TFB Review: ZEV Technologies Custom Glock 19

P8152580

 

The Glock 19 is a pretty great pistol right out of the box.  It is simple, relatively accurate, reliable, and reasonably priced.  That being said, some improvements can be made.  The triggers aren’t fantastic, the sights are pretty basic, and the barrels aren’t “match-grade” and can have issues with lead bullets.

Many readers, along with this author, are capable of performing the modifications necessary on their own time.  I have competed in IDPA with a Glock 20. With the modifications of a ghost rocket trigger connector, XS sights, and Lone wolf barrel, the pistol became far easier to compete with.  That being said, some people do not have the time, patience, or technical knowledge to make a lot of modifications to their Glocks.  Machining slides and barrels is also something a lot of people cannot simply do at home.  That is where custom houses like ZEV come in.

Without the RMR attached

Without the RMR attached

ZEV Technologies is known for making radical-looking Glocks, with slides, barrels, and triggers in pretty much every color you can imagine.  The Oxnard, CA based business offers every possible modification for the Glock, including complete trigger replacement kits and slides that are cut to accept mini red dot sights (MRDS).  More and more shooters are warming to this trend, as it can really speed up precision pistol shooting by just placing the dot on the target.  A MRDS on a concealed carry type pistol like the G19 enhances capability while not impeding concealability.  I personally have a FN45 with this capability, and it is very fast to ring steel plates or transition to multiple targets.

Sights incredibly easy to use, with or without the dot

Sights incredibly easy to use, with or without the dot

The Build Process:

One can obtain a ZEV Glock in one of three ways:  Find a ZEV reseller with already finished pistols on-hand (by far the fastest option), Send ZEV your Glock with a build sheet of work to be performed, or buy a Glock from them and specify work to be done to it.  The latter two options were taking about 3 months to complete in the 1st quarter of this year.  The particular model I had the opportunity to test had the following modifications:

  • Grip job with CCW stipple, no room for magwell, finger grooves reduced, double undercut, flat backstrap, R and L side thumb texture
  • Internal ramp
  • Beavertail grip modification
  • Professional fulcrum ultimate trigger kit
  • titanium pin kit
  • Extended mag release
  • Z19 Dragonfly Slide cut for absolute cowitness with RMR
  • ZEV sights
  • Black RMR cover plate (for use when RMR is not mounted on slide)
  • Stainless guide rod
  • Guide rod reducing spring
  • ISMI 13lb recoil spring
  • ZEV dimpled match grade barrel

    The beavertail afforded a higher grip on the frame

    The beavertail afforded a higher grip on the frame

These modifications cost $1,675.00 at 2016 pricing.  The majority of the cost is the trigger kit ($255), the slide ($525) the barrel ($250), and the grip work ($165).  The rest of the various options just add up, like tacking on options to a high-end car.  Yes, one can buy 2.5 more G19’s or 3 cases of ammo or several training courses for that price.  Point taken, custom work isn’t cheap.

Slide cuts with dimpled barrel underneath

Slide cuts with dimpled barrel underneath

Initial Impressions:

The ZEV G19 looked and felt great.  The Bronze Dragonfly slide contrasted nicely with the black DLC dimpled barrel, and the grip modifications looked professional.  The most noticeable change was how high up I could get the web of my firing hand on the grip due to ZEV’s beavertail modification.  The CCW stipple and double undercut triggergaurd ensured that the pistol sat securely in my grip, without being abrasive.  The stippled thumb textures also provided a good point of reference for a repeatable grip.  All said, it’s an impressive looking pistol, and a radical departure in looks from a standard Glock.P8152550

There were, however, two immediate issues with this particular pistol.  The first time it came to my FFL from ZEV, the trigger pins did not fit the frame properly.  Someone at ZEV’s customer service suggested my FFL should remedy the issue on their end.  This suggestion was declined, and the pistol was sent back to ZEV to be worked on.  The second issue was that I noticed after removing the RMR plate, there was a significant burr at the top of one of the mounting screw posts that I had to sand off before mounting the RMR itself.  This was disappointing, as custom work in that price range should be carefully checked before heading out to customers.  (In my gunsmithing/retail experience, however, I’ve seen far worse).

Mounting plate cover

Mounting plate cover

The trigger broke at 4lbs 4oz, and did have a short pull and reset.  While a big improvement over a stock trigger, the break was not as clean as triggers that I have fitted with Ghost trigger bars in the past.

