Edit for Clarification: This is the first prototype slide off the machine. The cut outs and serrations on production slides are limited only by our imagination. Don’t like deltas? There will be other options.
I have previously mentioned that one of the things that attracted me to accepting the marketing director position at KE Arms is the manufacturing capabilities that the company possesses. Things can sometimes take a while to get rolling, but once they are KE Arms can deliver innovative, high quality parts, in high volume. The slide project for the Glock 34 we have been working on is no exception.
We are currently in the final testing phases of the Glock 34 slide project. The slides are made from 17-4 stainless steel. Making these slides from the ground up presents us with some unique opportunities for customization; including a variety of serrations and cuts to suit the end users taste. The most notable aspect of customization with the ground up slide is the ability to mount the Aimpoint T-1 micro at the front of the slide without any special plates or adapters.
I was an early adopter of the RMR on the Glock back in 2010. Using the red dot Glock over the past 5 years I have seen both its benefits, and areas for improvement:
1) Durability. RMRs are now better than they used to be, but I have had them fail at inopportune times.
2) The RMR is susceptible to fouling from sand, dirt, and moisture. Carrying it on the range or in the field the rear lens acts like a cup collecting debris. At matches like Ironman or Hard as Hell in talcum powder sand I often had to clean the lens before the next stage. I think this could be more problematic for people using red dot pistols in roles where they don’t have the luxury of cleaning prior to use.
3) Most people normally rack the slide at the rear. The RMR at the rear can interfere with this process depending on your perspective and rear racking leads to more frequent lens cleaning.
Co-witnessed iron sights are essential on a red dot pistol for training to see the dot, aiding in indexing the pistol, and in the event of an optics failure. Even with a more durable optic like the T-1, there is still a place for co-witnessed irons. The assorted frame mounted solutions to put a T-1 on a Glock preclude the use of iron sights. The rear mounted adapter plates for the T-1 make it sit too high and/or force the rear iron sight in front of the optic; changing the iron sight picture that most shooters are used to. So the question rolling around in my mind for the past couple years was how can a T-1 be mounted to a Glock in a way that preserves the traditional iron sight arrangement? KE Arms’ 34 slide program presented the right opportunity.
Lacking the cut out of a factory 34 slide, there is material present to mount the T-1. The 34 slide also has enough length to mount the T-1 up front, without interfering with the movement of the slide over the barrel. This configuration also allows for the placement of iron sights in their traditional locations. The rear of the slide is left clear for traditional manipulations as well.
The T-1 is much more durable than an RMR, and I believe they will hold up better in use on reciprocating slides. The T-1 being a completely sealed optic does not have the same vulnerability to fouling as the RMR.
An unanticipated benefit is with the dot closer to the front sight, it is more natural for most shooters to acquire and track through movement. Most pistol shooters have trained to find the front sight first and focus on the front sight. The proximity of the dot makes this easier we naturally find the dot when the front sight enters the center of our vision. Getting used to finding the dot has always been a learning curve with red dot pistols. Co-witnessed irons have made this transition easier with a visual hand off from the irons to the dot before. Now that process should be even easier with a forward mounted red dot.
The Aimpoint being forward mounted also shifts the center of gravity forward. Muzzle flip is reduced with the mass moved forward. Mass of the slide is reduced to compensate for the weight of the optic, without windows all the way through that allow debris to enter the action.
KE Arms will be releasing 34 slides in early 2016. We will continue to explore the mounting of different optics, to the Glock, different slide lengths, and other platforms. We are still relatively early in the testing of this concept, but so far it holds great promise.