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For those of us who are into handguns and have not been living under a rock for the past 3 decades or so, the name Glock has come to be a household word in the shooting universe. People who may have never held a gun (let alone a Glock) recognize the name. It is estimated that 65% of U.S. police agencies use some form of Glock or another. It is time for us to take a deep dive into all you need to know about the Glock 9mm and the various models. We’ll look at:
- Glock 17 – A reliable pistol used by the Austrian military and police service in 1982.
- Glock 19 – A compact best selling 9mm Glock model that can hold 15 rounds of ammo and is ideal for concealed carry.
- Glock 19x – A fantastic full-size handgun with a redesigned Marksman barrel and improved Gen 5 trigger.
- Glock 26 – A compact 4’’ handgun that is a popular choice among law enforcement. Has a large magazine capacity and small frame size that makes it easier to conceal.
- Glock 34 – An accurate 9mm pistol with a 5.3″ barrel for easy target acquisition.
- Glock 43 – A lightweight, single-stack 9 mm Luger handgun with excellent concealability.
- Glock 45 – A compact crossover pistol in 9x19mm integrates a smaller slide with a full-size frame and comes with all of the features of a Gen5.
The Glock story is quite remarkable considering that the man who designed the gun knew next to nothing about pistol design. Gaston Glock sold curtain rods and knives to the Austrian military, and was familiar with injection-molded parts. His team designed the Model 17 pistol to help the Austrian military who needed a new sidearm, and a firearms legend was born. An interesting tidbit is that the “17” represents the 17th patent issued to the Glock corporation, and this numbering sytems continues to this day.
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Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em
Shooters tend to either be Glock fans or detractors – not much middle ground there. I am one of those rare birds who is in the middle with my opinion of Gaston’s wunderkind. I owned a Model 30 .45 ACP for a good while and had an aftermarket barrel for it so I could shoot my cast bullet handloads. It performed well without being overly showy. Gun eye candy it wasn’t. I called Glocks in another article I’d written the Chevy Impala of the pistol industry. The Impala is a good, mid-price car that is a popular choice among car buyers – reliable and well-designed without being overly showy.
The Glock, just like the Impala, gets the job done in a utilitarian manner. It gets the job done without costing an arm and a leg. And, they tend to be very reliable. All those police agencies buying into the Glock system is a pretty good testament to this.
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Let’s Get Specific – the best sellers
Narrowing it down a bit, let’s look at Glock’s best sellers. In terms of caliber, the 9mm rules the roost for Glock. And, of over fifty pistol models Glock sells, their very-best-seller is the 9mm Model 19. This compact pistol packs 15+ 1 rounds in a smallish package. I know of many people who carry this model, as it seems to hit the optimal middle ground between concealable size and capacity. Now if that one isn’t for you you got another 19 main 9mm Glock models to chose from.
I put together a chart comparing specifications for the most popular models as well as an extended version comparing all twenty, for all you detail-oriented shooters. To be sure, some of these models are pretty scarce in gun shops as they tend to fulfill a very specific purpose (example: long-range competition, which the Model 34 excels at). So, before we crunch all the chart’s numbers, let’s look at the most popular Glock 9mms in some detail.
In general, here is a quick, condensed listing of most of Glock’s models.
That’s the condensed list. Are you a numbers guy? Here is the extended version of all the 9mm Glocks available and you can click on the header to sort them (Table is best viewed on PC or Tablet):
Some Definitions, Please
Now, let’s look at the individual models, but before that, a little explanation is needed. If you glance at the table above, you will see “MOS” and “FS” listed after some models. MOS stands for Modular Optic System. Glock modified the frame on these guns by milling a slot in front of the rear sight to accept a red dot or other sight’s mounting plate. This is covered with a filler when not being used.
FS means the guns include Front (slide) Serrations. Those pistols marked FS have serrations on the front part of the slide to aid in manipulating the slide, in addition to the standard rear serrations. Many shooters asked Glock to include front serrations on all their newer guns. So far they only applied them to those guns that are marked FS.
Gen What? What’s The Difference?
An explanation of Glock’s generations is in order, if we are to keep this article as helpful as possible for those of you considering the purchase of a Glock. A “Generation” in Glock terminology equates to other companies coming out with “Mod 2”, “2.0”, etc. It basically designates a major overhaul of features on their guns. The feature changes (usually referred to as upgrades) could be several smaller ones, a few “big” important ones, or a combination of both in order to qualify to become the next generation. So, here we go, from the original Glock (now called Gen1) through the newest generation as of this writing, the Gen5.
