Gun Review: Gen5 GLOCK 19 and 17



GLOCK handguns haven’t changed much since the early 80’s. Then again, they really haven’t had to. Looking more like the original two generations than Gens 3 and 4, I admit I was underwhelmed by what appeared to be minor tweaks GLOCK engineered into the Gen5. After shooting them, though, I believe GLOCK’s Gen5 is its best Gen yet.

On the range, the most noticeable change is the smoother trigger.

Thanks primarily due to a change in the shape of the striker block safety plunger — Gen4 round plunger seen at top, Gen5 ramped plunger seen at bottom — the Gen5 triggers are a definite improvement. They feel like a previous gen’s trigger after a full polishing job of the plunger, trigger bar, cruciform, connector, etc. It’s not quite Ghost Trigger territory, but still an obvious and appreciated difference that makes for the best factory GLOCK trigger available.

My favorite external change is the flared magazine well molded into the frame. The slight flare provides smoother, easier, and faster magazine insertion, and I like that bit of outwards angle under my hands, too.

Were these my guns instead of loaners, I’d bevel the U-shaped notch on the frontstrap so it angles downwards into the magwell also. While you can get a magazine to hang up on that lip if you try, it never happened to me on the range.

For many folks, removal of the previous two generations’ much maligned finger grooves and a return to a straight frontstrap will be their favorite external feature. Since the earlier guns’ grooves fit my hand just fine, I don’t really have a preference either way. But it was such a common complaint that it’s no surprise GLOCK finally ditched ’em. I doubt they’ll be missed by anyone.

Back to the inside, what I think might be the coolest feature of the Gen5 hasn’t gotten much coverage. Whereas the G17’s of old used a different barrel lug design, the new G17 is really just a G19L (long).

That means a Gen5 G17 barrel drops right into a Gen5 G19 slide. In fact, the entire 17 slide can be installed on the 19 frame.

Heck, the Gen5 G17 slide can even be installed on a Gen4 G19 frame, too. Yeah, it runs just fine despite that little gap in front of the dust cover (Lone Wolf even sells a piece to cover that gap).

For the GLOCK aftermarket, which is wildly popular despite GLOCK’s vaunted out-of-the-box Perfection, it means Gen4 G19 barrels will fit the Gen5 G19, but no previous G17 barrels will fit the new G17. That’s a small hiccup, though, since the simple solution is nothing more than a longer G19 barrel.

In fact, “G19L” barrels already exist. Seen above is a Lone Wolf Alpha Wolf Gen4 G19L barrel installed in the Gen5 G17. Fit and function were flawless.

Likewise, the Alpha Wolf Gen4 G19 threaded barrel dropped right into the Gen5.

Of course, one of the reasons people purchase aftermarket barrels for their GLOCKs is to switch from polygonal to traditional rifling, opening up the ability to shoot cast lead (non-jacketed) projectiles or sometimes just hoping for more accuracy. Well, the Gen5’s come with GLOCK’s “Marksman” barrel (seen above), which appears not to have polygonal rifling.

I’ve seen some arguing back and forth between internet types as to whether this is the case or not, and I’m the first to admit that I’m no GLOCKspert. However, just by looking at it with my dang eyeballs, it sure looks like some flavor of good ol’ land-and-groove (aka not polygonal) rifling.

Jumping back outside the gun, there are four more noteworthy changes:

The slide stop is now ambidextrous; mirrored on both sides of the pistol. It functions equally well as a slide lock and as a slide release from either side.

The slide is treated with a deeper black, nDLC finish that’s also supposed to be more durable. Compared to the previous dark gray, somewhat dusty-looking finish, it does look nicer.

The muzzle has been beveled. This GLOCK is less block than the last GLOCK. It looks good, drops a tiny bit of weight, and may ease holstering.

A notch in the bottom of the frontstrap aids in getting a solid purchase on the magazine, helping to strip it out of the pistol in the event of a malfunction in which the magazine becomes stuck.

Unfortunately, these last two changes aren’t quite Perfect.

For some insane reason that boggles my mind and triggers OCD sufferers everywhere, the new muzzle shape isn’t matched by the dustcover, which exactly retains the Gen3/4’s squarer shape. Let’s see, what happens when we put square corners next to beveled corners? Oh yeah, a freaking shelf! How on earth did this happen? The Gen5s clearly required brand new frame molds, yet somehow they decided to modify the rear half and leave the front half the same? Despite changing the slide shape? Lordy.

Over to what I’ll call the Operator notch, it appears to bother some folks’ pinkie fingers on the G19. While my little finger does run right over the notch, I can’t say I really noticed it. I grip hard with those pinkies and just didn’t find it bothersome at all. However, your mileage may vary depending on hand size and moisturizing routine, and it definitely seems to be a literal sore spot for some shooters. The G17’s longer grip puts the Operator notch out of the trouble zone for most people.

The new frame has been modified for the ambi slide stop. Other changes include a new trigger housing and trigger spring system that’s more like that of the G42/43. Gen5 GLOCKs are actually easier to disassemble than their forebears, if you can believe that.

I hate plastic sights and so do you. It’s ridiculous. Thankfully, the Gen5 GLOCKs are available from the get-go with two other sight options: factory GLOCK Night Sights or a new set of Ameriglo night sights. The Ameriglos are particularly awesome with a highly-visible front and a serrated rear with small Tritium vials that aren’t distracting by day but are obvious in the dark.

The significantly smoother trigger and the slightly flared magwell combined with the 17’s switch to a “19L” barrel, while retaining everything that makes a GLOCK a GLOCK — simplicity, reliability — make this the best Gen ever. From where I’m sitting, every change on this gun is an improvement, even if the front of the frame should have been beveled to match the new slide shape.

Specifications: Gen5 GLOCK 19 and 17

MSRP: Approximately $630 to $715 depending on choice of sights (available from Brownells here and 1800GunsAndAmmo here)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
They’re GLOCKs and they ran as such.

Accuracy * * * 
They shot the same for me as previous GLOCKs, which is to say about average. That smoother trigger is appreciated.

Aesthetics * * * *
Compared to previous generations, I think the Gen5 deserves an extra star. The finish is better, the grip looks better, and the slide bevel looks better (despite the frame ledge scandal). But it’s still a GLOCK.

Ergonomics * * * *
Again, an upgrade from the Gen3/4 GLOCKs with a more universal grip that will work better for more people. Then again, the Operator notch may rub some folks the wrong way and, ultimately, it’s still a GLOCK.

Overall * * * *
The Gen5s are better in every way than the Gen3s and Gen4s. They’re solid GLOCKs. That said, they’re still GLOCKs so the grip is still somewhat square and has that special GLOCK angle. The aesthetics are still somewhat boring. If you love GLOCKs these are five-star guns. If you prefer pistols that fit the human hand and have sexy lines, though, five stars is a bridge too far.

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