I’ll start by prefacing my experience with firearms in general and what lead me to the decision of attempting a home build vs buying a manufactured pre-built pistol. I’ve always been a defender of life, liberty and the innocents. That’s just how I’m wired. Training in various mixed martial arts to gain skills applicable in instances where I may need to defend myself or others. Most my adult life, I never carried a firearm, until one day it clicked, like a light switch being flicked on. If I wasn’t within arms reach of an attacker, possibly armed with a firearm, how would I be able to defend myself? The scales just weren’t weighing in my favor every time I played out an instance with an armed attacker in my head. Too many variables, too many chances for an unarmed defender to slip up. From that moment on, I decided to buy a pistol and have carried one everyday for the past 2-1/2 years. Now, if faced with an armed attacker, it’s a level playing field. It’s level not only because I arm myself with the necessary tools, but because I train on a regular basis with those tools. I’ve shot somewhere in the ballpark of 25,000 rounds over the last couple years of training regularly. I know all my tools, inside and out. As my training has advanced, so have my tools, which brings me full circle to the purpose of my first P80 build. I wanted a pistol that I could rely on, train with in adverse conditions and I wanted it to be 100% tailored to me. I started looking around at platforms I could purchase, then have modified to fit me perfectly. Looked at S&W, Glock, FN and Springfield offerings as a base. Wasn’t too excited about what I was seeing. I had known about the P80 realm and remember thinking that would be the best route for customization, but wasn't confident in my abilities to produce a reliable tool. Though I am fairly adept in building things, as I'm a carpenter by trade, skilled in the use of multiple power & hand tools. I simply couldn't imagine being able to make with my own hands the level of quality I was expecting. Spoiler alert, boy was I wrong!
One day whilst I was researching, I stumbled across a video. A very charismatic bald man popped up on my screen and greeted me (the audience) as a 'Freedom Protector'. I smiled to myself, agreeing with his intro and watched as he worked on a home built P80. I found out Marine Gun Builder was the content creator of this well thought out video, so I watched some more of his videos. His 'First Time Quality' policy sure sounded a lot like the high expectations I was imagining I wouldn't be able to replicate from a manufacturer that was stamped with 'Brand-X'. Immediately after binge watching his entire playlist, I was filled with an exorbitant amount of excitement and set my sights to accomplish what I had previously thought to be impossible. I had decided I was going to produce a high quality pistol, tailored to my specific needs and wants.
The build process was pretty intimidating at first, but I knew high quality could be achieved, so I stayed focused. I ordered a PF940Cv1. I knew that P80 uses Glock internals, which other manufacturers produce, so lots of options. I’ve never owned a Glock, thusly I had no knowledge of how this pistol was going to function, on a mechanical level. I knew my build would entail at least a barrel, a slide, a trigger, a frame and some pins. I searched for parts, in a very saturated market, looking for what suited my taste. Thankfully MGB (Marine Gun Builder) has made a parts list on a website he created, which aided in my inventorying immensely. Throughout this entire process I’m thinking to myself: “Damn; this guy has made it exceptionally easy for a guy like me, who knows nothing about this platform, to obtain and/or study everything I need to complete my vision”. Pretty dag'on convenient if you ask me. So now that I have spent hours and hours reviewing and searching individual parts and how they operate inside the platform, I was simultaneously reading posts on FB in the P80 Master Builders group which helped me narrow down which of the part manufacturers to go with and which ones to avoid. I could have gone the easier route of ordering parts kits, but I didn't want to duplicate any purchases. I had already made up my mind on which trigger system I was going to run, which came with a safety plunger and striker spring and such, so I had to be mindful on which parts I had already. Additionally, I didn’t want a ‘cookie cutter’ build. I learned of upgraded ejectors and extractors being all but necessary for enhanced performance, so I ordered a 19x ejector (42071) over using the standard Gen3 (336). After I was confident all the parts I had chosen were going to function well together, I ordered everything in.
