Glock 17L review: an ideal competition pistol

This Glock 17L review is all about the built-in credibility for competition shooting that Glock delivers with the Longslide version of their first smash success, the G17.

For those who want to get into the competition game at a reasonable price point, there are very few guns that offer the same type of performance that the Glock 17L can offer. It is a powerhouse entry for the niche that is the competition mainstream offerings on the market. Before there were mainstream competitors, Glock all but invented the competition full sized pistol that had a price point that no 1911 custom job could compete with.

Currently you will be able to find various offerings from Smith & Wesson M&P and Springfield Armory’s XD(M) series’ for competition, but this review will likely make the case for the Glock 17L as the premium variant for those who take their competitions seriously, but also want something that is reasonably priced.

Note, both the competition’s mentioned guns are excellent, but for some specific reasons, many believe the Glock 17L to stand head and shoulders above them for the purpose.

Glock 17L

Potential for accuracy in the Glock 17L

Let’s start with the unmatched barrel length, that when it first debuted, was seen as almost comically long, until you factored in the balance and pointability that came inherent with the gun in a fully-loaded state. Glock did well to balance the extremely long barrel with the weight and feel of a much more controllable gun.

The lightweight build of the polymer frame rounds out the long barrel and front end weight with paired with a full magazine, especially in a “from the holster” condition, like you’ll find on the line in competition shooting.

Part of this balance is achieved by the slide top cut which lightens the slide and adds some additional cooling potential.

Glock 17L barrel

The barrel also helps with velocity and flat shooting with the 6 full inches of rifling. This barrel length also facilitates the extreme (and much welcomed) 8 inch sight plane.

Let’s talk about that for a moment. This sight plane offers experienced shooters some serious potential for accuracy, along with a great barrel which improves velocities and can contribute to flatter shooting projectiles given the right conditions.

The lighter trigger pull of the G17L weighs in at 4.5lbs and the feel is significantly different, even though the numbers don’t denote a significant difference. The trigger travel is short and the difference between the factory standard pull and the 17L is just “notable” for lack of a better term.

Ultimately, the shooter is the biggest component to the accuracy equation. So the Glock 17L, for all it’s perceived “shortcomings”, as many pundits would point out, it is a gun that puts shooters without thousands to spend on a competition custom pistol, on an even playing field with shooters who spent way more on guns that might be more accurate on paper.

For a shooter who knows how to shoot accurately, the light weight and huge sight plane, along with the long barrel and polygonal rifling, this gun will keep other competitors honest, easily.

Long lifetime and high round counts with the Glock 17L

One of the best parts about owning and competing with a Glock 17L is the long-term durability and low parts replacement costs (not that you will need to replace many parts) because competition shooting will equate to many thousands of rounds a year going through most shooter’s guns.

Glock has legendary reliability; the G17L has been proven for many years. You can also beat the gun up and not feel the pain like you would with a $4500 race gun. You can shoot it in dusty conditions; dripping sweat; in bad weather and it is not finicky at all.

Glocks are famous for digesting any round you decide to throw at them. They don’t need a ton of maintenance as long as you aren’t shooting lead (non-jacketed) projectiles, which will load up the polygonal rifling and can actually be quite dangerous. For that matter, even hard cast bullets are frowned upon. Aside from those very specific concerns, Glocks can handle it all.

Glock 17L review

The 9mm caliber also means your practice rounds aren’t going to be as pricey as other rounds that might be shot in your competitions. Finding top quality 9mm Luger ammunition is very easy. Handloading it can be quite cheap and yield exceptional results in a gun like the G17L.

The author has two Glocks with over 50,000 rounds through each of them and only a single extractor and a single guide rod replacement and normal magazine spring replacements were necessary (*note these are a G23 and a G19 respectively). There are rumored pistols to be floating around with hundreds of thousands of rounds put through them without major reconditioning; from the Glock portfolio.

The hesitation to purchase a gun like the G17L for competition reasons would be non-existent from the author’s perspective for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the durability and reliability of the models.

For a gun that will see so many rounds under so many different conditions, the G17 is perfectly set up for long-term competition usage. It is priced nicely for the purpose as well.

The Glock 17L has some built in features that are “value-added” as well

Obviously coming from a practical place, Glock has decided to add an extended slide release. It’s the muted, factory style that makes sense for quick de-holstering, but still allows the shooter to avoid having to shift the pistol in hand to make a magazine change.

In competition shooting it is these seconds that make the biggest difference in keeping your confidence on target. The finishing maneuver to the magazine change can be performed as you are coming back onto target. This extended slide release trumps all the aftermarket options by a long ways.

The “high hand hold” crowd will also love the “beavertail” addition to the Glock pistols, especially with the competition models where that handhold will tend to be most consistent and make the biggest impact. There is a much-reduced risk of a bleeding hand web with the Glock 17L and the intelligent but simple design out of the factory.

You get an accessory rail, though it probably doesn’t make sense when you’re in a match. For those who prefer the ultra-long barrel and sight radius for a defensive weapon, this pistol can make a great choice for larger shooters. It loses none of Glocks legendary reliability and toughness just because it’s a more specialized competition build. 

Of course, you can add plenty of aftermarket options to the gun, but many won’t be necessary because the Glock 17L exudes a kind of harmony from factory that is hard to find on mainstream guns that are looking to get into niche sports. 

The Glock 17L is easily user maintained and modified

The idea that came with the Glocks (and ushered into the world an era of user maintained, simply designed guns) out of factory helped to stoke the customization craze that has lasted even until now. It has probably also contributed heavily to the lack of good gunsmiths available. That said, it allows users to maintain their firearms easily and obtain replacement parts at reasonable costs through the simplification in design and the lack of custom fitting needed.

Pundits highlighted the obvious tolerance control issue that comes from making interchangeable parts. They touted the strong points of custom guns in competition stating the obvious tightness in fit and finish. Ultimately the pundits were proven wrong, as many of the wins today are coming in the form of factory guns from manufacturers like Glock.

Specifically, with the 17L, you’re getting something that can compete with the best guns on the circuit, that comes in, under $700 depending on where you are purchasing. It might seem a it pricey for a Glock, but comparatively, it’s about a third of where you’d be for a comparable competition build in a 1911 or a CZ clone.

The magazines are fantastic (and offer high capacity options of 17,19,24,31,33) and the springs don’t wear out particularly fast. The maintenance on the gun mostly consists of cleaning mags, barrel and occasionally the trigger group, which significantly lessens time in the shop messing with dirty guns.

Glock 17L Review: Final thoughts

It’s simple: if you’re already buying a $5k custom job for competition, you are not the intended audience for the Glock, but that won’t stop you from wondering if you would have been better off buying the less expensive Glock 17L reviewed here, and using the savings to practice, to push your skills up a level or two, or three.

It’s close enough in accuracy, it’s superior in durability and reliability and even though you have to shoot jacketed projectiles, it still has an overall lower operating cost than a vast majority of the guns you might otherwise choose for the niche. The Glock 17L is a clear win for users and for Glock.

Pros

  • A competition pistol you don’t have to baby
  • Easily modified and maintainable by the shooter, not a gunsmith
  • Impressive barrel length and almost absurd sight plane contributes heavily to better accuracy
  • Comfortable for a wide range of users
  • Excellent balance despite not looking like it will be balanced                        

Cons

  • No real cons

This is best for

Shooters who want to compete but don’t want to drop $3-5k on a custom race gun. Shooters who subscribe to the long barrel, long sight radius theory and want a full sized (+) duty weapon.

Watch a Glock 17L review from hickok45

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