Range Report: Glock Gen 5

Glock G17 Gen 5 pistol with American Eagle ammunition box

Glock’s introduction of the Generation 5 pistol has been much anticipated. The new pistol offers significant changes—more so than any previous generation. The first change to the Glock was the addition of a light rail. Next, came the finger groove frame and the rough texture frame later. However, not everyone liked the finger grooves or RTF frame.

Glock G17 Gen 5 pistol with American Eagle ammunition box
The author tested the pistol with many loads. In the end he also added the thinnest beavertail grip and found it an excellent fit.

Notably, through each generation, the pistol maintained its reputation for reliability and function. Few mechanical changes were made. The pistol that is generally regarded as the most reliable of the Glock variations is the Glock 17. Therefore, we chose the Glock 17 variation of the Generation 5 for this review.

There is also a Glock 19 compact version. Glock tells us, at present, there are no plans to offer the Generation 5 in .40 caliber. Glock offers the Generation 5 as a result of demands from law enforcement, particularly the FBI and the new ‘M’ class FBI service pistol as well as the civilian market. The FBI wanted a superior handgun, and one that allowed agents to shoot faster and more accurately in high stress situations.

The differences in the new pistol are interesting, and it will be just as interesting to see how the public reacts to these handguns. I find them an improvement over the previous Glock pistols. Just the same, if you own a long-serving Glock that meets your needs and performs well, you may not choose to trade in old reliable for the new pistol. If purchasing your first Glock, by all means, do not purchase an older model but opt for the Generation 5.

Orange pistol magazine follower
This is the new orange follower magazine.

The first major change is the new barrel, which Glock calls the Marksman barrel. This barrel might be called a Match barrel elsewhere. The difference? Glock changed from polygonal to conventional rifling. This barrel also features a well-made barrel crown. These barrels will not interchange with the older handguns. Those of us who wished to achieve the best accuracy fitted Bar Sto barrels to the Glock. Economy was better served by using hard cast bullets as well.

The new barrel solves a lot of problems. The handgun also incorporates a fully ambidextrous slide stop. For those who are left handed or tactical shooters and wish to be capable with either hand, this is an important improvement. The magazine release is reversible, if desired. Glock’s new finish is labeled nDLC, which is claimed to be even more durable than the older Tenifer finish. Glocks have proven wear resistant in the past and the new finish should be even better.

The grip frame offers good abrasion that in turn allows for a solid hand purchase when firing. The finger groove grip is no longer part of the picture. The flat style magazine release works well. Another aid to rapid replenishment of the ammunition supply is a flared magazine well. It is well done and unobtrusive.

Glock Gen 5 pistol magazine
New Glock Gen 5 magazines feature a cutout for right or left hand magazine catch use.

When shooters decide they need a customized Glock, the sights are replaced first and then the grip is modified. Glock sights are easily replaced and with the additional grip inserts and the new style grip of this handgun. I do not think most shooters will need grip modification.

Glock tells us the safety plunger has changed. The new-style plunger is more angled. Glock also claims a better trigger action—more on that later. The take down lever has gained a coil spring instead of the old leaf spring, which is a mechanical improvement. I can detect no difference in operation.

The striker and striker opening are now teardrop shaped. This is supposed to allow greater clearance for material in the firing pin channel. I have examined quite a few handguns during a detailed strip—powder residue and even brass shavings will accumulate in this area. Good change.

I collected a good supply of ammunition including lead bullet handloads, CCI Blazer ball ammunition, Federal 124-grain HST, Gorilla 135-grain JHP, and Hornady XTP loads in 115- and 124-grain weights. I added the Winchester 127-grain SXT +P+ a proven service load with an excellent reputation. This combination of loads should be a good test, ranging from light practice loads to the most powerful.

I began filling the 17-round magazines with a handload consisting of Magnus 124-grain hard cast bullet and enough Titegroup powder for 1120 fps. There was no break-in period. The pistol was very comfortable to fire with this load. The Glock stayed on target during combat drills. Recoil control was excellent.

Load Speed 25-yard Group
Magnus 124-grain lead 1120 fps 3.5 inches
CCI Blazer 115-grain FMJ 1155 fps 4.0 inches
Federal 124-grain HST 1180 fps 2.8 inches
Gorilla Ammunition 135-grain 940 fps 2.85 inches
Hornady 115-grain XTP 1168 fps 2.5 inches
Hornady 147-grain XTP 980 fps 2.9 inches
Winchester 127-grain SXT +P+ 1233 fps 2.95 inches

Moving to the CCI Blazer ball loading, results were much the same. The new Marksman barrel handled lead fine, with the normal accumulation in the grooves. The Gen 5 proved accurate enough for practice with the Blazer loads.

