Drop-ins Enhance Polymer Pistols for Competition or Self-Defense

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posted on April 17, 2017
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Above: CruxOrd's extended steel magazine release for the Smith & Wesson M&P.

Polymer handguns are inelegant workhorses. For action pistol competition or self-defense they get the job done, they do it very well and they deserve appreciation. But whereas a well-tuned Colt Python qualifies as mechanical artwork that can cause you to suck in your breath and raise your eyebrows when you manipulate it—polymer guns are hammers to toss in the toolbox and reach for when a nail needs a good hammering.

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Crux Ordnance manufactures a variety of upgrades for Glock and Smith & Wesson pistols.

And while there doesn’t seem to be much interest in customizing hammers to improve their operation, ergonomics or aesthetics, many shooters prefer some parts of any polymer gun, especially moving parts, be made of metal. To those ends, Crux Ordnance (CruxOrd) manufactures high quality drop-in metal replacement parts, most notably guide rod assemblies and extended magazine releases, for Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P pistols.

Heavy metal GRA

CruxOrd machines the rod in their guide rod assemblies (GRAs) from stainless steel with a spiral fluting designed to better hold lubricants and trap fouling. While flutes on rifle and pistol barrels increase surface area to enhance cooling, the flutes on the CruxOrd guide rod decrease the surface area in contact with the recoil spring. The benefit, according to CruxOrd, is faster, smoother cycling, plus the guide rod’s heavier weight, compared to Glock factory guide rods, should reduce muzzle flip.

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The CruxOrd GRA (bottom) for the Glock 19 Gen 4 is less complicated than the factory GRA (top).

How much heavier? A bit more than a half-ounce. The CruxOrd GRA for the Glock 19 Gen 4 weighs 392-grains on an electronic scale, compared to the factory rod’s 291-grains. That little bit of extra weight might make for better muzzle “hang time” on the target in bullseye competitions like the new Glock Match at the at Camp Perry, OH this summer (read “Inaugural National Pistol Match for Glock Members”). That extra half-ounce isn’t perceptible when aiming even one-handed. Whether it aids in improving your scores would be a matter of subjective experience.

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CruxOrd’s fluted guide rod presents less surface area for friction and incorporates a lube coating good for 2,000 rounds.

The GRAs come from CruxOrd “oil injected,” a type of durable lubricant surface finish. “It’s a little extra thing we do because most people don’t clean and oil their guide rod,” said CruxOrd president Brian Willingham. Not a hard coating, it will wear off over time—in this case, at about the 2,000 round mark. “After the coating wears out, lubricate it the same as any other guide rod,” he said.

CruxOrd’s enhanced guide rod assemblies come with factory recommended spring weights; with the turn of an Allen screw at the end of the rod you can easily disassemble for cleaning or to change springs. Because it is a moving part, a drop of blue thread locker on the screw threads is in order, of course.

Reachable release

A great many shooters find it necessary to shift the pistol in their hand to reach the mag release with their thumb—this is true of most pistols, not just polymer frame guns. In competition and in training for real-world pistol combat, shifting the grip for tactical reloads and then back again to the proper grip takes precious time and attention away from the situation at hand. For this reason there’s a real need for extended magazine releases.

CruxOrd’s extended mag releases for Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P pistols are precisely machined aluminum alloy with a durable, hard anodized black finish. Extension is far enough to aid the thumb in finding it easily without the need to look at it, but not so far as to interfere with concealed carry—that is, to be concerned that the release might be inadvertently pressed in contacting a holster or while sitting, driving or moving about.

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CruxOrd’s release (left) is both extended and conforms to the Glock grip better than the original (right).


As an example, a friend had just completed refresher training at Chuck Taylor’s intermediate combat handgun course with his daily carry Smith & Wesson M&P and said he had blown his tactical reload twice when he fumbled with the factory mag release. We installed CruxOrd’s extended mag release on his pistol.

“Man, that is a significant difference,” he said after a single session with the pistol. “I wish I’d had it this weekend at the course.” The mag release remains on his M&P, a pretty good endorsement from a gunsmith and an armorer for both Glock and M&P pistols.

Similarly, the extended release for the Glock is a significant improvement over the factory job, the ribbed rear portion making it easier to find and manipulate quickly, and the radiused front edge conforming to the Glock’s grip better than does the original. CruxOrd’s mag release is reversible for the lefty.

CruxOrd’s pistol enhancements are drop-in by the owner or by an armorer. Given the high quality of manufacture, prices are very reasonable, with GRAs starting at $27 and extended mag releases retailing for $26. All products are designed, tested and evaluated by the company’s team of former police, SWAT and military special ops personnel, and all are American made by CruxOrd in the Chicago area. To see a complete listing of their products, visit cruxord.com.

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