Firearm Faceoff: Glock 17 vs 19
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The differences between the Glock 17 and Glock 19 are subtle but the two 9mm pistols certainly bring a different design philosophy to the user.
Each Glock is engineered around specific strengths that play to its respective purpose. With that in mind, we dive into the debate over which gun is better for which kind of user.
In This Article
The Glock 17
Austrian engineer and modern-day gun genius Gaston Glock filed his first handgun patent on April 30, 1981.
That pistol, an innovative polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm that was simple– composed of just 33 parts– and had a massive magazine capacity for the day of 17 rounds, at the time had just been adopted by the Austrian military, the Bundesheer, as the Pistole 80 (P80).
As it was Glock’s 17th patent, he simply designated the new gun the Glock 17, or G17, and the rest is history.
40 Years and 3 Generations Later
The G17, which is still in production 40 years later, has three internal safeties (trigger, firing pin, and drop) and is immediately recognizable and iconic.
Today the gun, in its most updated format, is being produced in its 5th generation, with a standard Glock Marksman Barrel, recessed barrel crown, nDLC finish, ambidextrous slide stop, and, naturally, the same 17+1 capacity.
An optional Modular Optic System (MOS) variant comes from the factory ready to mount a red dot sight right out of the box.
With that being said, older style 3rd and 4th generations of Glock pistols are still in factory production while the more classic discontinued 1st and 2nd gen guns are the subject of collectors– indeed, the company recently introduced the limited edition P80, which is a commemorative of the Glock 17’s original format.
Further, these guns are nearly indestructible. Gun writer Chuck Taylor’s G17 has been extensively documented to have logged more than 250,000 rounds in a multi-decade torture test.
We detailed the ins and outs of the G17 in our hands-on review.
The Glock 19
With the introduction to the U.S. market in 1985 of the Glock 17, feedback from customers and users led the company to follow-up on the popular new polymer-framed pistol with a chopped down variant just three years later.
With the overall length and height trimmed about a half-inch in each direction, the more compact handgun, the new Glock 19, still boasted a 15+1 magazine capacity.
Best of all, the difference in performance between the two models was negligible, especially in close-distance practical/tactical combat shooting at ranges under 25 yards.
The G19, therefore, became a runaway favorite due to its versatility. Like the G17, it is currently in production in Gen 3, 4, and 5 models with the original Gen2s being more of a collectible.
Stacking the two guns side-by-side, the Glock 19, in general, is 0.67 inches less in overall length than the Glock 17, generation over generation, while standing 0.43 inches shorter.
This is due to the shorter barrel length and reduced magazine/grip size of the G19. The difference in weight is about 1.5 ounces unloaded (2.2-ounces loaded) with the G17 running a little heavier due to the extra steel and two extra cartridges.
Versatility & Interchangeable Components
Key to Glock’s simple format, the company’s products largely interchange.
For instance, the samegrip frame that fits the Glock 17 will also work with the top half slide/barrel of the standard Glock 22 (in .40S&W), 31 (357 SIG), 34 (9mm longslide), 35 (40S&W longslide), 37 (.45GAP) and so forth, as long as it is still within the same generation.
The same can be said for the Glock 19, which can swap slides with the compact .40S&W G23.
Further, .22LR rimfire conversion kits for both sized frames are readily available from aftermarket sources, capable of transforming the gun quickly into an inexpensive plinker.
This gives the average Glock owner the quick and easy ability to change over the caliber of their pistol by swapping off the slide/barrel and corresponding magazine.
When it comes to magazines, the G19 can use the larger 17+1 round mags of the G17— albeit with the last half-inch of the mag extending past the grip–but that ability is not vice-versa as the G17 cannot use the shorter 15+1 capacity mags of the more compact gun.
They can both, meanwhile, utilize Glock’s longer 19– and 33-round 9mm double stack sticks as well as the myriad of aftermarket 50-round 9mm Glock-style drums. For example, Magpul just released a D-50 series GL9 drummy that will work with both the G17 and 19.
