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Pistol Anatomy - Frame

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 21 2024

Frame of a Glock 19
A pistol's frame can change your pistol's customization options, how comfortable it is to carry, and how fast you shoot accurately. We'll cover how to tell a good frame from a bad one, polymer vs. metal pistol frames, and the best pistol frame material.

On This Page:

  1. Basics
  2. Polymer Frame vs. Metal
  3. What Makes a Good Frame?
  4. What's The Best Pistol Frame Material?
  5. References
The frame mates with the slideand contains the grip,magazine,mag release,trigger,rail,and slide release.

The frame has the most impact on the pistol's overall weight.

Polymer Frame vs. Metal

  • Steel is heaviest. It's the easiest to shoot, as it reduces recoil by 6-10%. However it's hardest to carry all day.
    Popular for full-size pistols.
  • Polymer is lighest. For most people who carry all day, the extra recoil is well worth the weight savings, about 1 lb. less.
    Popular for compact and full-size pistols.
  • Alloy is a balance between steel and polymer in weight.
    Popular for pocket pistols.

What Makes a Good Frame?

  1. For daily carry, go lightweight. Aim for around 1.5 lb. of total pistol weight in a compact pistol and 1 lb. for a pocket pistol. If the gun gets too light, it becomes too unpleasant to practice with. You may have to drop down to .380 ACP ammo or look into ways to reduce recoil.
  2. For home defense and competition, go heavy. Aim for around 3 lb. of total pistol weight. More weight in the frame makes the gun easier to shoot, but if it gets too heavy, the gun becomes slow to move around.
  3. It has grip adjustments, so you can fit the grip to your hand.
  4. It has a full dust cover, for better reliability and easier shooting.
    Frame of a CZ 75, without a dust cover

    Frame of a CZ Tactical Sport, with a full dust cover
  5. It has an accessory rail, for mounting a light, laser, or other upgrade.

    Frame of a CZ Tactical Sport, with a full dust cover

    Frame of a CZ SP-01 with full dust cover and rails

What's The Best Pistol Frame Material?

  • Pocket carry: Alloy frame.
  • Waist carry: Polymer frame.
  • Competition: Steel frame.
  • Home Defense: Steel frame.

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