Guns Agency Arms: A Look at a Tricked-Out, Droolworthy Glock G34! Steven Kuo July 30, 2010 Join the Conversation Is this just another run-of-the-mill tricked-out Glock? RECOIL takes a deep-dive look at the Agency Arms G34 Glock, in all its badass glory! Shooters are a passionate bunch. But even within that context, Glocks can be a divisive topic. Folks have long, drawn-out, Ford-versus-Chevy-type Internet battles simply about stock Glocks compared with other handguns. Souped-up Glocks like those from Agency Arms are ripe for debate. Broach the subject of customized Glocks, and let the flame wars begin. Is a Glock simply a tool? Is it worthwhile to invest in customizations and improvements to a Glock? Does the phrase “lipstick on a pig” come into play at some point? The answers to each one of these questions are, all at once, “Yes,” “No,” “It depends,” and “Who cares?” All guns are fundamentally tools, but they can be much more. Stock Glocks are great, but there’s always room for improvement depending on your intended application and budget. And this is America — if someone is willing to pay an agreed-upon price for a certain product, more power to them! Agency Arms Design Due to their inherent design simplicity and massive following, Glocks are similar to the AR-15 platform in their LEGO-like assembly and vibrant ecosystem of aftermarket parts and suppliers. Sights aside, bone-stock Glocks are a wonderful choice for many people. With a little bit of research and mechanical aptitude, you can easily customize your Glock — we’d start with the sights, then consider tuning (see Issue 14) or replacing the trigger. Depending on your preference, you could try different types of mag releases, slide stops, and other drop-in parts. Beyond that, you start progressing into more complicated waters with machine work, stippling (see Issue 1), and so forth — and mild to wild off-the-shelf components are widely available now. However, you’d be well advised to have a good technical understanding if you start adjusting weights, materials, springs, internals, etc. How many of us have been at the range, a class, or a match with a buddy who pulls out his trusty Glock, only to suffer constant problems. Asking him about it often results in a reply along the lines of, “Well, last night, I had it on my workbench, and I…” The Agency Arms G34 Gen4 Glock. Photos by Steven Kuo And Q Concepts Joining the Agency Agency Arms is a relatively young enterprise, having come onto the scene at the beginning of this year, but its founders have been in the industry for quite some time. Their initial focus is on the Glock platform — they’ve designed their own flat-face trigger and low-profile magwell, and they do slide work, frame work, trigger work, and full builds. It seems there’s no end of custom Glock builders, spanning the gamut from economical to astronomical. Agency Arms has taken an approach of offering several options, but not a bewildering array, allowing customers to mix and match slide, frame, and trigger work. Their design philosophy is to enhance the functionality of the basic Glock while retaining maximum reliability for duty and self-defense applications. They work on customer-supplied weapons, with a focus on reasonable turnaround times, open communication (you can log on to their website to track the progress of your build), strong customer service, and sense of community. Their services are by no means cheap, but others charge more. For example, a full build on a customer-supplied Glock 17 or 19 runs $1,400. The Agency Arms Glock slide compared to OEM. The Agency Way Michael Parks, a former Marine and current police officer, is one of the principals of Agency Arms. We got our grubby hands on one of his personal guns to run through its paces. As we walk through the details of their builds, you’ll see their overall philosophy reflected. Agency offers three types of slide modifications, depending on your preference and application (e.g. whether you plan to utilize a mini red-dot sight): Urban Combat: Lightest option, with three window cuts (top and side), additional weight reduction, front and rear serrations, and mini red-dot cut with aluminum Agency Battle Plate cover. Hybrid Special: One top window cut, additional weight reduction, front and rear serrations, and mini red-dot cut with Agency Battle Plate cover. Field Battle: Heaviest option with no window cuts. Includes additional weight reduction, front and rear serrations, and mini red-dot cut with Agency Battle Plate cover. Our test gun started life as a 9mm Gen4 G34 and was given the Urban Combat treatment. A stock Gen4 G34 slide assembly weighs 18.7 ounces. Our Urban Combat assembly (including the Trijicon RMR) weighed in about an ounce lighter at 17.5 ounces. Agency paired the slide with a slightly lighter-than-stock 15-pound recoil spring and a stainless steel guide rod. Comparing the two slides, the machining work is pretty self-evident: material is removed from the sides, side windows are cut cleanly, and the top stock window and ejection port are enlarged. The serrations are quite aggressive, as you can see from the detail photographs — Agency Arms calls them “DNA collectors” as a result. Agency Custom Glock There are a number of craftsmen who have made Glock frame modifications to a fine art, and Agency is no exception. Their frame work and grip texturing is both attractive and functional in some unique ways. They remove the finger grooves and undercut the triggerguard so you can grip the weapon as high as possible. The interior of the triggerguard is beveled out with a mill to make it a little more roomy for gloved hands or simian-like booger hooks. The bottom front corner of the trigger guard is also docked, providing another index point for some and aesthetics for others. The most unusual modification is their “Accelerator Cuts” — the side of the frame in front of the takedown lever is reshaped to create modest ledges on either side for the support hand thumb to better clamp down on the frame to enhance recoil control. It’s similar in