Channel Your Inner Gun Designer

Build your Own custom Pistol with the gsx100

There’s something inherently satisfying about creating a custom handgun. You know, one built with just the features and components you want. But there’s a nefarious dark side to custom build endeavors. Starting with an existing gun means you’re throwing away perfectly good parts, or at least banishing them to the bottom drawer in the garage workbench. What a tragic end-of-life story for what once was a brave and glorious soldier. Yes, it always pains me to “throw away” perfectly serviceable components when I upgrade something or another. Fortunately, there’s a better way.

With the advent of popular “platform” handguns like GLOCKs, the aftermarket for custom parts has exploded. Dozens of companies make triggers, barrels, slides, springs and now … frames. If you want to build your own but lack the gunsmithing tools and gear to smelt and machine your own 1911 from iron ore, you just might consider a ground-up build starting with something like the new GSX100 frame from GlockStore. No longer need to buy a $500 gun just to start discarding parts when you want a new trigger, side, barrel, or any other performance part.

GLOCK-Compatible Frame

The GSX100 itself is a frame — that’s it. Considered the actual serialized firearm, you’ll need to have this part shipped to a local FFL for legal transfer. Everything else you add is considered a part and can be delivered straight to your home.

It’s a GLOCK Gen 3-compatible frame, so you’ll need parts and upper components like the slide from the same family. While most people think “G19” you can also build (or upgrade a factory frame) GLOCK 23 and 32 models in .40 S&W and .357 SIG if you like the beefier calibers. While the frame length is G19 compatible, the GSX100 uses a G17 height grip and magazine well, so you’ll need to use GLOCK 17 (or similar substitutes for .40 S&W and .357 SIG) magazines. I like this combination of a slightly more compact barrel and overall length with a grip that accommodates all my fingers with ease.

The frame itself is made from glass-filled polymer and sports a standard one-notch rail up front. I would describe the grip texture as medium sandpaper. It’s aggressive enough to stay put in the hand during rapid fire, but it won’t shred your clothing or tender parts should you elect to carry it inside the waistband. The grip surface is identical on both sides and the front and backstraps.

At risk of pulling a Captain Obvious impression, you can pick up a GSX100 to spruce up an old and worn GLOCK — like an LE trade in. Or, as in this case, you can build a custom gun from the ground up. At just $129.99, the GSX gives you an affordable foundation you’ll need to start your design and construction project

Adding Bones

Once you’ve got your hot little mitts on a GSX100 frame, you can start thinking about the bones. I chose a Signature Series slide because I wanted to do some custom engraving later in the process. Hold that thought for a hot second …

GlockStore offers a variety of sexy custom slides with cutouts and radical designs. Think of the Signature Series as more of a blank canvas with a little more pizazz than a standard GLOCK factory model. It’s made from solid billet 416 Stainless Steel machined from bar stock, not cast. After bead blasting, it’s ready for your next steps. The slide features forward and rear cocking cutouts. I hesitate to call them serrations as they are flat grooves about 1/8″ wide.

As for the barrel choice, well, I like big suppressors and I cannot lie. So threading was a must. I spend more time plinking on the range than on the competition field, so having an optional quiet(er) mode was high on my priority list. If you’re the competitive type, you can certainly ditch the suppressor in favor of a screw-on compensator with that threaded barrel.

The barrel is broach cut from forged 416R stainless steel. It features standard rifling so knock yourself out with jacketed, plated or lead bullets. You don’t have to worry about all that rigmarole about lead bullets in GLOCK barrels. The threading on the 9mm version is standard 1/2 x 28, so everything muzzle oriented will fit way easier than OJ’s glove. For this build, I requested the black barrel, but you can get them in stainless steel and gold finishes too. If you want something fancier, check out the dimpled and ported model barrels.

Build Your Own Trigger

Once you’ve shot a fine trigger, you’re ruined forever. After joining the proud ranks of Trigger Snobs United, you’ll have zero tolerance for a gritty take-up, a mushy break, over-travel, and uneven or excessive weight. I’m thinking designing your own trigger specs, based on your personal preferences, is one of the greatest advantages to designing and building your very own pistol from the ground up.

For this project, I envisioned a fun range and competition handgun, so I wasn’t worried about a trigger safe for concealed carry. With a striker-fired platform like the GLOCK-inspired GSX100, part of the inherent safety design is the trigger pull weight itself. Pistols like 1911s and others with manual safeties can safely sport a light trigger as the shooter has to consciously disengage the safety before the trigger will operate. Ipso facto, e. pluribus unum, a “standard” GLOCK-compatible suitable for defensive or duty use will come equipped with a 5.5-lb. or greater trigger weight. When lawyers get involved, some agencies (we’re looking at you New York) dictate triggers like the NY1 and NY2 ranging in pull weight from 8 to 12 lbs.!

For this build, the Performance Center folks at the GlockStore design shop recommended their Basic Pyramid Trigger System. This part consists of a “drop in” trigger face, leaf safety and trigger bar to replace, or in this case, supply, those components.

The Pyramid trigger bar is coated with Titanium Nitride, a gold-finished substance that’s extremely hard and friction free — helping to smooth the trigger movement through its length of travel. The face is available in about a billion different colors, as is the safety leaf itself. Do take advantage of this cosmetic bonus as it creates a nice visual accent to any custom pistol build. For this pistol, we elected to go with a red trigger and black trigger leaf to match the overall pistol design. The Basic Pyramid Trigger will run you about $139.99 and boy does it make a difference.