As you would expect from the above, the sights are interchangeable between the G17 and G19, with dozens of makers producing a range of much better upgrades than the standard plastic factory sets.
Likewise, much of the internal parts are swappable between the two models within the same generation, usually just limited only by instances where the size difference mandates different length components, such as with the recoil spring assembly or locking block.
Which Is Right For You?
Keep in mind when comparing the Glock 17 and 19 is that the first was created initially to win a military sidearm contract while the second, smaller gun, was introduced after feedback from the commercial and law enforcement market for a pistol better suited for carry purposes.
As such, the two guns cater to different purposes.
The G17’s strengths
The Glock 17, with its longer barrel and slide, is inherently a bit more accurate, especially at distance. This is because the extra length contributes to a longer sight radius (6.65 inches long on the G17, compared to the G19’s 5.98 inches) while the barrel length gives the powder a skosh more time to burn and the bullet an extra bit of twist to produce slightly more velocity and energy downrange.
Likewise, the recoil impulse on the G17 is milder due to the longer travel of the action and the extra weight of the pistol, factors which eat up the felt recoil and allow the shooter to remain on target easier for more rapid follow-up shots even for those with larger hands.
Not a CCW firearm
However, the size of the G17 makes it impractical for discreet concealed carry except under a significant cover garment.
Remember, this is a gun that was made for a soldier to carry openly on his web gear, so a compact size was not high on the list of requirements considered during its design.
The G19’s advantage is flexibility
The Glock 19, meanwhile, trims both length and height from the standard G17, which as a by-product also ditches a couple of ounces of weight in exchange for a smaller magazine capacity.
While the cut is negligible– remember we are talking about a half-inch or so in each direction– it nonetheless creates a gun that is more easily concealed when needed while still offering 15+1 shots on tap.
Although it has a shorter sight radius than the G17, the G19 is still very accurate with experienced shooters lining up to show off 100-yard shots with the platform.
Meanwhile, the slightly smaller size of the Glock 19 opens it to a wider field of users with smaller hands or of a slighter build– especially on Generation 4 and 5 guns which have interchangeable backstraps on the grip frame.
Just about every concealed carry (inside the waistband) holster maker on the market has a model or 10 for the Glock 19, while the Glock 17 tends to slew more towards outside the waistband, open carry, and duty holsters.
Which one did the experts choose?
From its first contract, the Glock 17 has been a hit with those carrying a pistol for duty purposes, be it military or law enforcement.
The G17 has wide LE adoption
In the past 40 years, the full-sized pistol has been adopted by not only the Austrian military but also the armies of both France and Britain, the hard-charging Israeli Defense Forces, the Dutch military, the New Zealand Defense Force, and a host of others.
Notably, the Russian special forces, the Swiss Army, and the Philippine Marines all use the Glock 17– a big deal for countries that have vibrant and world-renowned firearms industries and the will to buy local.
In Scandinavian countries of Finland, Norway, and Sweden that have frozen arctic territory to protect, all three have gone with the Glock 17.
When it comes to law enforcement, a version of the G17 is carried by the FBI, the most influential agency in the United States.
The G19 a top retail seller
When it comes to its baby brother, industry reports and anecdotal evidence have shown that more Glock 19s are typically sold and resold in the U.S. than any other pistol model.
The primary reason for this is because of the versatility of the design, producing what many term the perfect-sized gun for personal defense, be it as a carry gun or for home defense.
Both are hard to kill
Like the G17, it is reliable and hard to kill. There are numerous G19s in circulation that have been documented to still be ticking well above the 50,000-round mark.
It is little wonder that the G19 has been adopted by groups as diverse as the Pope’s Swiss Guard and the U.S. Marines, with the latter tapping the compact 9mm for use by special operators and overseas advisors working under often extreme circumstances.
