Psst! Hey, you! Yes, you! You’re new to GLOCKs, aren’t you? Perhaps you’ve heard about GLOCKS—those ultra-durable, ultra-reliable “plastic guns” that police officers carry—and you’re just checking them out, seeing what all the fuss is about. It’s O.K. if you’re new to GLOCKs or don’t know much about them. You’ve picked up the right magazine. Read on to learn more!
Manufactured in Austria, GLOCK pistols have been around since 1981. While that’s a relatively short life, GLOCK pistols ushered in a new era of pistol design at the time, incorporating a very durable, advanced polymer frame that houses a safe and patented fire control system and a high-capacity magazine. There’s more than that, of course, and you’ll find out what else GLOCKs are about as you read. For now, though, you should know that GLOCKs have proven so durable and reliable that the majority of police officers in the United States carry them as their duty pistols.
If you’re new to firearms in general and new to GLOCK in particular, you will benefit from knowing what makes a GLOCK a GLOCK and how to select a GLOCK pistol for personal use. First, GLOCK’s numbering system for its pistols follows patent order as opposed to caliber or model sequence or year of introduction. For example, the GLOCK 17 is so named because it was founder Gaston Glock’s 17th patent. Then there’s the GLOCK 22. It’s not a .22-caliber pistol but a full-sized .40-caliber pistol. It’s GLOCK’s 22nd patent.
Second, GLOCK pistols are easy to shoot, meaning it is a simple operation of squeezing the trigger. When you fire a GLOCK pistol, the recoil is very manageable, even in larger calibers. Still, the best “first GLOCK” for a newcomer would be one of the GLOCK pistols chambered in 9×19, an effective round that is slightly less powerful than the other larger calibers but less expensive and even available at most sporting goods stores.
GLOCK offers five models that fire the 9×19: the Glock 17, Glock 17L, Glock 19, Glock 26, and Glock 34. The GLOCK 34 is a long-barreled pistol that’s meant for competitive shooting, where the accuracy requirements exceed the needs of the average first-time user. While a first-time GLOCK buyer may desire a full-size 9×19 pistol such as the GLOCK 17, it is more likely that he or she will be better served by the GLOCK 19, a compact pistol that’s slightly shorter than the GLOCK 17, or the GLOCK 26, an even smaller subcompact pistol. We will affectionately refer to the Glock 19 and Glock 26 as “beginner’s” GLOCKs, although this is somewhat a misnomer because these pistols are some of the most advanced defensive weaponry available today. Their “beginner” label mostly derives from their 9×19 chambering, the least powerful of the calibers offered by GLOCK for the civilian market today. Take note: The 9×19 is still a deadly round that is used by thousands of law enforcement and military personnel around the world. Therefore, while it is a good “beginner” caliber, it is also an advanced or professional caliber by any measure.
Before we look at the individual features of the Glock 19 and Glock 26 you should be familiar with some of the standard features of all GLOCK pistols, including the features available on their current generation of pistols.
Since the first GLOCK pistol was introduced in 1981—to this day employing a consistent design responsible for performance that is the envy of the firearms industry—GLOCK has nonetheless continually updated and improved its design. Over the years, GLOCK introduced major enhancements to its pistol lineup four times. As such, the current offerings are termed “Gen4”—in other words, the fourth generation.
GLOCK Gen4 pistols have four major enhancements over previous generations. The first is a Modular Back Strap system. This means GLOCK Gen4 pistols have grips that can be lengthened, not in height but in distance from front of trigger to rear of pistol, to better fit any hand size.
To lengthen the grips and accommodate larger hands, GLOCK includes two polymer back straps with each pistol. One is labeled a “medium,” and the other is a “large.” These lengthen the stock by 0.08 inches and 0.16 inches, respectively. Previous generations of GLOCK pistols did not have a modular back strap system, but the size of grip varied with the size of the pistol. The larger pistols generally had larger grips.