Gen1 – Introduced in 1982
This is the original, bare-bones Glock Model 17. We can identify this gun by its relative lack of stippling or texturing on the frame and no finger grooves. This is the Glock that originally equipped the Austrian military when they placed an order for 25,000 pistols in 1983. Here’s an interesting note: In addition to the Model 17 pistols sold to the military were Model 18s – a Model 17 with selective-fire capability that fired between 1100-1300 RPM. Glock also offered a compensated version of this gun (Model 18C). This was technically a machine pistol and as such, was subject to the regulations and fees imposed on the ownership of machine guns as those individuals found out who attempted to buy one.
Gen2 – Introduced in 1988
- Added stippling to the front and back straps and trigger guard;
- With an embedded serial number on a steel plate in front of the trigger guard to satisfy the BATF;
- An integrated recoil spring assembly replaced the original two-piece spring and tube;
- Modification of the magazine’s floor plate and follower.
Gen3 – Introduced in 1998
- Addition of an accessory rail (“Universal Glock Rail”) to the frame
- Adding thumbrests on both sides of the frame
- Finger grooves on the front of the grip strap
- Later 3rd Gen models used a modified extractor that served as a loaded chamber indicator;
- Enlarged and reinforced locking block by an extra pin;
- Frames came in colors: black, olive, or FDE;
They gave the Model 22 RTF2 (.40 S&W) a rough, textured finish and fish-gill-shaped slide serrations and new checkering around the grip in 2009. Other models made available with the RTF2 treatment included the 31, 32, 23, 21, and 19, although not all had the fish-gill-shaped serrations.
Gen4 – Introduced at the SHOT Show, 2010
- Originally updated the ergonomics and the recoil spring assembly of the 17 and 22;
- These pistols also had a rougher-textured frame, grip checkering, and interchangeable backstraps;
- Shortened the grip frame (trigger reach), but you could change this to that of the Gen3 guns with the replacement of the trigger housing pin and the backstrap (different sizes included). The medium backstrap matches the Gen 3 grip;
- Larger and reversible magazine release for left-handed shooters;
- All Gen4 guns now use a dual recoil spring assembly, (heretofore only used on compacts) with corresponding slide and frame modifications to allow for the larger spring assembly;
- Modified magazines with cuts on both sides to accommodate the reversible magazine release. Gen 4 magazines work in older models.
- “Gen 4” is rollmarked on the slide
Gen5 – Introduced in August, 2017
- Glock originally only released the models 17 and 19 in Gen5 versions;
- Elimination of finger grooves on the frame;
- Ergonomic and reliability enhancements were added (many parts are not interchangeable between Gen5 and earlier-model guns);
- The slide stop lever became ambidextrous, appearing on both sides of the gun;
- A new finish, nDLC (nitride diamond-like coating) was implemented;
- Incorporation of the “Marksman” barrel. A match-grade barrel with new polygonal rifling;
- Introduction of a deeper barrel crown;
- They added a half-moon cut in the front of the bottom of the grip frame in order to facilitate extraction of stuck magazines;
- The magazine well was flared;
- They removed the locking block pin above the trigger pin added to the Gen3 guns;
- Magazines were modified, i.e. the floor plated was lengthened to ease grasping the magazine, and the follower was colored orange;
- Upgrade of several interior action parts;
- “Gen 5” is rollmarked on the slide
OK…Got it? Now let’s look at some of the more common, readily-available models…
The 9mm Glock lineup
Starting with Model 17, we see a full-size frame and a longer barrel than the smaller models. This gun was the first Glock to go mainstream. This was mainly down to the adoption by the Austrian military and some police units starting in 1982. I remember when the gun came out – the first “plastic pistol” to go worldwide (the H&K VP70 technically was the first polymer pistol, introduced in 1970 for the German market).
The anti-gunners were all worked up that this “plastic gun” would be invisible to airport metal detectors, and some in the shooting community thought the gun would fail because of concerns they had as to the durability of the gun’s frame. Neither concern amounted to anything – they simply did not happen. Instead, the pistol’s reliability and innovative design endeared it to not only military and police units but to civilians as well. The gun has, on average, only 35 parts…talk about simplicity! My brother has a Gen 4 Model 17 that he really likes. I have shot it and was impressed. Due to its size, the 17 is not really made for concealed carry. It is more at home in a police officer’s Level 3 Retention holster, or in a tactical rig on the leg of a military SOE operative.
