Folks love a good outrage these days as much as they’ve loved a good moral panic (which they still do, apparently). The recent uproar over “ghost guns” - i.e., firearms that one can, with the sufficient tools and manual dexterity, can assemble at home and bypass background checks - has put the folks at Polymer 80 (or P80) in the proverbial crosshairs, as they are the go-to folks when it comes to DIY-ing a Glock Gen 3 clone. With all that said, this isn’t about spooky shooters or “80% lowers,” but rather about P80’s line of fully-assembled and serialized (i.e., completely legit like any other firearm that you get background checked over) handguns.
Attack of the Clones
From what I understand, and I may be egregiously wrong, the patents to the third generation Glock handguns had not expired per se but the buttressing around the intellectual property has weakened enough for folks to have a free-for-all making clones of that Gen 3 design (but not Gen 4, and 5 is right out). For all the disdain and down-nose-looking that Gaston Glock’s Gat gets, there are sufficient numbers of said firearms sold around the world to flummox the haters and embolden the fans. And what is that they say about flattery and imitation?
I haven’t done a head count of the Glock clones out there, and I’m not talking about designs that have borrowed from the G17 DNA which would be almost every striker-fired pistol on the market these days, but Polymer 80 seems to be the most ubiquitous. They’ve made a name for “80% kits,” but what caught my eye was their PF-Series handguns which take care of the machining, drilling, and assembly for you in the form of a complete firearm that you’ll think of buying at the local shop.
A Glork to a Spork
The P80 PF series comes in two basic configurations: the PFS9 which is analogous to the full-size Glock 17, and the PFC9 which is the smaller Glock 19 clone. And before I ramble any further, one has to address the obvious question of why would one buy a Glock Gen 3 clone when there are plenty of real-deal, up-to-date, latest-and-greatest Gen 5 Glocks to be had? Probably the top answer to this is the ever-popular refrain of American (gun) culture: because I can. With that out of the way, I can offer a few other reasons as to why one might go with a P80:
Because I can. Whoops, covered that already.
- The P80 offers a grip angle that’s in line with the world-war-winning 1911. This may seem a minor difference to most folks, but for those who care it’s been a sticking point for Glock disdainers. Maybe it’s some physiology thing that a 22-degree grip of the Glock works well for some, while the 18-degree 1911 remains sacrosanct for others.
- The factory Glock trigger is often the first thing that most enthusiasts replace. It has a certain spongy, pinched feel to it that folks who like their triggers just-so (kinda like how they like their grips just-so) detest. And while the P80 trigger will never be the single-action 1911 pull that some again hold sacred, it’s essentially the aftermarket replacement that one would have done to a Glock in the first place.
- The plastic sights on the Glock have no shortage of haters. I’ve no complaints with them myself, but a lot of folks replace them with metal sights possibly sooner than they replace the trigger. The P80 has done that for you out of the box, and instead of the trademark “square outline” rear sight, the P80 has an unadorned rear bracket.
- It’s a Glock but not-a-Glock. Which seems like a pretty petty excuse almost identical to reason #1, but you do what you do.
All Hands on the Good One
To make an even longer story slightly less exhausting, I found a PFS9 on clearance at a Bi-Mart for about $350, which is significantly less than the MSRP and even lower than what a Gen 5 Glock 17 goes for, depending on where you shop. It comes in a padded carry case with two clone (i.e., non-OEM) 17 round magazines (and a trigger lock, naturally), and having been interested in a full-size Glock for a while, this could not have been a cheaper way to check that box. I’d been thinking about a CZ P-10F as a possibility, but the PFS9 was definitely less expensive, and I could make use of the variety of larger Glock-compatible magazines I had on hand.
Initial impressions before going to the range - it looks sorta like a G17, it dry fires more like a CZ P-10, and the G-Sight ELMS laser cartridge works like a charm for ammo-less practice at home. Here’s 10 shots at a simulated 6" target at 10 yards:
And another 10 at a simulated 6" bullseye at 15 yards:
And as expected, it disassembles and cleans just like a Glock.
To the Range
Over a couple of visits to my favorite indoor gun range, I put some live ammo through the PFS9. Disregard the incompatible G44 magazine in the photo - I was making the most of limited ammo that day.
Here are some shots taken at 7 yards. The second target shared a course of fire with some .22LR’s from that G44 mentioned earlier.
And here’s some 10 yard courses of fire.
I also got to take the PFS9 to an outdoor range.
And put a bunch of rounds onto a target at 15 yards. Again sharing paper with a G44.
The lack of accuracy and precision is entirely the fault of the shooter. The gun itself acquitted itself magnificently with zero malfunctions over the first couple of hundred rounds.
Ghost Hunters of the World Unite
I guess it’s less of an outright copy and more like “I’ll let you have your Gen 3 Glock, but I’ve fixed all the things that were wrong with it in the first place.” If it weren’t for the firesale clearance price, I probably would have passed on the PFS9 (although the pre-discount price tag of $460 would have been tempting enough), but I’m quite pleased with the purchase. Now I need to get more magazines and a holster that’ll properly fit. Whoever said the spending stops after the initial purchase? It is a lifestyle, as someone sagely observed.