Rangemaster-Certified Instructers Agree
Finally, and perhaps most telling, an impartial survey of the carry choices of 100 rangemaster-certified firearms instructors found that, by far, the most popular selection these experts chose was a 9mm (85 percent) striker-fired semi-auto (79 percent).
About half carried a Glock, with some 44 percent opting for a full-sized gun with a 4-to-5-inch barrel and 43 percent choosing a compact with a 3.5-to-4-inch barrel. From that, you can see that the Glock 17 or Glock 19 camp is pretty evenly divided, left up to personal choice.
Further splitting hairs, the New York Police Department, the country’s largest LE force, since 2018 has allowed their officers and detectives a choice between the two models (and the Sig P226), albeit with a special trigger.
Meeting Halfway: the G19X
Introduced in late 2017, the Glock 19X is a hybrid design characterized by the pistol maker as a crossover between the standard Glock 17 and G19.
Derived from Glock’s entry to the Army’s Modular Handgun System program, the G19X uses a compact-length frame with the grip module of the G17, blended with the compact slide of the G19 and most of the company’s new Generation 5 features.
This produces a pistol with a 17+1 capacity that is as tall as the G17 but only as long as the G19, walking the line between the two models. A little different, with a coyote color scheme, a detachable lanyard ring, and steel sights, the G19X is distinctive. We have an in-depth review of the G19X for those interested.
Further muddying the waters, Glock in 2018 introduced the G45, which is more or less the same gun as the G19X but in a black scheme, with the addition of front slide serrations, and without the lanyard ring.
The Glock 44 Equation
In a direct nod to how successful the G19 is on the handgun market, in 2019 Glock introduced the G44, the company’s first .22LR pistol.
The kicker is, instead of releasing a target sport pistol such as Ruger’s Mark IV, Smith & Wesson’s SW22 Victory, or Browning’s Buck Mark, Glock’s rimfire is a near-perfect clone of the Glock 19 in dimensions, appearance, and layout.
The surface controls are the same, the gun points and feels the same, it even fits in the same holsters and accommodates the same accessories.
About the only differences are that the G44 is lighter, due to its hybrid polymer slide, and has a smaller 10+1 magazine capacity.
Nonetheless, this gives the G19 owner the option of grabbing a companion training pistol that can pay for itself in ammo savings while standing ready to introduce the next generations of shooters to the same tried and true handgun platform without the felt recoil and muzzle blast of full-powered centerfire rounds.
In the end, either the Glock 17 or the Glock 19 can—and have—been excellent choices for thousands of users on all levels, ranging from commandos to the average citizen looking to keep their family safe from that which goes bump in the night.
The track record for the guns speaks for itself. Each has their dedicated legions of fans and it is hard to go wrong with either choice. Get the one that best fits your needs — then get another!
- Google Patents, US4539889A – Automatic pistol with counteracting spring control mechanism
- Bundesheer, Waffen und Gerät – Pistole P 80
- Ballistic, Chuck Taylor, Glock 17 Survives 18-Year Torture Test Including 6 Months in Ocean, May 23, 2018
- Personal Defense World, Chuck Taylor, You Won’t Believe How Much Abuse This Glock 17 Has Taken, September 14, 2017
- Magpul, PMAG D-50® GL9® – GLOCK®
- Recoil, Patrick Roberts, The Unobtainable FBI Glock 17M is Now Obtainable, October 16, 2019
- GunBroker.com, Top Selling Semi Auto Pistols of 2020
- Eagle Gun Range TX, Andy Rutledge, Review: Glock 19 Gen 4 – After 80,000 Rounds, May 27, 2016
- The Drive, Joseph Trevithick, Marines Are Buying “M007” Glocks For Special Agents And Its Elite Helicopter Unit, November 9, 2017
- Carry Choices for Rangemaster Certified Instructors
- Tactical Life, The NYPD Is Finally Phasing Out the Service Revolver in 2018, December 4, 2017