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Polymer 80 9mm Pistols, by Pat Cascio

No, it’s not a Glock, and many people refer the P80 pistols to a Glock, and we often refer to this fine handgun as a “Not-a-Glock” However, for most purposes, these effectively are Glocks, with a few changes. Polymer 80  has been around a few years now, and they didn’t start out producing complete pistols. P80 was, and still is, producing 80% frames, that have to be completed by the buyer, and once the buyer does this, they can assemble the P80 into a complete firearm, and this was approved by the BATF, however…things have changed, the rules have changed – according to the BATF.

They Started With 80% Frames

Let’s step back in time, just a little bit, and as I stated Polymer 80, was only producing a handgun frame that was not a completed firearm. It was 80% completed, and this was approved by the BATF. It is legal in every state – that I’m aware of – to possess an 80% complete frame or receiver. It wasn’t too long ago, that Polymer 80 started producing complete handguns, and like all firearms, you have to go through an FFL dealer to purchase one. If you’re late to the party, the P80 firearms are “just about” a Glock – 3rd generation, that is. The frame and slide are more attractive, and they feel much better in my hand, than any factory Glock does – really! I like the stippling on the frame, and it makes the gun rock steady under recoil. The slide is much more modern than that of the Glock. It has grasping grooves on the front and rear of the slide – on the sides of the slide. The frame also has four Picatinny rail slots for attaching lights/lasers to it, while the factory Glocks only have one position.

Some Design Advantages

[1]The trigger guard is slightly bigger than that found on a Glock, so it won’t fit most hard molded holsters than a Glock will fit into – not a problem, on the P80 web site, they list a lot of holster makers that produce holsters for the P80 handguns – and they are several models of P80s. The sights on the P80 are very nice, and made out of steel, not plastic, as found on Glocks. The front sight has a big white dot, while the rear sight is all black, but with horizontal serrations – make it fast to pick your target. The trigger is polymer, just like those on a Glock and many other striker-fired handguns. However, the trigger is flat, not curved and I’ve really come to like the flat triggers more than the traditional curved one. The tang on the frame extends slightly beyond the rear of the slide, and once again, another improvement of the Gen 3 Glocks.

[2]Before we forget, the compact version of the P80 takes Glock 19 magazines, and the full-sized version takes Glock 17 mags, and both guns come with two magazines, too. I also tried genuine Glock factory-made magazines in both guns and they fit and function perfectly. Now, those folks buying the 80% frames, were making them into fully-functional “Glocks” the P80 line-up, takes every part that fits a Glock Gen 3 pistol, without any fitting at all – or next to none. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to purchase these parts from Glock, because there are many aftermarket parts makers, that you can purchase all the parts from, that you’ll need to make the P80 functional.

[3]It doesn’t take rocket science to work on a P80. Glocks are some of the easiest pistols in the world to work on – so long as you know which generation you are working on – not all parts interchange between generations of Glocks. And, there are plenty of websites on the ‘net that you can check out, and watch the videos, on how to assembly and disassemble a Glock without much trouble. The slide on the P80 is sleek and streamlined, especially the front, and it makes re-holstering much faster than a Glock.  Even the frame is stream-lined too – and as mentioned feels a lot better in the hand than the Glock does. Make no mistake, I love Glocks – and I have more than any one person should own. But something about the P80 makes it feel that much better in my hand.

My Tests

[4]I have both the full-sized P80 (Glock 17 size) as well as the compact P80 (Glock 19 size) pistol, both in 9mm. I’ve had the P80 full-sized model longer. And, this review is based on that model. I will admit, I was a little disappointed in the initial performance of the full-sized version. In the first 100 rounds, I had seven malfunctions, either a failure to fully chamber a round, or a failure to fully eject the empty brass. As you all must surely know, we are in the worst ammo drought in history, and I don’t see this drought ending for years to come. So, I have really cut down on my shooting in firearms testing. While I used to shoot 400-to-500 rounds in my testing, I’m limiting myself to no more than 100 rounds because even I am having a tough time getting ammo.

