Glock 17 Gen 5 Review: Is It Perfection?

This is a Glock 17 Gen 5 review that talks about the changes and the improvements as well as the perceived concerns with the newest generation of Glock Safe Action Pistols.

An important note: The Glock 17 is one of only 6 total variants spread across 4 models (17; 19; 26; 34) that is available currently at the factory for the generation 5 changes. That isn't to say that Glock won't use the format on different models, but as of now it is limited to only these models.

What does that say about the Gen 5 platform? Without trying to read to heavily into it, it could be a tooling concern, but it is very interesting that the guns that are covered by this most recent generational change are all 9mm. No 10mm or .357Sig; or .45ACP for that matter, all of which, given the complexities of the market ammunition offerings could pose a problem from an R&D perspective if anything was slightly off about the Gen5 changes.

Note: there is no official release that states why the specific choice of models was utilized, but it does make it easy to ask questions. We address this concept later in the article.

A basic overview of the Glock 17 is important here because it's a flagship product with a longstanding heritage and has been so popular for so long.

At its heart, the G17 is a 17 round 9mm pistol which utilizes a full-sized frame and features a polymer frame with steel inserts and a steel slide. It is striker fired and features a "safe-action" trigger which was one of the first such devices on a mainstream American model gun, and popularized the striker fired functionality in the States.

The high capacity, low weight, and recoil absorbing makeup allows any shooter to handle this full-sized pistol and feel confident in its ability to stop a threat or obtain another shooting result.

It's been more than 30 years though, since the G17 first became popular and now the 5th generation platform has rolled out of the factory.

Glock 17 Gen 5 Review: Changes

Glock 17 Gen 5

The Glock 17 is the gun that started it all. In the mid 1980's the 17 burst onto the scene and became the most talked about handgun in history. What follows is a list that highlights what the changes are after a full 3 generations later. Technically the majority of what exists in the early years in the United States in the form of Glocks are Generation 2 platform guns.

  • orange follower on magazine
  • Beveled front edge on the floor plate of the magazine
  • cutout to the mag well (this can cause a big problem with reloading a magazine as it can hang up on the cutout)
  • flared mag well
  • no finger grooves
  • has beavertail and non-beavertail backstraps (4 total – 2 of each style)
  • reversible extended mag release (not ambidextrous full time)
  • ambidextrous slide stop/release, with a slight profile change to make it stick out further (some high handhold two hand shooters may have a problem with slide lock back during rapid fire)
  • beveled slide front/newer gen 5 variants have beveled frame at dustcover/front end and front slide serrations
  • trigger is different one less pin for the locking block; feels like the "New York" trigger (traditionally a factory law enforcement option that has a heavier spring of about 7-9 lbs. pull weight), and offers a more "double action-like" trigger pull
  • DLC (diamond like coating) instead of the nitride coating of the Gen 4's
  • Recessed crown on the barrel
  • Hexagonal rifling and the heavily marketed "Marksman barrel" rifling
  • Minor angle changes on the locking lugs
  • Striker safety is different from the gen 4 with a smaller surface area and a sloped cup
  • Trigger mechanism is different
  • Sight alignment is different (changed to make the dot align exactly with the "U" – still a polymer sight from factory
  • The "Glock bump" of the backstrap still exists
  • Loaded chamber indicator in the form of the extractor

This is an extensive list of changes and one might think this is like a totally new gun. What it isn't, is something new for Glock. What it is, is much like the hybrid between a generation 2 and a Generation 4. Many might say: the sweet spot for all Glock fans.

Sure, there are some complainers and there are a few issues with the pistol, but overall, it’s got the best of both worlds.

Glock gets to continue to prove they are innovative, but they still get to slap the critic in the face by sticking to their guns on a few concrete points in the Glock ecosystem. Glock also gets to justify the continuance of a price point that probably doesn't make sense given the volume they sell, and some of the manufacturing costs that are now fixed, essentially. Afterall, new tooling is pricey. Innovation is expensive.

The biggest game changers here are the two polar opposites with regard to market reception: the magazine and mag well components (the market generally hates them) and the removal of finger grooves and the retention of backstrap modularity (the market generally loves these changes).

With these changes, Glock seemingly polarizes the Glock stratosphere once again and creates a near perfect gun, with a couple of awkward "why's" attached to it. Clearly, this is a setup for Gen 5.5 or Gen 6, where Glock once again can squeeze more life out of the Glock Bump and other Glock idiosyncrasies.

But that's neither here nor there, yet, because we've only yet to see the 9mm models in the Generation 5.

Why are there only 9mm models in the Generational release?

One could speculate about why the 9mm is the only caliber used in the newest generation of Glock pistols but it's likely to be something far more mundane than conspiratorial.

It's likely that Glock needed to make sure the testbed was done with their bread and butter guns that sell the most volume. By far, that is the 17 and 19 models. Closely behind those is a group that also includes the 26. Furthermore, the 9mm parts are all built in the same image. You don't need to change any tooling to spread 90% of the parts across a 9mm set of models. That gives Glock an easy avenue into the generational model updates.

One might take it a step further though, and speculate that the 9mm, being so readily available; consistent and relatively mild compared to the other cartridges serviced by the Glock Model portfolio, it was the obvious choice to avoid concerns if there were any.

Go another step further and you might be able to make an argument that Glock actually found some issues with the development of the .40; .45; .357Sig and 10mm variants. If this is the case, we could see some changes made to internals to ensure reliability and durability before those models are released to the public.

This line of investigation is only really interesting because the Generation 4 rollout was showcased on the 17 and 22 at release (early 2010). A 9mm and a .40 S&W. If so, then why not this time too? It took three years before Glock introduced the 10mm and ,45 ACP in Gen 4 (parts of 2013).

Less sales-volume models (like the .380 ACP Glock 42) didn't happen until 2014. The 43 debuted in 2015. For perspective, the Generation 5 debuted in January of 2017 at the SHOT Show, but it was some time before the market had viable volume. So, the last Gen 4 model only got to be on the market for just over a year.

Note, Glock was quite busy in between, trying to release one-off variants to test market viability and has seen some limited success with the mix and match patterns of its X line pistols and has introduced some great competition models; as well as some law enforcement specific models.

Additionally, Glock was trying desperately to win some major pistol contracts but lost the big one (the XM17 US Military contract) to Sig Sauer's P320.

Is the Glock 17 Gen 5 worth the money considering the changes?

With other options on the market and the pricing; given the polymer factory sights, the Glock isn't less competitive, but the competition is gaining some market share thanks to other excellent options out on the market (namely the Springfield XD and S&W M&P, among others). The Glock is still priced well below some of the premium players like Heckler & Koch, so the pricing isn't growing at a large rate, but it does impact the mainstream historical crowd of buyers for Glocks.

So, call it what you will, it's still worth it. It's arguably the best Glock ever produced, and given Glocks extreme reliability, the inability to grip a failed magazine from the sides of the magazine well is just not going to affect many people in critical situations, where they cannot also use the front cutaway to help extract a magazine in a semi-catastrophic state.

The biggest issue, then remains, the Magazine angle needs to be perfected to stay completely reliable in fast reloads. But like the Glock Bump, shooters will learn to adapt, and all will be well again soon.

It's an easy yes. The Glock Gen 5 17 is worth the money. But that doesn't mean that Glock Stands alone in the spectrum of choice on the market anymore. There are affordable, high capacity, lightweight reliable, easy to shoot guns on the market now that can beat Glock in some facets of their performance or implementation. So, you'll have to decide what makes sense for you.

Watch a Glock 17 Gen 5 review from Mrgunsngear

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