Guns and Gear

Can I shoot lead in my Glock?

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Patrick Sweeney, Gun Digest

Glock barrels do not like lead bullets. There are several learned engineering treatises on exactly why, but what it boils down to is that the detailed surface level of steel—steel treated by means of Tenifer is rougher than other treatments.

And Glock barrels are on the small side, to ensure greater accuracy with wartime-dimension bullets. Hey, if there is a war on and your ammunition production has to be upped from a billion a year to a billion a month, dimensions in that ammunition will wander a bit. A tight bore ensures that smaller than usual bullets will shoot reasonably well. The larger ones? Hey, no one reloads ammo, do they? Not in the Army. So no big deal.

But we crazy, non-Army Americans actually reload ammo, expect brass to have a long service life, and desire accuracy, all at less than government-budget ammo prices. Hence the use of cast lead bullets.

The trick, if trick it can be called, is simple. The exterior is of a Glock configuration, while the interior is the same bore and chamber that the barrel maker makes for every other pistol out there. So, no polygonal rifling, just the expected, angular, Enfield rifling. Chambers are a bit tighter than what Glock makes, too, and, often as not, in stainless steel instead of Tenifer-treated carbon steel.

Who? Bar-Sto, Wilson, Lone Wolf, Storm Lake, KKM Precision, and others make replacement Glock barrels, barrels that don’t have a problem with lead bullets. You decide what length you want for your model Glock and whether you want a drop-in or a fitted barrel. My suggestion? If you are acquiring a new barrel for less-expensive practice, a drop-in will work just fine. If, on the other hand, you want to use your new barrel for practice and match/competition, get it fitted by the barrel maker or a gunsmith.

For practice, accuracy as good as the factory barrel is fine. If you’re going to use it in competition (though you should remember some matches might not permit a non-Glock barrel in your Glock), then you might as well spend a few extra bucks and get all the accuracy you can.

The other use for re-barreling is as a place to mount a suppressor. To attach your “can,” you need an extra barrel threaded for the suppressor attachment. That means at least a half-inch of extra length that can be threaded to the thread pitch of whatever suppressor you have.

Now, some shooters are cool with cast lead in suppressors, but me, I’m a lot less forgiving/casual about it. I mean, if I’ve forked over the equivalent of a couple of house payments for my suppressor, I’m going to take care of it. So, jacketed bullets for me. Of course, you can’t get a factory Glock barrel that is threaded for a suppressor, so you go with aftermarket. And guess what? The same people who make the for-lead-bullets barrels also make them for suppressors.


Want to learn more about Glock? This article is excerpted from the new book Glock Deconstructed. Get your copy here.