GLOCK Gen4, Improving on Perfection

Gen4 vs Gen3 Magazines

In 2011 GLOCK introduced the Generation 4 (Gen4) pistols. The Gen3 series was, to me, the pinnacle of GLOCK progression. I fully believed the crest of the mountain had been reached. That a great pistol had done all it could, and would remain a solid, trustworthy, stout yet ordinary system. I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. I was wrong.

What the new Gen4 brings to the table is not change for the sake of change, but change that has taken many years to achieve. The Gen4 series semi-autos are better handling, better engineered and more versatile guns than the original… Dennis Adler–Evolution of the New Gen4 Series 2011

While the changes did not upend the handgun world, it was apparent that the good just got better. So what do you get with the new Gen4s?

Controlled Recoil

It is my belief the first shot in a defensive situation is the most important. Strangely enough the second and third shots are as important-respectively in that order. However, in a defensive situation when the adrenalin is coursing through the veins and the world becomes surreal the first shot can go in bizarre directions and many times straight into the ground. Thus the follow-up shots are critical.

GLOCK understood that and in the Gen4s there is a new doubled recoil spring and guide rod. The recoil spring does not just wrap a guide rod but each rod and spring is now a redundant system. Energy is more evenly dispersed and thereby reducing muzzle flip. By the way, it works.

Get a Grip

GLOCK has improved the grip on the Gen4 in two ways. First, the one-size-fits-all paradigm is gone. Really, we don’t all come equipped with the same hand size? My brother and I could have told you that from our law enforcement careers. He and I are both cursed with hands the size of an eight-year-old boy. My hand size has been a true handicap in shooting that I have had to overcome. Thank goodness I started shooting when I was eight so I could get use to the hand-size I would be using my entire life to shoot with. My brother was the best shot in our department and he carried a S&W 645 hand cannon. We had to adjust to the grips issued.

With the Gen4s, GLOCK takes on the new trend of adjustable back straps. GLOCK calls this system the Multiple Back Strap or MBS system. Again, it works and I like it enough that I am willing to spend the extra paper to get the system. If you have always liked the size of the GLOCK grip then this may not be as big of a deal to you. For me—the grip-challenged—it is awesome. I can finally reach the magazine release with my thumb without rotating the gun—I’m a big boy now.

Furthermore, the grip surface, now upgraded to the new Rough Texture Frame or RTF. This is the third series of RTF and thus referred to as RTF3. I did not find it to be as groundbreaking as the other upgrades and did not make as much difference to me, in my humble opinion.

No One LEFT Out

Now for those individuals with the OTHER shooting handicap, left-handedness, GLOCK has heard your cries. The Gen4 series has an ambidextrous magazine release system. The release button can be changed from left to right and back again, no gunsmithing degree required.

However, this has created somewhat of a confusion in the magazines. As of this date all GLCOK magazines currently produced will work in all GLOCK handguns specific to the caliber. Yes, I know there are some exceptions to this rule. The main exception is that Gen3 and earlier magazines will not work in Gen4 pistols if the magazine release button has been moved to the right side of the frame to accommodate left-handed shooters. Gen3 and earlier magazines are easily spotted as they have only one notch in the front of the magazine.

So there you have it. Excluding the RTF3, I believe this has made the very incredible yet common GLOCK handgun into a competitor that can go up against others that sometimes rely on bells and whistles. I truly admire that the changes are not to impress the people at the range but to help make you a better shooter. That is the perfection in GLOCK’s simplicity. Sure paint looks good on the car but it’s what’s under the hood that makes all the difference.

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Comments (55)

  1. if the gen 4 is the best why are people on trading them for a gen 3 glock straight up. I have a g19 and the only time I have ever had a shell hit me on the head was when I was turning my gun sideways for a kill shot. I love my glock, but if it was whiffing shells at me under pressure id get as distracted as the next guy. ill buy a gen 4 just to have but I will always stick with the best gun ever made for all purposes the Glock 19 Gen 3.

    p.s. if the g19 has to much kick for you, well your that one thing you used to get back in the day… came in a box… pussy!

