Massad Ayoob: The Timberwolf Compact – Lone Wolf’s Glock alternative.
By Massad Ayoob, American Handgunner
Lone Wolf Distributors has been making Glock stuff for some time now. J.R. Shepard, head of the company, was the Glock Pistols columnist in the GATE (Go Ask The Experts) advice section at the popular forum glocktalk.com. Until the demands of his growing business left him no time outside his company, J.R. was Glock Talk’s most popular GATE advisor by far.
Satisfied Lone Wolf customers are legion, and having produced modified replacement parts for most everything else on a Glock, J.R. decided to manufacture a frame that would build on the reshapings popularized by our own Robbie Barrkman at Robar. The result was the first Timberwolf.
Full-size, and built to take the components of a Glock 17, 22, 31, 37, 34, 35, 17L, or 24 pistol, the Timberwolf concept embodies a polymer frame with a straighter grip-to-barrel angle than the Glock, which is rather Luger-ish in that respect. The Timberwolf is modular, for grip inserts.
The result is a Glock-like gun pointing more like a 1911, and which is distinctly amenable to smaller hands. This is particularly important in the element of trigger reach. On the shooter, the trigger reach measurement is taken from the center of the web of the hand to the trigger contact portion of the index finger, and on the pistol, it is measured from the center of the rear of the grip-frame under the tang to the center of the trigger’s face.
How much difference is there? Twenty years ago this year, I was at the industry seminar where S&W introduced their Sigma pistol to the firearms press, and with it the results of their six-figure ergonomic study on hand sizes as related to firearms. I discovered my own hands exactly fit the profile for “average adult male.” On my standard size Glocks (G17, G22, G31, Generation 3 and earlier) when I hold them with barrel in line with the long bones of the forearm, my trigger finger contacts the center of the trigger at the “pad,” that is, right at the whorl of the fingerprint. That’s exactly what Gaston Glock and his engineers had in mind when he came up with the original design.
When I hold my Lone Wolf Timberwolf the same way, that same trigger finger can reach all the way to the crease at the distal joint. This is the spot the old-time double-action revolver shooters called “the power crease” because from there, the index finger can exert distinctly more rearward pressure and leverage on the trigger. In other words, the difference in reach is significant. The shorter reach favors the shooter with the shorter trigger finger, and also the old dinosaur like me who actually prefers the “power crease” finger placement for fast shooting.
For some time, the Timberwolf frame was available only in full-size configuration. For a lot of people, that was just “too long in the butt” for the level of discretion they wanted in concealed carry. J.R. and the rest of the Lone Wolf team listened to those folks, and now we have the Timberwolf Compact.
The Compact is designed to replicate the height and length dimensions of Glock’s 4″ barrel compact line, which goes back to the 9mm Glock 19 of the late 1980s and includes the Glock 23 in .40 S&W, the Glock 32 in .357 SIG and the Glock 38 in .45 GAP. Our test gun (one of the first prototypes), was scheduled as a Gun of the Month giveaway to a lucky reader by American Handgunner (Jan/Feb 2013). Lone Wolf marketing manager Zack Carlson brought it to a class I was teaching, and we checked it out when there was downtime.
This particular sample boasted a stainless slide, Lone Wolf conventionally rifled barrel of course, XS Express night sights (a regular option with the Lone Wolf folks), and a grip-frame molded for a Glock 19 magazine.
The Lone Wolf folks definitely know that “style” can be a verb as well as a noun these days. Our test Compact was “stylin’” with what the maker officially calls Custom Machined Slide Pattern Number Two, and unofficially calls “The Maze.” It’s subjective, of course, but I like it. If you’re a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, this gun would fit very well on the great architect’s desk similarly-stylized lamps. No, there’s no indication Frank Lloyd Wright was one of us … but remember, the topic is style.
Most all the parts of a Glock 19, 23, 31, or 38 will fit this frame. The conventional rifling allows use of unjacketed lead bullets, something verboten with the polygonal rifling of the standard Glock barrel. As with the Glock itself, you have a wide variety of trigger options. One of Lone Wolf’s most popular separate components is their 3.5-pound connector. The 3.5 is not sold separately to the general public by Glock, and is normally available only on their sport models, the Tactical/Practical G34 9mm and G35 .40, and the rarely-produced 6″ versions of those guns, the 17L and 24 respectively. Our test sample Timberwolf Compact came with extended slide stop lever.
Another Timberwolf feature is the grip tang extends back protectively over the web of the hand. A small percentage of shooters have mitts so big and beefy a recoiling Glock slide can make contact with the web of their hand. They in particular will appreciate this feature.
Since I was inside lecturing a lot of the time we had it, our Massad Ayoob Group training team got more range time to run the gun than I did. They were pleased with the reliability of its feeding and cycling with everything they ran through it. The only problem we encountered with this very early prototype was the magazine would occasionally release spontaneously, a problem Zack Carlson assures me has been taken care of since.
Lone Wolf has played with a couple of different magazine release buttons; both designed to work at speed for the competitive shooter. One is rounded for comfort, while the other “Has its rear radius flattened like the stock OEM version, and to reduce thumb contact and help prevent accidental release,” Carlson explains.
Our venue was a police range, which was set up for reality-based training, not bench rest shooting. The closest I could get to a solid rest was a mailbox set up to simulate cover on a 25-yard range. The shallow “V” of the XS rear sight and the Big Dot of its humongous front sight has never been the most accurate for me, though I love its speed for close work. I was still able to eke out a 4″ group with five rounds of Speer’s excellent, street-proven 124-gr. +P Gold Dot, which has long since proven itself one of the best 9mm rounds out there for serious business. If someone who had spent more time with XS sights than me had been behind the gun — or if it had been wearing the big, blocky square notch rear sight and fiber optic equipped front post I have on my full-size Lone Wolf Timberwolf — I’m sure that group would have been tighter.
Lone Wolf does not sell whole pistols. They will sell you parts, and they will sell you an assembled top-end, and they will sell you a fully assembled frame. The bare frame sells for $199.95 and $335 will buy you a complete frame with all the internals. A fully assembled top-end goes for around $490 (depending on options). The XS sights on the test gun were a $108 option. “Custom Machine Slide Pattern #2” to go with your Frank Lloyd Wright lampshade would be an additional $175. Zack figures the retail price of the gun in the photos of this, the American Handgunner Gun of the Month, would run about $1,100 in its full fanciness.
Lone Wolf’s website has a cornucopia of cool and useful accessories for the entire range of Glocks. Lone Wolf has been so successful, J.R. not only has no time left for his advice column (more’s the pity, because I thought it was superb), but the company has just expanded into a newer, larger facility.
The Timberwolf pistol is of particular interest to the small-handed shooter, or to the user who says “I love everything about the Glock but the grip angle,” or the handgunner who just likes to be able to get lots of finger on the trigger and lots of flesh and bone around the “handle.” It’s definitely worth a look.
Photos By Gail Pepin