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KAGWERKS GLOCK Slide Release Review

The AR-15 of handguns lacks nothing in aftermarket support. Meanwhile the enigmatic KAGWERKS, known for premium instruction, and a certain phone case that may or may not be issued as an “operator's” kit, offers something that may put to rest some of the angst left over from the great pistol reload technique debate of 2013. While arguing AK-47 vs AR-15 in 2020 comes across like grown men seriously debating which fictional superhero would win in a fight: only good when in good humor, choosing which handgun reload technique to reinforce with the most myelin through practice does translate better into the real world. For those who shoot Glocks and have abandoned using the slide release in favor of slingshotting that smokewagon, take a look at the KAGWERKS slide release.

Technically referred to as the Extended and Raised Slide Release, this simple drop-in replacement is available for Gen 3/4 as well as any Gen 5 Glock G17, G19, G19x, G26, G34, and G45. Fear not, for those who admire the perennial Gen 3's and 4's in odd calibers, such as .40 Smith and Wesson with the G22, G23, G27, and G35 as well as .357 accommodating the G31, G32, and G33, the manufacturer says you're good to go. Whether the slide design intended to reduce slide stop override, and only happened to make releasing with the dominant thumb easier, or visa versa, matters less, as both benefits come together in a single solution.

kagwerks slide release clean

Yes, the image is scrubbed for serial numbers.

Installing the KAGWERKS slide release

Thankfully, it's easy, as in 15 minutes tops easy, assuming you're going to stop to take some pictures, and cannot decide on which punch to use. As always, empty the firearm, and check the chamber to make sure you don't end up on a one of those montages of examples of what not to do. Field strip the pistol.

Use a punch to knock out the pin retaining the front guide rails and original slide release. This is a one-for-one replacement, so leave the trigger alone.

kagwerks slide release stripped

Replace the old release with the new, and reassemble. Functions test the whole pistol with a confirmed empty magazine, checking trigger and reset, slide stop and release, as well as the magazine release. If each functions as designed, we recommend a good dry-fire session before taking it to the range.

The Actual Review

Out of the box, the finish of the KAGWERKS slide release accurately matches its $45-$50 price tag. A clean, gently rounded form effectively raises the manipulation portion of the release to a point that should ride higher than where the shooter's thumb will rest when firing. Translation: with thumbs stacked on the side of the handgun, the bulge of the slide release rests above, not below the dominant hand's thumb, effectively keeping it from being constantly pressed when under stress.

On initial installation, the trigger felt mildly heavier, by less than a pound, during the first stage of the unmodified Glock Gen 5's two-stage press. After removing the slide and checking the release for contact with with the trigger bar the culprit was identified. By gently pulling outward on the release we could see the slight pressure relieved, returning the trigger to normal. Correcting the problem took pulling just a little harder, being careful not to distort the release. Overall, this looks like a task in fitment, not a problem with the product.

After reassembly, the KAGWERKS slide release proved its point with each and every session of dry-fire, and replicated it on the range. Whether by chance or design, the new placement of the slide release felt natural to our hand. When firing, the slide release stayed out of the way, allowing for the slide to lock back after the last round. In the subsequent reload, for a right-handed shooter, one's thumb can stage on the release, and used the pressure of seating a mag to drop the slide in one fluid motion.

kagwerks slide release reload

Like describing a good whiskey, it sounds wrong to describe the KAGWERKS slide release as smooth, as if it were something to agree with but not really understand. Locking a slide back took some practice to become familiar with, as the “nub” of the release would ride at the base of the thumbnail, but sending the slide forward produced a satisfying haptic response.

But the KAGWERKS slide release does not come without inherent challenges. Primarily regarding holster compatibility, the new location doesn't play well with all options. For example, the sweat guard on holsters like the Tier 1 Concealed Agis run right where the new release sits against the slide. While it doesn't inhibit drawing or re-holstering the pistol, the slight bowing of the holster is obvious, and will certainly cause extra wear on but the release and the holster.

tier 1 concealed kagwerks slide release

The layer of kydex that sits between the gun and the shooter can be seen pushed out, away from the side of the pistol.

Sending it Home

All in all, the KAGWERKS slide release doesn't scream flashy new tacticool gear. Instead, it subtly and simply performs as designed by solving a small frustration with solid design. Though it does carry with it some considerations of holster selection, it makes a fine addition to any EDC, Duty, or Competition Glock.


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