  2. So, Glock is finaly___building what H&K built many many years a go with their HK45and HK45C except, the HK45 is slimmer, less recoil with their buffered guide rod design and has 4.4″ barrel and better accuracy over 15 yards. Hmm.

  3. Is there any chance that all the Gen3 i own can be changed with the double spring to make them shoot like my glock 21 gen 4 Thank you for such a good weapon to protect my family with. Steve Cusic

  4. I was told the GK = Glock is the AK of handguns – reliable, rugged and proven track record; now this is based on gen 3 versions and before not 4; so only time will tell; so new is grips, mag release button, 2 spring and ejector rod; what is verdict on spent cases ejecting and landing close on body rather than at a safe distance as with gen 3; thanks to all for all feedback; wishes

  5. I don’t get the big deal on the ambi mag release. Leftys have it made the way it is, use your trigger finger and press the button, don’t even have to turn the gun sidways! I have been doing it with my duty Glock for years and haven’t had a problem. I wouldn’t change mine in case a back-up had to pick it up and and save me with it and not know it had been messed with. The same with all the ambi crap available for shotguns and ARs. no need!

  6. Alas, alot of glock coments. Like women; Love Um, or Leave Um. I have 1st. generation Glock 10mm. I liked the way it points just like the 1911, but Shoots Better. (Sorry 1911). I live in CA. now, so no High Cap. Mags. But when bought I got 10 HC mags at the same time. Reloaded my own w/ star brass, (Hard 2 get @ the time) & Hornady xtp hp’s. Fair stock of Fact. ammo, especially WW 10 mm. Silvertip Hollowpoints, Hornady Flat Point 170 grns. fmj’s. Just 4 the heck of it Barstow crome bbl’s and liquid dipped the grip area with Liquid Rubber. Bought Wife a Barretta 92F in 40. S&w & also 10 HC mags also & same time & day. Before this, 357. Mag fan with Colt Python. Moved up to a Stainless Steel Coonen Autoloader that looks like a 1911. Also shoots better, harder and faster & still points like the 1911. As a result, I don’t shoot the 1911 much anymore. A shame because I’m wasting the 3 Ca. Conversion Kits I also bought 4 it right after I Got It. So, this is my Story; Love It, or Leave It.

  7. I have a model 19 and model 27.both gen4. I have no problems with either one. I did put Talon wrap around grips on them which fit both perfect and improved the handling of both pistols.

  8. I love GLOCKS!!!! I currently own a Gen 3, Glock 31 and 33 .357 Sig. Changed out the barrel and recoil spring on the 31, shoots great no problems thru 5000 rounds. I have the Glock 33 for conceled carry and it is also great. One thing that makes me angry is that .357 Sig ammo is hard to find and if you find it it is very expensive. I asked one dealer why this is and he told me that .357 Sig is not as popular as .357 Mag. So with that I seem to be in the minority, this shortage of ammo has curtailed my range time due to the cost. I am constantly looking foe a manufacture or dealer that can provide me with my ammo at a reasonable cost. Any suggestions out there.


  9. I am really surprised to see how many fellow US citizens are still buying a Glock, well known for the need of all kind of modifications,tune-ups and after market tools in order to upgrade it like a modern, good auto has to be right out of the box.
    We have so many excellent manufacturers in the US, but we are still blind-followers believing in the Austrian Glock hype. Poor souls.

  10. I’ve had the M27 compact since 1998. It has the double spring also.
    Just recently I took my solder iron and stippled the grip. Took my time with each dot and it really made a difference. Looks great too. My thoughts were I should have as much grip on this tiny two finger wrap around .40cal as possible in the event I need to pull it.
    Just love the simplicity of the Glock.