Most of my first 100 rounds of ammo were mostly the Blazer 9mm FMJ, and it is known that their ammo just not as powerful as most other 9mm ammo is. I discovered that the problems I was having were all related to the Blazer ammo I was using. When I switched to other brands of ammo, there were no malfunctions at all. Now, after the first 100 rounds – and it killed me to shoot-up that much ammo and a lot more – the P80 full-sized model started running 100% – I don’t know what the problem was, other than maybe the gun needed a little bit of a break-in period – never had that with a Glock – ever! However, rest assured, after that first 100-rounds, there were no problems at all – and I tested a lot of different brands and types of 9mm through this gun – even some +P loads. It’s possible there were some burrs inside the gun, but whatever the problem was, it cleared up on its own. YES!

As stated, my shooting in my gun articles, as a rule, is limited to about 100-rounds of ammo now, and that means my accuracy testing was cut back – a lot. I used to shoot at least 3-to-5 groups – 5-shots with each brand of ammo, and I’d report my best group from that. Now, I fire one, 5-shot group and let it go at that. I do my best to make sure I’m getting every shot on paper as best I can with one group.

From Black Hills Ammunition [5], I had their 115-gr FMJ, 124-gr JHP, 124-gr JHP +P, and their HoneyBadger 100-gr all-copper load. Plus, the Blazer 115-gr FMJ and Federal 115-gr FMJ…After those first few malfunctions, that cleared up on their own, I had zero problems with the full-sized P80. With most of the loads, I was getting groups right about 3.25-inches…but the overall winner, was the 124-gr JHP round, and I got a single group slightly under 3-inches. I’m positive the gun can do better, with more shooting.

I picked up a compact P80  (Glock 19 size) and ran it after testing the full-sized version. Right out of the box, the smaller P80 ran 100%. And to be sure, I ran 150-rounds through it – with various ammo, and there wasn’t a single glitch at all. I like the way the Glock 19 and Glock 19X feel and shoot, and the same is true of the Poly 80 compact version – just seems to balance better in my hand, and I can get on-target faster too for follow-up shots.

The Buy-Build-Shoot Kit Crackdown

Now, for some bad news:  Afew months ago, the BATF raided the Polymer 80 factory, and confiscated all the invoices that showed that folks purchased a complete “Buy-Build-Shoot” parts kit – including the 80% frames, that are NOT considered a firearm – and still aren’t. The BATF started calling on those customer in-person, demanding that they turn over those kits – even though none of the parts are considered a firearm – according to the BATF. Smart people would only turn over the frame, completed or not – I wouldn’t have given them anything without a warrant to confiscate the frame or the parts. I don’t know if the BATF will start going door-to-door, confiscating the 80% frames that were purchased alone – that is, without any other parts. But with Sleepy Joe in office, it wouldn’t surprise me if the BATF doesn’t change the rules and declare all 80 frames and receivers as “firearms”, whether completed or not. Needless to say, under the Biden administration, it will get very “interesting” when it comes to firearms or any type – so tighten your seat belts and prepare for a wild ride.

Finding Factory-Finished Polymer 80 Pistols

[6]My local small box store is selling the serialized Polymer 80 factory-completed guns, full-size and compact for $480 and that’s a lot less than a Glock sells for. Buying a Polymer 80 factory-completed gun of course requires filling out an ATF Form 4473.  Full-retail is $550 – but always shop around, and see if you can find a Polymer 80 for under $500. Needless to say, this won’t be easy these days, with gun and ammo shortages. My local small box stores, often only have one or two gun – and sometimes none – in-stock these days, same goes for all gun shops – your selection will be small and prices will be a lot higher than you’re used to paying.

I think if you can find a Polymer 80 “Not-a-Glock” in your area, and pick it up, you’ll be very impressed with it!