October 07, 2023
Without doubt, the Glock 19 pistol is one of the most prevalent handguns across the entire world. They’re used by law enforcement in many different countries, and they’re the defensive pistol of choice for many Americans that conceal carry a handgun. They’re unquestionably reliable and have a shelf price that’s affordable for almost everyone. However, Glock “Perfection” leaves a lot to be desired, hence one of the largest aftermarket support industries we’ve ever seen for one brand. If you hear someone say, “it shoots like a Glock,” it’s rarely high praise.
The first thing you do when you buy an off-the-shelf Glock is start looking for upgraded parts. The bones of a factory Glock pistol are awesome, which is why they’re so reliable, but even Gen5 Glocks lack many of the modern touches that come standard on other handguns. Popular upgrades include triggers, sights, grips, finish, and replacement barrels, which is where Ballistic Advantage comes in with its new Premium Line of Replacement Glock Barrels for the G19, G26 and G17 model Glocks.
Ballistic Advantage has been building AR-15 barrels for years, and they’re the OEM supplier of choice for many AR-15 manufacturers. If you’ve ever shot an AERO Precision rifle, for example, you’ve been shooting with a Ballistic Advantage barrel. Pistol barrels are a natural evolution of the business, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some new barrel product lines down the road, too.
Why Upgrade A Pistol Barrel?
Before we dive into the specs on the new barrel line, why bother changing your pistol’s barrel at all? The most obvious reason is to get a threaded barrel for suppressors, compensators and other muzzle devices. While some factory pistols come with a threaded barrel, they’re few and far between. Ballistic Advantage did their pistol barrels right by making them all threaded out of the gate. Whether you want a muzzle device or not, you have the option.
After that, you would look for performance enhancements. Factory pistol barrels are generally fine, but you often need a replacement barrel to reach true match-level precision. There are many great options, but as I’ll get into with the barrel testing, the Ballistic Advantage barrels offered some of the best precision I’ve seen in 9mm pistol barrel. Finally, you can find some amazing aesthetics options in aftermarket barrels. Whether you’re building a custom pistol and are going for a specific look or simply want to make your factory gun stand out more, different barrel colors and fluting styles can be a lot of fun. I always look for performance features first, but it’s never bad to give your gun a bit of style.
Out of the gate, all the new Ballistic Advantage pistol barrels are chambered for 9mm, and the threading is 1/2x28 for each barrel. Each barrel comes with a thread protector in various designs to match the style of the barrel. To start, barrels are available for the Glock model 17, 19 and 26 pistols in Gen 3 or Gen 5 Glock, depending on the model of barrel. The first thing you’ll notice about these new barrels, though, is that there are a lot of color options. Ballistic Advantage didn’t just come out with a few models in simple black, they have gold, iridescent, copper, gray, and black for each model out of the gate. They also have bomber and spiral fluting options for each barrel model and color, as well as classic non-fluted options. Barrels with fluting and different colors are a lot of fun in pistols with slide cuts to show off the colors.
So, they look good, but what makes them run? The barrels are manufactured from hardened 416R stainless steel, for those who like to get into the weeds on spec details. The barrels are finished in either QPQ (quench, polish, quench) or PVD (physical vapor deposition), depending on the model. Both are good finishes to increase the life of a barrel and keep them looking good, even with hard use. The barrels use a 1:10-inch twist rate, which is pretty standard for 9mm pistol barrels, and it should be noted that the barrels are button-rifled.
On top of the quality of the steel and finish, each Ballistic Advantage pistol barrel is honed and lapped. These are nice touches that ensure quality control. Lapping eliminates any tooling imperfections, and the honing process helps ensure perfect roundness and straightness in a barrel. Both processes help improve accuracy, which was well-demonstrated during testing. The chamber hood has been chamfered on three sides to help improve the speed of cycling, and the barrels are made to extremely tight tolerances for impressive accuracy.
The new Ballistic Advantage pistol barrels definitely look good on paper, but I can also say that the performance matches their appearance. My first experience with the new barrels was at an industry event in Colorado at the Cameo Shooting Complex. Ballistic Advantage had an assortment of Glock pistols with the new barrels on a range with targets from 10 yards to 100 yards. I watched a few people shoot first, and they functioned as you would expect out of a factory Glock. The barrels looked good and cycled without issue, but it was when people started shooting at the 100-yard steel plates that the new barrels really got my attention.
If you have solid pistol fundamentals, hitting a 100-yard steel plate with a 9mm handgun is quite doable, but I’d never seen so many people do it back-to-back with such consistency. When it was my turn to step onto the line, I hit the 100-yard target on the first shot and had many follow-up hits. It was quickly clear that these are especially accurate pistol barrels, and my own home testing proved as much.