The second enhancement is an enlarged, reversible magazine catch. Previous GLOCK pistols had a smaller magazine catch on one side of the gun that could not be reversed. With Gen4 models the magazine catch is not only larger and easier to manipulate, but it can also be reinstalled on the opposite side of the pistol. Along with the MBS system, this allows a GLOCK owner to get a more custom fit and feel.
The third enhancement is the dual recoil spring assembly. Where previous generations of GLOCK pistols employed a single recoil spring, Gen4s are equipped with a more durable, recoil-reducing dual recoil spring assembly. This simply means the Gen4 GLOCKS are even more durable and shoot better than ever.
The fourth enhancement is the use of a Rough Textured Frame (RTF). Where previous generations of GLOCKs used other textures to increase purchase (the quality of the grip you can get on a gun), Gen4 GLOCKs have an updated texturing that looks like small, well-spaced, raised squares. In summary, Gen4 GLOCKs fit better, function according to a shooter’s preferences, last longer, reduce recoil, and provide an even better means for holding them.
Before the Gen4 GLOCKs, however, the world enjoyed the first, second, and third generations of these pistols. All generations, including the current Gen4 GLOCKs, have these key features:
• A durable polymer frame that is lightweight, strong, and easy to maintain
• The SAFE ACTION® system comprised of three individual safety mechanisms (trigger safety, firing pin safety, and drop safety) that operate on a single trigger stroke
• Nitrite treatment of metal parts for high surface hardness, durability, and resistance to corrosion
• Only 34 total parts to the entire pistol, which increases reliability and reduces maintenance costs
• Easy to field strip with no tools; easy to fully disassemble with a single tool
• The Barrel sits low in a user’s hand, reducing recoil and helping to tame muzzle rise.
Now that you know about the features of a GLOCK Gen4 and a little about GLOCKs in general, two GLOCK pistols, the Glock 19 Gen4 and Glock 26 Gen4, are worth your consideration as beginner pistols.
GLOCK 19 Gen4
One of GLOCK’s most popular pistols, the Glock 19 is a compact or mid-sized pistol chambered in 9×19 that is suitable for use at the range for target practice, in the home for defense, and on a person for concealed carry. Other GLOCK pistols are chambered in larger calibers and thus fire more formidable defensive rounds. Moreover, other GLOCK pistols are smaller and better suited for concealed carry. However, the GLOCK 19 can function well in all three roles. Since it is chambered in 9×19, an excellent, all-around handgun cartridge, the word most often used to describe the GLOCK 19 is versatile.
Besides accurate target shooting and significant capabilities as a defensive gun, for both home defense as well as concealed carry, the GLOCK 19 Gen4 is equipped with an accessory rail built into the frame just below the muzzle. The rail allows a user to attach helpful aiming devices, such as a light or laser.
The GLOCK 19 Gen4 comes in a GLOCK pistol case and includes three 15-round magazines, a magazine loader, a cleaning tool, the modular back straps and installation parts, and an instruction manual.
GLOCK pistols are engineering marvels that mostly share the same functionality and specifications across all models. Still, the specifications of the GLOCK 19 Gen4 are noteworthy. At 7.28 inches in length and 1.18 inches in width, it is considered a compact pistol. The distance between the front sight and the rear sight (also known as the line of sight) is 6.02 inches. Coupled with a barrel length of 4.02 inches, the GLOCK 19 Gen4 enjoys excellent accuracy. Moreover, the barrel height (the distance the barrel sits above a shooter’s hand) is only 1.26 inches. Coupled with the GLOCK’s grip angle, it provides a shooter with more leverage to manage recoil, resulting in less muzzle rise and the ability to get back on target quickly.
The Glock 19 Gen 4 weights 20.99 ounces unloaded, thanks in large part to its lightweight polymer frame. Adding 15 rounds of 9×19 to the magazine brings its weight up to only 29.98 ounces (depending on bullet weight). An approximately 5.5-pound squeeze is enough to pull trigger over its half-inch path of travel to discharge a round.
