Gun World - - Contents - By Todd Bur­green

Suarez In­ter na­tion al’ s G lock-based, max­i­mized-po­ten­tial, con­cealed-carry hand­gun in­creases the ef­fec­tive­ness of Glock per­fec­tion.

Firearm evo­lu­tion is a slow, te­dious mat­ter at times, with break­throughs and im­prove­ments com­ing in bits and pieces. It is in­flu­enced by a mul­ti­tude of fac­tors, such as man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques, met­al­lurgy, car­tridge im­prove­ments, tech­nol­ogy, mar­ket forces (i.e., cap­i­tal­ism) and count­less other fac­tors, as ex­pe­ri­enced in in­di­vid­ual coun­tries and cul­tures.

The firearm de­vel­op­ment path cov­ers cen­turies. One of the most ba­sic con­cepts that has re­mained con­stant (or stag­nant, de­pend­ing on point of view), is hand­gun sights. The ear­li­est muz­zle-load­ing pis­tols fea­ture sights we can rec­og­nize to­day in the form of a front post and some sort of rear notch with which it is aligned.

Yes, modern open sights are more re­fined, but the ba­sic form is the same—align the front post within the rear notch. This is now un­der­go­ing a change with the ad­vent of red-dot sights (RDS) in lieu of the tra­di­tional iron open sights used for ev­ery­day per­sonal de­fense weapons, law en­force­ment and mil­i­tary weapons.


Com­pe­ti­tion hand­guns have sported en­hanced sights such as red-dots or mag­ni­fied op­tics for decades now. How­ever, a sub­tle move­ment is un­der­way to in­cor­po­rate red-dots into ev­ery­day con­cealed-carry or per­sonal-de­fense hand­guns. The pre­vi­ously ap­plied red-dots were big and un­gainly af­fairs, with com­plex cus­tom mounts uti­lized for a “gam­ing” ap­pli­ca­tion and less than suit­able for ev­ery­day carry.

This is not the case with the cur­rent RDS of­fer­ings com­ing on line. The ever-ris­ing groundswell of RDS on hand­guns is ev­i­dent, with mul­ti­ple manufacturers of­fer­ing op­tions of mount­ing RDS to the frames of their semi­au­to­matic hand­guns.

A leader driv­ing the RDS con­cept, both in the­ory and ap­pli­ca­tion, is Suarez In­ter­na­tional (SI). SI also en­com­passes a world­wide train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. This as­sists in proof­ing con­cepts and pro­vid­ing real-world feed­back. Gabe Suarez is the driv­ing force be­hind all SI en­deav­ors.


Re­cent events il­lus­trate what a danger­ous world we in­habit—with ter­ror­ist at­tacks grow­ing in fre­quency and com­ing closer to home. If a hos­tile sit­u­a­tion is en­coun­tered, the civil­ian will most likely be de­fend­ing him­self with a hand­gun. A hand­gun is def­i­nitely not the op­ti­mum choice, es­pe­cially when com­pared to a ri­fle, and is a com­pro­mise be­tween porta­bil­ity and per­for­mance.

SI first be­gan work on the RDS con­cept when seek­ing an an­swer to ques­tions posed by many of its stu­dents re­gard­ing how best to en­hance the hand­gun—the pri­mary weapon for many.


Pro­fi­ciency with a hand­gun is one of the most per­ish­able weapon skills. It is im­pacted as we get older as a re­sult of changes in our vi­sion, which can cause dif­fi­culty see­ing iron sights and the tar­get at the same time or dif­fi­culty tran­si­tion­ing fo­cus be­tween the front sight and the tar­get.

The so­lu­tion was the same as most had al­ready opted for with their ri­fles: Add a red-dot sight. That so­lu­tion, with trial and er­ror in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, not only as­sisted SI’s stu­dents, but also en­hanced the ba­sic abil­ity of the per­sonal-de­fense hand­gun plat­form as a whole. The Suarez Guttersnipe 17 9mm is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of this. It is one of the com­pany’s most pop­u­lar RDS hand­gun up­grade of­fer­ings.


