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.
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.
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
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 Glock 17 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.
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—
- Get the front sight on target
- 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.
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.
- 5-shot groups
- 25 yards
|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|
|PMC Bronze||115-grain||4.5 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.
|Glock 17 Gen 4|
|Barrel Length||4.49 inches|
|Overall Height||5.43 inches|
|Overall Length||7.32 inches|
|Overall Width||1.18 inches|
|Weight Loaded||31.91 pounds|
|Frame||Rough Textured Frame|
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 Shooters 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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