The Generation 5 Glock 17 and 19-Updated Design Moves Closer to 'Perfection'

A review of the latest release by Glock; the Gen 5.

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A number of folks have asked me lately if I've tried the new Generation 5 (Gen 5) Glock's. Up until today the answer had been "no". While I was aware of some of the improvements that had been made to the Gen 5 Glock, I didn't get all worked up about them. The changes didn't appear all that earthshattering on their surface.

I have carried Glock's on and off duty in full, middle, and compact sizes since 1992 or so, and specified the 9mm Glock Model 19 as the designated training arm of our police academy. I have also been a Glock factory armorer for many years, so I am pretty well versed in the design. I currently own two Gen 4 Glock's-a G21 and G27-and it seemed like the Gen 4 was about as good as it was going to get for the now 35 year old Glock design-but I was wrong.

The Gen 5 update is currently available only for the 9mm G17 and G19, with other models to follow I'm sure. The G17 and G19 are likely the best place to start as the 9mm chambering is all the rage these days. I decided to test the G19 as it can do anything the full size G17 can, yet is compact enough to be carried concealed.

While Gen 5 updates involve some 20 improvements to the Gen 4 design-the most noticeable changes cover five distinct features. I found the most significant change to also be the most interesting. According to the Glock website the five feature changes are as follows-and they are good ones.

  • Finish

    The Gen 5 uses a new treatment for the main metal parts. A few years back, Glock quietly stopped using the legendary Tenifer treatment on their slides and barrels. When we selected the Glock 31 in .357 caliber as the issue pistol at the Union County Sheriff's Office, I was able to get to see firsthand how well the Tenifer finish held up. Cleaning of the department issue Glock's was particularly lax among a few of the guys, especially since I touted the Tenifer finish to the troops when we transitioned. After the Glock 31 was adopted, I never saw so much as a speck of rust on the barrels or slides. In fact the only area that I did see rust were the factory steel night sights which were not Tenifer treated. I was duly impressed!

    The finish that Glock used after Tenifer was not up to the same standards. I found two spots of rust on the slide of my Glock 21 that was in my gun safe. I was shocked, especially since no other gun in safe exhibited rust, and that Glock 21 had not been ridden hard and put away wet! There was no reason for that to happen.

    Glock eventually realized that there was an issue with their new metal finish and have upgraded to a proprietary finish they call nDLC. According to Glock. nDLC is more rust and scratch resistant than the previous finish. Hopefully it meets and exceeds the qualities of Tenifer.

  • GMB Barrel

    Gen 5 Glock's now use what is known as the Glock Marksman Barrel. The GMB uses a new type of rifling, and a new muzzle crown. Both changes are said to enhance accuracy. In my test the changes certainly didn't hurt it!

  • Flared Magazine Well

    This was a feature I didn't actually notice during my test fire mainly because I was using a rental Gen 5 G19 on the Vance indoor range and only had one mag. Had I been practicing rapid reloads rather than slow fire testing, I would have noticed it right away. On the flip side this means that the change is subtle enough so as not to adversely affect grip dynamics or appearance.

  • Ambidextrous Slide Stop

    FINALLY! This improvement should be much appreciated by the lefties out there!

  • Universal Fit (No More Finger Grooves!)

    I saved the most interesting change for last-the elimination of the front strap finger grooves! I was a bit shocked by this one. Original Glock's had smooth front straps. Finger grooves were added to Gen 3 guns presumably because of the number of users who were adding slip-on aftermarket rubber sleeve grips that featured finger grooves. I never added slip on fingergroove grips to my original Gen 2 Glock frame. It just feels better in my hands without them. Apparently enough other people feel the same way so the finger grooves were dropped!

As soon as I put the test G19 in my hand I knew Glock had made some good decisions. Gen 5 pistols keep the interchangeable backstrap system, and my test gun had a medium beavertail insert size in place. The checkered front strap felt very natural in the hand and was a perfect match for me. For the first time in all my years of handling Glock's I can say the Gen 5 G19 is the first one to melt right into my hand!

I sent a target downrange to the 30 foot mark, and began to load the magazine with American Eagle 124 grain FMJ ammo. While doing so I noticed another change-the magazines now use orange followers instead of the traditional black.

The natural and now ergonomic feel in the hand made the G19 an absolute pleasure to shoot. The trigger seems to be a part of the other 15 improvements as I found it crisper than what I have been used to in the past. At 30 feet, 10 shot groups fired two handed averaged 2.5 to 3 inches, even under the somewhat subdued lighting conditions of the indoor range. And of course functioning was flawless.

I have made this point before, but rental guns aren't cleaned after each use. My Gen 5 19 appeared to have gotten a good amount of use before I got my hands on it. Any handgun of any type that can survive as a rental gun deserves your consideration just on that fact alone!

In summation, while the upgrades from Gen 4 to Gen 5 aren't earth shattering, they are substantial enough that if I was choosing between a Gen 4 G19 and a Gen 5, the Gen 5 would be my choice hands down! On the other hand, I wouldn't necessarily feel compelled to trade in my Gen 4 for a Gen 5 just to get the enhancements, but I am sure the sales staff at any Vance Outdoors location would be happy to assist you with that. And by all means, test fire one of the rental guns. That is always the best way for helping you make up your mind.