White Sound Defense (WSD) has quietly made a real name for themselves in the world of serious Glock shooters. Their previously review HRED has put them on the map in a big way thanks to its performance in helping to cure the extraction woes of some late Generation 3 and the Generation 4 Glocks. Between the HRED and their excellent Glock magazine springs, they are proving to be the Glock spring experts. Now they have focused that expertise on another spring assembly, the recoil spring and guide rod.
White Sound Defense calls their guide rod the “Steel Guide Rod for 3rd Gen 17, 22, 31, 34, 35 & 37 Glock Pistols.” For brevity sake, I will refer to it as the WSD Guide Rod. The WSD Guide Rod shows all the typical attention to detail that I have come to expect from WSD. While most manufacturers are content to make a stainless steel rod that fits the dimensions of a guide rod, WSD applies their experience in materials to enhance function.
Better Materials Make Better Parts
Rather than make their rod from stainless steel like nearly every other guide rod on the market, they chose 4340 alloy steel for its toughness and slightly better corrosion resistance than other carbon steels.Stainless steel can actually be a poor choice for a guide rod because it runs the risk of accelerating corrosion (galvanic corrosion) when kept in contact with a non-stainless steel spring. Then, to make the WSD Guide Rod just as corrosion resistant as the rest of your Glock, WSD has the guide rods finished with a ferritic nitrocarburizing process (otherwise known as Tennifer or Melonite). The end result is a corrosion resistant and very tough recoil guide rod that has a blackened finish.
Captured Versus Non-Captured
WSD also weighed whether or not to make this a captured or non-captured spring module. Captured units retain the spring via a small screw and washer that is threaded into the muzzle end of the guide rod. Their advantage is that they offer the ability to change springs, with a fair amount of difficulty, while being easier to take in and out of the gun, but this comes with additional complexity and a weaker guide rod due to the large threaded hole in the end. Non-Captured units are harder to insert into the position under the barrel but they make changing springs easier and they are made from one solid piece of steel.
In the end, WSD went with the simpler, more reliable method which is the non-captured approach. They did add a small transverse hole near the end that allows the user to insert a paper clip or similar object (I found it to be too small for an armorers tool, contrary to what WSD states) and wind the spring onto the guide rod. It works incredibly well and makes installation a snap. There are also ways to insert the spring and guide rod without an any tools in the field. It actually isn’t that hard at all.
Beer Gut Resistant
The most striking thing that you will notice about the WSD Guide Rod is that it extends out the front of the slide about 1/4″. This allows the guide rod to act as a CQB stand off in the event that a contact shot must be taken. Semi-auto handguns, like Glocks, can be pushed out of battery and rendered unable to fire when the muzzle is pressed into something (or someone). Many attempts have been made to dress Glocks up with “CQB Stand Offs” before which usually ended up with the Glock being adorned with something that looked like a meat tenderizer hanging of the front. I suppose that these devices worked in some sense, but they also brought their own problems. They precluded the use of weapon mounted lights and suppressors and worse, they could actually magnify the out of battery problem if clothing became trapped between the device and the slide. Now it has become difficult to even find those old meat tenderizers since serious users found that a pistol mounted light made a pretty decent stand off device. Unfortunately, I don’t always carry my Glock with a light installed.
The WSD Guide Rod is a far more sensible approach. It can’t get caught on clothing or anything else thanks to its well rounded edges. It will still allow the use of lights and suppressors and it does provide some protection from pushing the slide out of battery. The simple addition of 1/4″ worth of steel adds some useful functionality to the Glock for users who need this type of functionality.
I have somewhere between 250 and 270 rounds (I flubbed up my logs) through a Gen2 Glock 17 with the WSD Guide Rod installed. I have been using it in conjunction with WSD’s recoil spring which deserves some text devoted to it. The spring is flat wound and coated to prevent corrosion. They also match the spring weight of the Glock recoil spring modules. It handles much like the factory unit thanks to the matched spring weight and I saw no degradation of reliability with this spring.
The WSD Guide Rod and spring was completely reliable in my testing. I had no stoppages. Time will tell more, but I wanted to put at least 250 rounds on it since that is a typical “break in” period. There was no undue wear on the barrel, slide, or guide rod.
I didn’t notice any real change in how the Glock shot. The Glock 17’s muzzle seemed to stay just as flat under recoil as it does with the factory unit. There was no measurable change in my split times.
This guide rod and spring have proven to be reliable so far. Their construction and finishes are a testament to White Sound Defense’s experience with various materials and attention to detail. I can’t say that it makes a noticeable difference in how I shoot but it does give me stand off functionality that my Glock did not have before. Now that I have proven to myself that I can trust it, I have added it to my full time carry Glock. Since I do not carry with a light attached, it is comforting to have the stand off functionality that it offers. If you are a Glock user that prefers a steel guide rod, then this one is about as well thought out as it gets.