August 20, 2018
By James Tarr
For its size, Glock is an unusual gun company. It doesn't make pistols and shotguns and rifles. It just makes pistols—and only one type of pistol at that: the Glock pistol, a polymer-frame striker-fired semiauto with a distinct look. It is available in various calibers and sizes, but a Glock pistol is a Glock pistol. Therefore, any time Glock introduces a new model or makes any changes, it is much bigger news than it would be for another company.
That said, the Glock Gen 5 is kind of a big deal. Not just for what it is—a completely redesigned Glock—but because of how it came about.
The two Glock Gen 5 pistols are basically the commercial versions of the 17M and 19M models made for and adopted by the FBI. While the FBI was concerned with functionality, when designing these guns Glock was also concerned with increasing durability, accuracy and cost-effectiveness in manufacturing. As a result, there is a larger commonality of parts between the 17 and 19 in this generation.
Most of the changes are internal, but some, like the integral magazine well, are not. All told, there are 20 design changes in the Gen 5 guns, and while externally they don't look much changed from previous generations, the number of interchangeable parts can be counted on one hand.
For testing, I secured a sample of the Gen 5 Glock 19. The Glock 19 has been this company's highest-selling model almost since its introduction, and it's the Gen 5 pistol that will interest most readers of this magazine.
None of the dimensions or specs of the Gen 5 Glock 19 have changed. It is still a 15-shot 9mm with a 4.02-inch barrel. The Gen 5 guns offer many of the features of the Gen 4 models, including four interchangeable backstraps, a larger magazine release and Glock's RTF (Rough Texture Finish), which consists of small raised squares that provide a surprisingly aggressive gripping surface.
The Gen 5 G19 features the recoil system introduced with the Gen 4 guns. The magazine release is reversible. New on this model is an ambidextrous slide release with larger levers, but what might attract the most attention is the lack of finger grooves on the front of the frame.
The finger grooves on the Gen 3 frames fit my hands perfectly—as if they were made for me—but I know a lot of people hated them, so I understand why Glock removed them for the Gen 5 guns.
A huge change is that the Gen 5 guns are available in three different sighting configurations: the original plastic sights, standard steel night sights and the new AmeriGlo Bold day/night sights, which were on the pistol sent to me for testing.
The base Gen 5 Glock 19 retails for $699. The model with Glock night sights is $50 more, and the AmeriGlo model is another $50 above that.
The AmeriGlo Bold sights are similar to the sights AmeriGlo submitted for the FBI contract to put on the M series pistols, with the only real difference being the FBI contract sights had a U-notch rear and the Glock AmeriGlo Bold sights feature a traditional square-bottomed notch. As of right now, these sights are so new they're not even listed on the AmeriGlo website.
The rear sight has tritium inserts on either side of the notch. The front sight has a tritium insert around which is a large, bright orange circle that is easy to pick up in any light. The front sight is 0.14 inch wide, and the rear notch measures 0.16 inch. These are excellent combat sights, and Glock offering them from the factory makes me happy, seeing as the company's standard plastic sights are junk.
Compared to previous generations, the front of the Gen 5 slides has a more aggressive taper, presumably to make holstering easier. The front of the frame's dust cover isn't tapered as much, and I've seen a lot of talk online about the resulting "sharp corner" at the top of the polymer dust cover, but you won't notice it when handling the pistol.
As for holster fit, the only dimensional changes are at the front of the slide and the presence of the right-side slide release, so unless your holster is already tight you shouldn't have an issue. I tried the pistol in every polymer holster I have for the G19, and it fit into each one without a problem.
What's old is new again with the Gen 5, and once again there is only one pin in the frame above the trigger to hold the locking block in place. Glock added the second pin because single-pin guns chambered in the sharp-recoiling .40 S&W were breaking. As the Gen 5 guns are only going to be offered in the 9mm models 19 and 17, the second pin was unnecessary.
There is a different spring on the takedown lever. In the Gen 5 guns it's a coil spring and not the leaf spring used on previous generations. If you pop off the slide, you'll see the striker safety plunger is now a ramp instead of the round model seen on previous generations and provides a wider contact surface in case the trigger bar flexes.
Glocks are known for leaving rectangular imprints on the primers of fired cases. With the Gen 5 this rectangle will become a teardrop shape because the striker (and the striker hole in the breech face) have been altered.
The Gen 5 Glocks share few parts with previous generations—almost nothing beyond the trigger connector, striker spring and sleeve, and striker spring cups. This means companies making aftermarket parts for Glocks will have to make Gen 5-specific triggers, connectors and so forth.
While the company has changed the design of the Gen 5 magazine, previous generation magazines will work in the new guns. The new magazines have a much bigger lip on the front of the mag that can be accessed through the cutout on the front of the frame. They also have high-visibility orange followers, which is a good idea the company picked up from Magpul. Three magazines are provided with the pistol.
