There’s no question that Gaston Glock revolutionized the firearms market four decades ago, particularly the semi-auto pistol segment. The G17 mainstreamed the use of polymer frames, offering a level of durability and reliability that was almost entirely unrivaled. Since that time, the more compact G19 has become one of the best-selling pistols of all time. It offered the same high level of performance as the G17 in a form factor that, until lately, had the best capacity-for-size ratio going. It could be used for duty, concealed carry, or home-defense equally well. An excellent example of this is the AA19 from Adams Arms.
The Adams Arms AA19
However, as good as the different Glock pistols are, the design aesthetic has gotten a little stagnant. Aside from changing the available sizes or calibers, there’s been very little in the way of innovation from the factory.
Even offering models with “newer” features like front slide serrations or optics cuts seems to be something Glock Inc. does only begrudgingly. And the company only does it in the most perfunctory manner possible.
This has opened the door for a variety of manufacturers to develop their own take on what a Glock-style pistol should be in the 21st century. One such manufacturer is Adams Arms. Known more for its line of piston-driven ARs and its variety of available AR components, Adams Arms has just introduced its own version of a G19-style pistol, which it simply dubs the AA19. I recently received one for review, and suffice it to say, it’s not your father’s G19.
The Double-A One-Niner
At first glance, the AA19 looks immediately familiar despite its recent entry into the polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol market. The fulcrum for that familiarity is the AA19’s compact and double-stack, 15-round form factor. Not to mention the use of a Polymer80 frame as its foundation.
Sure, it has some custom texturing done for Adams Arms. But there’s no mistaking the unique Polymer80 triggerguard. Behind the triggerguard is a generous relief cut for a higher and more comfortable grip on the pistol.
What gives the AA19 its own distinct zest is the company’s VS19 slide assembly. This package starts off with an intricately machined slide crafted from 416 stainless steel. It also includes visually appealing and highly functional slide serrations at both the front and the rear.
The slide wears a set of blacked-out sights and an optics cut that will work with a series of adapter plates available from Adams Arms. The adapter plates will work with popular red dots from companies like Leupold, Trijicon, Holosun, Burris, C-More, and Vortex.
Part of the VS19 slide assembly is the 4.25-inch, 416R barrel. According to the company website, it sports match-grade rifling that will accommodate any type of 9mm round. A nice bonus with the barrel is that it’s threaded with a ½ x 28 pattern. As a result, it allows the use of suppressors or other muzzle devices. However, it comes with its own thread protector out of the box.
Both the barrel and the slide are finished with a tough nitride coating for excellent resistance to the elements.
Handling the AA19
One noticeable step up from the standard Glock pistol is the use of Tango Down’s Vickers Tactical Carry Trigger in the AA19. This is a flat-faced trigger that offers a very clean and short take-up and then a satisfyingly crisp break.
The trigger on my review pistol registered an average of almost exactly 4 pounds of pressure at the break. This, in my opinion, is just about perfect for this type of pistol. The reset was also very good with a minimal amount of retravel before a distinct audible and tactile pop occurred.
Moving back down to the frame, the AA19 has an integrated Picatinny rail for running your favorite accessories. Additionally, the frame wears very effective texturing on the front and backstraps and a more subdued pattern on the sides of the grip. Honestly, I would have preferred the backstrap texturing around the entire grip rather than Adams’ signature pattern on the sides.
The pistol ships with two, 15-round magazines from Magpul, and it includes Adams Arms’ lifetime warranty. This may come in handy on occasion as we find out later in this review.
I met up with my friend, Dave, at the shooting range to get another person’s perspective on the AA19. At first blush, there was a lot to like about the AA19 as far as I was concerned. However, there were a couple of issues that raised their heads during our review.
First off, we both really liked the aesthetic of the AA19. It’s a more attractive pistol than a standard G19, particularly with its intricately machined slide. The ergos aren’t bad, either.
The 19-degree grip offered natural pointability, and the relief cut behind the triggerguard provided ample room for the middle finger. This gives a higher and more comfortable grip on the pistol. That comfort extends to the support hand as well because of the second undercut to the bottom of the triggerguard.
The machining on top of the slide includes serrations and a chevron-shaped window cut out to expose the barrel. This was done intentionally to reduce the amount of reciprocating mass and to deliver a flatter shooting experience.
While it may do that effectively, it also offers another ingress point for dirt and debris that could potentially affect the AA19’s operation. I’m not a fan of slide cut-outs but recognize that some folks like it. So, it’s really a matter of personal preference.
What’s not in the realm of personal preference is reliability. In a defensive pistol, one can sacrifice a bit of accuracy, and who cares what a pistol looks like, right? But the pistol has to run.