You’ll also find the Pyramid Trigger adjustable for pre and over travel. Using a tiny included Allen wrench, you adjust pre- and over-travel distance. The tiny Allen screws are set with red Loctite, so you’ll need to heat them with a heat gun or lighter before making adjustments. That’s a good thing, as they won’t come loose during operation.

There are a couple of other parts enhancing the overall trigger operation. We chose the Double Diamond 3.5-lb. connector, a 4.5-lb. competition striker spring and 6-lb. trigger spring. Keep in mind the heavier trigger spring assists trigger movement, so the heavier spring spec weight may seem a bit counter-intuitive. Oh, and the connector is NP3-coated for slick operation over the long haul.

Trigger Performance

The out-of-the-box Basic Pyramid and connector in this pistol yielded a clean 3.25 lbs. when I measured pull weight from the center of the trigger face. If you want to tweak your pull weight and sensation, just experiment with the company’s 2-, 3-, 4-, 4.5- and 6-lb. striker springs.

The trigger moves almost exactly 1/4″, grit free, until it hits a smooth pressure wall. With no pressure variance, you’ll experience an actual crisp, but surprise break. It’s fantastic. What really got my attention was the reset. After just 1/8″ forward travel, you’ll hear and feel a you-can’t-miss-it-unless-you’re-unconscious reset, at which point you’re ready to fire again. The raison d’être of this system is speed.

Speaking of speed, this GSX100 features a skeletonized striker. Made from steel, this Titanium Nitride treated part also wears a nifty gold finish. It features a slightly extended tip for more reliable ignition and the skeletonized design lightens it up, making things move just a hair faster.

Other Gizmos

Following the “go big or go home” rule of life, we opted to go with custom performance parts for all the other interior and exterior gizmos.

The captive recoil spring assembly is filled with a Tungsten rod. The assembly is five times heavier than the standard plastic stuff in a factory GLOCK. This gives you more weight up front for improved recoil management and muzzle-flip reduction. Again, every little detail is about speed, not only for lock time, but getting back on target. If you want to customize your recoil spring performance, you can choose from 11-, 13-, 15-, 17-, 20- and 22-lb. Tungsten guide rod kits.

Inside, you’ll find an upgraded safety plunger too. Also treated with Titanium Nitride, this gold plug tucked up under the slide reciprocates with every trigger press. A plunger upgrade makes a surprising difference, smoothing out a trigger as the trigger bar drags under it each and every time you press the trigger.

Rounding out the package are upgraded, extended, and cosmetically enhanced controls. The extended slide lock lever is just big enough to allow positive operation (again, it’s all about speed) but unobtrusive so it won’t get in the way of holstering. We chose red to add a little pop to the rest of the design. Since we were on a “red” theme, we added a matching takedown lever replacement too.

Paying homage to the “need for speed” theme, we elected to add an extended rectangular magazine release. You guessed it — red! This part is not only enlarged but extends farther from the frame. You’ll have no trouble activating it without changing your firing grip. If you plan to build a carry gun, do note some holsters aren’t entirely friendly with extended magazine releases in general, so be sure to check your particular holster doesn’t apply pressure to that button.

Last, but not least, we elected to top this pistol with TRUGLO fiber optic sights given its range and competition future. A red tube up front collects plenty of light through its 1/2″ opening so it leaps into view. In the back, green fiber pipes flank a square notch.

Need For Speed

When the range called, the name of the game was steel. Who wants to stand around punching holes in paper when there’s a steel silhouette, plate rack and dueling tree begging for a thrashing?

Using a mix of Black Hills 115-grain FMJ, 115-grain JHP and HoneyBadger ammo, I went to town from 15- to 25-yard distances. Rounding out the ammo testing, I checked out some new match ammo from Norma, the Hexagon and their most interesting MHP defensive ammo.

Everything in the mix was soft shooting, especially the light for caliber Black Hills HoneyBadger (100-grain) and Norma MHP (108-grain) loads. As for handling? Sweet. I absolutely loved the trigger and reset on this pistol. Nailing steel at high speed was a breeze. I took my initial shots with this pistol from 25 yards at a steel silhouette target and it felt like cheating, regardless of how fast I launched double and triple taps.

Tearing myself away from the fun task at hand of tormenting steel, I set up some paper targets at 25 yards and did some quick and dirty five-shot group testing using a basic pistol rest. Most of my test loads were consistent with each other as follows: Black Hills JHP, 2.7″, Black Hills FMJ, 2.8″, Black Hills HoneyBadger 3.4″, Norma Hexagon, 3.0″ and Norma MHP, 2.0″. The GSX100 seemed to like that Norma MHP best, with four of five shots going into a 1.0″ group. I repeated groups with that one to be sure the flyer wasn’t induced by me and I did get consistent 2″ groups.

Closing Arguments

As I write this, I fear we’re in for a tough couple of years for handgun and ammo availability. Politics, pandemics and violence in the streets have caused millions of Americans to wake up and head to their nearest gun store to commence loading the shopping carts to the gills. The result is a shortage of most everything.

Maybe it’s a good time to think about building your own custom pistol just the way you want it. Not only can you choose your specifications and performance attributes with judicious part selection, you can create your own cosmetic design too. With this GSX100, we kicked the tires of GlockStore’s custom laser engraving services and added an engraved and color-filled American Handgunner logo on the left along with a GlockStore logo on the right. Because … why not? The sky’s the limit if you want to create an heirloom gift or something special for yourself. Just send in your own artwork or give the tactical artists a call to discuss ideas and you’re off and running.

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