The integral magazine well at the bottom of the frame has received a lot of attention. Glocks have never been that difficult to reload at speed because a polymer-on-polymer reload is quite forgiving, but every little bit helps.
Regular readers of this magazine know I love Glock pistols, and I carry one every day. My opinion hasn't changed after evaluating the Gen 5 guns. But so many features—or lack thereof—of the Gen 5 Glocks honestly don't make a lot of sense to me. Mostly, I lay this opinion at the door of the FBI because these guns reflect the changes it wanted.
Last year Glock came out with Gen 4 FS models featuring forward cocking serrations, something Glock fans have wanted for years. Those forward cocking serrations are nowhere to be found on the Gen 5s.
With the Gen 5, Glock changed the coating on the slide. The new proprietary NDLC (nano diamond-like coating) finish on the slide is supposed to reduce corrosion and improve performance in adverse conditions. I've never heard of corrosion problems with earlier generations of Glocks, but I do understand a company wanting to improve its product.
However, this new finish is substantially slicker than the previous one, and I've had my fingers slip off the rear slide serrations of a clean, dry Gen 5 gun. Forward cocking serrations would really come in handy on such an ultra-slick slide, but apparently the FBI didn't request them.
Gen 5 guns feature the Glock Marksman barrel with new, more aggressive rifling and a recessed crown that are supposed to deliver improved accuracy. First, despite what you might have read elsewhere, the new rifling is still polygonal. I got that info straight from Glock. This means it is still not safe to shoot lead bullets through a Gen 5 Glock, and the ability to shoot lead bullets was the one change to the barrel everyone was asking for.
Second, Glocks have always been more than accurate enough for defensive work, and the main impediment to Glocks being more mechanically accurate isn't the rifling but rather the barrel fit. Its practical accuracy is hindered by its trigger pull. What I mean by this is that unless you're locking your pistol in a Ransom Rest before firing, a heavy trigger pull will make precise shooting difficult if not nearly impossible for most people.
Glock has always advertised a trigger pull in the neighborhood of 5.5 pounds. That's never been true, and it's not just me saying this. An acquaintance of mine is the firearms training officer on one of the largest urban police departments in the country, and he has to make sure the trigger pulls on the officers' duty Glocks meet the minimum five-pound trigger pull of the department. Of the first 200 Gen 3 and 4 Glocks he tested, he didn't find a single pistol with a trigger pull under seven pounds.
If you dig down into the company's website, you'll see the trigger pulls for the new Gen 5 G17 and G19 are listed at 26 Newtons (Newtons, seriously?), which works out to 5.85 pounds. The trigger pulls on the Gen 5 Glocks I've tested have been sharper and crisper than previous generations, and in fact, they are actually lighter. The trigger pull on my sample was six pounds even, which is the lightest trigger pull I've ever tested on a Glock equipped with the standard connector. Other Gen 5 samples I've shot have provided similar results. So it appears Glock triggers are finally coming in at the advertised weight. They're still heavier than I would like, but baby steps.
While there are a lot of internal changes, you'll notice none of them affect the bullet feeding or ejection cycle. Reliability with the Gen 5 Glocks should be unchanged from previous generations, and I never had a problem with this test gun no matter what I fed it. I've read that the mean rounds between stoppage figure with the Gen 5 Glocks is 11,000.
The Gen 5 pistols are still so new I've had a little conflicting info coming out of Glock. A Glock employee told me the Gen 5 design was going to replace the Gen 4 models, but another Glock employee at a different venue said the Gen 5 guns were only ever going to be available in 9mm, and Glock makes Gen 4 pistols in a lot of calibers other than 9mm. I was unable to get clarification on that before my deadline. Glock still plans on producing the Gen 3 guns as newer generations are not and likely never will be authorized for sale in California.
In my opinion, there is nothing to recommend a Gen 3 Glock over a Gen 4. When I first read a brief description of the Gen 5 changes, I didn't think there was anything there to recommend the new pistols over a Gen 3 gun. But after evaluating them, I've changed my mind.
If you intend to personalize and upgrade with aftermarket parts whatever Glock you buy, the Gen 5 isn't for you, as it will be quite some time before there will be any aftermarket parts that fit these new guns. Buy a Gen 3 Glock instead. If, however, you just want to buy a Glock that is ready to go right out of the box, the Gen 5 with its improved trigger pull, integral mag well, and AmeriGlo Bold sights is the closest thing to perfection Glock has ever made.
GLOCK GEN 5 G19
TYPE: striker-fired semiauto
BARREL: 4.02 in.
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 6.9/5.0/1.3 in.
WEIGHT: 21.8 oz. (no mag)
SIGHTS: AmeriGlo Bold tritium, orange front
TRIGGER PULL: 6 lb. (measured)
SAFETY: trigger lever, striker drop
MANUFACTURER: Glock, us.glock.com