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DIY: A Glock 19 Clone Custom Build with the Nomad 9 Frame

Put something awesome in the hands of red-blooded Americans, and the one thing they are sure to do is try to make it better. It’s the American way. This drive for perfection is motivated by a combination of necessity and ingenuity—the necessity to improve upon perceived or actual flaws, and the ingenuity to do it. From the garage gunsmith with a rotary tool and soldering iron to the mechanical engineer with a CNC machine, American gun enthusiasts have been busy trying to improve on “Glock Perfection” for decades.

Nomad Defense Company is one of the latest examples, and was founded with one simple goal: to build what they wished was on the market. The Nomad 9 is their solution. This new G19-compatible frame was introduced during SHOT Show 2018, but was still in the development phase at that time. They returned in 2019 with a final production product, and we were able to get out hands on one for review.

Rather than retrofit the shiny new frame with a slide and internals from a production Glock 19, we chose to feature a whole bunch of American ingenuity and built a pistol from the ground up, using as few Glock OEM parts as possible. Could a G19 “clone” be as good as, or maybe even better than, the real thing? Let’s find out.

Frame Setup

The Nomad 9 has several enhanced features not found on its native counterpart. A quick glance is all it takes for an astute onlooker to notice the profile doesn’t quite line up with a production G19 frame. The frame has an extended beavertail, an enlarged, glove-friendly trigger guard, a contoured grip, and thumb ledges, all of which make the overall shape substantially different. Without the distinguishable boxy slide in place, it would be difficult to pick the Nomad 9 out of a lineup of Glock impersonators.

The contoured grip fits the hand nicely and can be customized for the individual shooter using one of the three interchangeable backstraps included with the frame. The gripping portions of the Nomad 9 frame, including the thumb ledges, are covered with a rock texture that will make anyone with a soldering iron green with envy.

The real estate surrounding the magazine release has been slightly beveled to make it easier to press the release. One of the few actual OEM parts we put into this build was a Glock extended magazine catch (Glock’s technical term for what we all know to be a mag release). Even though it’s not as pretty as some of the aftermarket versions, it’s still one of the best options out there. This was paired with a Shadow Systems magazine catch spring.

The other OEM parts we used in this build were the locking block and locking block pin, the slide lock and slide lock spring, the trigger housing, and the ejector. We installed a Grant Defense GT1-R trigger and trigger spring, with a ZEV Technologies Pro Connector. The GT1-R is a flat-face trigger that sits vertical right at the point where the trigger safety disengages. It offers a consistently straight rearward pull and has a crisp break without any creep, especially when combined with the ZEV Pro Connector.

Enhanced slide stops for the Glock pistol can be a problem if you use an aggressive, forward thumbs-stacked shooting grip, as the grip will tend to ride an extended slide stop and prevent the slide from locking on an empty magazine. The Vickers Tactical Enhanced Slide Stop by TangoDown uses the same profile as the standard OEM slide stop, but extends from the frame a little further at the top. This gives the shooter more surface area on which to press down to release the slide, but keeps the slide stop high and away from the thumbs when shooting.

Slide Setup

The slide on this build is a Boogeyman Customs aftermarket slide with the LA LLORONA Pro Elite slide machining package. This particular slide is actually compatible with G19 Gen3-5 frames. To accommodate for the dimensional difference between the Gen3 and Gen4, an adapter is installed on the slide to fill the gap between the slide and dust cover. The slide has speed cuts on the side and top of the frame to reduce weight and enhance the overall appearance. The chevron-shaped front cocking serrations also add some flair while providing a positive gripping surface for press checks.

It should be noted that Nomad 9 does not recommend the use of anything other than a dedicated Gen4 slide and recoil spring assembly on their frame because of the larger spring interface on the Gen4 frame, which can result in unnecessary movement of the smaller Gen3 recoil spring assembly. For this reason, we chose to use a captured Shadow Systems recoil spring assembly, which includes a steel guide rod to eliminates any flexing associated with a polymer guide rod.

Jason Phipps of P4 Coatings, located at The Hub in Tucson, Arizona, gave our slide a full makeover with some KG Gunkote infused with GunCandy Kraken, a teal-blue-purple color-shifting pigment.

For the slide internals, we installed the Polymer80 slide parts kit. This kit includes a 17-4 PH Stainless Steel striker, 9mm extractor, extractor depressor, and striker safety, stainless steel 5.5lb striker spring, extractor depressor plunger spring, striker safety spring, striker channel liner, striker spacer sleeve, two striker spring cups, extractor depressor plunger bearing, and a 6061-T6 aluminum cover plate. We did toss aside the Polymer80 striker spring for the Grant Defense GT1-R striker spring that came with the trigger, and opted for the Boogeyman 6065 Aluminum cover plate instead of the Polymer80 version.

The barrel is a SAAMI-Spec, 9mm Boogeyman Customs Flatline PREMIER Barrel constructed out of 416R Stainless Steel. The barrel has 1/10-twist broached rifling, and dual-depth, straight flutes around the circumference. The barrel is flush-cut with the slide and has a deep 40-degree target crown. A Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating with a friction coefficient of 0.1 protects the outside of the barrel.

To top everything off, we installed a Vortex Venom Red Dot (the slide was milled for the Venom by Boogeyman Customs), and Night Fision Perfect Dot Suppressor-Height Night Sights with an orange-ring/tritium front sight and a black-ring/tritium rear sight. Even though the barrel is not threaded for a suppressor, the suppressor-height sights allow the iron sights to be used as a backup to the red dot because they are high enough to been seen through the optic.

No gun is complete without a reliable feeding system, and in keeping with our (mostly) non-OEM parts list, we went with the Elite Tactical Systems Glock 9mm 15-round capacity magazines. The ETS mags aren’t just sexy-looking, they slide into the magazine well effortlessly and have slightly protruding ledges on the sides of the baseplate that give the shooter a positive gripping surface for violent extrication of the magazine when necessary.

Live-Fire Evaluation

Going hot with our custom Nomad 9 build confirmed that our combination of parts and components had a synergistic effect. The pistol ran with the precision of a Swiss watch and looked just as sexy doing it.

The ergonomic features of the Nomad 9 frame made the gun easy to handle and natural to point. Getting on target with either the iron sights or the red dot was very fast. The Grant Defense GT1-R trigger let us get a clean break without any sight-picture disturbance. Combined with the handling capabilities of the frame and recoil-mitigation of the Shadow Systems guide rod/recoil spring, the short trigger reset gave us fast follow-up shots.

In the words of Wyatt Earp, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is final.” It doesn’t really matter how fast you can shoot a gun if you’re not accurate. Our build proved to be just as accurate as it was fast. At 25 yards, we were able to slow-fire 15 rounds into a 3.5-inch circle using both the red dot and iron sights, allowing us to check the accuracy box on our evaluation.

Conclusion

Whether you're building a gun from scratch, or just enhancing an existing Glock 19, the Nomad 9 frame is a good place to start. At just $150, a G19-owner can add a lot of custom features for about the same price it would cost to have an existing frame tricked out by the local “Dremel and Stippling guy.” If a frame upgrade isn’t what you’re looking for, any of the parts listed on our build sheet would do well to take your pistol up a notch.

All parts used for this build and their MSRP can be found on the build sheet below.


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