TruGlo combat light on Glock 17 Gen 5
TruGlo’s combat light is a good fit for the Glock.

Moving to service-grade loads I fired the Federal 124-grain HST and Hornady XTP in both 115- and 147-grain weights. Results were good. The final load tested was from my dwindling supply of Winchester 9mm +P+. The SXT load exhibited the greatest recoil of any load but was controllable for those that practice.

Benchrest accuracy isn’t the test of a combat pistol, but the Glock 17 Generation 5 is clearly accurate enough for service use. All loads exhibited decent to good accuracy within the limits of my ability. I can detect no advantage over older generation pistols in accuracy. The trigger may have a different feel with a faster reset, but the difference—in my estimation—is slight. The ambidextrous slide lock, beveled magazine well, and new grip design made for a better handling pistol in speed drills. The Glock 17 Generation 5 is a credible addition to the Glock line and a genuine upgrade.

Have you tried the Glock Gen 5? How does it stack up to the previous generations? Share your answers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. The “slideshow” embedded in the Cheaper Than Dirt E-Mail shows the
    ambidextrous slide release with the caption “Glock’s new ambidextrous SAFETY is a good feature.”.
    I believe the necessity to pull the trigger in order to fieldstrip the pistol
    has been done away with. This is a BIG improvement IMHO !

  2. I have 2 gen 3’s and 2 gen 4’s. They are all great guns. I’m not ready to go out and buy another pistol just for the small changes they made. I’m sure the gen 5’s are great just like all the others. In my opinion it’s tge best combat pistol.

  3. your article states as a first addition to the Glock in GEN5 is the addition of a light rail, this is incorrect, the light rail is on every GEN4 (I own a GEN4 model 23 in 40.)

    1. Please reread
      I was noting the incremental improvements to Glock pistols over the years, beginning with the light rails and proceeding to finger groove frames. .

  4. I am left handed. 10% of the U.S. population is left handed.
    I shoot .40 ammo. I have a large hand.
    What new GLOCK meets the needs of a left hander?

  5. I have both the 19 and 17 Gen 5’s, and they are fantastic in all ways , I also have 6 Gen 4’s but I have to say the 5’s out shoot the 4’s hands down, more accurate feel better in my hand, loosing the hand grooves on the grip was a big plus for me, the ambi slide release/stop actually works, where some other makes do not, I ordered my my .5’s with Ameraglo night sights, and they came right on, no adjustment was necessary, the new finish on the slide looks great and feels great, the melting of the slide looks nice and will make re-holstering easier, the orange follower on the magazines are a nice touch also as well as the larger lip on the floor plate, it gives my hand an added feeling of a secure grip, and the cut out in front of the grip for pulling your magazine out if needed, works well and isn’t a problem for me as some say they don’t like it, at this point I don’t think I’m going to need to change a thing on these guns like I have with most of my .4’s if you’re thinking of getting a new Glock, see if you can try one of these new 5’s, I think you will see what I mean, Glock did a great job here with these up-grades…

  6. I own 2 Gen 4 Glocks, a 17 and a 22. Both have a light rail, so that’s not something new. This is the second review I’ve read in the last week of the Gen 5, and it sounds like Glock made some significant improvements to an already great gun.

  7. Might wanna check your info on the Glock Marksman Barrel. In the specs section of Glock’s website, under the Gen 5, it says “BARREL RIFLING:
    right hand, hexagonal (GMB)”. All other generations don’t have the GMB wording so I don’t think it’s a copy and paste error of the web designer. If it really is hexagonal then that would qualify as polygonal and not conventional rifling.

    1. I’ve been up far too many hours without sleep at a 3-Gun Shooting Camp sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation #NSSF (Which I highly recommend), but as I recall it is still listed as a hexagonal barrel with improved rifling and it is dubbed the Glock Marksman Barrel (GMB).

  8. Glock seems to have taken their cue from other American companies. Every couple of years they’ll come out with an “improved” model which will stimulate glock fans to run out and buy it. Watch for Gen 6 in a few years.

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