KE Arms Charlie Slide (and other Glock Upgrades)

    I love my original Glock 17. I really do. I’ve never hated the platform, not since I first fired it. Sure, there were some slight bothers (like the gritty trigger) but nothing that was insurmountable.

    After countless thousands of rounds through it over the past 18 years I decided to start upgrading and modifying it. It started off with a stippling job. And progressed to extended mag releases and slide releases. I upgraded sights. You know, little things here and there.

    In the middle of that process I got to play at Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun and was introduced to KE Arms (they sponsored me as media to come shoot the match using their equipment). The big star of the event was their forward mounted Aimpoint on a Glock. It was definitely interesting, but I was just not sold on the idea of an optic on a pistol. It felt unnatural to me–like watching a bear ride a bicycle.

    Okay, maybe the red dot is useful...

    Okay, maybe the red dot is useful…

    A few months ago, Russell, the Marketing Director at KE Arms, approached us about reviewing one of their new Glock replacement slides, in this case the “Charlie”. Which would be cut to take a Leupold Delta Point Pro. He also offered to send some other goodies like a new trigger, flared mag well, and extended magazine base plates.

    Construction/Description

    Slide

    • Machined from 17-4 Stainless steel and heat treated to Rockwell 42-43
    • Front and rear cocking serrations
    • aggressive contouring on the sides
    • bull nose on the front
    • weight relief cuts on the top and sides
    • can be machined to accept the Trijicon RMR or Leupold Delta Point Pro
    • RMR model includes rear sight dovetail and cover plate if you do not wish to use the RMR
    • Deltapoint Model is machined to accept the Deltapoint Pro with Leupold Rear Sight unit (no cover plate is supplied with the Detlapoint model)
    • Accept OEM internals, barrels, and guide rods
    • Include striker channel liners
    • Made in the USA

    There are two versions available: the KE17 Gen 3 slide is compatible with all Glock 17 Gen 3 OEM components, the KE17 Gen 4 slide is compatible with all Glock 17 Gen 4 OEM components.

    Trigger

    • “Carry Grade” Trigger Pad and Safety (6061 Aircraft Grade T6 Aluminum)
    • All Components Hard Anodized Type III
    • Polished Steel Glock Trigger Bar
    • Works with all double stack Generation 3 or 4 Glock 9mm or .40s to include 17, 17L, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 34, and 35.

    Magazine Well

    • Allows the use of factory Glock magazine base plates.
    • Aircraft Grade Aluminum
    • Type 3 Hard Coat Anodized.
    • Works with most magazine extensions.
    • Compatible with Glock 17/22 Gen 3, Glock 19/23 Gen 3.

    Magazine Extensions

    • Snaps in place, using your existing spring parts
    • One piece design
    • Hard Anodized Billet Aluminum
    • Made in the USA
    • Will fit Glock 17/22/34/35

    Observations

    Slide

    KE17 "Charlie" Slide cut out for Leupold Delta Point Pro

    KE17 “Charlie” Slide cut out for Leupold Delta Point Pro

    To date, I have run 800 live rounds and 3800 cycles with CoolFire with the KE Arms Charlie slide. Not that I expected anything to misbehave, but that is a decent amount of movement. None of the internals exhibited any issues during the testing.

    I found the overall slide to be a tad lighter, which I thought would increase the snappiness of the pistol, but it didn’t. My slide came naked and empty, hot off the lathe (or out of the CNC I suppose). Install of the internals was easy and straightforward (plenty of YouTube tutorials are available; or take it to your local Tier One Armorer).

    Slide with installed optic. It does take practice to get used to it.

    Slide with installed optic. It does take practice to get used to it.

    Obviously the core feature of the slide is the cut out for the reflex sight. KE Arms will machine the cut out for the RMR or the Leupold Delta Point Pro. BMC Tactical donated a Delta Point for this review.

    My previous experience, as I had mentioned, was with a forward mounted Aimpoint, and my opinion was “meh”. I really think I didn’t have enough time with it. Now, with a little over two and a half months using the Charlie with a Delta Point Pro, and almost daily dry fire, and weekly live fire, I finally get it. I saw improvement in my speed of acquisition, as well as precision of my slow aimed fire. That said, I still believe you need iron sights installed, and should practice with the optic turned off.

