Steve Coulston introduces us to the works of Innovative Gunfighter Solutions, LLC, specialists at optimizing handgun performance in multiple ways from slide machining, trigger jobs and frame work.
For those of you that carry a handgun for on a daily basis you understand that your handgun is not just an object. You may be a soldier in Afghanistan, a LEO patrolling a beat, or a responsible armed citizen ready to defend yourself or someone else. Regardless, your handgun is something very personal and special. It is a tool, that you care for, maintain and spend time with. You train with it; you clean it and you make sure it is in good working order. It must function at a moment’s notice when there is no time for error and lives depend on it. The performance of the handgun is directly proportionate to the ability of the shooter. The most tricked out handgun in the world will not make you the next Top Shot Champion if you have poor fundamentals. Skill will vary from shooter to shooter, however there are ways to modify the handgun to help the shooter be more efficient in manipulation, shot placement and troubleshooting. Efficiency means a safer, faster and more accurate shooter. These are all good things especially if the fecal matter has hit the proverbial fan.
A few months back, I was contacted by a gentleman named, John Garron. He wanted to introduce himself and his company, Innovative Gunfighter Solutions, LLC. (IGFS). At the time, I had never heard of IGFS before. Turns out IGFS specializes in optimizing handgun performance in multiple ways from slide machining, trigger jobs and frame work. After talking to John and seeing pictures of the work he and his partner, Jeff, create… I was very impressed.
"Our goal is to offer the best products we can to help our customers prevail through a potentially lethal encounter. We also offer discounts to active and retired LEO/MIL personnel not only as a thank you for their service but to get the added advantages in the hands of those who have a higher potential for deploying their gun and possibly needing these enhancements to win the fight."
My EDC gun will alternate between a full size M&P9 and a compact M&P9 depending on what I am wearing. I had plans to have slide work done on both of them, so I went out on a limb and sent John the slide to my M&P9c. I gave him free reign and said, “Have at it, do what you want.” I had high hopes for the finished product; however I was a little apprehensive as I was not familiar with IGFS’s work. After about 4 weeks, I got my slide back and couldn’t be happier. Before I get into the gun, it would be good to get a little background on Innovative Gunfighter Solutions and what makes them so “Innovative.”
I recently had the opportunity to interview John and get the straight scoop from the man himself. I really wanted to know more about the company and what his vision was. John began by telling me why he felt compelled to start the company:
"Being an avid student of defensive type shooting courses I’ve always seen a need for furthered abilities to solve problems with the handgun, especially when it is your only option and the gun goes down. Having used rear sights and other cocking serrations in the past I’ve always felt they were lacking in performance. A lot of this is due to the designs being used, which were not designed and developed based around cocking the gun off of various surfaces."
He then proceeded to fill me in on the history of IGFS:
"The company first started as an idea, [which was] to create a new design of serrations […] around the applications that they are being used for. [This means enhancing] your ability to perform one and two handed manipulations of the slide on both hard and soft surfaces, in different environments from the maximum amount of angles as possible. In an ever changing environment there are no guarantees so we wanted to give the end user the most options and advantages possible to survive a potentially lethal encounter. This is also the reason that we have and will continue to branch out and offer it to several different models beyond just Glock’s and M&P’s."
"Knowing Jeff for years and his machining background we started talking about ideas and possibilities. [In August of 2012], Jeff and I began cutting different shapes and designs in an effort to hone in on what types of designs worked [best]off of different surfaces […]. From there the product was tested and redesigned for several months before [ending] up with what we currently offer. […] It is our goal to minimize the amount of time our customers will be without their defensive carry gun, especially if it is their only one."
So what exactly goes into making a IGFS gun? John explains:
"We are currently offering both slide and frame work for specific model handguns with unique designs and options for each. Our slide work offers the maximum amount of advantages that we can apply to it. This ranges from one handed cocking serrations including both Top & Radius serrations for enhanced one handed manipulating ability to our improved rear sides for two handed manipulations as well as forward press check cuts for increased grip while performing visible and digital press checks. We are also milling Glock and M&P slides for mini red dot optics such as the Trijicon RMR. We have our Defensive Carry packages set up to include the main options we deem necessary for your carry gun at discounted rates to help keep them cost effective while including all of the advantages. Slides can then be refinished in either our QPQ Nitride which is a similar to stock finish and we also have our Nickel Boron option. […]We are currently working on bringing Cerakote to an in house option as well."
Personally, I like doing all my own frame work which is why I only sent John my slide. That being said, they will stipple and contour your polymer frame. John states:
"Our stippling work is also an option for handgun frames, handgrips/foregrips, handguards and polymer magazines and baseplates. Handgun frame options range from stippling, trigger guard undercuts, mag release relief cuts, magwell funnel and even grip chops for certain models. We have packages arranged for both Glock and M&P frames to help cost savings as well."
IGFS will also do sight and trigger upgrades to your Glock and M&Ps and are looking to expand that service to other handguns in the future. One thing, in my opinion, will say a lot about a company is how much work they do in house. According to John, they do 100% of the slide and frame work in house. They will outsource the finishing process to a local company with over 50 years of coating and re-finishing experience.
