Plugging the Glock: Yea or Nay?
That Mr. Gaston Glock’s handguns are widely-used cannot be in question. Whether admired or reviled, his pistols fill police and military holsters worldwide and where free men still exist, Glock handguns continue to be popular choices.
As is frequently the case with popular handguns, people seek to customize or modify them for various reasons ranging from enhancing performance of either the shooter or the gun, making the firearm more comfortable to shoot or just because the owner prefers the custom look and it enhances his pride of ownership. I have no problems with any of these reasons but I suggest that we be as sure as we can that the change does not negatively affect our pistol.
Before making any changes to a personal firearm, I prefer to shoot it enough to gauge its current performance level as it relates to me. I am the one it needs to “please” but with a benchmark performance level known before making alterations, I can observe if they have negatively, positively or negligibly affected my handgun's performance. Changes may range from expensive, major affairs involving precision machining and the meticulous handiwork of a nationally-known artisan gunsmith to just slapping on a new set of grip panels or stocks. Some custom touches will be easily reversible back to stock configuration but others are not.
In this article, the focus will be on a minor alteration of the Glock pistol that is neither expensive nor complex and it is certainly not irreversible. It is simply inserting a polymer “plug” into the void directly behind the magazine well. (I have no experience with “weighted plugs” for recoil reduction.)
Here is a Glock 19 and a Jentra brand plug. As you can see, there is a small “button” that protrudes into the hole on the pistol’s lower rear grip strap. Depress the button, insert the plug and it will “snap” into place. It can be removed by depressing the button and pulling the plug from the pistol. (The only other change to this pistol was replacing stock sights with a set from Aro-Tek.)
On the left we see the Glock 19 without the plug. The hole in which the button on the Jentra plug snaps is also visible. On the right is the same pistol wearing the Jentra plug.
…and a view with the magazine removed.
The Glock “Subcompacts” such as the G26 do not have the hole in the lower rear grip strap like the Compacts and Full-Size models but they can be plugged just the same.
The LWD brand plug shown in the Glock 26 is held in place via a friction fit, but they can sometimes either work their way partially or completely out of the gun from recoil. This can be remedied with either a spot or two of silicone on the plug or by applying a tiny piece of tape to the side of the plug where it contacts the pistol frame. It will not take much and I wouldn’t do anything requiring excessive force to seat the plug just in case one wanted to remove it later.
Why is this modification done? The usual answers seem to be:
1. Prevention of debris build-up in the hollow, or
2. Prevention of water being able to seep into the gun if worn in an exposed duty-type holster, or
3. Eliminating the chances that the gun be somehow “snagged” should something not moveable somehow extend into the exposed hollow behind the magazine well, or
4. Giving the Glock a more “finished” look
I have never seen such a minor change contribute to so much controversy! Those opposing using the plug sometimes offer up their reasons but frequently such “pearls of wisdom” as, “If Gaston Glock wanted a plug on his pistol, he’d have put it there,” are expected to quell this abomination! If that doesn’t cause the would-be upstart to cease and desist in this obvious perversion of “Glock Perfection”, a more reasoned approach is brought forth. Some opine that removing a magazine that didn’t fall free when released is more difficult with the plug in place due to not being able to insert a finger or thumb into the void behind the magazine well to better grasp the rear of the magazine and yank it out. I have not found this to be a problem. There is ample purchase via the relatively thick magazine floor plate which is easily accessible from all sides! If you do not agree, don’t use the plug. Concern over water being unable to drain from a plugged firearm if somehow submerged probably just won’t be an issue for most of us, but the “best” one I’ve read is that the plug would “change the polymer frame’s harmonics and induce jams”. The Glock pistol has a well-deserved reputation for reliability. Most us have not just read about it but experienced it year after year since these pistols are both affordable, widely distributed and used. If "frame harmonics" are so finely balanced that a super-light plug as far from the slide's action as can be affects it, isn't it likely that slide-on rubber grip straps, and decal-type stick-on grip panels might do the same thing? Subjective to be sure and not from a statistically-valid number of observations, I just somehow do not think Glocks are that delicate.
In my opinion, the most-likely reason is that Glock didn’t fill this void because it is not necessary for reliable function coupled with the additional cost per unit that the extra plastic/polymer would entail. It might be a small individual amount, but when multiplied by millions, maybe not so trivial. Low production costs and the “bottom line” remain dominant considerations if wanting to survive fierce financial competition.
My Glock pistols are all “plugged”. They were reliable as homemade sin before adding the plugs. They still are and have fired thousands of rounds without incident.
I plugged my Glocks for a very simple reason: I simply prefer the “finished look” previously mentioned. That said, I did appreciate the plug’s elimination of crud finding its way into the void behind the magazine well in my G26 when I tried pocket carry via a Galco holster.
Those who believe the plug is unnecessary or detrimental to the pistol in any form or fashion simply should not use them. Those who do, should. The “modification” is not permanent or expensive. It’s been my experience that the guns run fine either way.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote of “sound and fury, signifying nothing” in Act 5, Scene 5. Somehow those words put me in mind of the sometimes heated “discussions” over whether or not the plug should be used with Glock pistols.
“To plug or not to plug, that is the question,” to paraphrase Shakespeare yet again. I suggest that it depends on the preference of the individual owner and holds no more real world significance than that.
I like ‘em and will continue using them unless something real causes me to change my mind and I hope that Shakespeare’s words, “a tale told by an idiot”, have not come to mind from reading this article!
If you decide to give the plug a try, cost is usually well under $10.00 per unit.