So, you’ve heard the buzz: Yes, you can build, from scratch, a tried-and-true, bona fide pistol handgun (in any series!) at home by using a polymer 80% frame. Aptly named the Polymer 80 Pistol, this new entrant to the market of the world’s most popular handgun is making waves. What is it, exactly?Find out below:
What is the Polymer 80 Pistol?
Simply put, the Polymer 80 Pistol (also commonly called an 80% pistol) is a handgun platform that replicates the O.G. Glock® in form, build, and function. The Polymer 80 Pistol’s heart rests inside the 80% Pistol frame. This not-quite-a-pistol-frame is, as you may have guessed, 80% complete.
You finish the remaining 20% (which takes around 30 minutes to one hour) using the 80% jig and hand tools provided with your 80% frame purchase. Everything else you need is included in the kit!
So, is the Polymer 80 Pistol a real Glock®?
At first glance, the Polymer 80 pistol is nearly indiscernible from the real thing. Polymer 80 pistols use real Glock® parts from muzzle to magazine. There is, however, just one important difference: Grip angle.
Factory Glocks’® grip angles measure 22 degrees, but the 80% pistol frame’s grip angle measures 18 degrees. This is no coincidence, the legendary M1911 also sports an 18-degree grip angle. This same grip angle was purposefully included in the design of the 80% pistol frame. It’s this age-old, widely preferred grip angle that some say gives the Polymer 80 pistol a more ergonomic feel.
The polymer and factory compatibility
In every other way, the Polymer 80 pistol mimics a manufactured Glock®. The 80% pistol frames shares all other features and functions of a manufactured Glock frame. All Gen 3 Glock® components are used to complete the build, including:
- Glock® Gen 3 Frame Parts Kit
- Gen 3 Glock® Side
- Gen 3 Glock® Slide Parts Kit
- Glock® Sights
- Glock® Barrel
- Glock® Recoil Assembly
- Glock® Magazines
So, is the Polymer 80 pistol a real Glock®? Functionally and aesthetically, yes. By incorporating every feature and component from the original Glock®, the Polymer 80 pistol promises the same reliability, accuracy, capacity, and (perhaps slightly improved) ergonomics.
How to build a Polymer 80 Pistol
Okay, this topic could obviously fill a manual, but here’s the short-n-sweet: Building an 80% pistol requires three tools: (1) a hand drill; (2) a handheld router like the crowd-favorite Porter Cable Router or hand files; (3) a Polymer 80 pistol Jig with tooling, like the kit pictured below. You can view all available Polymer 80 Pistol Kits here!
The Polymer 80 Pistol rocks because the required jig comes with your 80% Pistol frame! Completing the 80% Pistol Frame requires drilling a few holes and shaving down some excess polymer material.
To complete a Polymer 80 Pistol, you’ll need to:
- Drill the side holes using a hand drill and table vise
- Mill off the top rails with the provided large end mill bit
- Use the same large bit to mill the interior barrel block
- Finish cutting the rails with the smaller provided end mill bit
- Install the Locking Block System with provided screws
- Install your parts kit, slide, barrel, and accessories!
Series and 80% Frame and Jig Kits:
How long does it take to build a pistol?
Total machining time should take less than one hour, especially if you’re using a router. Even if you have no experience, you can complete this project quickly and safely. Assembling your pistol with your finished 80% frame also takes around an hour, then you can be on your way to the range!
Legalities of building a Pistol
The ATF has stated you can legally build a firearm at home if it is for personal use with no intent to manufacture or sell. That means – in most states, at least – you can order an 80% pistol frame and jig with all the parts and tools you need, and have it shipped straight to your front door!
There’s no paperwork required for this build at the Federal level. You don’t need to submit anything to the ATF nor do you need to submit to the FBI for a background check (commonly called a NICS check). There are no fees to pay and no lines for any signatures (unless you sign postage for that juicy box of parts when it arrives at your front door).
Some states require you to submit paperwork. California, for example, recently passed AB 857. This legislation requires a unique serial number be assigned to any homebuilt firearm by submitting an online Unique Serial Number Application to California’s own Department of Justice. The paperwork must be filed and you’ll need your serial number before you build your Polymer 80 Pistol. If you live elsewhere, we strongly recommend checking your local and state laws first to be sure. In most locales, you’re free and clear to order your kit and build as you read this!