Psst! Hey, you! Yes, you! You’re new to GLOCKs, aren’t you? Perhaps you’ve heard about GLOCKS—those ultra-durable, ultra-reliable “plastic guns” that police officers carry—and you’re just checking them out, seeing what all the fuss is about. It’s O.K. if you’re new to GLOCKs or don’t know much about them. You’ve picked up the right magazine. Read on to learn more!
Manufactured in Austria, GLOCK pistols have been around since 1981. While that’s a relatively short life, GLOCK pistols ushered in a new era of pistol design at the time, incorporating a very durable, advanced polymer frame that houses a safe and patented fire control system and a high-capacity magazine. There’s more than that, of course, and you’ll find out what else GLOCKs are about as you read. For now, though, you should know that GLOCKs have proven so durable and reliable that the majority of police officers in the United States carry them as their duty pistols.
If you’re new to firearms in general and new to GLOCK in particular, you will benefit from knowing what makes a GLOCK a GLOCK and how to select a GLOCK pistol for personal use. First, GLOCK’s numbering system for its pistols follows patent order as opposed to caliber or model sequence or year of introduction. For example, the GLOCK 17 is so named because it was founder Gaston Glock’s 17th patent. Then there’s the GLOCK 22. It’s not a .22-caliber pistol but a full-sized .40-caliber pistol. It’s GLOCK’s 22nd patent.
Second, GLOCK pistols are easy to shoot, meaning it is a simple operation of squeezing the trigger. When you fire a GLOCK pistol, the recoil is very manageable, even in larger calibers. Still, the best “first GLOCK” for a newcomer would be one of the GLOCK pistols chambered in 9×19, an effective round that is slightly less powerful than the other larger calibers but less expensive and even available at most sporting goods stores.
GLOCK offers five models that fire the 9×19: the G17, G17L, G19, G26, and G34. The GLOCK 34 is a long-barreled pistol that’s meant for competitive shooting, where the accuracy requirements exceed the needs of the average first-time user. While a first-time GLOCK buyer may desire a full-size 9×19 pistol such as the GLOCK 17, it is more likely that he or she will be better served by the GLOCK 19, a compact pistol that’s slightly shorter than the GLOCK 17, or the GLOCK 26, an even smaller subcompact pistol. We will affectionately refer to the G19 and G26 as “beginner’s” GLOCKs, although this is somewhat a misnomer because these pistols are some of the most advanced defensive weaponry available today. Their “beginner” label mostly derives from their 9×19 chambering, the least powerful of the calibers offered by GLOCK for the civilian market today. Take note: The 9×19 is still a deadly round that is used by thousands of law enforcement and military personnel around the world. Therefore, while it is a good “beginner” caliber, it is also an advanced or professional caliber by any measure.
Before we look at the individual features of the G19 and G26 you should be familiar with some of the standard features of all GLOCK pistols, including the features available on their current generation of pistols.
Since the first GLOCK pistol was introduced in 1981—to this day employing a consistent design responsible for performance that is the envy of the firearms industry—GLOCK has nonetheless continually updated and improved its design. Over the years, GLOCK introduced major enhancements to its pistol lineup four times. As such, the current offerings are termed “Gen4”—in other words, the fourth generation.
GLOCK Gen4 pistols have four major enhancements over previous generations. The first is a Modular Back Strap system. This means GLOCK Gen4 pistols have grips that can be lengthened, not in height but in distance from front of trigger to rear of pistol, to better fit any hand size.
To lengthen the grips and accommodate larger hands, GLOCK includes two polymer back straps with each pistol. One is labeled a “medium,” and the other is a “large.” These lengthen the stock by 0.08 inches and 0.16 inches, respectively. Previous generations of GLOCK pistols did not have a modular back strap system, but the size of grip varied with the size of the pistol. The larger pistols generally had larger grips.
The second enhancement is an enlarged, reversible magazine catch. Previous GLOCK pistols had a smaller magazine catch on one side of the gun that could not be reversed. With Gen4 models the magazine catch is not only larger and easier to manipulate, but it can also be reinstalled on the opposite side of the pistol. Along with the MBS system, this allows a GLOCK owner to get a more custom fit and feel.
The third enhancement is the dual recoil spring assembly. Where previous generations of GLOCK pistols employed a single recoil spring, Gen4s are equipped with a more durable, recoil-reducing dual recoil spring assembly. This simply means the Gen4 GLOCKS are even more durable and shoot better than ever.
The fourth enhancement is the use of a Rough Textured Frame (RTF). Where previous generations of GLOCKs used other textures to increase purchase (the quality of the grip you can get on a gun), Gen4 GLOCKs have an updated texturing that looks like small, well-spaced, raised squares. In summary, Gen4 GLOCKs fit better, function according to a shooter’s preferences, last longer, reduce recoil, and provide an even better means for holding them.
Before the Gen4 GLOCKs, however, the world enjoyed the first, second, and third generations of these pistols. All generations, including the current Gen4 GLOCKs, have these key features:
• A durable polymer frame that is lightweight, strong, and easy to maintain
• The SAFE ACTION® system comprised of three individual safety mechanisms (trigger safety, firing pin safety, and drop safety) that operate on a single trigger stroke
• Nitrite treatment of metal parts for high surface hardness, durability, and resistance to corrosion
• Only 34 total parts to the entire pistol, which increases reliability and reduces maintenance costs
• Easy to field strip with no tools; easy to fully disassemble with a single tool
• The Barrel sits low in a user’s hand, reducing recoil and helping to tame muzzle rise.
Now that you know about the features of a GLOCK Gen4 and a little about GLOCKs in general, two GLOCK pistols, the G19 Gen4 and G26 Gen4, are worth your consideration as beginner pistols.