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Shadow Systems Glock 19 Gen4 Top End


Glock's tagline of “Perfection” always struck me as ironic though. If it's so perfect, then why are there dozens, if not hundreds of companies that make Glock parts, upgrades, and accessories? I know, I know, “most reliable platform out there.” I agree, and I'm not what you call a Glock fanboy, but most of the time, I carry a Glock because they work.

A little company in Plano, Texas named Shadow Systems is doing some awesome stuff with aftermarket Glock parts – ranging from barrels to complete top ends to extractors (more on that later) – to elevate the wonder-poly we've all come to know and love (or hate). Initially, they made Gen3 top ends and barrels that comply with all generations. But about a year ago, Shadow Systems started making Gen4 top ends.

Being more of a Gen4 person, I was stoked when they rolled out a line of Gen4 offerings. I opted for an uncompleted top end, the Shadow Systems Corp RMR Cut Glock 19 Top End. Whatever is the furthest from disappointed, that's where I found myself.

Overhead view of the Shadow Systems Gen 4 top end.

I outfitted it with a Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA dot, capable of allowing me more precision shots, and still being plenty big to pick up when I need it. For irons/back up sights, I went with standard size blacked out rears and front and they co-witness very nicely in the bottom third of the RMR window. I love the fact that on their website, they specifically point out the less “noise” in your visual field the better, especially if you're going to carry or compete with it. I do both, and it serves both roles fantastically.

The finish on the slide is a Diamond-Like Carbon coating (DLC). It may look or even feel parkerized, but thus far, it's far superior. Not a scuff, mark, or scratch anywhere on it, even the muzzle. I've holstered and drawn it hundreds if not thousands of times doing dry fire and live fire exercises, and it still looks like the day I put it together.

What I adore about this slide are the aggressive serrations. Slightly angular and swept forward roughly 15 degrees, they bite your hand when you're racking it under speed or press checking. When I'm doing emergency reloads, I can get a purchase on the slide, fore or aft, no matter how fast I'm moving. Speaking of cuts, if you can't tell – the slide has lightening cuts that are more than cosmetic. This pistol is much more, dare I say, “shootable” than my other stock Glocks. It shoots flatter and comes back on target, presumably from the slight decrease in reciprocating mass on the top via the slide cuts. But more on the innovations Shadow Systems is working on in the future…

Shadow Systems, being a forward thinking company run by shooters, for shooters even puts care and attention into little things. For example, let's talk about extractors. That's one of the Achilles heels to many pistol designs, including Glocks, and is one of the first things to wear out. However, Shadow Systems machines their own tungsten extractors in house – which 1) keeps QC in house, 2) keeps the cost down, 3) gives you an extractor that will be hard-pressed to wear out. I selected a standard extractor, but have a tungsten one in the safe just in case.

Shadow Systems fluted DLC match-grade barrel and top end, stripped down. Note the lightning cuts and aggressive serrations, as well as how low the optic sits.

Shadow Systems' barrels are as impressive as their slides and the innovations continue. I ordered the Glock 19 unthreaded fluted barrel, which is made of 416R stainless. This also has DLC coating, is match grade – and differs from Glocks in a notable way. It has 1/10-inch broach cut rifling that is in stark contrast to the polygonal rifling found in most Glocks, insofar this allows shooters to send cast lead downrange. How many people shoot cast lead anymore? I don't know, but it's good to have options. And as yet another testament to the DLC coating's durability, I have probably close to 3,000 rounds through this one, and as you can see, it doesn't even look like I've cycled 500. No “Glock Smiley” at all.

Now, since I did put this together from parts, let's talk about the assembly process. I have but one word.


Everything went where it was supposed to go, and short of the usual pain of getting the cups seated on the striker spring or pushing the sights into place, not one swear was uttered by me when assembling. It went together smooth, and I have NEVER had a malfunction that wasn't related to ammunition. I currently have it mounted on a Gen4 frame, completely stock without stippling, and the only modification to the frame is sanding down the trigger guard a bit to avoid the infamous “Glock knuckle.”

Shadow Systems also makes triggers, and I have one, but if you tinker as much as I do with Glocks, you know that no two triggers are the same. Now, you can tune them with Gen3 trigger bars and sandpaper and all that, but I just tried out different aftermarket triggers I have – Overwatch Precision, Shadow Systems, Apex, and the lesser-known Kineti-tech. The latter gives me the cleanest and lightest break, so that's what I run on this setup. Pretty much all my Glocks except subcompacts have a flat face trigger of some kind.

Overall impressions of this slide, barrel, optic combo are nothing but positive. This setup is an outstanding advent for the budget-conscious shooter that wants to dip their toe in the addictive waters of Carry Optics IDPA/USPSA divisions, or carry a gun that is firmly entrenched in the 21st century.  So, if you're looking to elevate your Glock game, I highly recommend giving Shadow Systems a shot.


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