During both our offhand shooting at steel targets and during bench/accuracy testing, we ran into a couple of snags. There were three failures to feed properly and on two occasions, the trigger did not reset after the slide cycled.
Shooting a Variety of Ammunition with the AA19
We shot the AA19 with a good variety of range loads and premium, defensive ammunition during the trial. The AA19 reliably fed everything we shot except Hornady’s 115-grain Critical Defense load.
The three failures to feed were with that Hornady load. I will say that I’ve had a couple of pistols trip up with that particular type of ammunition. I’m not an engineer, but sometimes, that flex tip just seems extra grabby and can hang up on occasion.
In this case, the Critical Defense ammunition seemed to only hang up when we were using the supplied Magpul magazines. David had a couple of Glock factory magazines on hand, and when we tried those. We had no issues with reliably feeding any of the rounds we tried that day.
We weren’t as concerned with that issue as we were with the trigger not resetting. One can always test and select the best magazines and ammunition that runs most reliably in their pistol. But the trigger issue is something different. You can’t really test for that. On any given Sunday, it either works or it doesn’t.
But from what I’ve seen, the Tango Down Vickers Tactical Carry trigger gets high marks all across the board in reviews. It’s just possible that this one particular AA19 got a lemon for a trigger. But that’s an easy enough fix and where Adams’ lifetime warranty comes in handy. For a one-off issue like this, a quick trigger swap should do the trick and get you on your way.
As for the actual shooting experience, the AA19 handled fairly nicely. Likewise, the lighter mass up top did seem to make the pistol shoot a bit flatter than a G19. However, there was something about the frame that felt a little sharp and “slappy” during the recoil impulse. It wasn’t abusive, just noticeable.
I’ve tried similarly sized pistols like the SAR9 C and the Walther PDP Compact that offer a softer impulse that feels more like a gentle push than an abrupt slap. That said, the solid texturing on the AA19’s frame provided a secure grip on the pistol for good control. It also makes that impulse more manageable.
We didn’t use a suppressor for the review but had to remove the thread protector because it kept getting loose, and I didn’t want to lose it on the range. I see this all the time with companies that offer threaded barrels. Why not spend a dollar more and throw in a few high-temperature O-rings that the thread protector can snug against to keep it from walking off the barrel?
During part of the test, David and I fitted an HB Industries Micro-Comp thread protector to the barrel. It seemed like it may have helped reduce muzzle flip a bit. But to be honest, it was hard to tell for sure. However, with its accompanying O-ring, it did not come loose while we fired the AA19. This made it well worth the upgrade for that reason alone.
Shooting for Accuracy
Adams Arms did not send out any adapter plates so that we could use an optic. So, we ended up working with the fixed sights instead. This is another area where personal preferences might come into play.
The sights offered on the AA19 include a black, serrated front blade and a blacked-out rear sight. No dots, lines, dashes, or anything else for that matter. Everything’s just black.
Some folks may prefer completely black sights for use with a red-dot optic so that the fixed sights don’t compete with the red dot for the user’s attention. But that particular argument would be moot in this case because the sights are not tall enough for co-witnessing with a red dot.
So, it seems a bit of cost savings is at play here. This will probably result in the buyer buying and installing a set of aftermarket sights.
The last bit of testing we did was shooting for accuracy from a bench at 15 yards. For this test, we used premium loads from Federal, Hornady, Speer, and Sig Sauer. This particular AA19 wouldn’t be mistaken for a tack driver, but it shot well enough for its intended role.
Average groups ran around 2.25 to 2.75 inches, with a best group of 2.12 inches shot with Sig Sauer’s 147-grain Elite V-Crown load. We only had a limited variety of ammo types to try. But a little time spent finding the AA19’s preferred load will go a long way in tightening up those groups.
The Bottom Line
For the user that’s wanting a Glock-style pistol but wants that something extra for the money, the AA19 just might meet that need. From better texturing and ergos to the threaded barrel and uniquely machined slide, the AA19 brings a number of things to the table that a standard G19 doesn’t offer.
That said, Adams Arms’ entry into the pistol market does have an MSRP of $1,000. That price doesn’t exactly make it a cheaper alternative. Especially if the buyer ends up installing a set of aftermarket sights. But it’s up to the end user to decide if its suite of improvements justifies the higher cost.
However, when it comes to the features today’s modern consumer wants in a fighting pistol, there’s no question that the AA19 offers everything thing they might need and a little bit extra as well.
For more information, please visit AdamsArms.net.
Adams Arms AA19 Specs
Barrel: 4.25 inches
Overall Length: 7.75 inches
Height: 5.11 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Weight: 25 ounces
Sights: Blacked-out rear, blade front
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns May/June 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.