Featured Review: the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp Dave Merrill December 11, 2016 Once solely relegated to open-division pistol competitors, more recently a compensated pistol has become accepted for defensive use in some circles. This isn’t terribly surprising, as there are many parts and pieces that gained initial popularity for competitive use that made their way into the tactical and practical: Offset irons on rifles, low power variable optics, offset red dots on rifles, pistols sporting red dots–and the list goes on. Speaking in general terms, what you’ll see on the ‘street level’ is a ruggedized analog of the gaming version. The latest, and the focus of this review, is the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp from the Texas Black Rifle Company (TBRC). As the name implies, it’s intended for the Glock-series of pistols. Reading the material on TBRC’s webpage, the Glock 19 was the main inspiration, though it can be used on other 9mm models. No doubt one could fanagle this comp on any number of other threaded 9mm pistols as well. The TBRCi is threaded for the common ½x28mm of most American threaded barrels as opposed to Euro-weirdness of M13.5×1 LH, or the semi-obscure ½x36mm some 9mm carbines love to employ. Once installed it adds approximately .45″ to the end of your threaded barrel. Since we received a pre-production, no box or instructions were included; this isn’t particularly unusual for pre-production releases. Besides, this is a screw on comp we’re talking here, not a 63-function toaster oven. In the box was the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp itself and two packages of screws. No hex wrench was present, and given it’s small size, it would be our suggestion to add one to the retail packaging if that already isn’t in the works. The screws are indeed small, so a second set is great appreciated. A Torx option would be nice to see as well. Installation There’s not a whole lot to it, but there is some nuance needed. Firstly, you’re going to need a ½x28mm threaded barrel for your Glock. Because there aren’t shims or similar included (nor could I find any of the appropriate size) you have to time it the best you can and then torque the screws in place. Screwed all the way down, the TBRCi was almost perfectly upside down. This would mean that I would have to rotate it back a half-turn and solely rely on the set screws to hold it in place. Of course you’re going to want some form of thread locker in the mix too. I’ve long used high-temperature O-rings to secure thread protectors (pro tip: buy in bulk) so they don’t come loose or rotate right off while firing, so I figured they’ve be safe to try with this too. Indeed, it turned out to be the case with the TBRCi as well. It gave it a little ‘squish’ and alignment was much easier and more secure. You want to be sure to perfectly align the TBRCi comp, so as not to impeded your recoil spring assembly. A number of threaded barrels are manufacturer with a flat on the bottom specifically for indexing a muzzle device. Since the TBRCi utilizes two screws (3 o’clock and 9 o’clock respectively) no such flats exist. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, as there are other pistol compensators on the market that secure in similar fashion. Just be aware that you may be marring your barrel a bit; no big deal for a gun that you’ll actually use. With the slide locked back, the Glock’s recoil spring assembly (RSA) does not contact the TBRCi. The same cannot be said of some silencer/booster combinations with all threaded barrels, as Mike Searson noted in a recent RECOIL article back in issue 24 Exactly how flush the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp fits on your slide entirely depends on which threaded barrel that you use. Some barrels, such as DASAN, extend a bit beyond the slide before threading to help avoid the RSA hitting boosters of many different brands. Others such SilencerCo, are threaded much closer to the slide which makes for a more flush fit for the comp (and subsequently may require spacers or special booster inserts to be used with silencers of different brands). Here’s a comparison of the TBRCi mounted to three different threaded barrels: Remember that the Texas Black Rifle Company says that the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp only extends about .45″ beyond your threaded barrel–just bear in mind that not all threaded barrels are cut and manufactured in exactly the same way. When the TBRCi is installed (or any comp), in order to completely disassemble your pistol it will first have to be removed. For normal maintenance this is a non-issue. However, if you enjoy using suppressors on handguns from time to time it can be a bit of a pain in the ass. Holsters When you’re rocking the TBRCi on a Glock 19, you probably expect it to fit in a G34 holster; even with the longer threaded DASAN barrel installed it’s still within dimensions. Of course, if you’re using an open-bottomed Glock holster there shouldn’t be issues with any size Glock fitting. One caution, however: The muzzle devices get hot, so it’s not unheard of to burn yourself with one when reholstering during a training session if you’re using an open-bottomed holster. Some may be uncomfortable carrying one AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waistband) but since I’ve carried a G19 with with a WML in that position for years now I didn’t find the extra length of the TBRCi encumbering in the slightest. So How Does it Work? The idea of the TBRCi is to reduce perceived recoil and muzzle rise to keep the gun as flat as possible while shooting. This is especially beneficial for those running slide-mounted red dot sights because it eases dot-tracking while under recoil. This particular device is configured in two ways to reduce recoil and muzzle rise. Firstly, there are (3) ports on top of the TBRCi so the muzzle blast itself can fight muzzle climb. Secondly there is a