Shortly after the event in Colorado, four new barrels arrived at my house. I already knew they performed well in a factory Glock, but I was curious to see their performance in some Glock-style pistols with compatible barrels. I started with my Shadow Systems DR920, which already has a threaded barrel as well as the new Shadow Systems thread-on compensator. For the sake of science, I swapped the barrel for the Ballistic Advantage G17 Gen5 barrel in gold color with the bomber style fluting and threaded the Shadow Systems comp onto the barrel. I started running some plate racks at 15 yards and quickly confirmed that these barrels run! Next, I swapped out the Shadow Systems comp for my Silencer Central Banish45 suppressor to see how it cycles suppressed. As expected, no issues on that front, and the gun ran easily and well within hearing-safe standards. There were no issues between lighter and heavier loads with the G17 barrel in the Shadow Systems pistol.
Once I saw it runs great, I set up to get some hard accuracy and chrono data. My LabRadar put all four tested loads right at the velocity range you’d expect with everything running right between 1,100 and 1,200 feet per second (fps). To really test a pistol barrel’s accuracy, I like to use a red dot with the dot brightness turned down just to where I can barely see it, in this case a Hi-Lux TD-3C. I like to set up a Caldwell rear shooting bag on a flat surface and place the frame into the bag for support. I then get on both knees behind the surface, and this gives me an incredibly stable shooting position. This isn’t a practical training method; it’s purely to build ultimate stability to truly see what a pistol barrel can do. At 20 yards, the accompanying chart and photos show some truly remarkable groups, and I can safely say that this barrel provides match-level accuracy.
In addition to the G17 barrel, I also received three G19 barrels in a few different color and fluting options. Like the G17 barrel, I’d already seen they run great in a factory Glock, so I decided to run the barrels in a Polymer 80 PF940C build kit I had been waiting on a barrel for to put together. This is another great place for aftermarket barrels. Building your own pistol lower at home with an 80% build kit is a lot of fun. It should be noted that many states have laws affecting 80% build kits, so be sure to look up your local legislation before you get started. In addition to my new Polymer 80 build, I also tested the barrels in a new Lone Wolf Arms Dusk 19 pistol, which also uses Gen3 G19 barrels.
Starting with my DIY build, I got off to a shaky start with the copper, spiral-fluted G19 barrel. I did have some cycling issues with bulk 115-grain full-metal-jacket (FMJ) ammo, so I popped the barrel out and put it into the Dusk 19. The copper barrel started running fine in the Dusk 19. Interestingly, I put the black, bomber-fluted barrel into the DIY build, and that barrel started running consistently. Unsurprisingly, my home DIY build is a bit more finnicky than a factory-made pistol. Putting the copper barrel back into the home build, it would run fine for a while, then it would have some issues. Upon closer inspection, the brass was just barely ejecting. I put the issues down to it being a home build, and I expect a lighter recoil spring will get the gun running better. The barrels were just as accurate as the G17 barrel, and I saw no reason to believe the Ballistic Advantage barrel caused the cycling issue. The gun continued to run better as I ran rounds through it, and I expect it will also need a break-in period.
Once again for the sake of science, I attached my Silencer Central Banish45 suppressor to see how it would function. I did get heavier pistol loads to run, but it struggled with lighter 115-grain loads. This is unsurprising out of a compact pistol, and I don’t find any issue to be with the barrels themselves. I want to be clear that I think the G19 barrels are great barrels that do what they’re supposed to do, but don’t be surprised if you need to make some refinements and have a break-in period for home-built pistols.
All-in-all, I walked away impressed with the new Ballistic Advantage pistol barrels. They surpassed my accuracy expectations, and they look good doing it. If you have a Glock factory pistol, these barrels are an obvious choice to bring you match-level accuracy and performance, especially if you want to add some color and style to your gun. Testing with the Shadow Systems and Lone Wolf Arms pistols shows that the barrels can work in other compatible Glock-style pistols, and I would expect similar results in other brands, too. If you do want to do DIY 80% build at home, you might have to account for a break-in period and try out a few different springs, but you can expect that from any aftermarket barrel in a home build. Based on my experience with these new Glock barrels, I greatly hope we see future line expansions for other manufacturers. My Walther PDP would look great with a threaded barrel and some fluting!
Ballistic Advantage G17 Barrel Specs
- Length: 5 in.
- Fluting: Spiral, bomber
- Type: Gen 5
- Weight: 3.2 oz.
- Color: Black, gold
- MSRP: $175-$215
About the Author
Jack Oller is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the Military Police with one deployment to the Camp VI Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has extensive firearms training from military and civilian schools and is a passionate shotgun shooter and hunter. Jack has an English degree from Illinois State University, and he started his career in the outdoor industry as Associate Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. After Gun & Ammo, he worked as Brand Manager for Crimson Trace and now is the Digital Editor for Firearms News.
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