ZEV's trigger

ZEV’s trigger

Range Time:

All that would be a waste of time, money and effort if the gun didn’t shoot well, so I put it through its paces at the range.  All told, I fired 250 rounds of 9mm through the pistol, comprising of Black Hills remanufactured 115gr FMJ, Independence 115gr FMJ, and Federal 124gr +P+ Hydra-Shok JHP.  I initially had 6 failure to feed issues, with rounds getting hung up on the roof of the chamber.  Whether or not this was break-in of the new slide and barrel, I am not sure, but I experienced no further issues of this sort after the 1st 50 rounds.

All set to put some rounds downrange

All set to put some rounds downrange

Further into the test, I experienced failure to fire malfunctions with all 3 brands of ammunition.  I inspected the primers and found that these were due to light strikes.  Total malfunctions of this type were 5 out of 250.  A total “failure rate” of 4.4% isn’t ideal, but not horrible either.  Another issue I ran into was the screw on the end of ZEV’s guide rod/spring assembly kept backing out during firing.  This was solved with proper torquing and some loctite, but should have been handled on their end.

Above: properly fired cases. Below: light strikes

Above: properly fired cases. Below: light, off-center strikes

View of the offending screw as well as the traditional rifling of the ZEV barrel

View of the offending screw as well as the traditional rifling of the ZEV barrel

Magazines inserted and dropped free easily, both loaded and unloaded.  The mag release was a lot more tactile and positive than that of a stock G19.  There were also no issues with the modified Glock when deploying from a holster.

The enhanced mag release didn't stick out overly far, perfect for concealed carry

The enhanced mag release didn’t stick out overly far, perfect for concealed carry

Accuracy testing yielded some…interesting results.  The RMR and the sights did provide an absolute co-witness as advertised.  Initially, the groups were not as tight as they should be with all 3 types of ammunition; 3.5 inches at 15 yards.  I am no stranger to shooting a Glock for accuracy, and I was left wondering what the problem was.  I checked the sights and the RMR and they were on tight.  On a hunch, I swapped out the ZEV “match grade” barrel for the factory Glock barrel.  Instantly, the groups tightened up.  I was not amused.

From then on, the groups tightened up to roughly 2 inches at 15 yards with all ammunition types.  Without a microscope, I cannot conclusively say what the issue was with the ZEV barrel.  It certainly did not provide an improvement like I have seen with KKM or Lone Wolf barrels in the past.

Moving on to steel, the ZEV G19 rang targets fast and transitioned easily around the target arrays, thanks to the RMR mounted on the slide.  Having the slide cut was an advantage, as far as how low the sight sat.  It would definitely not print or be obtrusive when carrying concealed.  If the dot should fail, the co-witnessed sights would provide perfect backup.

Conclusions:

The ZEV Technologies G19 was aesthetically pleasing both to the eye and to hold.  Their finishes and stippling look and feel great.  The sights did provide an absolute co-witness with the RMR’s dot as advertised.

The finger groove reduction was well done...

The finger groove reduction was well done…

As was the double undercut triggerguard

As was the double undercut triggerguard

The trigger is nice, but rather expensive compared to aftermarket trigger work with a quality connector bar, even with an hour of gunsmithing thrown in.  The problems with the trigger pins, screw post, and guide rod should have been addressed at ZEV before the gun even left the shop floor.  There is no excuse for such things at this price point.

As far as the barrel goes, I did not have any cast lead bullets on hand to test the barrel with.  A main raeson for swapping out the barrel in a Glock is to be able to shoot such rounds without an issue.  That being said, there was no improvement in accuracy with the “match” barrel.

While their grip work was impeccable, their customer service and attention to detail could use improvement.  If you work 60+ hours a week and don’t have the time to be working on your firearms, give them a look but be sure to be vigilant.  It would be worth one’s while to look at Taran Tactical Innovations as well. If you have the time and technical skills, you should take a look at parts suppliers such as Lone Wolf.

In summation, the ZEV G19 is a semi-custom Glock ready to go out of the box that looks great but had a few issues that, while easy to remedy, should not be apparent on a pistol at this price point.

Pros:

  • Nice trigger
  • Great sights that fully co-witness with a MRDS
  • Huge improvement on the grip frame over a stock Glock
  • Good looking finish and pattern on slide and barrel

Cons:

  • Issues that should have been caught by QC oversight before shipping
  • Barrel was inaccurate
  • Possibly too light of a striker spring
  • Price point is rather highP8152548


Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


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  • Will

    So the barrel is junk and the 4.25 lb trigger won’t reliably light off Federal or CCI primers? Oh well, at least it was cheap, right?

  • Heckler_und_Koch ✓ᴰᴱᴾᴸᴼᴿᴬᴮᴸᴱ

    Cons: Looks like Bubba got loose with his Dremel again.