The Model 17 comes in Gen 3, 4 and 5 versions. Therefore, if you like finger grooves (or not), you are in luck – just buy the generation that has what you want. Need a competition gun? Pick up a Gen4 or Gen5 MOS and mount a red-dot sight on it. Want a plain-jane all-around shooter? Get a Gen3 and save some money (if you can still find one). The Model 17, as stated above, started it all.
OK…now let’s look at a compact 9mm. Being the best-selling Glock make, the Model 19 has its share of enthusiastic users out there. Also, let’s not forget the after-market parts industry. The Model 19 probably has more third-party parts available than any other Glock. That said, the Model 19 is just about perfect for IWB- or OWB-concealed carry with its 4-inch barrel, slim inch-and-a-quarter width, and 15 rounds in the magazine. As I have written about before, this pistol is the benchmark other compact 9mms are judged against.
I know several people who carry a Model 19 and love it. It is no coincidence that Glock chose to release the Model 17 and the Model 19 first in their Gen5 configuration. The 17, with its law enforcement following, and the Model 19, being the best-selling Glock.
The Gen5 Model 19 was generally well-received. The only complaint I’ve heard about the Gen5 Model 19 concerns the cutout at the front bottom of the frame. Some shooters say it hurts their hand, as it lies at the point where their hand’s heel and palm meet the frame. The sharp edge is the culprit, they say. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Model 17 due to its longer grip frame. Fortunately, they also addressed this issue in the new Model 45 (below).
Just as with the Model 17, there are several variations available for the Model 19. Depending upon your need, there is a configuration that should work for you. For competitors needing a red dot sight, the MOS models are indicated. You get the added benefit of forward slide serrations with those models, as well.
In addition to the availability of Gen3, 4, and 5 Model 19s, the fairly new 19X is now available as well. I think this one is worthy of a write-up here, and we’ll get to it next. You can also read my full Glock 19X review.
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To begin, it’s important to grasp what the Glock 19X is. It’s a G19 slide mounted on a G17 frame. Shorter barrels and longer frames are the current trends in weapons. That is precisely what the Glock 19x is all about. What’s the advantage of that? It provides a well-balanced and easy-to-control blasting experience. The redesigned Marksman barrel, paired with modifications to the handgun’s exterior frame, Glock claims, increases accuracy, longevity, efficiency, grip, and flexibility. Recoil management, on the other hand, was a piece of cake. Of course, there are still Glock haters and people who don’t like the adjustments. But for some shooters, as long as it is a ‘Glock’, it will be a fine gun.
What are the differences? With this version, you’ll get two reversed 19-round magazines and one 17-round magazine. The trigger pull is lighter than a standard 19. There’s also a lanyard loop and standard night sights. The most noticeable difference is the color, which is now coyote tan. The Glock 19x is bulky and difficult to conceal. Yet, the Glock 19x is still a competitive firearm and is useful for a variety of purposes.
When it comes to shooting, there are a few things to keep in mind. I fired a couple of different 9mm rounds through the 19X, and let me tell you, it’s a very accurate gun. The G19x could handle a wide range of bullet types, including hollow tips.
The snappy and smooth Gen 5 trigger is perhaps the G19X’s standout feature. The Gen 5 trigger incorporates a dual lock block pin assembly and a modified trigger bar. They altered the safety plunger on the Gen 5 to allow for a smoother trigger pull.
Here we have Glock’s double-stack subcompact 9mm. The Model 26 is a favorite backup gun among law enforcement officers and a prime candidate for purchase by civilian concealed carriers. At only a little over four inches high, this gun disappears in an IWB holster. When you carry a gun concealed, especially inside your waistband, the height of the gun is important.
The higher (or taller) the gun is, the harder it is to hide the grip frame as it tends to stick out and print under your garment. That’s why compact and subcompact guns usually come with a flush-fit magazine and sometimes an extended one as well. Most folks carry the flush-fit magazine in the gun with the longer one as a spare. The shorter the height of the gun, the easier it is to conceal, generally speaking. That’s why the Model 26 is so popular, being only a shade over four inches in height.
Glock still makes the 26 in Gen3, along with Gen4 and Gen5. This model is also able to use the greatest number of Glock 9mm magazines, eight. This gun’s standard capacity is ten rounds, but it can use all the Glock magazines up to thirty-three rounds. That’s versatility! Many people will buy a Model 26 in order to get the concealability it offers, and they also realize that they have the ability to use up to a thirty-three-round magazine. This is the best of both worlds for them.
