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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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
- 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 high