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Review: Glock 17 Gen 4 — Hit or Miss?

Glock G17 Gen4


—Review by Scott Thornton, assistant manager and chief range safety officer, Shoot Smart Grand Prairie, a Texas Law Shield facility. Used with permission from Shoot Smart.

The Glock 17, in 9×19 mm, is one of the most popular modern handguns in the world. I say “modern” because it has only been in service since 1982. In the gun world, it is still a new design. When it first hit the market, there were several critics of this new “plastic gun that can go through an airport metal detector undetected.” They thought it was ugly, referring to the pistol as the “Block 17.”

But the gun can be detected–the slide and barrel are made of steel after all–and really, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Since its introduction, the Glock 17, has proven to be one of the most reliable, durable and easy to maintain pistols in the world, and it spawned an expansive line of similarly popular models, including the Glock 19 and 26. So let me show you the real merits of the Glock 17. Then you can try it out at the range, and decide for yourself. In the review below, I describe “Hits” as positives of the firearm, with a “Miss” being a negative.

HIT: Reliability. The Glock 17 Gen 4 pistol is one of the most reliable handguns on the market. Within the rental fleet at Shoot Smart, the Glock 17 is one of the most popular handguns used by customers. Even though the pistol is fired thousands of times, it maintains one of the lowest out-of-service rates of any handgun in the fleet.

HIT: Ease of Maintenance. Being able to clean and maintain your firearm is fairly important. The Glock 17 is very easy to disassemble and reassemble. It also requires minimal maintenance to remain reliable. In fact, there are many Glock owners who wait as long as 1,000 rounds or more between cleanings. So this firearm is perfect if you don’t like cleaning guns!

HIT: Accuracy. Almost any quality handgun is capable of 2” groups, or smaller, at 25 yards. The Glock 17 is no exception. I can consistently keep my groups on my business card at 15 yards or beyond. I can show you how, but that’s a different article!

HIT: Durability. I have been using my first Glock 17 for training and competition for over 15 years. I have somewhere between 25,000 to 30,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ through it. I have done thousands of presentations from the holster with it. After 15+ years of use, there is only slight holster wear on the slide. The Tenifer finish on the slide and barrel is very hard and resistant to wear, so you can rest assured your Glock will last, too.

MISS: Sights. The factory sights on the Glock 17 are made of the same material as the frame. While I never had an issue with the sights, I did replace my Glock sights with after-market versions that serve me better.

HIT: Barrel: The barrel used in the Glock 17 is hammer forged and has polygonal rifling. The polygonal rifle’s excellent accuracy results from an increase in bullet-to-barrel contact, which reduces the propellant gases from blowing past the bullet, thereby increasing velocity. The rifling also makes the barrel easy to clean–just remember to use jacketed bullets to maintain a healthy barrel!

HIT: Frame. The frame of the Glock 17 is made of lightweight polymers. The frame is chemical resistant, impact resistant, fairly heat resistant, and to me, seems to reduce noticeable recoil. The frame is also fairly easy to customize with a technique called “stippling.” Stippling is a modification to the surface of the frame in which dots, grooves or other patterns are melted into the plastic, thereby increasing grip friction.

MISS: Ergonomics. Until the introduction of the Generation 4 Glock 17, older variants were known for fairly thick, square grips. The updated Gen 4 frame helped to alleviate some of the issues. For example, Gen 4 models include adjustable back straps to help different sized hands feel more comfortable around the grip. While I feel comfortable with the grip, one of the most common complaints among new users is the grip. Here’s a tip: If you love the gun, but not the grip, consider customizing it to fit your hand. Our gunsmiths can help!

HIT: Trigger. The factory trigger on the Glock 17 is fairly good. There is some slack, or free movement, during the initial part of the trigger press, but once you feel resistance the trigger press is a consistent 5 ½ pounds. There is a definite physical and audible click when the trigger resets. For duty and concealed carry, the factory trigger is more than adequate. For competitive shooters, or shooters with more experience, there are several after-market triggers available which can significantly reduce trigger pull weight.

HIT: Safe-Action Trigger Safety. The safety is located within the trigger face of the trigger on all Glock series pistols. If you don’t depress the trigger correctly, the pistol is not going to fire. There are also two internal safeties inside the slide and frame.

HIT: Magazines. The Glock factory magazines are very durable. They are not particularly easy to take apart the first time, but once apart they are easy to clean and put back together. I highly recommend sticking to factory magazines for use in Glock pistols. The standard factory magazine for the Glock 17 holds 17 rounds of ammunition.

HIT: Value. The Glock 17 pistols are considered to be in the mid-level price range when compared to a similar pistol from other manufacturers, but they have a proven track record for durability and longevity. I guarantee most you reading this will never see the lifespan of a Glock 17. The value of the pistol will be realized when you are shooting your first Glock 17 twenty plus years later and it is still running like new. I feel mine has gotten smoother with age.


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