The Suarez use of the term, “Guttersnipe,” harkens back to the cus­tom ASP hand­gun from the 1970s. The ASP was based on the S&W Model 39, with gun­smith Paris Theodore to­tally re­work­ing it to ex­cel in close-quar­ter en­coun­ters. The unique sight­ing sys­tem on the ASP, re­ferred to as a “Guttersnipe” sight, was a nar­row­ing U-chan­nel with flu­o­res­cent-yel­low pan­els that would form three tri­an­gles, all pointed at the tar­get when the sight was prop­erly aligned.

Ad­vances with red-dot sights now sup­plant the role of the orig­i­nal Guttersnipe sight.

The Suarez In­ter­na­tional Guttersnipe 17 be­gins with a cus­tomer-pro­vided Glock G17 frame. Two cus­tomiza­tion ar­eas that are im­me­di­ately no­ticed are the grip frame and the Suarez V3 SI317 red-dot-ready slide. SI starts by re­duc­ing the G17 frame to G19 di­men­sions. This is a re­flec­tion of the grip be­ing the most prob­lem­atic por­tion to con­ceal; be­cause the slide doesn’t print, it is most likely in the waist­band and in line with the hip/leg if prac­tic­ing con­cealed carry. The longer G17 slide, com­bined with cus­tom­ized grip, im­proves con­ceal­a­bil­ity but also con­trib­utes to a su­pe­rior-feel­ing hand­gun with bet­ter bal­ance.

The SI 317 slide is specif­i­cally de­signed and built to func­tion with the Tri­ji­con RMR. An ad­justable LED 6.5 MOA-dot Tri­ji­con RMR was cho­sen.

Suarez tech­ni­cians con­sult with each end user about the pro­file and tex­ture de­sired. I chose not to go with fin­ger grooves on the grip, and I had an ex­tended beaver­tail molded into place, as well. Mul­ti­ple frame col­ors and slide fin­ishes are avail­able.

While the grip frame and mounted RMR grab your at­ten­tion es­thet­i­cally, SI con­tin­ues with sig­nif­i­cant up­grades, such as co-wit­ness­ing sup­pres­sor-height sights, along with a Suarez match-grade bar­rel. Suarez bar­rels are cre­ated from Lothar-Walther chrome-moly match blanks and fea­ture 1:10-inch-twist ri­fling. The bar­rels are black-Mel­onite fin­ished.

Suarez then adds its own SI “flat and straight” pa­trol-grade trig­ger (other trig­ger types are avail­able). Geo­met­ri­cally flat and straight trig­gers im­prove me­chan­i­cal lever­age and al­low you to con­sis­tently place your shoot­ing fin­ger in the most ad­van­ta­geous lo­ca­tion for ma­nip­u­la­tion. The Guttersnipe’s en­tire ac­tion is pol­ished and tuned. All of this cre­ates a su­pe­rior carry hand­gun that ex­cels in gun fight­ing and not just re­ac­tive de­fense.



Range-test­ing of the Suarez Guttersnipe 17 took place at Echo Val­ley Train­ing Cen­ter (Winch­ester, Vir­ginia) and De­fender Tac­ti­cal (War­densville, West Vir­ginia).

Ini­tial test­ing pri­or­i­ties were mak­ing sure that Glock re­li­a­bil­ity was not com­pro­mised and that the Tri­ji­con RMR red-dot proves to be a wor­thy ad­di­tion by in­creas­ing ca­pa­bil­ity be­yond what was ex­pected from a nor­mal iron-sighted Glock. A con­cern based on brief han­dling of other red-dot-equipped hand­guns was be­ing able to find the RMR’s dot just as quickly as tra­di­tional iron sights, es­pe­cially in quick/fast close-range af­fairs.

Suarez’s ori­en­ta­tion of the sup­pres­sor-style iron sights around the red-dot acts as both backup sights and quickly fixes the shooter’s eye to the red dot sta­tioned above the front post. I found the use of the red-dot sight easy to learn and, af­ter just a short time, I was able to put the dot on tar­get quickly.

