Apex Tactical is perhaps best known for their trigger kits that clean up the Smith & Wesson M&P’s bangswitch, though their original success came from their renowned work on Smith revolvers. As the company has grown, they’ve slowly added additional trigger shoe types and they’ve recently branched out to other striker-fired platforms. Recently, though, they’ve taken on the biggest platform out there, GLOCK brand GLOCKs…
I’ve managed to put an Apex Trigger in every Smith & Wesson striker-fired gun that’s come into my hands, including Shields, Sigmas, and M&Ps. Every single kit has done wonders for those guns, especially the older M&Ps which came with one of the worst factory triggers imaginable. The road to GLOCK perfection, however, is a bit different.
First, the market is heavily saturated with companies making triggers for Gaston’s wundergun. Second, the GLOCK trigger, in my opinion, has never been nearly as needful of a cleanup as the M&Ps. Sure, you can make them better, but they already start life crisp and clean enough with one of the best tactile and audible resets out there. In fact, when Apex sent me a trigger to test out, I was a little sad about it, because I actually like the factory trigger just fine. With one exception.
I’ve never enjoyed the feel of GLOCK’s factory trigger on my finger. The safety blade on them has always protruded a bit beyond the shoe causing a hot spot on my digit. This is usually magnified by the six pounds or more that it requires to set one off. After a few hundred rounds, I usually have a little dimple on my trigger finger. Not the end of the world, but certainly not an experience I go out of my way to have.
If nothing else, Apex’s flat-faced trigger makes for a much more comfortable and ergonomic shooting experience. The safety blade is still there, but it’s easily disengaged, and moved to a recessed position within the flat, smooth trigger shoe. This is a big upgrade in my mind, and immediately made the gun a bit more pleasant to shoot.
Installation of the GLOCK Apex Trigger is actually much easier than the install on the S&W pistols as you just need to remove the trigger assembly and replace it with Apex’s kit. Apex offers a trigger only or a trigger with a Gen 3 Trigger Bar for those running the Gen4 GLOCKs. Simply disassemble the gun using the handy video above, and follow along to do the install. Though I have a Gen3 GLOCK 19, I elected to utilize the trigger with trigger bar, as removing the factory trigger bar from my gun would effectively destroy the factory trigger. Should I ever want to go back, I’d be up a creek.
Because of this decision, swapping out the trigger was a sub ten minute affair. As part of the enhancement package, I also elected to use the revised safety plunger. The whole enhancement took less than thirty minutes, and required no fine tuning like the M&P kits.
Objective Bench Data
Given that I wanted to run my Apex’d GLOCK against a stock one, I placed a call to RF, and he readily supplied a bone stock Gen 4 GLOCK 19 for me to use as part of my testing. Full disclosure, I installed the Apex Trigger in a Gen 3 and my control gun was a Gen 4. I wasn’t able to feel/taste/smell too much of a difference, and the results of my range testing indicate that they’re very clearly similar.
The first bench based test was for trigger pull. After ten pulls on the stock trigger, I managed to record an average weight of 6.36 lbs with a standard deviation of .16. Putting the Apex’d GLOCK through the same testing protocol yielded an average of 5.76 lbs with a standard deviation of .11. Beyond a reasonable doubt, I can say that the Apex kit lowered the weight down to a very manageable but still safe level. Prior to replacing the stock trigger on my gun, I had it registering regularly above six pounds so I’m confident that the Apex kit will lower the weight required to set the gun off by a reasonable, but still very safe number.
The second bench test was to measure the travel of both triggers at the various stages of engagement. This would be a much more scientific process if I had Jeremy’s fancy DVORAK TriggerScan, but alas I’m a poor boy from the country with a set of analog calipers. I measured several distances with the calipers as parallel to the direction of travel as possible and then figured the distances between those various points. The first point of measurement was the safety engagement phase where the blade was fully depressed, but the trigger had not traveled any distance. The second point of measurement was the “wall” where you can start to feel the first bit of resistance. This would generally be referred to as the takeup distance. In the case of the stock Gen 4 GLOCK, this yielded a travel of .244 inches. The Apex’d GLOCK was a full tenth of an inch shorter at .141 inches.