The long-range specialist…the Model 34 was designed to be accurate “way out there.” It uses the longest barrel that Glock puts in a 9mm pistol, a 5.3-inch tube. This gun is a mainstay at competitions that require longer-range shooting. It is also a favorite of SWAT teams. What makes it so accurate? The longer barrel? The barrel length helps by ensuring that velocity is kept up. The main factor that aids accuracy is the approximate 7.5 inches between the front and rear sights. The further apart the sights are, the greater the chances of increased practical accuracy. Sights are about 5.3 inches apart on a Model 26 – that’s a pretty big difference.
The guns, obviously, serve two different purposes but I use the shorter-barreled gun as an example to point out just how long the barrel on the Model 34 is and how much different the sight radius is. Generalizations are difficult to make, but all else being equal, most shooters would be more accurate from 50-100 yards with the Model 34 than any shorter-barreled, shorter-sight-radius gun.
The fact that Glock sells a goodly amount of these pistols testifies to the fact that it works. Now…if we talk about intrinsic accuracy (the ability of the gun by itself to shoot accurately without human intervention), a lot of Glock 9mms would show they could be accurate at distance. Put a Model 19, say, in a Ransom Rest and see what it does at 50 yards. As for practical accuracy (a shooter holding the gun and shooting the best that he/she can), that’s where the longer sight radius comes in. Generally speaking, as stated above, the further apart the sights are, the better the gun’s practical accuracy.
The Model 34 is not made as a Gen3 gun, only a Gen4 and Gen5. With either of those, however, you can get the MOS version that really brings out the tack-driving accuracy these guns are capable of. Put a good optic on the gun and you’re good, as I said earlier, “way out there!” Such is the Model 34.
Now we come to the only single-stack 9mm that Glock makes. Here we have a gun that will just about fit in your pocket yet has the ability to put 6 + 1 rounds on a target very quickly and accurately. With a loaded magazine aboard, the gun only weighs about 21 ounces. This is a gun you can carry all day and forget that it’s there.
I have a friend on a local police force who traded a Beretta to acquire a Model 43. He told me he’s had a little trigger work done on the gun, but that’s the extent of his mods. He carries it daily. I’ve had the chance to shoot with him and his partner at my backyard range and … well, let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of his Model 43’s muzzle. He is good with it, to put it mildly because he practices with it a lot.
If you are looking for either a primary concealed carry weapon or a backup, the Model 43 is a good choice. It only comes in one flavor right now – you can’t get a Gen5 version – but the one is good enough. A Model 43 and a couple of extra mags will make you good to go. I mentioned carrying this gun in your pocket. This is feasible, and a viable way to pack the 43. This is the only 9mm Glock that I know of that will fit in a pocket. The Model 42 .380 will ride in your pocket, but it’s not a 9mm.
My police officer friend Austin tells me he loves the little gun, as do many police officers who carry them in pockets, on their ankles, inside their waistbands, or anywhere else. It’s the de facto designated go-to backup gun for law enforcement personnel and that is recommendation enough for others to carry it as their main CCW.
Here is the latest gun that Glock has released, as of this writing. Utilizing the 19X’s long frame and shorter slide and barrel, this brand-new gun has at least one design feature that shooters are applauding – Glock did away with the cut-out at the bottom front of the grip frame. Glock took its 19X, which was already partially modified with some Gen5 upgrades, and produced it in black. There isn’t a whole of information out there right now about the Model 45, but what is available is positive. For those of you who want a black Model-17-frame coupled with a black Model-19-slide/barrel, this is for you. I have a feeling that Glock will sell a lot of these. Read my full Glock 45 review here.
With twenty different 9mm models to choose from, the Glock pistol buyer today has a lot of homework to do. First of all, how are you going to use your new gun? For concealed carry? Target/Range? Competition? Law Enforcement? The answer to that question alone should guide you in your selection. But, what if you will use it for more than one purpose? No problem – Glock has you covered. Glock does not make rifles or shotguns, and only makes one type of pistol but they have been doing it for over 35 years and seem to have the process down.
You can spend more (or less) on a pistol, but, like with the Chevy Impala, you pretty much know what you’re going to get when you plunk down your hard-earned dollars. Consistency and reliability are what you pay for and consistency and reliability are what you get. After all, all those law enforcement agencies, including the F.B.I., know what they want and Glock delivers for them. We might take a lesson from that. So, if you are in the market for a 9mm Glock, check the following table out and maybe it will help you narrow down your prospective choices. Have fun shooting and be safe!
Want to learn how to safely use your Glock 9mm? Take a look at the training offered by any of the Concealed Carry Organisations. It is not just CCW Insurance they offer!