There should be no arguments that 3Gun competitions have lit the custom gun market on fire for shotguns, AR-15s, and pistols. Glock has been and will continue to be a perennial favorite handgun to run and customize for competitions. The Glock format has also become a favorite for high-end custom gun shops such as Salient, but the home gunsmith can still do a ton to customize their Glock with just a steel punch. One of the most popular upgrades is to switch barrels to increase accuracy and add the ability to shoot non-jacketed bullets for practice.
There is a huge variety of aftermarket barrels available for the Glocks, but one of the most revered replacement barrels by the 3Gun crowd is KKM Precision.
My new 9mm extended and compensated KKM Match barrel was added to my already absolutely outstanding Salient International tweaked and tuned Glock 17, which now also features a ALG Defense Glock Magazine well, Tier 1 Salient Trigger, and +2 Glock Magazine extensions on all my mags.
Fit, Feel, Finish, and Features
The first thing to get out of the way in this review is that swapping barrels on a Glock is something your average Glock owner could do in a pitch black room. Disassemble the Glock as you would for cleaning by clearing the gun, dry firing, pull down on the slide releases, remove the slide, pull out the spring and the barrel drops out. Drop in the new upgraded KKM barrel and reassemble. Done! My model has a threaded barrel that can be left exposed or tipped with a compensator, as I did.
So what do you get with an upgraded match quality Glock barrel from KKM? There is definitely a huge variety of aftermarket barrel manufacturers out there, but what sets KKM barrels apart is the high degree of precision and fit. The KKM barrels dimensionally have a tighter fit than the Glock barrels, which delivers a tighter lockup than the stock barrel. The chamber itself is also a little tighter and is button rifled vs Glock’s normal hex rifling. The later two features deliver improved accuracy, but there is a trade off.
From a dependability level, the KKM barrels are still very reliable and function perfectly with in factory spec rounds, but I noted with the 9mm barrel used in this build that the KKM barrel would not feed some of my 9mm “turds” (sloppy reloads) where the stock barrel chews through them just fine.
The button rifling also delivers a trade off. The primary reason Hex rifling was developed was to deliver consistent performance and reliability across a huge variety of ammo, however that all around rifling flexibility does not produce the best accuracy with tight toleranced ammo.
The higher precision button rifling allows shooters to practice with inexpensive bullets, where the stock Hex rifling begins to clog/lead up and is therefore not recommended by Glock. With the KKM barrel and jacketed bullets, the button rifling delivers improved accuracy, but those benefits will only show themselves with high quality premium match jacketed rounds.
Cast and inexpensive, low tolerance, jacketed bullets actually delivered worse groups for me than the stock barrel, but you can at least practice with them. On the other hand, high quality jacketed bullets, such as those from Hornaday and Sierra, delivered the best groups I have ever seen out of any Glock. Think of the KKM barrel as a high end sports car. Sure you can go fast running E85, but the engine is designed for premium fuel and delivers big rewards when fed high test fuel. Feed the KKM barrel with great ammo and you get outstanding groups.
KKM offers a broad variety of barrels for a number of popular competition pistols including Glock. in addition to drop in replacement barrels, they also offer extended, threaded, and compensator equipped models such as the extended Glock 17 model shown. They even have drop in conversion barrels that can convert your Glock 10mm to shoot .40 S&W.
The compensated models, such as the one I reviewed on this Salient Glock, features a compensator that screws on the end of the barrel after installation and gun reassembly. The compensator/brake is then indexed and secured via hex grub screws.
One of my observations was that the hotter the round, the more effect the compensator had on keeping the muzzle down. With lower powered or fast burning powders, there really was not enough gas to make the compensator work properly. As an example, I shot identical rounds side by side with a stock Glock 17 in one hand and this Salient Glock 17 with KKM Barrel and Compensator in the other. WIth lower powered rounds there was a difference, but it was minimal. Moving to hotter loads or longer burning powders, the compensator had enough gas to work with and kept the Salient G17 almost perfectly flat for some really fast follow shots, while the stock G17 was really jumping around.
Coincidentally, this is not a problem at all because most active 3 Gunners are running some pretty hot rounds simply because they want to assure the steel targets they hit go down, especially when shooting a 9mm platform.
The KKM barrels are premium performing barrels that look the part as well. The fit and finish on the all stainless KKM barrels are excellent and on a different finish and quality tier compared to basic replacement barrels like those from Lone Wolf.
For practice, inexpensive reloads such featuring the jacketed Berry’s bullets or even cast lead bullets fed and functioned perfectly as long as they were in spec. Having the ability to shoot cast bullets is a huge benefit to having a cut rifled barrel around for your Glocks. I am not sure you need a high end KKM barrel to do that, however it’s a great idea to practice with the same barrel you intend on competing with.
The KKM barrel is designed to offer the shooter running premium ammo or premium reloads, the best accuracy one can hope for in a Glock format. Yes, with the right ammo, your Glock can consistently deliver sub-1″ 25-yard groups off a rest with a KKM barrel. I have done it more than once with Winchester and Hornady rounds.
Would I run a KKM barrel in a defensive pistol? Nope. I want even the worst, beat up ammo to work each and every time in a defensive pistol barrel, and I will trade off the precision for reliability. However, the beauty of the Glock platform is that I can swap back and forth between barrels in under minute from competition to carry and back again. If you want to compete, I would suggest sending your Glock 17 to Salient for a workover and new trigger and just drop in a KKM barrel when needed. You will have the best Glock carry package available, and when needed, the best accuracy money can buy in a Glock when you just swap over to the KKM barrel.
All KKM barrels are made using certified 416R gun-barrel quality stainless steel bar stock. These barrels are then heat treated and vacuum tempered to 45 RC. All of the barrels are CNC machined to obtain superior dimensional tolerances over stock. Because of the advanced proprietary button rifling process, all KKM barrels offer greater accuracy over stock barrels. The Glock barrels come with fully supported SAAMI spec. match chambers for shooting factory or reloaded ammunition.
- KKM Precision
- Glock 9mm Compensator
- Part # G17B1C
- $285 Including Shipping
KKM – http://www.kkmprecision.com/
Salient Glock 17 – http://www.salientarmsinternational.com/