Point-shoot­ing with the Suarez Guttersnipe is still very pos­si­ble us­ing the RMR’s win­dow as a ghost ring— al­beit a large ghost ring—if the shooter is forced to re­act spon­ta­neously to a threat. The RMR red dot was easy to pick up, and the sight as­sisted in en­gag­ing tar­gets quickly. Both eyes open is strongly sug­gested; it is a must to get the most out of the RDS con­cept. The RMR of­fered the ca­pa­bil­ity to en­gage mul­ti­ple tar­gets in rapid se­quence with faster tran­si­tion be­tween tar­gets com­pared to open sights, be­cause there’s no need to align front and rear irons—you just place the dot on the plate. It also helps that the Tri­ji­con RMR’s 6.5 MOA dot doesn’t ob­scure the tar­get.

Speed drills in­volv­ing plate racks and duel­ing trees were run with times more sim­i­lar to a pis­tol-cal­iber car­bine than a hand­gun. The ad­van­tage of­fered by the use of red-dot sights in the com­pe­ti­tion en­vi­ron­ment is well-known.

The Tri­ji­con RMR sight with­stood the re­coil and heat gen­er­ated by re­peat­edly long strings of fire. The RMR weighs 1.2 ounces, which aids its abil­ity to with­stand the in­er­tial forces ex­pe­ri­enced as a slide re­cip­ro­cates.

As many “ma­tur­ing” shoot­ers can con­firm, the sin­gle-fo­cus plane with the red-dot sight is eas­ier to shoot ac­cu­rately than co­or­di­nat­ing front and rear sights. These shoot­ers can now do as na­ture in­tends for them to do: fo­cus on the threat. More­over, be­cause the in­dex­ing of a red-dot sight is far eas­ier than pieces of steel, shoot­ers find they can per­form be­yond what was con­sid­ered pos­si­ble with iron sights ... all sim­ply be­cause the con­cept uses the eyes in a more nor­mal man­ner.


I in­vited David Al­tenburg of De­fender Tac­ti­cal to at­tend an ini­tial range ses­sion with the Suarez Guttersnipe 17. David’s ca­reer cre­den­tials as a Ma­rine and FBI spe­cial agent speak for them­selves. He is an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in var­i­ous re­gional IDPA/IPSC matches and also at­tends train­ing sem­i­nars given by the best in­struc­tors in the coun­try who visit Echo Val­ley Train­ing Cen­ter dur­ing the year. This al­lows him to main­tain the pro­fi­ciency lev­els he has worked so hard to achieve.

David’s fa­mil­iar­ity with the Glock, a for­merly is­sued FBI sidearm, al­lowed for a quick com­par­i­son with the Suarez vari­ant. David, him­self, has been ex­plor­ing the RDS con­cept, and I ap­pre­ci­ated get­ting his guid­ance re­gard­ing how best to max­i­mize the Suarez Guttersnipe 17. I quickly sensed that the Guttersnipe 17 pos­sessed in­her­ent accuracy su­pe­rior to what I was ca­pa­ble of; this was very re­as­sur­ing and in­stills con­fi­dence in a hand­gun.

Range-test­ing pur­posely in­cluded DeSan­tis, Comp-Tac, Black­Hawk and Galco hol­sters in or­der to de­ter­mine if the Suarez Guttersnipe 17 was wor­thy of be­ing con­sid­ered for ev­ery­day con­cealed-carry du­ties. Hol­sters with gen­er­ous, open-cut tops were the eas­i­est to use with the RMR-topped slide.


Drills con­sisted of draw­ing from con­ceal­ment to see if the red-dot sight was easy to ob­tain when op­er­at­ing in haste. Var­i­ous sce­nar­ios en­gag­ing tar­gets from be­hind cover or on the move were also uti­lized. Mag­a­zine change drills were done for the dual pur­pose of get­ting a feel of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the Guttersnipe with the RMR in­stalled and mak­ing sure the red dot was seam­lessly picked up af­ter reload and back on tar­get.

A Suarez mag­a­zine guide is hand fit­ted on the Guttersnipe’s re­duced G17 frame. The Suarez guide not only fun­nels the mag­a­zine into the grip smoothly dur­ing reloads, it also serves to keep the fir­ing hand in place and ori­en­tated cor­rectly, no mat­ter the rate of fire. It didn’t take long to fig­ure out that the Suarez Guttersnipe 17 has great po­ten­tial in terms of accuracy, speed and ex­tend­ing ef­fec­tive en­gage­ment dis­tances.