  11. I own many Glocks. Glocks are reliable, accurate and durable but far from perfect. They have flat sided grips when they should have grips that fit the shape of your hand (like the palmswell grip on the Smith M & P.) They also point high for most shooters because of the grip angle The finger grooves put onto Gen 3 grips are a detraction unless your hand fits the Glock model hand exactly.

    Put your hands on an M & P or better yet, an HK P30 and feel the difference for your self.

  12. I bought my Glock model 20 in 1993, have fired many thousands of rounds through it without ( gods honest truth) without a sigle malfunction. I don’t plan on buying another Glock because there is absolutely nothing wrong with this one. I own other popular brands, but nothing gives me the accuracy or power of the 20. The only things I ever did to my weapon was I had to install a 2nd set of night sights, ( the original lost they’re illumination) & I installed laser sight. This Glock just keeps plugging away.

  13. I have owned a Gen 3 since they first arrived on the market. I have made a few changes to it. New guide rod, the first broke the tip off and it kept shooting till changed. New night sights. Sand paper grips and marine spring cups, for the wet conditions in which my Glock travels. I kayak in gator country. I have dumped the kayak and fired shots upon surfacing, flawlessly. Never fired submerged, not a good idea! Glock 23 is a good friend to have next to you, wherever your travels take you.

  14. last year i bought a s&w m&p in 9mm. i also bought a glock gen 4 model 17 in 9mm. what i discovered were two magnificent shooting pistols. however i will comment that i discovered that after shooting 200 rds. through the glock, i started having a sore hand from the gun grip. but after buying a hogue wraparound rubber grip it provided instant relief. also, i liked the sights better on the smith, so i bought nite sights for the glock. extremely better sight picture now. finally, i must admit that field stripping the smith is easier than the glock, particularly when removing the slide. but all in all i must say that both guns shot magificently. no complaints on accuracy or performance.

  15. Bought my first Gen4 in 2011 when they were released for LE and I have never looked back. As a Glock Armorer I can tell you this is the King of Kings as far as Glocks go.

  16. My G34 Gen4 had many jams. I finally got Glock to take it back and send me a brand new pistol. The new unit jammed on the very first shot, but none after that. I have not shot enough rounds to determine how reliable it is, but I now use a Ruger as my carry. I don’t trust my Glock anymore.

  17. I’m a Springfield XD 45, 4″ inch barrel fan. I had a sub-compact XD9 and I never had a malfunction and the I got me the 45 XD and they are just as sweet. The 45 is my carry pistol in an IWB Crossbreed holster. I only take it off when I’m ready to sack-out. Love the reliabilty of the Springfield’s XD’s.

  18. Iv shot many pistols in the past 20 years trying no to be bias in brands and and whats “hot” at the time.every one has there personaly iv loved the G19 gen 4 ever since the 1st time i pulled the trigger.after 500 plus rds,iv had zero problems.the only semiautos iv enjoyed this must and feel confident in it with my life on the line other than the G19 is a kimber 1911.considering the $ diff. The G19 is the best bet unless u can afford a kimber.obviously n e thing mechanical can have problems even more so if u dont take care of ur most cases if u take care of ur weapon it will do the same for u.

  19. I bought a model G19 gen 4 at the same time that my daughter bought a G19 gene 3. I have had nothing but trouble with the gene 4 while my daughter has had no trouble with her gene 3. We always shoot together and shoot the same ammo. We have used several brands of ammo. My glock 19 gen 4 misfires most often on the first round (as mentioned the most critical) and then two ore three times through the emptying of the magazine. I contacted Glock by fax but received no reply.

  20. I just bought my Glock Model 17 Gen4, And love it . I did a lot of research on all the others that were similar, And Glock always came out on top . The coolest part about is , Mama loves it also. What more can I say. To the guys at Glock, GREAT JOB.

  21. My first gun was a Glock 19. Still love put crimson laser on it, my Wife loves it. Also have a 40 & 50 cal. By Springfield XDM. Both are great too. But will get a new Glock for the Wife.