It was now time for the nerve wracking build process. I learned many techniques via MGB videos and yearned for that FTQ (First Time Quality), time to apply them. I opted for the brad bit + Dremel method of drilling holes. With the assistance of my beautiful wife, whom held down the jig for me, I drilled the pin holes with ease. Dremel plumb, down, out. Holes done. The channel was a breeze and tabs were similarly easy, employing only FTQ techniques. Using the fret cutters and Dremel, I took my time and was able to get better than factory results, even removed the mold process nipple left behind in the trigger guard. Next came the Fitment of parts inside the frame and making sure my holes were straight. I ran across a little issue with my rear rail, the holes weren't lining up, I could see the bottom of the rail through the hole in the frame. Again, MGB came to the rescue, he addressed the exact issue I was having in a video I had watched previously, so I instantly knew how to solve it. After a little widening at the bottom of the rear rail holes, my trigger housing went in fine. The rest of my frame assembly went smooth, rather uneventful, but very exciting and fun. At this point, my slide and slide internals hadn't arrived yet and I had previously ordered a wood burner, anticipating an attempt at my own stippling job. I started practice doing a couple different designs I saw (which I will add pics if possible) on some different types of polymer cases I have lying around. The flex shaft adapter for the Dremel proved to be a great investment, as it made the practice and actual application of my deep borders almost too easy. After I was confident in my ability to operate the cutting and sanding bits on the Dremel, I cut into my frame and went all-in on my very own stipple job. The borders are what made me sweat the most, one little slip and I could've destroyed my frame. The original pattern I wanted to do for the 'field' of the grip area, resembled reptile scales, but after practicing I couldn't get the wood burning tip oriented exactly how I wanted it consistently. So plan B went into effect and I did what was referred to as a 'layered' stipple. It's consists of a small round point and a larger round point, overlaid til desired effect. I took my time and made it through, sweating bullets and controlling nerves every time the bit touched down. Very pleased with the outcome. After accomplishing a successful stipple job, I had decided the frame was complete and switched focus to my slide, which had arrived. The slide completion was fairly easy in my opinion. Everything installed without any issues, as I had a video playing in the background to refer to, I'm sure you know who lol. I took it upon myself to employ another FTQ technique, in polishing the internal components. Glad I did, as everything glides like butter in a warm skillet. The moment of glory came when I put the slide on the frame, it went on without binding and everything seemed to function properly. What a feeling of accomplishment. The true test is with live fire, so after I made time a couple days later, off I went to the range. At this point I'm holding off having it cerakoted, until I know it's functioning at least 99%.
Live Fire Test
A buddy joined me for the live fire testing phase and together we tested its functionality with 3 different loads. It functioned flawlessly without the compensator but wasn't cycling with the compensator. Took a little tinkering to identify the cause, then addressed those issues. Took it out and tested it some more. Problem solved. I identified the main issue being the guide rod channel & spring. The use of a wire spring vs a flat spring, which coils a little differently when compressed. The fix was as easy as widening the channel a bit. After that I was able to get outstanding functionality with the wide range of loads. With the compensator on, it still doesn’t like heavy, slow moving rounds. During this testing process, my buddy who was previously rocking a custom modified factory Glock 17, which he had invested $2,000 or more into customizing, decided that he was going to sell it and build his very own P80! That’s how much he liked the platform I had built, over the platform he had a professional armorer modify. Now if that’s not a sign of encouragement, I don’t know what is. After I was confident in the pistols' functionality, I disassembled it and took it to a local shop I frequent for Cerakote. I must say, Praetorian Armory & Coatings knocked the cerakote application out the park, it looks stunning. I've never seen Multicam Black so sexy, the burnt bronze or 'tanodized' accents are subtle yet enough to draw your eye to the fine details that went into the entire process of this home build.
Whew, what an extremely fun and gratifying process this was. I truly couldn't be happier with the final outcome. The experience and knowledge I gained throughout this process is incredible. I realize I make mention of MGB quite frequently. Truth be told, had I never stumbled across his guidance, I wouldn't have considered doing this project. My personal requirements for quality control are very high. Having such towering expectations, I didn't think I was capable of achieving this level of quality. It seemed so daunting and out of reach. Guess I proved myself wrong, thus proving my original thought process of manufacturers or armorers and gun smiths being the only ones capable of producing a high quality tool to be faulty. This experience has been one of the best I've had and I would encourage anyone who's on the fence or simply not feeling confident, to jump in feet first. Start planning your build and don't look back. If you're worried about whether or not it'll function as well as a Glock, rest easy because it's essentially an upgraded Glock, better than factory. Some things I learned and would like to pass on:
- Prep and planning are key, get all your ducks in a row before you start.
- Tolerance stacking, stay mindful.
- Patience, take your time and don't rush anything.
- Research & interact within the Master Builder community before you start.
- Employ a policy of First Time Quality, take pride in what you're doing and if you've done your part on research, you should have complete confidence in completing the task at hand with ease.
I enjoyed this project so much, I've got another build planned and the frame is sitting right next to me, awaiting the parts list to be fulfilled. I can't wait til this one is complete, it's going to be epic.