On Saturday, August 26, 2017, Glock released two new Gen5 models in the United States. The offering was limited—only 100 gun ranges across the United States received the new models, and there was nothing official on the Glock website. The selected ranges had to sign nondisclosure agreements and did not know what models they were receiving until they arrived (two days before the events). Social media was utilized, but there were only hints—tantalizing suggestions as to what might come. Some people were unaware Glock had patiently set the stage for the release of the Gen5, G17 and G19 models. At these special events, there were prizes, drawings and a chance to go hands-on with the two new models to try them out. I was fortunate enough to have caught wind of the release, and when the doors opened at Liberty Firearms Institute in Johnstown, Colorado, I had a front row seat … or lane, to be more exact.
Glock has had a busy year. Last summer, the company won the FBI contract worth a hefty fortune—between $20 million and as much as $85 million—causing much discussion about the “M” models that were made to fill that order. Afterward, the loss of the $580 million Army contract to SIG Sauer was contested by the Austrian firearms giant, but it was ultimately affirmed in June 2017 by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO).
These large contracts often drive market change, and it would appear the Gen5 might be a result of this. The curious method of release could be social engineering; or, it could be playing upon human nature—a few well-placed ads, although nothing official, some people in the know, driving anyone who is interested crazy with speculation. Regardless, any improvements targeted to help Uncle Sam would likely benefit the rest of the shooting public.
“These vanguard models often reflect the evolving ideas of Glock engineers, as well as reflect trends in the substantial Glock aftermarket.”
The G17 and G19 have been staples of every generation Glock has given us. These vanguard models often reflect the evolving ideas of Glock engineers, as well as reflect trends in the substantial Glock aftermarket.
The Gen5s did not disappoint. The first things you observe are styling cues: There are no more finger grooves on the grip, and the muzzle has beveled edges. Yes, the old brick top has had a “nose job,” perhaps raising an eyebrow at first. But the tapered approach should make reentry for rigid holster systems much smoother.
There is also a new finish. Internet sources are calling it “nDLC. I later heard from Brandie Collins, PR and communications manager at Glock. She indicated that nDLC is “an ion-bonded finish that has the properties of natural diamond: low friction, high hardness and increased corrosion resistance.” It is a noticeably darker hue of black than the nitride finish of previous generations. One of the major upgrades is the Glock Marksmen Barrel (GMB). The polygonal rifling of yesteryear is gone, replaced with more traditional rifling. Collins also indicated the tolerances were tighter and accuracy was greater.
Other details visible on the outside include a truly ambidextrous slide stop lever, one on each side. The locking block pin has gone away, and the magazine release, while not ambidextrous, is still reversible for lefties, as is found on the Gen4.
When your Gen5 runs dry, you’ll notice a bright-orange follower in the top of the magazine. In addition, mags now have a more curved lip on the floor plate, pairing well with a half-moon cutout in the front of the magwell. This recipe allows a finger to grab and rip out sticky or jammed magazines. The magwell, itself, has been flared, giving a wider range of entrance angles on reloads.
Armorers and keen-eyed shooters will notice that other internals have also received subtle changes. The trigger spring, firing pin safety and slide lock spring are now the same designs used in the G42/43. Also, the barrel, slide plate cover and extractor have all benefitted from a few minor tweaks. Another minor change is that the firing pin tip went from a flat to a teardrop shape, and consequently, the firing pin hole has changed to accommodate it.
These changes might cause some compatibility issues with other Gens, but odds are, Glock made the changes for better durability and/or accuracy. Even with all that has changed, some things have remained the same: Collins said magazines were still interchangeable, and sights were still compatible with other models.
“Yes, the old brick top has had a “nose job,” perhaps raising an eyebrow at first. But the tapered approach should make reentry for rigid holster systems much smoother.”
Liberty Firearms Institute is a shooting mecca. Fifty thousand square feet of retail, classrooms, VIP area and archery range (3D targets and tree stand) combine with 50,000 square feet of underground shooting ranges. There are 52 firing lanes, with distances from 25 to 100 yards. There are also bobber targets and a laser simulation shooter.