  22. I shoot a Springfield XDm in .40 SW, I bought that because it was very similar to a Glock but had a slew more in the style department. A recent trip to the range found me shooting a buddy’s Glock 22, a real eye opening experience. I’d really like to give this new Gen 4 a test drive and see if its worth swapping my current sidearm for, that being said, I have put well over 2000 rounds thru my XDm and have not had a single malfunction. Stay vigilant people.

  23. I own 3 Gen4’s 22,23 and 27. Have Lone Wolf barrels for all and shoot 40 or 9mm with each. My hand is very long and the new bs system really fits well with Limbsavers added to all. Super reliable platform that continues to improve. If you are looking for a polymer pistol you have to look at Glock Gen 4’s. They are the class of the field and the stick all others measure against. In my area, the price for Gen 3’s and 4’s in 9mm and .40 is about the same and you get 1 extra mag with the gen 4.

  24. By the way folks, read up on the reliability of the Gen 4 pistols. The gun forums were “ablaze” with reports of the dismal quality when the 4s came out. It does appear after a year or so, Glock figured out the problems…guide rod, extractor, and ejector.

  25. I bought a Gen 4 as soon as they came out. I had to replace the recoil assembly 3 different times. The gun was utterly unreliable. I’d get FTF, FTE, and simple stoppages. I averaged 8% malfunctions. Out of every 100 rounds, I would have 8 malfunctions. I’m a trained shooter, and shoot a lot of much more powerful weapons than the G-17, so the typical cry of “limpwristing” does not apply. After going back to Glock twice, they’ve replaced the extractor, ejector, and guide rod assembly. While I did not appreciate Glock using me as a Beta-tester, it appears the gun has finally been fixed. I still will never trust it with my life, due to all the problems I had with it. But the Gen 4 is a very capable and fun pistol for the range, and competitions like GSSF and IDPA. For protection, I use Gen 3 Glocks, and my new favorite, the Smith & Wesson M&P. The M&P is just as accurate as the Glock, it’s MUCH more ergonomic, and it has a trigger that doesn’t feel like a barbecue lighter. Most importantly, my M&P now has over 5000 rounds through it. I’ve never had a single malfunction of any type. They’re the same price. Buy the American gun.

  26. Though I prefer the concealability of a 1911 these are very nice improvements on the Glock line of pistols…..Certainly worth a look.
    Glock is the definition of reliability ……nice pistol

  27. Gen4 is technically also available in the 20/29 (10mm), 21/30 (.45), 32/33 (.357 Sig), Now, the caveat is the 20/29/30/33 were released first for LE sales, and availability at commercial is still incredibly limited (ie, from what I’ve seen any stocking dealer had to get lucky to get more than their LE orders filled). I wouldn’t expect general retail sales for a few more months. I own a G21 Gen4 via my GSSF pistol purchase program & had no issues getting one. At least one fellow GSSF member I know has a Gen4 32.

    Hope this helps!


  28. I have Glock 23 gen 4. No miss ques of any kind after
    4,000 plus rounds. Its my choice for personal protection
    because it always goes boom.

  29. I have Glock 23 gen 4. No miss ques of any kind after 4,000 plus rounds. Its my choice for personal protection because it always goes boom.

  30. I have a Gen4 glock 27. For a short handled defense weapon, I was blown away when I put down a wounded deer at 50 yards, between two trees. This weapon platform is amazing, and I will deffinatly own more than one before its over. The double over spring makes recoil feel like a .22 caliber. I’m saving for the gen 4 22 now!

  31. It’s funny, but I’m a left-handed shooter who’s been dropping the magazine with my index finger so long that I wouldn’t change the magazine release even if I had the option. It would feel so strange and unfamiliar to me. When I shoot right-handed, the most awkward moment for me is using my thumb to release the magazine!

    Ambi safeties are another matter though. I pretty much avoid all pistols with safeties for carry use, and the right-handed safeties on my Ruger Mark II and my rifles and shotguns are notably a pain.