    The front serrations are surprisingly useful, even if you don't have a 10x scope... :)

    The front serrations are surprisingly useful, even if you don’t have a 10x scope… 🙂

    The other standout feature of the slide includes both of the serration cuts, specifically the front ones. The serrations are much more aggressive and positive than stock (which translates to easier grip). The front serrations actually add a little increased utility to the weapon. Since the RMR and DPP have a pretty small profile, we are not concerned about optic interference while racking the slide (as was seen in years past on earlier guns and monstrous scopes).

    The biggest benefit I found was with doing a press check. Previously I would bring the weapon back to my centerline at my chest, and with my support hand, gripping the rear of the slide between my index and middle finger knuckles would pull the slide back slightly while tilting the gun up to peek in the breech. With the front serrations, it is much easier to move the support hand slightly forward and pinch the slide from underneath, gently pulling it back. I feel like I had much finer control, and didn’t have to cant the weapon to see. Not to mention my support hand stayed a lot closer making it easier to get back into position. The front serrations also make it a little easier to manipulate the slide when breaking the pistol down for cleaning (not that anyone cleans a Glock ever, right?).

    Trigger

    The anodized aluminum trigger is clean and comfortable.

    The anodized aluminum trigger is clean and comfortable.

    I had tried a trigger from another manufacturer and it threw off my finger placement (it was a wide, flat thing; the trigger, not my finger). The KE Arms trigger is curved just right, and feels great, and I did not have to change anything about my grip, nor finger placement, when shooting.

    Magazine Upgrades

    Subtle mag well extension gives just a little help and protection.

    Subtle mag well extension gives just a little help and protection.

    Since I have effectively converted my old Glock into a shiny new competition gun, one of the features I had been lacking was extending my magazines. KE Arms sent me a flared mag well and several magazine extensions. The mag well went on super easy (just make sure to loc-tite the bolt) and made it a tad bit easier to insert the magazines. Honestly, though, after countless magazine change drills it is kind of hard to miss the standard opening with a standard magazine. It is nice to know you can be a bit sloppier though. One other thing about the “Carry” (opposed to the “Competition”) version of the flared mag well is that you can still run stock Glock magazine floor plates. With the taller mag wells, you sometimes need extensions to manipulate the magazines effectively.

    Clean and simple. Traits I have come to expect from KE Arms.

    Clean and simple. Traits I have come to expect from KE Arms.

    The magazine extensions were a huge pain to install. This had nothing to do with the fact they were from KE Arms, more to do with how annoying it is to replace the base plate on a Glock magazine. I ended up using a bench vise, a towel, and copious amounts of swearing. After I got them installed, I was very pleased. It only adds two rounds, and I didn’t really think it was going to make a difference, but it did. Those couple of extra rounds allowed me to run a couple more sets over the course of my fire.

    Conclusions

    I may be a convert to the use of optics on a pistol. Once I got past trying to treat the optics like iron sights, it all clicked and started working for me.

    The KE Arms KE17 Charlie Slide (Stainless) ($550) is a great upgrade. I’m currently not a fan of the artistically machine cut slides like some of KE Arms competitors (I say currently, because I change my opinion on things I dislike like I change a pair of socks). The Charlie has a simple, clean design and some great upgrades that increase the efficiency of operating the pistol (for me personally; like anything, you need to practice).

    The KE Arms Curved Carry Trigger ($100) (along with a Ghost Elite connector bar) make for a very “not”-Glock trigger. The trigger pull is very smooth and has that nice “glass” break that is more typical of 1911s. It is also more comfortable and durable than the OEM trigger pad.

    The KE Arms Magazine Extension ($25) is a great upgrade. Even though they were a PITA to install, once I had them on, that extra two rounds was great to have. And the Carry Magwell for Glock ($70) not only dresses up the bottom of the gun a little, it also protects the edge while giving a little assistance for inserting a magazine.

    Overall, KE Arms produces a number of great products for making solid and functional upgrades for your equipment. The designs are thoughtful and the machining is clean. If you are looking to breathe some new life into your older Glock, or want to make some upgrades, any of the components I reviewed would fit the bill.

    Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he teaches wilderness medicine and writes for a number of publications, including The Prepared, a site devoted to self-preparedness. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.

    You can reach him at tom.r AT thefirearmblog.com


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