While attending the NRA Annual Meetings in April of 2015, I got to meet up with Zack, the marketing manager of Lone Wolf Distributors. I was really interested in their Compact Timberwolf Frame for Glock pistols. Through our conversation, Zack agreed to send me a fully built Timberwolf Compact pistol, which I have since purchased. This is part one of two, where I focus on the frame. Stay tuned for my review of the upper assembly, as well as a summary of the pistol as a whole.
Lone Wolf Distributors has been manufacturing accessories and replacement parts for Glock handguns for many years. From slides, barrels, triggers, and more, you could almost build a custom Glock by just using Lone Wolf’s parts. The only thing missing was the frame, until somewhat recently. Lone Wolf saw the modifications that people generally made to their standard Glock frames, and decided to offer a lot of these modifications right out of the box, with their Timberwolf frame.
Common modifications made by end users to Generation 3 Glock pistols include backstrap reduction, frame texturing, adding extended magazine releases, and even removing material in key places to allow a higher grip on the handgun. Well, Lone Wolf Distributors took all of these modifications into consideration, when designing their Timberwolf frame. I will take a look at each of these aspects one-by-one.
One of the biggest benefits to this replacement frame would have to be the grip. The Timberwolf offers two choices of backstrap to the shooter. The first is the slim grip. It is an incredibly short (front-to-back) grip that more closely matches the grip angle of the classic 1911. The second is a swelled backstrap. It is a little smaller in the hand than the standard Glock swell, which will come as a welcomed feature to many Glock owners. This setup happens to be my favorite of the two. As good as it feels, the smaller grip leaves the meat of my palm really close to the magwell, and it can actually get pinched in between the magazine base plate and the frame, upon reloading. Do this a couple of times, and it starts to get on your nerves. Luckily, the swelled grip fit me just as well, if not better, and Lone Wolf engineered the swap very well. To make the change, all you have to do is, with an empty gun, insert a flat tool into a slot that can be accessed through the magwell, and gently pry downward.
In my trials of the differing grips, I noticed an odd, but very well thought out (and well hidden) feature. Under the backstrap is actually a round recess that will hold one CR2032 battery, which is the somewhat industry standard for micro red dots. Alternatively, it can hold two CR2016s. This is a great feature if you’re building a race gun, or just want to carry a gun with a dot sight, and I am honestly a little shocked LWD doesn’t even list this in their feature literature.
The next part of the grip is the texture. Many people feel that the Gen 3 Glock grip is just too slick. I, for one, am in that boat. What the Timberwolf offers is a very aggressive square pattern, without being so harsh as to tear up your hands, with one exception. The edges of the frontstrap have slightly sharper corners than the rest. I suppose that is just a geometry issue of the curve meeting the corners of the texture, but it became very uncomfortable for the end of my pinky. That being said, it could easily be taken care of with a quick pass of some fine sandpaper, just to knock the edge off. Overall, the grip texture is very good at keeping the gun in your hands while firing. Speaking of the frontstrap, one feature many owners elect to remove on factory Glocks is the finger grooves. The factory finger grooves on a standard Glock 19 (Gen 4) actually happen to fit me perfectly, but I completely understand that there are so many different shapes and sizes of people. One good example for me was my Smith and Wesson Model 66. When I would attempt to get a high grip, the finger grooves would jam right into my knuckle, causing much discomfort, and forcing me to get a less that optimal hold on the gun. That is why it’s quite interesting that Lone Wolf decided to leave the finger grooves on their Timberwolf frame. But, to their credit, they reduced them down quite a bit, so if they don’t fit you well, it may not be the largest discomfort, when compared to a factory frame. I would still like to have seen them remove the grooves, though.
Moving up the grip, we have the undercut trigger guard. This is another common modification that allows you to get a much higher purchase on the pistol. To help with that, even further, they also designed the rear grip higher, and added a beaver tail, to remove the risk of slide bite. I have never personally had the web of my hand bitten by a Glock slide, but I have fairly small hands, and can see where it would be a problem to larger-handed shooters.
One last minor change I would like to see in the grip would be a slimmed down portion where the trigger finger rests on the frame, similar to that of the Walther P99. I feel like it would allow shooters with shorter fingers to more properly grip the handgun, and reach the trigger.
For the longest time, people have been adding extended mag releases to guns, to make them easier to actuate. Lone Wolf, as well many other aftermarket parts manufacturers, offers extended releases. Lone Wolf even offers one that is wider than the factory, but it requires custom machining to make it work. When designing their frame, they decided to incorporate it right in, that way you don’t have to have it modified later. The wider release offers people with shorter fingers, like me, an easier to reach release without shifting the grip, as well as an easier to find release, which is good for everyone. As with the front strap, the corner of the magazine release can be a little sharp and annoying, if you’re performing repeated actuations, but, like I said previously, it’s not something a little swipe of sandpaper wouldn’t take care of.
Another curious note on the mag release is that Lone Wolf didn’t make it reversible, like the Gen 4 Glock. That would be a nice feature, but seeing as how it was designed before the Gen 4 was released, I can understand the oversight.
The final feature of the Timberwolf frame is the rail. Rather than using Glock’s proprietary rail, Lone Wolf decided to go with a Mil-Standard, three-slot, Picatinny rail. This allows users to select from a wider array of rail-mounted accessories, as well as move the placement forward or rearward, as they see fit. I did not attach anything to the rail, though.