You can take a class, buy a gun and have the inhouse gunsmith install your optic while you shoot your rented bow at the range or sip coffee at the shop—all in the same building.
I crowded in with around 100 people who came to shoot the new models. While I was given a lane to complete testing, there was a steady line cycling through to try out the Gen 5s. The overall feedback I kept hearing from shooters was twofold: Everyone loved the “new” trigger, but a few people did not like the feel of the half-moon cutout in the magwell.
“I found myself wondering where this flared magwell had been all my life. Reloading a Glock has never been like the needle-threading process of reloading a 1911, but this was like sliding into home plate.”
I had on hand three kinds of ammo for the test: Winchester, Magtech and Blazer, all 115-grain loads. Two friends joined me in the testing, and we each fired 500 rounds through both guns. Given the setting, there wasn’t an opportunity for bench testing or measuring velocities.
Anecdotally, accuracy was on par with previous Glocks I’ve fired, but the G19 kept shooting left. The other two shooters mirrored this, and we ultimately found the front sight was slightly crooked. Using the stock sights, I was reminded of why I have a bin full of them at home: They work, but there are much better options available.
There were two main observations I made about the Gen5s that separated them from the Gen4 I carry on duty.
First, the trigger was smoother, and firing after trigger reset was much quicker. Nevertheless, be mindful of the fast trigger reset. As a firearms instructor, I tell people to squeeze and let the shot be a surprise. I remember firing the first round and then letting out the trigger until I heard/felt the click of trigger reset. I started firming up the sight picture as I squeezed, and BAM! I was not ready for the quickness of the follow-up shots—and my groups reflected it.
This is clearly a situation that a lot of shooting would remedy, and I think that ultimately, I would appreciate the rapid return to fire when I was able to better anticipate when that was happening. Testing the trigger pulls after the range, I found the G17 to average in at 6.72 pounds; the G19 averaged 7.16 pounds.
The second major difference—and easily my favorite feature of the Gen5—I found myself wondering where this flared magwell had been all my life. Reloading a Glock has never been like the needle-threading process of reloading a 1911, but this was like sliding into home plate. I spend a lot of time practicing reloads, because they are part of quarterly qualification requirements. The beveled edges of the flared magwell easily made my reloads faster and more certain. I had a solid mag seating every time, and in addition, I never had any problems dropping a mag when the slide locked back.
Another noticeable difference was the grip finger grooves—some people were happy to see them gone. I’m neutral to the issue; both feel fine to me.
For fit, the backstrap options are still part of the Gen5 series. I did not feel the half-moon cutout as some people did, but my hands are on the larger side. I tend to lean toward preferring the G17, simply because of the real estate it affords me, but both guns ran perfectly without any malfunctions whatsoever. Aesthetically, the guns look and feel basically the same as previous iterations, except for the trigger reset.
While the pre-release of the new models was set for August 26, 2017, nationwide distribution was scheduled for the following week. So, as of this printing, the weapons should be available wherever Glocks are sold. The MSRP is $599.99 for both models. With no official information published from Glock yet, it’s hard to tell how extensive the new line will be or how many options it might include.
The Gen5 firing pin tip (right) is now teardrop shaped, as is the hole in the slide. (Photo: Robb Manning)The Glock G17 and G19 are legendary handguns, and the Gen5 is a continuation of a proud tradition of one of the most durable and functional handguns ever made. Improvements such as these are efforts to increase accuracy and reliability. Glock’s evolution is raising the bar. With these enhancements, it makes me wonder what the Glock will look like and how it will handle when it has 200 years of service.
Action type: semiauto
Barrel: 4.49 inches (G17); 4.02 inches (G19)
Magazine: 17 rounds (G17); 15 rounds (G19)
Sights: Glock OEM, basic
Weight: 22.26 ounces (G17); 21.52 ounces (G19)
Overall length: 7.95 inches (G17); 7.28 inches (G19)
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.