    • AC97

      If you want to have a custom Stippling job, just let your dog chew on your gun. 😉

  • Bill

    Pistols like these are the equivalent of a Honda Civic that’s been lowered, aero’d, NOS’d and fart canned: take a basic dead-nuts reliable item and make it into something it wasn’t supposed to be and throw in some reliability issues. How many bone-stock G19s come from the factory with problems like these?

    At least when Wilson sells a 4K 1911 the improvement are quantifiable.

    • iksnilol

      Funny thing is, I’d like a Honda Civic because it is cheap and fast (the Type R at least)… but I can’t due to it being a ricer favorite.

      Also, we are sorta unofficially (gentlemans agreement) obligated to not talk positively about Wilson if it isn’t their mags.

      • Bill

        I forgot: the first rule of Wilson is; don’t talk about Wilson.

  • RavishedBoy

    Sorry but Glock and failure to feed issues + misfiring due to light strikes shouldn’t be together in the same sentence.

    • Rusty S.

      It will happen from time to time, but usually on high-round count guns where springs are starting to go or the striker channel is dirty.

      • Dave

        Whats more concerning is the light strikes weren’t really light, but were completely misaligned strikes, seriously bad CQ work with that firing pin and its alingment, I’m betting there is something up with the breachface/firing pin channel to get strikes that far off centre so consistently.

        Stuff like this is utterly unacceptable by ANY firearms maker, let alone someone who charges as much as ZEV for as little and as poorly done work they do.

        • Rusty S.

          Agreed. The misalignment was troubling.

  • FWIW

    So for $1000 they will take your stock G19 and decrease its accuracy while also making it less reliable. Hrm.

    • cwp

      It’s like somebody said “Hey, Glocks are cheap and reliable but ugly, and people love them. Maybe if we make them expensive, unreliable, and even uglier, people will love them even more.” Is ZEV owned by the Freedom Group or something?

    • Verner

      My thoughts exactly. 4.4% failure to fire rate? 3.5 inch groups at 15 yards, even with the improved trigger? Man… Gimme the rental stock Gen3 Glock of our range anytime over this piece of junk. I can shoot 1.5 inch groups at 15 yards with it all day, despite the thing having 300.000+ rounds trough the barrel. It won’t fail to fire either, as long as the ammo isn’t complete crap.

      All that for $1,675.00?

      This whole thing is ubelievable…

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Same As you I had a Ghost Rocket Connector with stock springs in my Glock and it yielded the best striker fired trigger I’ve ever felt. I was nailing 12×12 steel at 90 yards with a Stock Glock minus Trijicon HDs and the Vickers Magazine release.

    The Agency Arms Trigger was light but had creep. I installed my Rocket myself but my local smith will do it for $80 including parts. Add that with a Flat trigger and you’ve got a better trigger than one of these companies seem to do stock.

    Did Zev replace or refund the barrel? Don’t they test the completed gun for accuracy?

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “These modifications cost $1,675.00 at 2016 pricing.”

    “There were, however, two immediate issues with this particular pistol.”

    These two sentences should never be in the same review.

    Pass.

  • Madcap_Magician

    So basically Zev exists for the people who want a Glock to be like a custom 1911… a lot prettier, reliable after an indeterminate break-in period, and costs eleventy gajillion dollars?

  • Paul B.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    My G19 is amazingly reliable, and more than accurate enough for its purpose. Only mods are sights, a butt plug, and 3.5 connector. If it gets stolen or taken into evidence I won’t lose any sleep.

    The Glocks I see malfunction are the ones with all the aftermarket crap, esp. the fancy trigger kits (which sometimes break, or occasion an ND) and match grade barrels. Perfect example of trying to make a gun into something it wasn’t designed to be. If you want a gun that shoots like a 1911, then get a 1911.

    • iksnilol

      What’s the butt plug for Glocks? I know Phuc Long mentioned it, but what is it exactly?

      • Paul B.

        Lol it is a plug for the cavity in the rear of the grip frame.

  • Friend of Tibet

    Wow, so basically a very very expensive cosmetic job with decreased performance?

  • valorius

    The day glock offers a model with an ambidextrous safety i’ll consider buying another one. Until then, never.

    • Bill

      Couldn’t quite maintain trigger finger discipline, huh? Like Clint said, a man’s gotta know his limitations. Good to see a glimmer of self-assessment.

      • valorius

        I absolutely recognize that i make mistakes. Yep. 100%. If i do make such a mistake, i want a gun that is more forgiving of said mistake, not less.

        I carry a DAO ruger LCP every day, and a Ruger SP101 .357 magnum when hiking or “For serious business.”

        I like a nice, long, relatively heavy trigger, so if i do make a mistake, no one dies- or limps.

