Wilson Combat and Glock


by R.K. Campbell

photography by R.K. Campbell

June 12th, 2007




By far and away Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat fame is best known for his work with the 1911 pistol. I suppose the author in his modest way is also known for his unswerving allegiance to the 1911. However--- let me clear my throat---- there are times when it is OK to have a Glock. The Glock has good attributes including foremost reliability. The pistol has a low bore axis, rapid trigger reset,  and a trigger action that can be learned. I prefer the 1911 for my use but the 1911 is not for everyone. Neither is the Glock, but we are blessed with enough choices that we need not adhere to a single pistol. I am sure Bill Wilson, like myself, found the Glock too big to ignore. The Glock is a major force in the market and nothing I do or say will change that.

However, all is not Glock perfection. I am certain the Austrians are aghast that we feel it meet to fire lead bullets in their wonderful polygonal barrels. At least, we did before we knew better. And handloads! The polygonal barrel of the Glock features a form of rifling that is quite different from the lands and grooves we are used to. Polygonal rifling actually produces a better seal for propellant gas and may exhibit great accuracy. However, polygonal rifling is really suited best to jacketed bullets. When using lead bullets there is simply no where for the lead build up to go. As a result, lead can build up in the barrel rather than in grooves. Over time this buildup may restrict the bore and create a dangerous condition. Also, Glock chambers are relieved more than most to ensure feeding. This also bulges cases to a greater degree than other designs, although this varies from gun to gun. I have enjoyed excellent results in loading 9mm, 10mm and .45 ACP cartridges for the Glock. But care must be taken. The .40 in early examples bulged cases more than say a Smith and Wesson 4006 but just the same I managed. But I stuck with jacketed bullets. Hornady bulk bullets including the FMJs, 124 grain FP, various encapsulated bullets and the XTP proved good performers. But the dual problem of lead bullet use and the accommodating chamber lead me to custom barrels.

Wilson Combat was not the first to introduce custom barrels for the Glock, but they offers first class barrels worthy of the company's reputation. These barrels feature conventional rifling and a good custom fit. While you may order either gunsmith fit or drop in barrels, some fitting is required with either. The drop in barrels for the Glock are usually just that - drop in - but occasionally you may need to carefully file the hood or locking lugs.  The gunsmith fit barrels are predictably the most accurate. Remember, a custom fit may also promote accuracy and longevity. When there is less slop in the action and the parts return to exactly the same place time after time both accuracy and longevity are increased. I recommend Wilson Combat barrels for this reason. Of course, the fellow who wishes to use a drop in barrel simply to make use of lead bullet handloads and then to carry the polygonal rifle for duty is welcome to use the barrel as he pleases. It is the barrel not the pistol that is modified and the pistol remains completely stock. An advantage of the polygonal barrel is that velocity is increased to an extent over barrels of a comparable length that are conventionally rifled. The advantage can be significant. I have clocked Glock barrels at 50 fps more on average than comparable barrels with conventional rifling, but 35 fps is more reasonable. In the .45 ACP and 10mm calibers this velocity difference is less of a consideration as these calibers operate more on frontal diameter and bullet weight than upon velocity.

So, the custom barrel is a good idea all of the way around. While the Glock and lead bullet handloads may seem counter intuitive with the Wilson Combat barrel accuracy is excellent. I have used a number of .45 ACP loads with bullets from Midstates Cast Bullets with excellent results. (204 E Hanes//Wells, Kansas 67467-- telephone 785 488 3886) After years of firing 230 grain RNL bullets for the most part I elected to take a look at light bullet loads for the .45 ACP. Let me tell you they are both pleasant and accurate. There is nothing wrong with a light recoiling big bore pistol. This puts the .45 ACP in comparable recoil to a .44-40 with cowboy loads. That is very pleasant. I use Titegroup powder for practically all of my shooting although certain big bore loads require Magnum powder. Titegroup is a good powder for all of the automatic pistols. I think that the 200 grain Midstates SWC is probably the most accurate bullet, but the easy to load easy feeding 200 grain RNL is a good economical choice. However, I also used the 185 grain SWC. Once the standard for informal practice, I donít see many shooters using this bullet today. That is a shame. This is a good accurate bullet that offers real economy. Less lead, a bit less money, and even less postage to ship 500 bullets! In any case this is very inexpensive shooting.

The Wilson Combat barrel of course will perform as well with jacketed bullets as any other barrel. I used the 185 grain Hornady XTP in accuracy loads and custom barrels also give good results, especially in the Glock. Cranking the 185 grain XTP to 1150 fps in the Model 21 .45 ACP showed no excess case expansion and excellent accuracy. Backing off to 890 fps produced a reliable practice load with fine accuracy. 

Good accuracy isnít really possible with the bulky factory Glock sights. Worse, the front sight tends to snag off. How many Glocks have you seen missing the front sight? OK, old GI 1911 staked in sights also jumped the gun, but we have long cured that problem. The Wilson Combat Nite Eyes sight gives a good sharp sight picture. Shadows are not tapped in the sight and the self luminous component gives the pistol a true 24 hour capability. These sights and the custom barrel turn the pistol into a fifty yard versus a twenty five yard pistol. But even if the Glock is a defensive pistol to be used at five yards the Wilson Combat sights are a must have addition.

Finally, we come to holsters. Wilson Combat offers several excellent holsters for the Glock. Since I was teaching a class using the Glock 19 9mm I opted for the Glock Tactical holster. This is a first class holster well suited to IDPA and range use. It is a good duty holster and may be concealed under a covering garment, especially a photographer's jacket. My example is crafted in Sharkskin. This is not about looks or vanity. Sharkskin is not nearly as susceptible as leather to scratches and wear. Sharkskin repels moisture and offers a good finish that lasts a very long time. I am not a fan of the 9mm but I sometimes carry the Glock when teaching Glock shooters. I load the piece with the Cor Bon 115 grain JHP that exits the Glock barrel at 1340 fps. The Wilson Combat holster is a good  companion to the Glock 19.

A generation ago the 1911 .45  man's second pistol was often a .38 Super or perhaps a Browning High Power. Today, that second favorite handgun is far more likely a Glock pistol. Its ok to own and use a Glock, and Wilson Combat has made the Glock even more attractive by offering first class accessories.

R.K. Campbell

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Glock is OK with this 1911 fan. This is the Model 37 .45 GAP.



The Wilson Combat Tactical is a fine all around holster. This version is crafted in sharkskin



This Tactical holster features a well designed shank with good strong belt loops.



When all  is said and done the Wilson Combat Tactical in sharkskin is not only a striking holster but a good holster.



The Wilson Combat Nite Eyes are among the most capable and brilliant sights on the market.



The Wilson Combat custom barrel for the Glock is a relatively recent innovation with an excellent reputation.



The Wilson Combat sights really make a difference in the Glock. You will never settle for the blocky factory sights after using these!