is very important as is the rear lip of the magwell and without them a flat chopped G19 grip feels like a block of wood.
The rear of the magwell should also dip down so you do not have a hard-right angle cutting into the center of your palm. With all that said, this is more of a hacksaw cut of only quarter inch and then a delicate precision fitting of the contours with a Dremel down to the proper reliable fitment and seating of a G26 magazine. The key is to go slow because you cannot go backward.
Another tip, leave the rear lip of the magwell a little long for a standard 10-round GLOCK 26 magazine. Heat up the lip with a heat gun and reform it down and around into a rounder shape. The result is a grip that should be comfortable to hold.
At this point, a lot of people doing these conversions aggressively stipple the grip to finish the look. However, I am not a fan of aggressive stippling for CCW firearms. I have found that even some factory grips have a surface which is abrasive on the skin during carry. My preference is to use a lower temperature wood carving tool with a blunt tip and lightly go over the entire grip surface to smooth it out. Even this simple surface will deliver plenty of grip in wet environments while not eating your skin throughout the day.
I am not a huge fan of copious upgrades on defensive guns. However, I tested, trust, and like several key upgrades on defensive GLOCKs. The Apex Triggers kits with their connector and plunger spring are excellent and totally dependable with a better feeling, slightly lighter, and faster resetting trigger. Vickers slide releases are subtlety extended with just a tad of edgy grip to facilitate positive slide release on reloads even with gloves. There are great sights out there on the market. However, this G19 came with factory GLOCK Tritium sights, so that is good enough for me.
The only other upgrade on this gun were Taran Tactical +3 and GLOCK +2 extensions I added to factory magazines. The interesting thing as I was planning this project was that these +2 or +3 extensions deliver just enough extra length to allow for a full grip without a pinky dangling.
Taran Tactical did recommend that I use GLOCK 19 springs with their +3 extensions on a GLOCK 26 magazine. Both extensions deliver the same overall length, but the GLOCK’s tapered design ends up about an eighth shorter at the back of the magazine. Personally, I favor the Taran Tactical extension because for whatever reason the aluminum glides on my shirt material, clings less, and therefore conceals better than the plastic and it does deliver one extra round for a 13+1 round capacity of my G26L.
Shooting Impressions and Concluding Thoughts
My G26L does in fact shoot just like my G19.It’s fast on target, accurate, and manages recoil just as well as my un-chopped G19. I lost nothing from a timing or accuracy perspective over my full-sized G19. In reality, the G26L is everything I love about the G19 with the concealability and magazine flexibility of the G26. With a 10-round factory G26 magazine in place, I get all the concealment of the three-quarter-inch shorter G26 grip with all the benefits of the G19. With a +3-extended magazine, my pinky has a place to perch. The tradeoff is two fewer rounds than a full-sized G19. Let me say that half an inch on me makes all the difference in the world from a concealment perspective.
As a test, I carried the G26L for several months straight covering every conceivable event with my wife ranging from shopping, traveling, movies, and dinner. Not once did my wife poke the butt of my G26L and tell me I was printing. For me, this is the perfect gun.
It is highly likely that my wife is the only person in the world who would pick up the unusual divot my factory G19 would cast. Even many of my trained friends never knew I was carrying. After all, there are many holster manufacturers who make excellent holsters. Sure I could just slide my holster forward a half inch and the bulge would hide. However, I like where I carry my gun at 4-o’clock and that is where I want it. After years of dealing with this problem, I found a remedy. It was not in the form of a holster. For many, this will seem like an extreme customization. However, it really is not. For the weary, I say find and buy a stripped G19 lower and do the customization. Yes, Rob… I agree this is GLOCK Perfection.