What sets the Suarez Guttersnipe 17 apart is the amount of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and field tri­als it re­ceived from Suarez In­ter­na­tional. Gabe’s videos dis­cussing the RDS con­cept (these can be found on the SI web­site) are ex­cel­lent re­sources for un­der­stand­ing best prac­tices to use to max­i­mize skill with an RDS-equipped hand­gun. This kind of sup­port is not typ­i­cal of 99 per­cent of other providers of RDS hand­guns.

For ex­am­ple, a key part of the Suarez red-dot sys­tem stressed re­peat­edly in Gabe Suarez’s writ­ing and videos is to have the red dot co-wit­ness­ing with the hand­gun’s iron sights. There are many rea­sons for this: Any­thing elec­tronic can fail, no mat­ter how rugged. Thus, it’s im­por­tant to have backup sights ready. An­other ad­van­tage of the Suarez de­ci­sion to re­tain el­e­vated irons around the red dot is that it pro­vides in­stant ver­i­fi­ca­tion of zero; and, if not ze­roed, there’s in­stant backup. Lastly, the co-wit­ness sights as­sist in ini­tial ori­en­tat­ing to the red dot, es­pe­cially dur­ing a shooter’s first ex­po­sure to the RDS for­mat.

The use of the Suarez Guttersnipe 17 as an ev­ery­day-carry hand­gun is what sets it apart from other en­deav­ors in­cor­po­rat­ing red-dot sights on pis­tols.

The Suarez Guttersnipe 17 is a hand­gun that pushes the en­ve­lope past “safe” norms while still main­tain­ing real-world fight­ing

ap­pli­ca­tion. The Guttersnipe in­creases the ef­fec­tive­ness of a con­cealed-carry hand­gun be­yond what many thought pos­si­ble with the plat­form. GW


Suarez Guttersnipe 17 in­cor­po­rates many en­hance­ments be­yond the typ­i­cal Glock G17. How­ever, it re­tains Glock’s im­pec­ca­ble re­li­a­bil­ity, eat­ing ev­ery­thing the au­thor fed it.

Suarez in­cor­po­rates its own “flat and straight” pa­trol­grade trig­ger to the Guttersnipe 17—an im­por­tant en­hance­ment in terms of accuracy. No­tice the dual un­der­cut trig­ger guard.

David Al­tenburg puts the Guttersnipe 17 through its paces. He is a re­tired FBI spe­cial agent who shares his years of ex­pe­ri­ence via his train­ing com­pany, De­fender Tac­ti­cal.

A Tri­ji­con RMR 6.5 MOA red dot is cap­tured in this im­age.

The Suarez In­ter­na­tional Guttersnipe 17 in­cor­po­rates a va­ri­ety of en­hance­ments made to the Glock G17, in­clud­ing the Suarez SI-317 slide, Tri­ji­con RMR red-dot sight, co-wit­nessed Suarez sup­pres­sor-height iron sights, Suarez match-grade bar­rel, re­duced...

The sup­pres­sorheight rear sight and ex­tended beaver­tail found on the SI G17 Guttersnipe

A top view of the Suarez SI-317 slide, fea­tur­ing a Tri­ji­con RMR, sup­pres­sorheight sights and Suarez match-grade bar­rel

The Suarez Guttersnipe 17 uses the com­pany’s SI-317 slide, which has front cock­ing ser­ra­tions.

The SI Guttersnipe 17 is eval­u­ated at Echo Val­ley Train­ing Cen­ter’s Hesco Shoot House.

The use of the Guttersnipe 17 as an ev­ery­day-carry hand­gun is what sets it apart from other sim­i­lar en­deav­ors— in­cor­po­rat­ing a red­dot op­tic, tra­di­tion­ally used for com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing, onto a carry gun.

Suarez In­ter­na­tional’s Guttersnipe 17 (SI-317) is the an­swer for the concealedcarry prac­ti­tioner want­ing a hand­gun with max­i­mum ca­pa­bil­ity.

Accuracy with the Suarez Guttersnipe 17-equipped Tri­ji­con RMR is im­pres­sive.

The Guttersnipe’s Covert Grey frame is tex­tured for en­hanced pur­chase and re­ten­tion. An ex­tended beaver­tail is added, along with a mag­a­zine guide, on the re­duced Glock G17 frame.

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