As I’m not able to measure the actual breaking point, the next best measurement I could get was to squeeze the trigger the full distance of travel and measure to what would normally be called the overtravel stop. The distance between this point and the aforementioned wall would be what I would call the entirety of the trigger engagement zone. On the stock GLOCK, this distance was .116 inches. The Apex’d GLOCK was .021 inches, almost a tench of an inch shorter.
The last measurement was to measure the distance from the overtravel stop to the reset “click”. On the stock GLOCK this distance was .132 inches while the Apex’d GLOCK was almost a tenth of an inch shorter at .039 inches.
As you can see, the takeup, engagement, and reset distances were all lowered by roughly a tenth of an inch each over stock. What this should mean out on the range is that split times (times between shots) are closer together and that the time to the first shot is perhaps faster as a byproduct as the trigger finger has to travel a smaller distance to do the same work. If pictures are worth a thousand words, videos must be worth a few million.
With the camera in the same place, and the gun roughly in the same place as well, here is a vide of the Apex’d GLOCK.
Subjective Static Range Impressions
On my workbench, creeping around my house, and out on the range, I was very impressed by how the Apex’d GLOCK felt in my hands. Apex has started to modify their existing trigger kits to feature a flat faced shoe that should look and feel very familiar to those accustomed to the 1911 platform. This seems to promote a bit more control on the trigger shoe, and ultimately results in what feels like a much better trigger “experience.”
One of the best benefits to this trigger, and the one that would have me plopping down hard earned cash is the revised engagement of the safety. As I mentioned above, the Apex trigger changed my GLOCK from “holster testing gun” to “maybe I should toss this in the bag for a range trip gun” which is a pretty big step forward.
All that aside, it retains the very audible and tactile break and reset that I’m grown accustomed to with a GLOCK. If you dry fired both guns side by side, you can certainly convince yourself that there’s a shorter engagement travel and a shorter reset, but the difference is small, and hard to register immediately. It is there, but only slightly.
Objective Static Range Data
After a full day of shooting both guns side by side, I stepped back to seven yards, did my best to control my breathing, trigger squeeze, and sight alignment, and produced three, five shot groups for each pistol. The Stock GLOCK had maximum spreads on the low end of 1.335 inches and 2.191 inches on the high end with an average of 1.82 inches for the three groups.
The Apex’d GLOCK was run through the exact same protocol at the same range within five minutes of the stock GLOCK and produced groups on the low end of 1.827 inches and 2.584 inches on the high end for an average group size of 2.13 inches, a 16% larger group size than the stock GLOCK.
This was a wholly unexpected result given how much better the trigger felt during the aforementioned dry firing test on the bench. What is important to keep in mind is that we’re dealing with two different pistols of different generations. While I would love to think that perfection is the name of the game, I think we can all agree that some pistols just shoot better than others of the same model. This is a variable that I wish I could have done away with, but the test that I ultimately wanted to do works better with two pistols being shot back to back.
Objective Range Data
This is the part where it got interesting. As some of you may remember, I set out to find an objective means of testing pistols, sights, holsters, etc. and settled upon a test that my instructor, Karl Rehn, put together. There are seven drills in the entirety, and for this, I chose Drill #1.
Scoring: IPSC “minor” scoring (A=5, B/C = 3, D=1).
- Drill 1:
- Round Count: 4 rounds
- Description: Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed
- Purpose: Test draw and “hosing” split times
- Goal Time: 2.00 sec (1.25 draw, 0.25 splits x 3)
I did fourteen repetitions of the drill for each pistol but I broke them up into two, seven rep parts. I shot the stock GLOCK first for seven repetitions, and then moved to the Apex’d GLOCK, and then repeated that once more for a total of 28 strings of fire. I used a Competition Electronics Pocket Pro II and did my drawing from a CRT LoPro at the 1:00 position. I did not bother drawing from concealment so I simply tucked my shirt in behind the holster.
