With its lightweight trigger, comfortable grip frame and fine sights, Zev’s Z19 Spartan is a great platform for a competition pistol.
Grey Ghost Precision worked with Polymer80 to design the Compact’s stylishly sculpted frame. Note the rail, triggerguard and grip texturing.
The 9mm Glock 19 is one of the most popular pistols ever sold. You may debate its beauty or ergonomics, but there is no question that it has withstood the test of time with its ease of use and maintenance and its to-hell-and-back reliability. Indeed, that could be said of most of the pistols in Glock’s lineup, so much so that a cottage industry has sprung up around the platform to allow users to them into custom Glock 19 pistols.
A couple of companies within this niche industry are Zev Technologies and Grey Ghost Precision (GGP). For this edition of “Tale of the Tape,” we’ll take a look at packages offered by both companies and see how they fare in a custom Glock 19 head-to-head duel of features and performance.
Ready For Combat
Looking almost like a movie prop, the GGP Combat Pistol Compact has attractive next-gen styling with its sculpted slide and radical frame profile. To my eye, it is quite an aesthetically appealing pistol. It comes complete from GGP with a custom-molded Polymer80 frame that is subtle, handsome and extremely effective.
The frame includes a number of ergonomic features, such as a double-undercut triggerguard, an accelerator cut, an extended beavertail and a thumb ledge for right-handed shooters. The frame has a 107.5-degree grip angle, as opposed to the 110.5-degree grip angle of a standard Glock, making it handle more like a 1911. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a Picatinny/STANAG rail that is inline with the bore. And for a little more variety, the frame is available in either black or cobalt gray.
The slide is machined from 17-4 stainless steel and, for enhanced accuracy, is cut to critical tolerances within 0.003 inches. This creates a tighter fit to the frame than an OEM slide. It sports deeply cut front and rear cocking serrations. It also comes pre-milled to accept a Trijicon Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR) sight without requiring an adapter plate. This keeps the optic closer to the bore line for faster acquisition and a more balanced slide action. In lieu of an optic, the pistol ships with a G10 cover plate installed. The slide also has a black nitride finish for both visual appeal and better corrosion resistance.
The slide is fitted with Night Fision tritium sights, with a yellow ring surrounding the front sight’s insert and a U-notch at the rear. The match-grade barrel is crafted from 416R steel and can be had with either a stainless or black nitride finish. The GGP Compact also features extended controls and comes with a CMC Signature Flat trigger and three 15-round Magpul magazines.
The Spartan customization package offered by Zev Technologies is anything but frugal and austere. It comes with an astounding panoply of custom features and parts that you just don’t find on production pistols.
The Spartan package I received was built on a customer-supplied G19 frame. It received Zev’s stippling on the grip, under the triggerguard and along the side, above the trigger, where the support-hand thumb rests. If you look closely, the stippling looks a tad uneven in spots, but the real beauty is in the feel. The first time I picked up the Spartan, I was amazed by how comfortable and secure it felt in my hands.
But there is much more to the Spartan than that. The most obvious is Zev’s custom-cut slide, which is machined from 17-4 stainless steel and wears either a DLC or PVD coating. The slide has window cuts up front to reduce weight and show off the dimpled, match-grade, 416R steel barrel with a burnt bronze finish. You’ll also find cocking serrations at the front and rear. Also, Zev pre-milled the top to accept a Trijicon RMR without the need for an adapter plate.
The Spartan harnesses the advantages of Zev Technologies’ experience with trigger systems, featuring custom parts like the Curved Face Pro Trigger, Zev Pro Connector and trigger spring. Most of the other internals are custom parts as well, including the 15-pound recoil spring, steel guide rod, stainless firing pin safety, skeletonized striker and Zev Pro striker spring.
Finishing out the Spartan are the external controls, including the extended magazine release and slide stop along with Zev’s fiber-optic front sight and combat-style rear sight. That isn’t the complete list of modifications, but you get the idea — little of the original pistol is left untouched. All told, the Spartan package will run around $1,660 on a customer-supplied frame.