  32. My wife was rigorously searching for a light frame, high cap, carry gun. She had insisted on adjusting her to the gun rather than the gun to her. Both times were horrible control and accuracy. On the final search for a carry gun, after handling almost every polymer one on the market. The Glock 19 was last. You see. I didn’t like Glock. Back in the day I went from a S&W #19-.357 to a Glock 23 40cal as a duty weapon. Myself and many other fellow police officers hated them. When I retired I went back to the 1911 as a carry gun. Anyway, my wife loved the fit, feel and balance of the #19 Gen-4. I trusted the new 9mm rounds as having good stopping power if needed. I fired the first couple mags to make sure it didn’t blow up. I was shocked at how much Glocks have improved over 20 years. I now carry the Glock #19-Gen4 myself loaded with Hornady “Critical Duty” 124 grain rounds. I can put 10 rounds in a 3″ group at 25 yards. Standing off hand. I’ll take that. My other Roscoe’s are in my safe. My Gen-4 #19 is always on my hip…

  33. I opted for the cheaper gen 3 G19. I asked a lot of people I know that have used both and they tended to lean towards the 3’s. Most of the feedback I got was that the new Gen 4 spring was having some problems. I cannot really attest to what those problems were because my selling point was that the Gen 3 was 150 bucks cheaper at my local gun shop. I think they had a sale going at the timje if i am not mistaken.

  34. I have a 26 and a 30SF both are Gen 3. I also have small hands. Tried the Gen 4s’. I’ll stick with my 3s’. Not enough of a difference (for me) to justify the extra $$$.

  35. The only operational/mechanical change I see in this article is the new recoil spring/rod. The other issues – grip adjustability and support for left handed shooters, are necessary if you need them but not really functional improvements for a right handed shooter that doesn’t have a problem with the grip. Gen 3 isn’t the most comfortable thing at first but you do get used to it. Are there any other mechanical improvements with a Gen 4 that the article missed?

    Glocks are clunky ugly muthas… but they seem to work every time, eat whatever you feed them, and mine never has given problems. I do take meticulous care of it. I really don’t think I would get anything other that possibly another clunky ugly Glock.

  36. In response to John Burns question — Yes, the Gen4 is available in both the G20 and G21

    Glock Armorer and LE Instructor

  37. How about an ambidextrous slide release for the southpaws? Huge drawback in my humble opinion. Clearing a double-feed is significantly faster and easier to perform on handgun with an ambi’ slide release. Lots of other manufacturers have it; why not Glock?

  38. Bought my Glock 30, 45acp back n 1998, and it has the double spring recoil in it. Doesn’t have the straps, though, on the back.

  39. I have a Glock 30 Gen 4 ? with everything but the grip adjustment. Its over a year old but I love it.45 cal and is sweet on the recoil.It looks just like the one in the pic but is wider with no straps.

  40. if the short-slide-glocks can be made to cycle for regular-length ctgs (duh), then a regular-slide-length-glock should be able to have a longer slide-stroke w/ a telescoping R spring, as in gen4; a longer slide-stroke would absolutely result in significant recoil reduction, esp w/ progressive-strength springs, & maybe neoprene buffer; this would allow hotter loads to used by avg shooters for more reliable penetration, expansion, faster bleed-out (think .460rowland!); can’t believe all that work on ambi mag release, & no central mag release directly behind the trigger; this would absolutely remove trigger-finger from trigger to drop mag; while they’re at it, howbout an automatically-releasing slide-release, when a fresh mag is fully seated? its been done; as long as i’m hunting&pecking here, howbout a .45 taperbore to, say, .357, or at least a .45>.357 sabot

  41. I seem to recall that the doubled spring, multiple backstraps, textured grip and ambi release were all present in my Walther P99 when it came out a decade ago.

  42. I am a Glock person and I have to have one as soon as I can afford it. Maybe even if I can’t. Just imagine that spring in a Model “C”. That would be Glock Perfection.

    Proud Glock Owner,
    Joe Watkins

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