single baffle brake with two large ports for the gas to vent out. The way it works is that the gas hits the face of the baffle, causing some forward momentum, thereby countering some of the rearward recoil. There’s actually a third mechanism to help slow muzzle rise, simply an effect of having a muzzle device installed in the first place: The added weight on the end of the barrel. However, since the TBRCi is incredibly lightweight one can call this is a negligible aid in this case. Here’s an overall graphic with the black arrows representing traditional movement and the blue representing counter-forces. On the Range With the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp on the range I found it easier to track my dot during recoil. Re-acquisition really wasn’t a problem because I never lost the dot in the first place. But of course, there is no free lunch. Firstly, you can get some crazy flames from the sides and top of the TBRCi from the ports themselves. Note that some of the photos show a distinct blast pattern: From the top ports, out the side ports, and blooming in front of the muzzle device itself. While muzzle flash itself is mostly an amalgam of the ammunition/powder, barrel length, and environmental conditions, it did get bright enough at times to make the dot my auto-adjusting Trijicon RM01 bloom a few times. The same happened with a Trijicon RM06 when it was set to auto-adjust. This is certainly better than the opposite problem, but I thought it was interesting to see. Ammunition with flash retardant would no doubt not gift such a large flash. Issues and Precautions In order to get the most from the TBRCi, you really need to be using full powered ammunition with a considerable amount of gas going down the pipe. If you’re using underpowered ammunition or slow, heavy projectiles you can anticipate running into problems like this one: Just not enough rearward momentum left to completely cycle the slide. This is actually less of a problem with the TBRCi than with a more aggressive compensator such as the Carver 3-port. As with many such things, there are solutions. My first and best recommendation would be to only use ammunition sufficiently powerful enough to cycle with your OEM rear spring assembly. But for those that want to go further, time to travel down what I call: The Downward Spiral to Hell & Open-Gun Insanity As stated in the beginning of this piece, while pistol compensators are relatively new in the “work gun” realm, open division competitors have been treading these roads for literally decades. It stands to reason that we could learn a thing or two from their ample experience. Just exactly how far down you have to tread this dark road is up to many factors: How much of your current configuration is aftermarket, how much you’re willing to sacrifice to shoot el-cheapo loads, a good bit of luck, and whether or not you’ll willing to just drop it off with a certified gunsmith who knows what the hell they’re doing. So put on a splash of holy water and let’s have a look… But really, I have to recommend consulting a certified Glock armorer, because some of these things can be dangerous. The first and most obvious step is to swap out your OEM RSA for a lighter one. This can allow the weaker rearward momentum to still fully cycle the slide. Since we’re talking a Gen 3 Glock 19, the factory RSA weight sits at 18lbs. There are many aftermarket springs available, and I recommend a guide rod that you can disassemble to physically swap springs out. To begin with I went with a 15lb ISMI spring as recommended by the Texas Black Rifle Company. Now before you just go shooting, you have to test it. Ensure your gun is empty, rack it and pull the trigger. Pull the slide back and ease it forward while keeping your finger on the trigger. Does the slide go fully into battery? If so–no worries. If it doesn’t go fully into battery until the trigger is released we’ve got some additional problems to address: Here’s what’s happening: When the trigger is pressed the striker spring is loaded. Your RSA now has to fight a compressed striker spring in order to fully get into battery. Release the trigger and the slide snaps into place. This situation is dangerous because it’s possible to have an Out of Battery discharge given the right conditions. And this situation is annoying because your gun won’t always run the way you want it to. So how do you fix this? You lighten your striker spring until this is no longer an issue. On the plus side, a lighter striker spring (factory striker weight for a Glock is 5.5lbs) will give you a lighter trigger. The Texas Black Rifle Company recommends just stepping it down to 5lbs to begin. On the negative side, you may also experience light strikes–especially if you go too light and use so-called “hard primered” ammunition. And the solution to that is a lightened, extended (or both) striker… I think you can see where we’re headed here. If you have a lot of aftermarket parts such as trigger bars and connectors and plungers, you could be polishing this and lubing that, or…you could be chasing this path forever. But it isn’t always like that. And just from the few weeks of experience that I have with the TBRCi Glock Micro Comp tells me it’s somewhat less likely just due to exactly how much ammunition I was able to cycle with just the OEM RSA. Conclusions and Loose Rounds Any venture into the aftermarket should always be considered an experiment and an educational opportunity. There’s some good stuff going on here, especially for those running slide-mounted red dots. If you find yourself too far down the Downward Spiral to Hell & Open-Gun Insanity, take a step back and assess your ammunition. Absolutely be sure it runs with your preferred defensive load before carrying with it. And hit the range a lot. A good compensator with some contentiousness upgrades can help you shoot flatter and faster–and that’s always a Good Thing. 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