For each string of fire, I recorded the time to the first shot, the time between shots, and the location of each hit corresponding to the IPSC targeting zones. When I got back home from the range, I plugged all this data into Excel and used Comstock scoring to find my hit factor for each string. This gave me some raw data to play around with and the results were a little surprising.
Above is the raw data that I collected on the strings of fire with the stock GLOCK. There is some color coding which corresponds to the hit factor, called “score” on the far right side. Red indicates that the score was either the minimum or the maximum for the set of data while yellow indicates that the score was outside the bounds of one standard deviation. Green indicates that the data falls within one standard deviation .
On average, my draw with the stock GLOCK took 1.49 seconds, with my second, third, and fourth shots coming at .25, .27, and .28 respectively. The standard deviation for my draw was .17 and the standard deviation for the second, third, and fourth shots were .04, .07, and .14 respectively.
In an effort to clean up the data a bit, I pulled out the maximum and minimum scores which gave me an average time to the first shot of 1.45 with my second, third, and fourth shots coming at .26, .27, and .29 respectively. These numbers were within .01 seconds of the raw data. Similarly, the change to standard deviation was negligible with the exception of my draw time which dropped from 1.59 to 1.45 on average with the standard deviation dropping from .17 to .10. This is due in large part to the fact that it kicked out my first run of the day where my draw took 1.97 seconds.
The last attempt at cleanup was to look at only the data points that fell within one standard deviation of the average. When doing this, I got a value of 1.46 seconds for the draw with split times of .25, .29, and .23 seconds with standard deviations of .11, .04, .09. and .02 respectively. This is about as clean as I can expect to make the data when working with such a small sample size.
This exercise further clarified the data on raw points. In the original data set, my average point total was 18.43 with a standard deviation of 1.6. Kicking out the maximum and minimum scores took that score to 18.33 with a standard deviation of 1.67, and moving to only data within one standard deviation, the raw score average was 18.75 with a standard deviation of 1.49. As 20 points is the maximum amount that can be scored, I felt that I did a good job as a shooter of balancing accuracy against speed.
The final shake out was on the hit factor score. This is the ultimate judge of the balance between speed and accuracy. For the raw dataset, my score was 8.10 with a standard deviation of .95. With the minimum and maximum gone, the score was 8.11 with a standard deviation of .86, and looking at the data within the one standard deviation of the raw data, the average score was 8.40. Depending on how the data was treated, the average score ranged from 8.10 to 8.40 with the stock GLOCK. The par time for this drill is 2.00 seconds, so assuming perfect hits and a part time, the theoretical score should be 10.
The data for the Apex’d GLOCK follows an identical template to the stock data just discussed.
On average, my draw with the Apex’d GLOCK took 1.49 seconds, identical to the stock GLOCK. Across all fourteen strings with the Apex’d GLOCK, my split times were .29, .25, and .25. This was within a few hundredths of the stock pistol which had splits of .25, .27, and .28 respectively. The standard deviation for my draw with the Apex’d GLOCK was .11, a slight improvement over stock. The standard deviation for the second, third, and fourth shots were .06, .05, and .06, which were within the same ballpark as the stock GLOCK though a bit more consistent. All this resulted in a total run time on average of 2.27, a whopping .02 seconds faster that stock.
Pulling out the maximum and minimum numbers, the average time to first shot stayed identical at 1.49 seconds, while the second, third, and fourth shot times stayed identical or within .01 seconds. Standard deviation was the same across the board as well. Looking at only the data that fell within one standard deviation, draw time dropped to 1.48 seconds, with splits of .30, .25, and .26. Standard deviation remained roughly the same across all of these as well.