GLOCK 26 Gen4
Some have called the GLOCK 26 the ultimate concealed carry pistol, effectively bypassing the five-shot snubnosed revolver, which has held that distinction for scores of years. The reason the five-shot snubbie remained at the top for so long was that it was simple, reliable and easy to conceal. Because it was small, however, the snubbie—usually with only a 2-inch barrel and a heavy double-action trigger stroke—was somewhat difficult to shoot accurately. Plus, it only held five rounds. Reloading required manually ejecting the spent cartridges and inserting unfired cartridges one by one by hand or with the help of a speedloading strip or speedloader. As a backup gun it met a need because it could easily be concealed and functioned well enough to get a user out of a jam.
Then the GLOCK 26 showed up in 1994, offering LE officers and civilians licensed to carry concealed handguns a simple, reliable and easily concealable pistol that was easier to shoot accurately and held double the number of cartridges as the five-shot snubbie. If a shooter needed more than 10 rounds, he or she simply dropped the empty magazine and reloaded another. A quick tug on the slide and they were ready to shoot again. Therefore, compared to a snubnosed revolver, the GLOCK 26 carried twice the number of rounds on board and four times the number of rounds if the shooter carried just one extra magazine.
Officially labled a “subcompact” but affectionately known as the “Baby GLOCK” due to its diminutive size, the GLOCK 26 entered the market as a marked increase in civilian concealed carry was in its early stages. After years of seeing other GLOCK models function so well, both civilians and LE personnel longed for a reliable, rugged pistol chambered in 9×19—one with dimensions at least somewhat similar to the ubiquitous snubnosed revolver. The GLOCK 26 would meet that need.
The GLOCK 26 Gen4 measures the same as the GLOCK 19 Gen4 in several areas. Both have a slide width of 1.18 inches. Both have a barrel height of 1.26 inches, the GLOCK 26 is significantly smaller and more compact than the GLOCK 19 in overall length (by 0.86 inches) and overall height (by 0.83 inches). Those near 1-inch savings, especially the reduction in overall height, enable to the GLOCK 26 to be more easily hidden for concealed carry. The GLOCK 26 Gen4, due to its size, offers slightly less magazine capacity (five fewer rounds of 9×19) but is also lighter (by 1.24 ounces unloaded and 3.88 ounces loaded) compared to the GLOCK 19 Gen4.
Safety, Reliability, Accuracy
With its smaller overall dimensions, the GLOCK 26 Gen4 has a line of sight of 5.39 inches and a height of only 4.17 inches. Even with a barrel length of only 3.43 inches, it is no slouch in the accuracy department. Although theoretically less accurate than the GLOCK 19 Gen4 due to the slightly shorter barrel, the G26 Gen4 represents a substantial improvement in accuracy over other pistols and revolvers its size.
Other important statistics for concealed carry pistols include weight: The GLOCK 26 Gen4 weighs only 19.75 ounces unloaded. With 10 rounds of 9×19 on board, the weight only goes up to 26.10 ounces. Similar to the GLOCK 19 Gen4, the GLOCK 26 Gen4 has a 5.5-pound trigger pull over a half-inch of travel and comes with three magazines, a magazine loader, a cleaning tool, two modular back straps, and an instruction manual.
The GLOCK 26 Gen4 and other “Baby GLOCKS” do not offer a tactical rail but, as with every other GLOCK, can be equipped with night sights to aid in low-light aiming situations. The factory-installed night sights on the GLOCK 26 Gen4 provide two white dots on the rear sight (with tritium inserts) and one white dot on the front sight (also with a tritium insert). In low-light conditions the sights glow with an unmistakable green color. Line all three up on a target, and you’re ready to fire.
All of the specifications and physical properties of GLOCK pistols blend or meld together to offer a shooter safety, reliability and accuracy whether in holster, in hand or on the range. Profoundly simple, GLOCK pistols allow shooters to focus on the task of shooting.
Firing the GLOCK 19 Gen4 and GLOCK 26 Gen4 offers the proof of how all the design and engineering and manufacturing works together to form a unique shooting experience. Following GLOCK’S Top Ten Rules of Safety, shooters of all levels—especially beginners—can enjoy immediate success with some of the most technologically advanced weaponry available today.