        Now, if you’re perfect like Jesus….

        • Jeff

          Based on your defensive firearms choices, I can absolutely, conclusively say, that you have no bearing in this conversation. Your original comment was ignorant at best, and your apparent lack of confidence in your shooting ability screams that you need professional training.

          You make it through a 8 hour class with either of those two guns anywhere other than Gunsite or your Joe blow NRA instructors classes, I will quit forever.

          • valorius

            To the contrary, i qualified expert with the M16 and M9…when i was in the Infantry.

            Now quit chirping little monkey.

          • valorius

            I wonder how many times the highly trained SWAT cop in the story i linked to went to gunsite. LMAO.

            I’m human, he’s human- YOU are human.

            As i’ve said before i used to know a guy that hung at a local gunshop who carried a glock and always parroted the “This is my safety” line from black hawk down.

            Until he blew his brains out while disassembling his glock.

            I know another gunshop owner that has shot himself in the leg twice with Glocks.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            Sounds like you need to meet smarter people.

          • valorius

            Yeah, like the SWAT cop in the story i linked to, who shot someone “by accident.”

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            Just because the dude is SWAT doesn’t mean he isn’t an idiot.

          • valorius

            SWAT team member are, among other things, selected specifically because their chain of command thinks they are not idiots.

            Anyone can make a mistake, especially under intense pressure. It doesn’t make you an idiot. Just human.
            (though of course repeatedly making mistakes qualifies you as idiot material)

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            I guess it isn’t possible for the chain of command to have made a mistake, not trained the guy enough, or even be idiots themselves.

          • valorius

            Of course it’s possible they made a mistake. They’re human. 😉

      • valorius

        Shooting a 68-Year-Old Who Poses No Threat Violates Clearly Established Law

        By ILYA SHAPIRO SHARE

        Can it really be the case that a police officer violates the Fourth
        Amendment’s prohibition on using excessive force when he points a live
        firearm at a non-threatening individual, but not if he actually shoots
        and kills this person? That’s the argument being made in Stamps v. Town
        of Framingham, which is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
        First Circuit.

        During a military-style SWAT raid on the home of 68-year-old grandfather
        Eurie Stamps—to execute a drug-search warrant regarding his stepson’s
        alleged activities—Officer Paul Duncan pointed an assault rifle at
        Stamps with the safety disengaged and his finger on the trigger, even
        though Stamps lay on the floor with his hands up. Duncan now claims that
        he became immune from suit when he unintentionally fired the rifle and
        killed Stamps.

        Under the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” government
        officials—including police officers—are immune from suit if their
        actions don’t violate a “clearly established” constitutional right. The
        crux of Duncan’s argument is that when his weapon discharged, he became
        immune from suit even if pointing an assault rifle at Stamps was an
        unconstitutional act by itself—because there’s no clearly established
        right against accidental death. This ridiculous argument was duly
        rejected by the lower court, because it’s both legally unsound and
        practically dangerous.

        As a legal matter, Fourth Amendment protections against being
        unreasonably targeted with a firearm don’t evaporate when things turn
        out worse than an officer intended. Moreover, accidental discharge is
        hardly an unforeseeable consequence of pointing a loaded semi-automatic
        weapon—which could’ve been turned to full-auto here—during a tense
        paramilitary raid. Foreseeable accidents don’t remove liability from the
        harming actor; if anything, unintended consequences augment the scope
        of the Fourth Amendment violation rather than immunizing an officer from
        liability for the foreseeable result of his intentional actions.

        As a practical matter, granting immunity to SWAT officers whose
        unreasonable behavior causes deadly accidents would be absurd and would
        likely lead to more deadly accidents. The case thus raises pressing
        issues of police militarization in society. In briefing for a
        militarization case with nearly identical facts, Kane v. Lewis, Cato
        noted that “SWAT team deployments have increased more than 1,400% since
        the 1980s… . SWAT teams and tactical units were originally created to
        address high-risk situations, such as terrorist attacks and hostage
        crises. Today, however, these extreme situations account for only a
        small fraction of SWAT deployments; they’re used primarily to serve
        low-level drug-search warrants.”

        Accordingly, Cato has now filed a brief in the Stamps case, joining the
        ACLU, NAACP, National Bar Association, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF in
        requesting that the First Circuit affirm the lower court’s decision and
        posthumously vindicate Eurie Stamps’s Fourth Amendment rights.

        Look at that, a highly trained SWAT cop who couldn’t keep his finger off his trigger.

        People under stress make mistakes- a lot of mistakes. Hence my affinity for DAO weapons.