concept to accessories, commonly known as gas pedals that some USPSA competitors have attached to their pistols. Agency Arms' low-profile magazine wells have proven to be a popular item, but a variant for Gen4 Glocks is not yet available, so our test gun didn’t have one. Agency may be more widely known for their flat trigger with a hook at the toe as an index point. It’s very nicely done, and available for purchase as a drop-in trigger. In keeping with Agency’s defensive philosophy, except for the trigger shoe they utilize tuned stock parts in their trigger system, prioritizing reliability above all. An OEM minus connector reduces the trigger pull weight, and a tuned and polished third-gen Glock trigger bar provides a smooth feel. Different finishing options are available — black nitride, nickel boron, and Cerakote. There’s an extra charge for the latter two. Our test gun had a custom “distressed” Cerakote finish, which was quite distinctive, but not to everyone’s taste here at RECOIL. Of course, you can specify your desired finish. Field stripping the Agency Arms G34 Gen4. Agents in the Field Now for the fun part — how did the Agency Arms do at the range? Overall, we ran about a full case of various types of ammo through it. We took it to the range for testing and drills. We also ran it at a local action pistol match with a mixture of hosing and accuracy targets, and passed it around for different shooters to try. Overall, the Agency G34 was very refined and well-sorted. This is one of the clear advantages of obtaining a complete build from an accomplished shop. All of their design choices worked together very well. The frame work was excellent with meticulous detail and unique touches. The trigger guard modifications were great, and the accelerator cut was nicely done. We found its utility to be dependent on the shooter — positioned ahead of the takedown lever, it required some to extend their support thumbs farther forward than they normally do, and one with small hands couldn’t comfortably use it at all. Others quite liked everything about it. The stippling could have been more aggressive to help lock in the shooting grip, but it’s an understandable trade-off given the emphasis on duty and defensive use. The trigger felt like a well-tuned OEM setup with reduced travel, a crisp break, and strong reset. Our example consistently broke at just over 4 pounds. Many shooters loved the flat trigger, while some still preferred curved ones. The trigger safety is very low profile — if you’re bothered by the Glock’s trigger safety nub, you’ll like this one as you’ll barely notice it’s there. There’s only so much that can be done with OEM components, so the trigger snobs amongst us were left wanting a bit and digging around in the parts bins to experiment with combining Agency’s flat trigger with other more aggressively modified parts (successfully, we might add). Optics on the Agency Arms A Trijicon RM06 RMR red dot was perched on our test gun, melted nicely into the slide. A set of tall Trijicon suppressor night sights were co-witnessed with the optic. It’s well known that it takes a lot of time behind the gun to become accustomed to a slide-mounted red dot. Those in our group who normally shoot iron sights found their match results suffering as a result. The Open Division shooter in our group loved it, easily tracking the red dot (even though he normally runs a frame-mounted optic on his STI) and ripping off blazing double taps with abandon. Our USPSA limited division Grandmaster was annoyed by the dot and the RMR’s relatively small window, ending up mostly using the backup irons instead for close targets and only utilizing the dot for precise long shots. In fact, in timed drills at close range, he was slower trying to use the dot than irons. Agency gives you the option of going either way by including the optic cut as part of its slide work. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to specify and be locked into a particular mounting pattern, though Agency currently only has Battle Plate covers for the RMR cut. Speaking of mounts, Mike Parks had recently gotten his gun back from being Cerakoted and forgot to Loctite the RMR’s mounting screws. Clinging to the slide, the RMR gets the ever-loving crap kicked out of it on every shot. You can guess where this is going — by the second stage of the match, the screws had backed out and the RMR flopped out. Fortunately, we had extra screws and were quickly back in the game. Remember, this was Mike’s personal gun, rather than one destined for a customer, so we don’t hold this against Agency. Say what you will about custom Glocks; the Agency Arms G34 was refined and fun to shoot. Lots of Rounds Downrange Out of almost 1,000 rounds of American Eagle 124-grain and 147-grain, Remington 147-grain, CCI Blazer 115-grain, and Fiocchi 115-grain and 124-grain ammo, we had a single failure to feed. It was during a course of fire with mixed magazines and was cleared reflexively, so we weren’t able to identify which lot of ammo it was nor the specific issue, but it didn’t happen again. We very much enjoyed our time with the Agency Arms G34 and gazed longingly at our bank accounts, wishing they weren’t so barren. If you don’t believe Glocks are worthy of customization, the Agency Arms Glock isn’t for you. If you know you can put together your own piece of polymer art for a lot less moolah, by all means, do it. But if you want a refined, custom Glock out of the box and don’t mind spending the scratch for the privilege, check out Agency Arms. Judging from their work queue, there’s plenty of people in the latter category. To learn more, visit www.agencyarms.com This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 20. Corey Graff contributed to this article. Explore RECOILweb:Hazard 4 Introduces Tactical Watch LineHow bullets work - the GECO HexagonOp-Ed from the VA Civil Rights RallyMore than a Gun: Unarmed Defense for Those Who Carry NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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