Glock 17 Gen 4 Review

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Glock, Handguns, Pistols

The Glock pistol is now over 30 years old. Those that grew up in the past few decades may not realize how sensational the Glock pistol was when it was first introduced. With groundbreaking polymer construction and a safe action trigger, the Glock 17 was a revolutionary handgun. While there had been polymer frame handguns before, none were as affordable or widely available as the Glock 17. The pistol also offered 17 rounds of potent 9mm Luger ammunition.

Dark silver Glock 17 Gen 4 barrel pointed down and to the right on a white background.

The Glock 17 Gen 4 is a result of experience with the Glock and important detail changes.

Glock has introduced many variants in larger calibers since. The Glock has been redesigned into the Mini Glock and other versions, but none of these variations is as easy to shoot well as the original. The Glock 17 is still a sensational handgun.

Unique Features

Let’s look at a few of the features that make the Glock unique:

  • Strong, lightweight frame
  • Impervious to most solvents, oil and water
  • Trigger action does not require extensive training—press, fire, release to allow reset and fire again
  • Minimal maintenance
Dark gray Glock 17 Gen 4 slide on gradated white to light gray background.

Note the precision cut and fitting of the slide. The round part near the firing pin channel is the firing pin block.

Many modern handguns are a triumph of the technical over the tactical: the Glock remains tactical. As an example, the action is simple and offers excellent combat accuracy. When the slide is racked, the firing pin or striker is prepped against the firing pin spring. In other words, the pistol is partially cocked. When the trigger is pressed, the striker is forced to the rear. Finally, the sear breaks and allows the striker to run forward, firing the pistol. After the shot breaks, the slide recoils; the spent case is extracted and ejected, and a fresh cartridge is chambered as the slide runs forward—orthodox operation in an unorthodox handgun. There are no locking lugs as the barrel locks by butting the barrel hood into the ejection port. The barrel features angled camming surfaces to effect unlocking and tilting the barrel during recoil.

The primary advantage of the Glock in training is there is only one trigger action to master, compared to a double-action, first-shot pistol, and the action is reliable and repeatable. With sufficient time and effort, you can learn the Glock trigger action and shoot it well.

New Design Makes This a Great Pistol

The pistol features a good reserve of ammunition. If you are caught in a situation in which you are outnumbered, much may be said for a fast handling pistol with light recoil that allows a trained shooter to make multiple hits quickly. The advantages of the Glock became apparent in law enforcement and the pistol was adopted by many agencies.

The drawbacks are few. The Glock demands a locked wrist when firing, or the pistol will short cycle, but this is common with many self-loading handguns. Simply grip the pistol properly and it will feed and function. But nothing is perfect and over the years there have been a number of improvements on the original handgun. Added to the pistol are serrations and finger grooves to improve adhesion. Interchangeable grip panels on new production pistols allow the individual shooter to obtain a near perfect blend of firearm and hand fit.

The pistol features a newly designed recoil rod that helps control recoil and limit wear on the handgun. Among the first features you notice on the Gen 4 is the slightly extended magazine release. It works as advertised, affording a speed advantage during magazine changes. The RTF or rough texture frame is welcome.

Dark gray Glock 17 Gen 4 with focus on textured frame and the extended magazine release button. Barrel is pointed down and to the left on a white background, with a gray strip at the bottom.

In this illustration you can see the new frame texture and the extended magazine release button. Small details that add up to a much improved handgun.

There is a raised bridge around the slide lock that helps protect the it from being inadvertently engaged. This is a good addition as the thumb sometimes locks the slide open when firing the pistol, especially when firing +P or +P+ ammunition. Overall, the G17 Gen 4 is an improved pistol with good features. The grip inserts allow a degree of custom fit; the grip allows better adhesion than ever before, and the detail changes result in a better handgun.

The Glock 17 is supplied with three magazines. With a 16-round capacity, this gives you 48 rounds on tap. Even better, a magazine is in the gun and another on the belt and the third resting. Rotating magazines in service this way results in long magazine spring life, however, Glock magazines are famously long-lived.

When firing the pistol to slide lock, the slide always locks back on the supplied magazines. For the purposes of this evaluation, the pistol was broken out and lightly lubricated. While the Glock needs little, to no, lubrication, a drop on the trigger bar is indicated. The pistol was loaded with Black Hills 115-grain FMJ for the initial evaluation.

Drawing from a Blackhawk holster and getting on target quickly at 7 yards, the handgun and the shooter performed well—

  1. Draw
  2. Get the front sight on target
  3. Press the trigger—you have a hit

The low bore axis of the 9mm Glock and the rapid trigger reset are a great aid in rapid-fire combat work. The pistol’s front sight simply hangs on target.

Moving to the Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P, we rediscovered one of the advantages of the 9mm. There is little difference in the recoil between standard loads and +P loads, at least not in a full-size pistol such as the Glock 17. Results with this load were excellent. In fact, I was shooting tighter groups, perhaps because I was subconsciously tightening the grip in order to control the +P loading.

In any case, this is a lot of horsepower in the form of a sizzling fast, 124-grain +P. Likewise, the recoil seemed light and the pistol was very easy to control and use well. Carry a shorter and lighter gun if you must, but the Glock 17 is a great house gun or carry gun when it can be concealed.