For those of you who are up to speed on the current companies that do similar work to handguns, you will notice very quickly, that IGFS’s machine work is unique. Two of the features that grabbed my attention when I first got my gun back was the unique scale pattern and the patent pending radius slide cuts. I have not seen the radius cuts done by another manufacture and I must say they work outstanding. The scale cuts on my M&P9c are very aggressive and allowed me to perform one and two handed manipulations with positive grip regardless if I was using my hand, leg, chest or man-made object. It is evident there was a lot of thought and design that went into the scales as John notes:
"[We began designing the scale pattern] with 8 different initial shapes, sizes and angles […].Our Top design was developed and tested over a 3 month period […] We went with the maximum amount of flat surface area evenly spaced across the top to maximize the potential for manipulating the slide off of hard contact points. This allows you to grip and cycle the slide in the event that you only catch one of the outside edges of the top serrations. The size and shape of the rearward cuts were designed to maximize the circumference used to promote the most amount of catch of material when driven into soft surfaces and soft material without sacrificing the amount of flat surface area throughout. The steep angle of the serrations also adds to the grip coefficient by digging into the hard or soft contact points. It also allows us to cut more serrations in a smaller amount of area thus again increasing and maximizing your potential for grip. The serrations are also unique to each Make/Model pistol that they are being applied to. Different width slides called for a unique design for each in order to maximize the effectiveness. There is not one design that is simply stretched or shrunk to various widths’, but a specific design and size necessary for each. I firmly believe our top serrations work better than anything else being used in the industry because they were designed specifically for the applications that they are being used for."
John continues by explaining how they perform on various firearms:
"Two handed manipulations have also been improved through our improved rear sides. I have experienced several times in training, whether it is due to sweat on a hot day or being out in the rain, but a lack of grip when trying to quickly and vigorously run the slide two handed. This is also an area that we have made improvements too. The stock Glock serrations are very narrow and shallow. The stock finish doesn’t help by being a “slicker” finish, especially when wet. For the Glock’s and XD line we are cutting the serrations wider and deeper. This allows for more of our hand to be pressed in between them creating more grip. We are also adding them further forward and rearward to allow all four fingers wrapping around the slide to grab onto serrations furthering the grip we are getting. The M&P’s will also feature an improved rear side option in the near future as well."
As far as I know, the IGFS patent pending radius cuts are a first in the industry and they are a show stopper. They really add to the aesthetic of the slide but more importantly, they enhance the function of the firearm when trying to manipulate the slide from unorthodox positions. John confirms my observations:
"Our Radius Serrations are an aspect to the overall design that is something […] we invented and created. The idea for this came when I saw a lack of angles that would allow you to manipulate the slide and too many variables to speak of that could limit you from being able to get the gun in the position in order to utilize the top serrations alone. There is no guarantee that you will be able to roll the gun over 180 degrees, same as you would have to in order to manipulate the slide with the rear sight. This could be due to an unorthodox shooting position, injury, going hands on with the threat or occupied with another task. Adding radius serrations to the package increase your ability to manipulate the slide from positions other than the tops alone! […]The final design takes into consideration the different angle of attack, materials being used for grip as well how the body moves when extending the arm in different directions and angles. The radius serrations, like the tops, are specific to each make of pistol. Each pistol has specific angles as well as size of the radius which meant designing serrations for each."
John continues to describe how the radius cuts really enhance the M&P:
"The Radius Serrations on the M&P specifically are a HUGE improvement over the tops alone. The M&P top in comparison to the Glock has a smaller flat surface area to apply serrations [which puts] it at a disadvantage. By adding the Radius Serrations to the M&P we are covering more than double the amount of surface area cut over the top alone. Adding these to the overall package drastically increases the amount of angles and the ability to perform one handed manipulations. Our Radius serrations are something that we have created and invented and we feel really help to separate us from other companies as we are the first to take multiple angles of manipulation into consideration and creating a design to address this and give you added options. Our unique radius serrations are an IGFS exclusive option and a patent pending design aspect as well."
While Innovative Gunfighter Solutions is still a new company, in a very competitive industry, they are getting their guns into the hands of some of the industries finest for T&E. No, I am not talking about myself rather other household industry names such as Matt Devito (Down Range Firearms), Travis Haley (Haley Strategic), and Steve Reichert (SRT) to name a few. These guns are getting worked over hard by these guys and only time will tell what their verdict is.
In closing, from my point of view John and Jeff and the other folks at IGFS have a very bright future in this industry. Their machining is outstanding and the final product reflects their passion and dedication. I appreciate their willingness to take the time to give me the inside perspective on their company and product. So far my M&P9c continues to perform without a hick up and as long as I do my part, it will continue to keep on ticking. I have now become so used to the IGFS features, that when I pick up another M&P I am sorely disappointed. Needless to say, my compact will not be the last gun they work on for me.