The Timberwolf frame is very a very well thought out replacement for anyone that owns a Generation 3 or older Glock handgun in 9 Luger, 40 S&W, 357 Sig, and even 45 GAP. It is available in either the full-size (17, 22, 31, 37) or the compact (19, 23, 32, 38) frame sizes. The improvements offered by a good grip modification company could run well into the $4-500+ dollar range, whereas Lone Wolf offers many of these features at a fraction of the cost. If replacing a Gen 3 frame for a gun you already own, you could buy just the bare frame and use most of your existing Glock parts to fill the replacement. That is, with the exception of the mag release, since the Timberwolf frame comes with their proprietary release pre-installed. The bare frame will cost you just shy of $200, which is a steal, compared to grip work. If you do build your own frame, you should be aware that you will need to buy either a LWD Gen4/Timberwolf Trigger housing, or LWD Ultimate Trigger Stop Gen4, to replace your Gen 3 housing, as the grip is slimmer in the front-to-back dimension.
If you’re planning to build a whole new gun, or just want multiple lowers, Lone Wolf offers a pre-assembled lower frame for $330, which is only about $30 more than buying every individual part and installing them yourself. To save the hassle and time of potentially forgetting or losing a part, I would recommend just buying the built frame. But, if you want to add your choice of custom trigger, you could easily purchase the parts separately from the frame. Lone wolf makes this easy by offering an interactive schematic.
Another benefit of buying the assembled frame is that Lone Wolf adds a few enhanced parts. These enhancements include: LWD 3.5# connector, LWD 6# trigger spring, LWD Extended slide stop, and LWD Extended slide lock. The 3.5# connector and 6# trigger spring makes for a very smooth, and pretty light, trigger pull. This is a great upgrade over the factory Glock parts that I am glad Lone Wolf includes in the assembled frame. It provides a good trigger feel, without being obscenely light, so I feel it would still be suitable for carry. On my example, they even installed the smooth trigger that usually only comes with the full-size Glock handguns. I much prefer the smooth trigger, as the serrated trigger begins to wear at my trigger finger, during firing sessions. I’m not sure if this is the standard feature for the assembled frame, but based on my invoice, it seems to be. The Extended slide stop is useful if you are the kind of shooter that uses it to release the slide. It provides a much larger purchase area than the standard, so it’s easier to manipulate, but it’s not so large that it gets inadvertently hit. As far as the Extended slide lock (the two tabs in front of the trigger guard that you pull downward to disassemble the gun), I really don’t get the purpose of it. The tabs are a little longer than standard, but I’ve never had a problem using the standard Glock part. It’s an upgrade that I could take it or leave it, and be satisfied either way. It did, though, scratch the inside of my holster. That’s not too much of an issue with a plastic holster, but with leather, I’d be afraid of it causing premature wear on the holster.
In summary, the Lone Wolf Distributers Compact Timberwolf Frame is a great upgrade to your Gen 3 or older Glock pistol, or for building your own custom pistol. It is a great value compared to the expense and wait for frame modification work. Some of the features are addressed on the newer Gen 4 Glocks, but with the Timberwolf, the grip is still slimmer (front-to-back) than the OEM. You also wouldn't get the undercut triggerguard, raised and lengthened beavertail, and reduced finger grooves.
At the time of writing, the assembled frame is available for only $234.95 (prices subject to change), and it even comes with Lone Wolf's excellent Ultimate Adjustable Trigger. This is a promotional price for the UAT, and I do not know the timeline for when it will go back to normal, so if you'd like an assembled Timberwolf frame, I would jump on it as soon as possible. The UAT is normally a $50 upgrade, so you are basically paying for the frame and the assembly labor cost, and getting all of the internals for free!
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Replacement frame for generation 3 and older Glock handguns
Target Market: Concealed carriers and competitive shooters
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Improved ergonomics over Glock OEM frame
- Full-spec 1913 accessory rail
- Higher grip angle
- Extended beaver tail
- Rounded trigger guard
- Round/extended mag release
- Improved Checkering
- Quick change grip panels (2 total)
- Spare CR2016 battery storage in grip panel
- Improved trigger over Glock OEM (standard in assembled frame)
- Extended slide lock lever (standard in assembled frame)
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Currently, the Timberwolf frame is only available in black.
What others are saying?:
“The Timberwolf pistol is of particular interest to the small-handed shooter, or to the user who says “I love everything about the Glock but the grip angle,” or the handgunner who just likes to be able to get lots of finger on the trigger and lots of flesh and bone around the “handle.” It’s definitely worth a look.” - Massad Ayoob, Daily Caller
“But the Not-A-GLOCK feels terrific in the hand. No really. Like many, but not all shooters, I find it difficult to come to a natural point of aim with a standard GLOCK. What’s more, the grip angle puts my hand and wrist out of the line that gives me stability. The Compact Timberwolf’s grip is, for me, vastly improved. I can get a high hold on the gun and put all of my fingers on the handle. It boasts a fairly small diameter grip, with good holding surface. I can get a natural point-of-aim and a solid one-hand grip, right or left.” - Jon Wayne Taylor, The Truth About Guns
I need it now! Availability: You can get the Timberwolf Compact Frame directly from Lone Wolf, and a few online retailers, but once you spend a few minutes on the LWD website, you’ll most definitely want to pick up some of their other great products, like their Glock Magazine Disassembly tool.
- Greatly improves ergonomics
- Interchangeable grip panels
- Offers many common custom options
- Improved grip texture to provide better traction
- Available as a bare frame or built to LWD’s preferred specs
- Built frame has improved trigger
- The ability to build any caliber offered by Glock on this frame size (19, 23, 32, & 38)
- You can even build it as a “Long-Slide Compact” by using a factory full-size upper (such as a G17), or Lone Wolf upper, and purchasing Lone Wolf’s Slide Adapter, which fills the gap between the front of the 17 slide and the 19’s dust cover.
- Still has finger grooves (though they are greatly reduced)
- Mag release is not reversible to left-hand operation
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