AR 15s, 1911s, and GLOCKs are hard to beat if you want a gun that’s easy to customize. They are three of the most popular firearm platforms in the world, and that’s apparent because these three guns are also the most common guns in the 80% world.
I’m sure most of you know how 80% lowers and frames work. By law, they’re not firearms, and don’t require a background check. But they require the end-user to finish them.
I got the bug to try to build my own 80% GLOCK, and a company called Polymer 80 makes an 80% GLOCK frame They’re quite inexpensive, and they even address my own complaints with the GLOCK grip.
I bought a PF940v2 full-size frame kit (the equivalent of a G17) and got to work.
I don’t want to dive too deep into the build process, as lots of videos already explain it a bit better than I can in text. I will say the process is very simple, and the tool requirements are minimal. I used a hand drill and a Dremel and mostly finished the build in a single night.
I say mostly because that’s when I had to begin refining the frame. This is where the files and sandpaper come out. After that, it’s just a simple installation of parts and pieces. The build process is simple, but there is some trial and error involved in getting everything running right.
Why Build a Polymer 80 GLOCK?
Admittedly building one of these guns isn’t much cheaper than just buying a GLOCK at your local gun store, especially when you compare it to LEO trade-ins. My purpose wasn’t a budget gun as much as it was building a gun for fun. It was a project and I saw the process as more or less a recreational activity.
You can save a little money if you wanted to use non-standard GLOCK parts. What I mean is that while my Polymer 80 GLOCK cost almost as much as a standard Glock, mine is outfitted with a variety of upgrades at the same overall cost.
That leads me to my second reason, I can build a gun from the ground up, picking and choosing the parts I want.
Oh, and there’s one more advantage I should mention: no background check required.
How I Chose the Parts
I chose the full-size frame because I had no expectation of concealing it and full-sized guns are easier to shoot and handle for my 2XL-sized hands.
For the lower parts, I went with GLOCK OEM parts. I wanted to maximize reliability and these frames are built for GLOCK parts.
Aftermarket GLOCK parts are built for the standard GLOCK frame and while they may be compatible, I wanted to eliminate any weak points reliability-wise. I did invest in a kit with an extended slide stop and extended magazine release.
The barrel was actually one I already had and finally put to good use. It’s a Bear Creek Arsenal threaded 9mm barrel. It was my first experience with BCA products and I am impressed.
It fits perfectly, the threads are well done, and the barrel shoots true so what else could I ask for? The threaded design is making me want a compensator to top it off.
The slide is a Vickers edition model. When shopping for slides, my LGS had this one sitting in the counter and it was complete, except for the barrel. Because it lacked a barrel it lost some of the Vickers Edition collector’s value and was priced below a standard GLOCK complete slide.
What sold me on this slide was the sights. The front is an Ameriglo I-Dot Pro and the rear is a Wilson Combat Battlesight U notch sight.
This front and rear sight combination is excellent and I’m looking to start swapping over most of my sights to this combination in the near future.
How It All Comes Together
The trial and error when it comes to a Polymer 80 GLOCK is in the final fitting, but there are a few ways to make this a bit easier. The first is, after you’ve done the rough fitting and installed the lower parts, slap the slide on and run it back and forth a few hundred times.
I put in some headphones, watched some Netflix and worked the slide in sets of 50. I ran it 300 hundred times the first night.
The first range trip showed…I had a very accurate single-shot pistol. The gun would fail to fully eject the round. Back to the workbench armed with a file and some fine grit sandpaper.
I repeated this two more times with a hundred slide racks after each filing session. After that, I had a fully functioning, semi-automatic Polymer 80 GLOCK.
There are some major differences between the Polymer 80 GLOCK frames and standard GLOCKs to be aware of. The first is the proper Picatinny rail with multiple slots.
Another difference is the grip. It lacks the finger grooves of the Gen 3 and 4 models and the grip angle mimics that of a 1911. The final difference is the extension over the rear of the gun. It’s a beavertail — more or less — at least by GLOCK standards.
As a guy with big hands, I tend to get a lot of slide bite when it comes to GLOCK pistols. The PF940v2 leaves my hands unmarked, even when shooting with the highest of grips.
Overall, the Polymer 80 grip and frame is much more comfortable to me than a standard GLOCK frame. It points better for me and feels more controllable when it comes to recoil management.
The PF940v2 runs reliably with every magazine I’ve put through it to include GLOCK OEM, Amend2, ETS Mags, Magpul, and KCI magazines as well. That includes that big ridiculous 50-round drum mag we all know and love.
After my initial break-in process, the gun has run without issue. It short, it runs like a GLOCK should. It even eats up that dirty, dry Winchester American Steel ammo.
The combination of Wilson and Ameriglo sights make it quick and easy to get on target. The high visibility front sight is quick to find and easy to focus on. It makes it easy to be both quick and precise.
The overall accuracy of the gun is impressive and I can scoot out to 50 yards and still put fist-sized groups into the chest of a man-sized target in a standing position.
The downside in this project is that I’m no gunsmith and I’m not trusting my skills with a Dremel. Even as well as this gun runs, I don’t want to count on it. As a result, this gun is a range toy just because I don’t trust a gun that I built myself with my life.
I prefer my guns built by professionals. You may very well think differently. My Polymer 80 GLOCK performs, but I can’t quite trust myself to carry it. Yet.
Specifications: Polymer 80 Frame only
Caliber – 9mm, 40 S&W, .357 SIG
GLOCK Compatibility – Gen 3 Models Only
Capacity – Varies…10 to 50 rounds
Colors – Black, FDE, Blue Titanium, OD Green, Cobalt
MSRP – $160
Ratings (Out of 5 Stars):
Ergonomics * * * *
The Polymer 80 frame does a good job of improving upon the GLOCK’s ergonomics. The grip angle is better, the lack of finger grooves are a nice touch. (Thankfully Gen5 GLOCKs dumped them, too.) The slight beavertail is a drastic improvement as well, at least for my big mitts.
Customization * * * *
It’s still a GLOCK so there are tons of different options for customization. You can make this thing a rifle if you want, too. The only reason it gets only 4 stars instead of 5 is because you are limited to Gen 3 parts. More and more parts these days are being focused to Gen 4 and 5 guns.
Reliability * * *
How do you judge a gun’s reliability? Especially one you’ve built yourself. If I judged it from the first 100 rounds it would be a 0, if I judged it from the last 100 rounds it would be a full 5 stars. So we sit at 3 stars as an overall average. For now.
Overall * * * * *
I loved building this thing. It was a fun project that I enjoyed from beginning to end. I plan to do it again with their new hybrid build that accommodates a Glock 17 slide with a G19-sized frame. The sense of accomplishment is well worth the price of admission.