My raw point totals across all fourteen runs averaged 17.43, a full point worse than the stock gun (18.43). Kicking out minimum and maximum raised that score to 17.50, and going to data within one standard deviation took it to 18.25. The scores are lower across the board, and the standard deviations numbers are a bit worse. This had the ultimate impact of creating a lower hit factor as my ever so slightly faster average time couldn’t make up for those dropped points.
For the raw data, my calculated score was 7.69, a reduction of .41 over stock. Remember that higher is better. With the minimum and maximum scores gone, the average score was 7.66, .45 lower than stock. And looking at only the data within one standard deviation, the average score was 7.99 which was .41 points lower than stock. Depending on how the data was treated, the average score ranged from 7.69 to 7.99 with the Apex’d GLOCK vs. 8.10 to 8.40 with the stock GLOCK.
Conclusions from Crunching Numbers
The first conclusion I reached was that objective testing standards have a way of challenging gut feelings. I left the range after shooting a couple hundred rounds through both guns, CONVINCED that the Apex equipped GLOCK was far superior. It wasn’t until I sat down and crunched the numbers in Excel and OnTarget that I realized that I’d actually performed worse using the Apex’d GLOCK. That’s not an indictment of Apex, their product, or their team. This is still a great trigger, and as a guy who doesn’t compete regularly, I’m willing to turn a blind eye to some of this, because a.) this trigger is way more comfortable and b.) the difference in scores isn’t that large (less than 5%).
The other factor worth consideration, and the one that has the potential to nullify everything I just presented, is that these guns didn’t wear the same sights for the test. Yes, yes, I should have mentioned that earlier. The Apex’d GLOCK wore a set of Aimline sights. Its fully possible that I don’t run those sights as fast as I do a set of stock GLOCK sights. This position is backed by data from my last go at using the Rehn Test to objectively look at performance. During that test, there was a 6.2% difference between the scores for stock sights and a set of Trijicons. Therefore, I’d say that the difference in scoring can’t be completely attributed to the Apex trigger, as it falls within a previously experienced difference strictly from switching sights.
All of that said, I can’t confidently say that the Apex trigger will make you faster, stronger, or able to jump tall buildings. What it will do is reduce the weight of your trigger pull as well as shortening the engagement and reset distances by roughly a tenth of an inch. It didn’t make me significantly slower, and looking at the timing data specifically, it did seem to be a bit more consistent and ever so slightly faster than the stock trigger.
Specifications: Apex Tactical Glock Enhancement Trigger and Ultimate Safety Plungers
- Parts Included: Replacement Trigger with Trigger Bar or Standalone Trigger. Safety Plunger sold separately.
- Install Complexity: Slightly more involved than field stripping
- Intall Time: <30 minutes
- Cost: $79.95 for the trigger. $99.95 for the trigger and Gen 3 trigger bar. $17.95 for the Ultimate Safety Plunger
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
Apex has done an incredible job of building a quality replacement trigger that is free of any machining marks, scratches, dings or dents. It is black to match the GLOCK and the anodizing work is free of defects as well. All of the pins are flush fitted, and once installed, it feels like the pivoting surfaces are riding on oiled glass.
Overall Feel * * * * *
I can’t say enough nice things about the shape of this trigger and what it does to the overall profile of the trigger pull. The break is crisp and clean with no hint of grit or stacking. The reset is fairly short and equally crisp and audible. I had zero failures of any kind, and all primer strikes were well formed and on par with what the stock trigger accomplished.
Overall Rating * * * *
If you took away the math, I’d rank this as a five star trigger. It is absolutely an improvement in feel over stock, and the shape is quite pleasant. Gone were the hot spots on my finger which elevated my enjoyment of shooting this gun tenfold. But there’s no denying the data that in a worst case scenario, this trigger made me less accurate. And in a best case scenario, it kept me right on par with what I would have done with a factory trigger. If you have a problem with the way a GLOCK trigger feels, the Apex is worthy of your consideration. If you shoot your stock trigger just fine, buy $100 worth of ammo and shoot that up instead.