Over a few weeks, I was able to take both pistols out to the range and pit them head to head to gauge differences in performance and handling. The results were a bit of a mixed bag. For instance, while the texturing and grip angle of the GGP Compact felt great and worked fine while shooting, the stippling on the Spartan seemed to really lock the pistol in; it felt like it was really at home in my hands.
On the flip side, I have chunky hands that typically get bitten by the slide of a G19. This was the case with the Spartan as well. The extended beavertail of the GGP Compact ameliorated this issue, and I experienced no slide bite while running it through its paces. Of course, this isn’t a Zev issue, as they simply modify factory frames (newer generations offer a small beavertail), but it’s worth noting the value of the extended beavertail for people with beefier hands.
The triggers were quite different. The Spartan had a very light and crisp trigger pull that broke at an average weight of 2.88 pounds with a fairly short reset. A trigger break that light is great for competition, but you should probably think long and hard before including it with a defensive pistol. On the other hand, the GGP Compact’s trigger broke at exactly 5.5 pounds. The main advantage is its improved, shorter reset compared to a standard Glock trigger. It also broke much more cleanly, with no sponginess. The reset was every bit as short as that of the Spartan’s trigger. In fact, I had a hard time discerning which had the shorter reset.
In terms of reliability, there were no problems with cycling, feeding or ejection with either pistol. I did experience a few light primer strikes with the Spartan during the range sessions with Sellier & Bellot 115-grain FMJ rounds. However, those light strikes were limited to that particular ammunition and might have been the result of hard primers. This was not entirely surprising with such a light competition trigger.
Both pistols created groups 1.5 to 2 inches wide at 15 yards using premium ammunition from Federal, Hornady and Sig Sauer. The GGP Compact consistently held the edge in overall group size at around 1.75 inches; the Spartan averaged right at 2 inches. What’s curious is that with almost every single group, the Spartan would shoot four rounds under an inch, but a fifth hole would open the group up to around 2 inches. However, that was with the ammunition I had on hand, and end-users can find the right loads for their own pistols.
The Spartan and the GGP Compact handled somewhat similarly. And despite the differences in the grips, neither seemed to have a distinct advantage over the other while shooting. Each had its own upsides — the Spartan for comfort and feel, and the GGP Compact for its 1911-like pointability and extended beavertail to negate slide bite.
Custom Glock 19 Verdict
There was no decisive knockout by either pistol. Each one threw some jabs and brought its own special flare to the bout. With its lightweight trigger, magazine well and fine front sight, the Spartan is more of a competition piece with all the bells and whistles. It’s easy, though, to switch out a few parts for everyday carry. The GGP Compact’s strong suit, however, is its visual appeal and highly functional combat trappings. This includes the tritium Night Fision sights and the low-profile, extended slide release.
Aside from these differences, the only other distinction between the two is the fact that you have to provide a Glock frame for the Spartan package, which will cost another $100 with some smart shopping online. Of course, that’s obviously not a huge difference. The more carry-minded shooter might reach for the GGP Compact while the competition-driven aficionado might desire the Spartan’s trimmings. Each package is tailored to fit a particular niche or need. What each sample does, it does extremely well. No matter which choice the end-user makes, they are sure to be highly satisfied.
Grey Ghost Compact
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 4.01 inches
- Overall Length: 7.36 inches
- Weight: 28.5 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Polymer
- Sights: Night Fision tritium
- Action: Safe Action
- Finish: Black, cobalt gray
- Capacity: 15+1
- MSRP: $1,499
For more information, please visit greyghostprecision.com.
ZEV Z19 Spartan
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 4.03 inches
- Overall Length: 6.81 inches
- Weight: 21.6 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Polymer
- Sights: Fiber-optic front, black rear
- Action: Safe Action
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 15+1
- MSRP: $1,660
For more information, please visit zevtechnologies.com.
This article was originally published in Combat Handguns July/August 2019. To order a copy, please visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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