There’s an old Shaker axiom that says, “Let it be plain and simple, of good and substantial quality, unembellished by any superfluities which add nothing to its goodness or durability.” This is something I keep in mind when I set up a weapon. A few months ago, I took a hard look at what I was carrying to deal with an active killer. Such attacks are now our present truth, and we need to recognize that the war is no longer over there—now it’s over here. I took a hard look at the fact that rifles, and even conventional submachine guns, just weren’t as concealable as I’d like. Even if you get into the really small SMGs, you’re still talking about considerable size, weight and cost. I also wanted this weapon to be able to use the same magazines as my Glock 17. Lastly, I wanted the weapon to use “off the shelf” technology so I wouldn’t have to struggle to find replacement parts. With that in mind, I settled on another G17—with a unique twist.
Glock 17 Carbine
I refer to this weapon as the GS17. Before I go further, I must point out that if you’re going to do this, you must register your Glock as an SBR with the BATFE.
The GS17 is amazingly light at 2.2 pounds, complete with a Trijicon RMR, Trijicon suppressor sights, a FAB Defense GLR17 stock, a FAB Defense FGGK-S forward grip and a paracord sling. This stock and foregrip setup has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, we most often see these pieces being used in pointless full-auto, magazine-dump videos. So they’re generally thought of as just party trick pieces. But this is far from the truth. The additions can make even an OEM Glock very accurate, and your follow-up shot speed will increase dramatically. I’ve tested these theories with my wife and kids. I would have shooting competitions with two shooters, side by side, running stock G17s, and the speed with which they knocked down their targets was astounding. It got to the point where my “tween” daughter was able to best me a couple of times. That’s when I realized that this needed a closer look.
The GS17 is much faster to deploy than any submachine gun or personal-defense weapon (PDW) due to its scant weight. Another benefit is that it only measures 17 inches long with the stock collapsed and 22 inches extended. The GS17 allows you to transition from target to target without overtravel. It’s almost as fast as your eyes are at aiming your hands—think about that.
The downside of this setup is that it’s still just a pistol. Its accuracy is contingent on the ammo and the shooter’s abilities. So what’s the point of the GS17? CQB! This setup is strictly for use within 25 yards. The GS17 is small, light and super-fast in room-clearing exercises. At 25 yards, this setup can deliver fast headshots much faster than can be done off-hand. Of course, discussions about accuracy in the context of the GS17 are purely academic due to the distances common in close-quarters engagements. Active killers attack quickly, and whatever you have with you is all you get to draw from. That is why the GS17 is perfect as a backpack gun. At less than 18 inches in length, it excels at hiding in plain sight.
If you’re intending on carrying a weapon like this customized GS17, you must be mindful of the rapid decay of accuracy inherent in pistol rounds when fired out of short barrels. A 9mm fired from a 4-inch barrel does an adequate job of incapacitating your enemy in close quarters. If you take that same 9mm and send it down a longer 6-inch barrel, you dramatically increase its velocity, accuracy and efficacy against armored threats.
Building The GS17
When starting out on this project, the top criteria was good accuracy. Notice I didn’t say “superb accuracy.” There is a certain amount of inaccuracy inherent to close-quarters situations, and when your threat is a few feet away, you don’t have time to get off the perfect shot.
The first iteration of the GS17 used a Glock 17 slide with a set of fiber-optic sights. Pistol sights work great when held at arm’s length. However, once the pistol is brought close to the eyes, which is the case when shouldering the GS17, the sight picture changes dramatically and it’s very difficult to get a crisp sight picture. In the compressed CQB world, you really need an optic that you’re looking through, versus sights you have to look at. Fortunately, outfitting a pistol with an optic is much easier nowadays than it was even two or three years ago.
I wanted to mount a Trijicon RMR on the GS17. After trying a few add-on mounts, I decided it might be better to mount the optic directly to the slide, allowing me to keep the iron sights. So, I reached out to my buddy, Daniel Moore, of Visionary Machine & Design, in Rossville, Georgia. Daniel is one of those machinists who’s exceptionally good at his craft. Daniel and I worked out the details of the slide design, then he wrote the program, tested it and started milling.
Daniel and I worked at removing enough weight from the slide to compensate for the RMR’s weight. It turns out we came in slightly below the original weight, which is pretty cool considering we were guessing on this one. Now you might be wondering why the slide weight matters. If a weapon unlocks too slowly or too quickly, its accuracy and reliability can be affected, not to mention its lifespan altogether. Weight equals resistance, which equals dwell time. I wanted to keep the recoil impulse as close to Glock specs as possible so I could shoot any bullet weight without issues. Well, it worked; thus far I’ve tried various weights and manufacturer’s loads without any malfunctions.
The final step was coating the slide in nickel-boron for protection from the elements. I’ve worked with this coating for years and can personally attest to its prowess at defeating most abuse. However, it’s important to understand that unless every metal component of the weapon is coated in nickel-born, you’re going to cause a lot of wear on the areas that don’t have lubricant between them and the nickel-boron-coated components.
Why would you make all of the other components in your weapon work harder than they have to? Everyone knows how slick nickel-boron is, but few know about its considerable hardness. It’s this hardness that abuses any component that comes in contact with nickel-boron-coated surfaces. The slide on the GS17 is nickel-born coated, but none of its internals are. Nothing in the frame is coated, either. So, yes, I clean and lube this weapon every time I use it.
Points To Consider
We now live in a world where long-range accuracy has become boringly normal, however, people have forgotten that 25 yards is a really long distance for fighting with a pistol. Think about how many variables potentially lie between you and your moving threat at 25 yards. Airsoft and Simunitions guys know exactly what I’m talking about. To survive a gunfight, you must move and efficiently work the angles to your threat. You seldom get to stand still and fire at the enemy. The GS17 was made for moving quickly.
Another point to consider is the Glock’s lack of an external safety. Typically, a holster will offer an additional layer of safety for your Glock. However, a holster isn’t really feasible for a Glock equipped with the FAB Defense FGGK-S. Logic dictates that such a holster would be too big and just impractical—“tacti-cool” but “impracti-cool.” Fortunately, the FGGK-S foregrip swings up and extends to the rear, creating a safety cap over the triggerguard.
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The final facet that needs covering is the conspicuous absence of a light. Here’s the logic behind it. Obviously the foregrip keeps you from adding a light to the Glock’s rail. But active killers almost always attack in lighted, heavily populated spaces. These killers are after a body count, so they’ll typically attack in well-lit spaces.
I know what some of you are thinking: “What about shootings in clubs or movie theaters?” You’re right, but keep in mind that movie theater shootings and the one that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando are exceptions, not the rule. Also, you must remember that those are “gun-free zones” and you’ll never fix stupid by violating the law and carrying a weapon there.
So, once again, the theater and nightclub shootings are non-variables in this equation. Every other shooting out there is likely to occur in a lighted, heavily populated space, and the GS17 is ready for that purpose.
At the range, I found that if I hunkered down and took my sweet time, I could pretty much stack rounds with carry ammo and could get palm-sized groups with ball ammo. However, I choose to test my weapons while running drills that incorporate multiple targets and movement. The more targets, the more you’re sucked into the drill and the less you’ll pay attention to the fundamentals. That is when a weapon really stands out in its ability to deliver.
The custom GS17 delivers the goods in a very small package. It’s the perfect weapon to put the element of surprise back into the hands of the good guys, and contrary to what some believe, the solution to the crime problem is, indeed, getting more guns into the hands of the good guys.
The Mako Group
Visionary Machine & Design