While the large-framed Glock pistols (G21, G20) remain some of my favorites, none of the mid-framed guns fit me well. Having tried them all, they are just not comfortable, nor is the grip angle favorable. For me, using them consistently requires a grip reduction, some trigger work, and an aftermarket barrel. That adds costs and time. My friend commented that in the time it took me to customize a stock Glock to my liking, “you could probably build a Glock 17 just from aftermarket parts.” Well, he was right.
I took a look at Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame, and it seemed to meet my needs without a wait for a gunsmith. Buying a stock gun to swap out seemed counterproductive, so I took to Brownells. Sure enough, it was possible to fill out everything else from there.
I ordered the Timberwolf standard frame from Lone Wolf and everything else from Brownells. After about half an hour of assembly and testing for fit and tolerances, it was put to the test. It worked fantastically. I sold the not-Glock 17 to a friend of mine a few months later, and it is still running like a charm. When the need arose to test out a new slide for a Glock 19 (the Primary Weapon Systems Enhanced Duty Slide), I decided it was time to repeat the build process. This time I would build what I’ve ended up calling the “Timberwolf EDS19,” combining the name of the frame I’d be using and the slide.
Building the test pistol
I’ve tested almost everything Primary Weapons Systems has built over the years, and I was very excited was time to give their new drop-in Enhanced Duty Slide (EDS) a try. It comes completely assembled, minus the barrel and return spring. Swap them out and you get a four-pound trigger, front cocking serrations, and your choice of standard or Trijicon HD sights. Everything they make has proven rugged, well-engineered, and flawless. I used an EDS19 with Trijicon sights for this pistol.
Given my positive experience with the Timberwolf standard frame, one of the compact frames was secured. These frames offer replaceable grip straps, offering a grip angle more in line with the 1911. Its finger grooves are less pronounced, with a bit more aggressive checkering, and there’s a high cut under the trigger guard. An oversized magazine release is standard, as well as a front rail that eliminates the dead space between it and the slide.
Most of the remaining parts were ordered from Lone Wolf and Brownells. Kevin at KKM Precision provided one of his drop-in match grade barrels. His barrels have always been accurate, easy to install, and provide completely supported chambers.
Completing the setup was a recoil management system from Sprinco. I’ve used several over the years and they are great for those who use lots of different loads. Testing ammunition is part of the process, making them perfect for me. With Sprinco’s system, you can generally you can shoot +P ammunition without battering you or the gun, while still being able to run practice loads.
From start to finish, assembling the gun took less then an hour—and that included some time in the manual (it’s been a while since I attended armorer’s school). The trigger was crisp, clean, and a bit under four pounds, mostly due to the lighter trigger spring. Lone Wolf recommends the six-pound spring, but it was out of stock when I placed my order. The factory five-pound spring works, it is just a bit light for my taste, but it was completely reliable. Magazines locked the slide open, dropped free, and all the critical measurements were within spec. Add the heavier trigger spring and it would even pass my former department’s inspection.
On the range
Just to give the Primary Weapons EDS a fair test, it was first mounted to a stock Glock 19 Gen 3 frame. Sure enough, it turned the stock trigger into a crisp, four-pound, duty-capable unit. It was consistent, not something you always get with a trigger job. At the range, the improved trigger was particularly noticeable in rapid-fire strings and when shooting for groups. Ejection was consistent, with no malfunctions experienced over 200-plus rounds.
Moving the slide to the Timberwolf, the overall package was equally impressive—especially with the KKM Precision barrel. Groups tightened up a bit, with my best group measuring about 1.5 inches at 25 yards from a rest. At real-world distances, it was as accurate as this platform gets. It worked on round one, and has not stopped working yet after a bit over 500 rounds. As noted, using the five-pound trigger spring resulted in a pretty light trigger. Many will like it, though it’s probably a bit light for a duty trigger. Even with +P ammunition, it remained controllable and pretty comfortable to shoot. Mated to Federal 124-grain Gold Dot, it was very accurate, soft to shoot, and dead-nuts reliable. Considering this pistol was built using exactly two parts from Glock (locking block and trigger), that is pretty impressive. All drop-in, no fitting, using products from several different companies. That is the epitome of the old “mil-spec” standard of interchangeability.
Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame has always been popular, and it showed its advantages here, at least for me. My hand fit as well as any custom reductions used in the past. Use the flat grip panel and it points pretty much like a 1911. Using the slightly rounded version, it proved just about right. It has one of my favorite magazine releases for these guns, allowing me to drop the magazine without shifting my hand at all. It functioned perfectly with the latest generation of 15-round magazines.
To truly put my pseudo-Glock to the test, I needed to try it out with some holsters, too.
Appendix inside-the-waistband (AIWB) carry is a position I’ve tried in the past with very mixed success. One of my customers swears by it, and we often talk about its advantages. After attending some training with a friend of mine (Jared Wihongi), I discovered that its tactical advantages were pretty solid. Given some time since my last attempt and about 20 pounds less fat, it was time to give it a real try. A friend brought over a JM Custom Kydex holster he preferred, along with his stock Glock 19 to see if it was worth building my own pistol. I found it to be quite comfortable. JM Custom’s AIWB holster has some features that made it better than any other to date, so I ordered up one of my own.
To round out the testing, I wanted to include a new OWB holster. A picture of a Reign Tactical holster had recently popped up on one of my social media pages. It looked interesting; along with some rather striking color combinations, the Indra model offers a cut out designed to facilitate indexing the trigger finger. A holster along with a couple magazine pouches was ordered up in a color combo of Kryptec Typhoon and blood red—it just looked really cool!
After about a week with the JM Custom AIWB, I was almost completely converted. Several five-mile hikes up the canyon behind the range proved its worth. It was more comfortable than most of my standard IWB holsters. Even after decades of using a 3 o’clock carry, my back still gets sore—but not so with this method. Given quick access, comfort, concealability, and no back pain, it is growing on me quickly. So much so that an exact copy was ordered to fit my Sig Sauer P320C, a favorite carry pistol.
The extra tuck feature makes it sit tight against the body, all but eliminating “printing.” Using both the soft loops and the quick clip, the latter was my favorite. It allowed me to easily insert using my leather belt and it never shifted or came loose. Drawing is faster than any standard carry used before. Working up draw to first round times a tad over a second was possible, even easy after just a few practice runs.
It was concealable using a polo and a T-shirt, making it well-suited to summer carry. Practice at the range was similar to normal with one exception—careful holstering. Re-holstering your pistol should never be done fast, there is no advantage to speed re-holstering. But, especially with striker-fired pistols and no safety, you really need to be careful of your clothing. There were no issues with indexing on the draw or safely drawing, I simply paid a bit more attention when holstering during live-fire practice. Getting clothing caught in your holster is not new to the Glock, or other pistols with no mechanical safety. Most end up with a small wound in their leg, or just a need for a change of shorts. In this position the results could prove far more lethal, given the pistol is pointed almost directly at your femoral artery.
Workmanship on the Reign is excellent with well-rounded corners, no sharp edges, and very clean riveting. It is about as nice as Kydex gets, with a solid attention to detail. With two layers it is pretty solid, even with the indexing cut. The magazine pouches are equally as impressive, solidly made, and they fit the magazines perfectly. They’re available in several color combinations, making the whole process a bit more fun. Plenty of tactical colors are offered for those in need, but there are also plenty of “real” colors from plain black to bright green.
The index feature is unique, and it worked as designed. For a new shooter this may be a really nice touch. You are able to keep your finger properly indexed on the slide from draw to re-holstering. It took some time, for me to get used to it but it works. It locked in as solidly as any Kydex used prior.
You can see some drills I performed with the Timberwolf EDS19 and the holsters in the video below.
The final question to ask at the end of this long evaluation is “How much?” It is a good question. Using retail prices for the gun as built and two magazines, it was a tad under $1,100. Sounds high until you add up the same steps involved in converting a standard pistol. Buying a new pistol and adding the PWS slide gets you everything but the grip reduction, and will cost you about $1,200 or so. Using a stock pistol, adding the HD sights, a grip reduction, and trigger job, and you are around a grand. So, for the most part, the final price it is about the same, and in this case it netted me exactly what fits me and works best. Is this for everyone? Probably not, but it has worked for me on both occasions very well. You need an FFL to get the lower, but after that it is a simple assembly along with some checks for proper internal tolerances and you are done without waiting—and that is a nice touch.
Images by Dave Bahde