Glock 17 Gen 4 combat sites on a striated light gray background.

Glock’s combat sights are high visibility and offer rapid acquisition in speed drills.

Moving to 15 yards, the pistol gave good hits as long as attention to the sights was maintained and the trigger properly pressed. The pistol is impressive on the range and would make a great choice for IDPA competition. Firing the pistol for accuracy from the benchrest produced interesting results. The Glock isn’t generally tagged as a target grade pistol, and it isn’t, and the Glock 17 is more accurate than many realize.

The Glock does better with one load than another—like most pistols—2.5 inches at 25 yards is the norm. This performance isn’t bad at all for a polymer-frame service pistol.

To put the accuracy of the pistol into context: at the generally accepted, most common gunfight range of 21 feet, the Glock 17  groups practically any type of ammunition into a single, ragged hole time after time.

The Glock 17 is a great combat pistol. It is fast into action and easy to handle. If you’re an occasional shooter who, like many of us, simply cannot get in the practice needed, the 9mm handgun makes a lot of sense. With modern high performance ammunition it is difficult to be appreciably better armed without spending a great deal of time and effort in mastering a heavier caliber.

Accuracy Results

  • 5-shot groups
  •  25 yards
Manufacturer Bullet Weight Type Grouping
Black Hills 115-grain FMJ Remanufactured 3.5 inches
Black Hills 115-grain EXP 2.0 inches
Black Hills  124-grian JHP +P 2.5 inches
CCI Blazer 124-Grain FMJ 3.25 inches
Speer 115-grain Gold Dot 2.5 inches
Federal 124-grain HydraShok 2.4 inches
PMC Bronze 115-grain 4.5 inches
Wolf 124-grain FMJ 4.0 inches

The Glock is simple to operate and reliable. This means that instead of spending valuable time learning to manipulate the piece or to correct malfunctions, you can focus on marksmanship and tactics. That means a lot.

Specifications and Features

  • GLOCK 17 Gen 4 semi automatic pistol
  • 9x19mm Luger
  • 4.49″ cold hammer forged barrel
  • Right hand twist
  • 10 round capacity
  • Safe Action system
  • Three multiple back straps
  • Rough Textured Frame
  • Reversible and enlarged magazine release
  • Fixed sights
  • Reduced short frame trigger housing
  • 9.84″ length of twist
  • 5.5 pounds trigger pull
  • 0.49″ trigger travel
  • 7.32″ overall length
  • 1.18″ wide
  • 5.43″ tall
  • Weighs 22.04 ounces unloaded
  • 31.91 ounces loaded

Manufacturer: GLOCK PG1750201
UPC: 764503652011

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Did you get one of the early Glocks? What did you think of it? Have you checked out the Gen 4s? Share your experience with us in the comment section.

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (6)

  • thatguy

    |

    Meh, only reason I would ever get a glock is to play with the roni system which is not high on my list. I’ll take my Kimber 45 which can make closer groupings. Sure, it doesn’t have as many rounds, but round count vs accuracy will forever be a big debate. I’m more so confused how the article says its got a 16 round capacity on the mags then writes 10 round mags for the specs. I got an XD45 and was personally told by a certified gunsmith that they are toned to tighter tolerances but maybe that’s just to spite my father who has a gen1 glock

    Reply

  • Pete in Alaska

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    Sooooo, pretty much a catch-up model to compete with the Springfield XD an XDm series of poly handguns. I’ll stick with my Springfields . . . Both the XD’s and 1911′s I think. When Glock comes out with a change for the better in the ergonomics and design geomerety of thier products maybe ill considers adding another to my collection. Until then the several I do have will remain in the safe for those guest shooters that like them. It’s not that I think that Glock is an inferior firearm of platform, indeed that’s far from the facts. My personal expierance is that they do not fit my hand and that there is more hipe to thier name than their product deserves. How about instead of sounding like a factory rep pushing a new product, why don’t you provide us with some side by side, real world, range facts and information? Say this new Glock offering, an XDM, a 1911 ( Rock Island maybe?) and run them thru their paces. What you have written and provided here is informative but lacks depth, unless, I suppose, your only ever no matter what going to buy Glock!

    Reply

  • AR Shooter

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    I am the PROUD owner of a model 34 , which is the relative of a 17 . Now having adjustable sights and having a 3.5 pound trigger pull kit installed it is ONE HELL OF A GREAT SHOOTER ! ! ! Since I am left handed having the magazine release on the “right” side is a blessing . I wish that could be done with all my side arms INCLUDING MY THREE 1911 IN 45 …………………

    Reply

  • Robert Garber

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    If you have “different ” needs from your firearms . As I do, it’s nice to know that after market parts such as threaded barrels are available for purchase. Also flash and noise suppressors. Just look them up on the Internet

    Reply

  • Brian

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    I still have my G20 and G32. I enjoy shooting them and bet my life on the G32(steel guide rod with Wolf main spring.) I also have a Gen 3 G17L which is one of my fun guns. Overall, the Glocks are good guns. The only guns I feel that are better come form HK(I have two of those as well.)

    Reply

  • mik5180

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    My glock 34 is the sweetest comp gun I own. Way outperforming my 1911s once you get used to the trigger.
    Still if I could only own one handgun it would be a glock 19.

    Reply

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