        • Bill

          You’re big into tiny sample size, aren’t you? And the CATO Institute, NAACP and ACLU are the epitome of unbiased sources…

          You might want to get out of the basement every once in a while and check in with reality. Enjoy your funky triggers.

          • valorius

            Far be it from me to post an example that directly backs my point that even highly trained SWAT cops make mistakes. 🙂

            So DAO’s are “Funky triggers?”

            Let me ask you a question, do you feel your “basement” comment in any way advances your point or argument?

            PS- CATO institute is a conservative-libertarian think tank bro. Not that it is in any way relevant- I posted the story because of the established operative facts, not because of the lawsuit.

          • Bill

            So how many highly trained SWAT cops do you think make it through their entire career without a ND? How many normal cops? How many shooters in general?

            Don’t project your own inadequacies on others.

          • valorius

            How many carpenters make it through their career without cutting off their fingers? Are you arguing that table saws shouldn’t have guards and safeties because most people don’t maim themselves?

            It’s ok to admit you make mistakes, like literally every other human being who has ever been born or lived- ever.

          • Bill

            Hey, if you don’t think you can carry a pistol safely with anything less than a 12 pound trigger, you’re probably right.

          • valorius

            I think there are many situations that, under stresss, could make the carrying of a light, short triggered pistol with no manual safety foolish at best.

            Like the SWAT cop example I posted for you.

          • Bill

            I was referring to you specifically; plenty of people seem able to do it without problems. But if you can’t- don’t.

  • Dan Atwater

    “A total “failure rate” of 4.4% isn’t ideal, but not horrible either.”

    Are you kidding? That is absolutely unacceptable.

  • iksnilol

    If 3.5 inch groups at 15 meters is what you get after a thousand dollars in improvements, then either the stock pistol is horrible enough to not warrant any use or the improvements are so good that it goes negative.

  • J0shua

    Thanks for the honest review, your eyes picked up on stuff mine would surely have missed. I almost dropped the money for a zev trigger kit last year. I looked at the ghost kit and like many rookies, thought the bling and the cost of the zev meant it had to be better. You just saved me some money and maybe a big headache, thanks. One question, did Zev know they were sending this out to be reviewed?

  • M1911

    Total waste of money.

  • RSG

    This is the perfect tool for those looking to be able to perform malfunction clearances under stress. And for close to 2 grand, it’s a bargain, if money grows on trees for you.

  • highhammer

    I have, maybe I should say had? I don’t know because they’ve had it so long. It was a glock 17 dragonfly. Looks pretty was accurate nice and light and felt nice in the hand. Used it once and the slide started rusting the next day. I sent it out and haven’t heard back for 4 months.

  • Matthew Ridenour

    Hi, Matt Ridenour here. CEO of ZEV. First, thanks for this thorough review. I will be going through it line by line w/ my team next week. Certainly, there is no excuse for some of the gunsmithing “misses”. I’m really surprised by the comments on the barrel accuracy. We’ve done pretty extensive ransom rest testing as well as having LE partner testing. So, curious why you had that result. Would you be willing to drop me a call or email to discuss so I can get your thoughts?

  • Matthew Ridenour

    Hi, Matt Ridenour here. CEO of ZEV. First, thanks for this thorough review. I will be going through it line by line w/ my team next week. Certainly, there is no excuse for some of the gunsmithing “misses”. However, I’m really surprised by the comments on the barrel accuracy. We’ve done pretty extensive ransom rest testing as well as having LE partner testing. So, curious why you had that result. Would you be willing to drop me a call or email to discuss so I can get your thoughts?

  • John Swinkels

    I have a stock glock 34 or 35 in .357 sig, cant remember and i aint gonna go to the safe to check.with a a jarvis barrel crap stock trigger with a burris fastfire it shoots 1.5 inches at 25 yds from a rest.I use 150 gn lead hy-tec coated with 4.5. gn of win WSF.I live it had over 20 years.

  • JJ

    Just the opposite from what I’ve experienced with my complete Lone Wolf TimberWolf compact in 9. Their frame fit better in my hand than any glock. Barrel is much more accurate than stock one. Slide is how I always wanted one. Trigger is good but a ghost connector makes it nicer. No where near the total price either. Zev was a choice in my initial search. But I can’t fault the timberwolf being my best NON Glock, Glock.

  • ChiptheBarber

    Wow! I’ve never had a failure to fire from my G19 but I paid $400 for it at a local pawn shop. I don’t shoot competition. Mine came w/Trijicon night sights, the trigger’s okay but I’ve got a 3.5# connector coming. That’s all the mods I plan on doing. Sooo I’m just gonna have to find some other place to spend $1200.Thanks for the honest review.