Evolution generally does not come full circle, but in the case of the new Gen4 models, we are back to the beginning; a polymer framed, high-capacity semi-auto, just like the original GLOCK introduced over a quarter of a century ago, only the Gen4 is an entirely new take on Gaston Glock’s benchmark 9×19 semi-auto pistol. It is evolution at its finest.

What the new Gen4 line 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; the differences, although subtle, are both distinctive in appearance and in function.

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Introduced to the U.S. market in 1985, (the gun was developed in 1982 and named for inventor Gaston Glock’s 17th GLOCK manufactured product), the GLOCK 17 and later compact GLOCK 19 9×19 semi-autos have become internationally revered as benchmarks in the evolution of firearm’s design. In 2009, American Rifleman voted the GLOCK 17 as the No. 3 gun of all time. Not just for the 20th century but in the entire history of firearms! Pretty lofty praise and a tough act to follow, which GLOCK has done quite successfully over the years with a variety of models based on the original 9×19 and chambered for cartridges ranging from 10mm Auto, .40, .357, .380 Auto, .45 Auto and the manufacturer’s proprietary .45 G.A.P. Almost three decades after the G17 was introduced, there are now GLOCK models in virtually every chambering and frame size from .380 Auto subcompacts to the hefty 13-round G21 in .45 Auto, and Gen4 models in 10 variations chambered for 9×19, .40, .357, and .45 G.A.P.

Over the years, the GLOCK 9×19 and .40 variants (G22 and G23) have become the preferred service pistols of law enforcement agencies the world over, guns that have been put to the test and survived abuses most of us will likely never encounter; but, in the real world guns do get dropped, driven over by cars, covered in mud, buried in snow and ice, soaked by torrential downpours and submerged in water. This is the world in which GLOCK semi-autos have evolved.

After a quarter century in the U.S. market, the Austrian armsmaker really had little to prove, so why the Gen4? There have been numerous modifications to the gun since the early 1990s but nothing that has dramatically altered its appearance or operational characteristics; that is, until now.

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