Glock 22 Gen 4 Review: Which upgrade is noticeable?

A Glock 22 Gen 4 review that makes you wonder if what you’ve already seen online about the changes is not just a biased opinion from one corner of the market. This review seeks to take an unbiased look at the realities of the Gen4 changes and how they affect the target consumer for the Glock 22.

The Gen 4 differences have made a great gun even better. If you don’t agree, let’s take a relative look at the market and a realistic look at why Glock made the changes, and see if we can make sense of the changes from Gen 3 to Gen 4.

Sure, you can make the argument that big companies just chase the almighty mainstream customer dollar, but in the case of the Gen4 “upgrades”, there is a little more meat on the bones from Glock, than just a few extra new customer converts won over by mainstreaming the classic designs to meet additional market demand.

Ever since it’s absolute domination of the domestic market in the United States, the Glock pistol has always been a mainstream firearms mainstay. That isn’t how the company got their start though. They weren’t always the “go-to” middle market option that the Glock reliability has built them into.

In the early days of Glock, they had to trade on durability and innovation; outside the box thinking and legitimately simple design, with smart, albeit spartan design mentalities.

It’s this author’s opinion that the Generation 4 changes to the Model 22 (one of the most popular guns in the Glock portfolio) have gotten back to the roots of the company more than it represents a major change to one of the world’s most popular gun platforms.

First, what are the Generation 4 changes for Glock pistols including the popular G22?

  • The new backstrap system
  • A change to the magazine release/catch
  • Dual captured recoil spring
  • Frame texture changes

The new backstrap system

A modular design change to the backstrap of the grip frame, allows shooters to custom tailor the fitment of the grip in a substantial way on their own. It won’t require gunsmithing modifications; grinding down the frame, or fundamentally altering the gun so the resale value is shot (pardon the pun).

Though the backstrap system is an obvious win for shooters with hand sizes that differ from the mainstream, perhaps the hidden benefit is far more valuable to those who would choose a Glock pistol anyway, in that it allows the grip angle to be tailored more fully. For those who want the angle of the grip to match their preferred handhold style, this is a major improvement.

A change to the magazine release/catch

Some right-handed shooters prefer to release the magazine with their index finger. Most left-handed shooters want the ability to easily change the directional values of the magazine release on any pistol. In the case of the Generation 4 pistols, including the 22, this is now a reality.

Not only can you change the orientation of the mag release/catch, but you get a wider, better designed pad on the piece, which improves actuation for most shooters.

Dual captured recoil spring

A slight benefit in recoil reduction, actually goes a long way to improving consistency in feeding and reliability and even further in round count durability/longevity. In hindsight, this was a difficult change for Glock to implement and there was a string of factory models that had difficulties adjusting.

Generally, the Glock 22 was not affected by the shortcomings en masse, but it too had a few guns that needed to be refit with new factory recoil guide/spring parts to make them functional out of the factory. Within months of the issue starting, the factory had ironed out the difficulty in the new component mix.

Frame texture changes

The cleaner looks of the new “stippling” which is much more “grid-centric” in Gen4, is only one aspect to the change. It offers a larger differentiation for shooters on tactile feel. For those who wanted a less slippery grip you got it.

For those who were already modifying your pistol frames to add grip stippling depth, you won’t need to tank your resale value now. You can get it from factory, without the risk of it being overly aggressive.

What does this do for Glock?

A lot of these changes are just smart from a manufacturer’s perspective. It shores up the “Glock reliability” talking point. For instance, when you make a more consistent recoil spring and rod, you make it easier to replace faulty components.

When you give the customer the choice to modify the fit, even if it’s only in a token way, you reduce bad commentary online about the fit of the gun for individuals.

When you make the magazine catch user modifiable and able to be used more effectively by shooters with left- or right-hand dominance, you make the gun more usable by more people.

It also helps to shrink the SKU’s in the Glock ecosystem.

It’s not particularly the point of this review to talk about how Glock saved some money and got a potential win in long-term PR. But it’s an obvious benefit to the major change.

It’s also not been without difficulty from a PR perspective. Glock has taken it on the chin from originalists and fanboys who prefer the Gen3 or even the Gen2.

Given that hindsight is 20/20, the author has the benefit of writing this article many months (nearly 24) after the Generation 5 changes. So, it’s easy to state the “sky is falling” mentality of some of the bellyachers in the Generation 4 changes run-up was without merit. Glock has continued to generally outperform the market in the mid-range pricing tier.

That said, the changes made in Generation 4 to the 22 specifically have made it a gun that is usable by all, where before it was every so slightly a more niche style of firearm. The ability to custom tailor the fitment a bit and the grip texture changes have done wonders for those who would have had some problems with the Glock 22 in prior iterations.

Glock 22 Gen 4 Review: Conclusion

The changes made to the generation 4 portfolio for Glock will mean that no matter how many changes occur in the future (e.g. Generation 5 and beyond), that many hundreds of thousands of pistols, and potentially several million pistols will wear these changes for decades to come until they are retired.

What these changes mean from a practical perspective is a return to the innovative roots of Glock’s core company principles.

They showcase the fact that Glock, as mainstream as they have become, still will do what it wants, even under immense pressure from a vocal public.

The changes also denote that shooters can continue to expect good usability features from Glock. Even if they do their own thing, they almost always know who butters their bread, and they adapt to help bring in more customers and appeal to a broad audience. This is a good thing for just about everyone. In the case of our review on the Glock 22 gen 4, this means that while you see some major changes in theory, the practical application of these changes is more in line with simplifying the pistol and keeping it relevant rather than reinventing the wheel.

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