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Gun Review: Glock 17 Generation 4 9mm Full Size Pistol

Approximate Street Price: $549.00

www.teamglock.com

The Good The Bad The Ugly Our Rating
The new grip texture is exceptionally effective. We really like it! We found the ejection pattern to be a little wonky and erratic with most types of ammunition. The VPC, CSGV and Brady folks still can’t claim that Glocks can pass through metal detectors. Truthfully anyway. 4 Nuns Four Nuns!

 

The Glock 17 Gen IV

The Glock 17 Gen IV

When the folks at Glock sent us a shiny new Glock 17 Generation IV to evaluate, we were obviously excited. After years of refinement, the Glock would now be able to pass through metal detectors and make true all those hysterical, pantie-wetting exaggerations we’ve been hearing for years. Right? Well, unfortunately no, but a lot of other enhancements have been made in the new models. Let’s take a closer look.

First Impressions of the Glock 17 Gen 4

  • Our G17 test gun came with three (17) round magazines. And a Glock magazine loader tool. We appreciate that as three magazines represents the minimum configuration for a self-defense gun. As a side note, we also really appreciate the street price of additional magazines for Glocks. $20-25 if you shop a bit. Compared to $40-50 magazines from other manufacturers who-will-not-be-named, that’s pretty darn reasonable.
  • Shooting it sideways did not make us look any more fearsome on the range. Nor did any Hollywood producers call offering us bad guy roles in new action films. We did get puzzled looks from other shooters at the range however – and one tried to sell us some crack.
  • The new G17 is a really comfortable gun to hold, and more importantly, shoot. It feels solid in the hand and has no tendency to slide around. No skateboard tape or rubber grip sleeves required, even if you’re a nervous sweaty-hand type.

Differences from Glock Generation 3 models

  • The Glock 17 magazine release is a subtle, yet effective change

    The Glock 17 magazine release is a subtle, yet effective change

    Magazine Release Button: It’s been embiggened, but in a really useful way. It’s got about twice the surface area of the previous design. We love the feel and ease of one-handed operation of the newly designed mag release. By the way, it’s also reversible so righties and lefties have an out-of-the-box solution. Very nice – a minor, but very noticeable enhancement.

  • Glock Gen III vs. Gen IV Grip Texture

    Glock Gen III vs. Gen IV Grip Texture

    Grip Texture: This is perhaps the most noticeable change from the Generation III models. The new pattern is the same on the sides, front, and back of the grip unlike the Gen III models which had a different pattern on the sides. The molded “skateboard tape” pattern on the sides of the Gen III grip never did much for us. Not enough grip. The Gen IV models use an entirely different pattern – raised dots that are completely separated from one another. We found this new pattern to be exceptionally effective for maintaining a solid grip – even here in the humid (and sweaty) lowcountry of South Carolina. The pattern almost feels rough and we had concerns that extended shooting would be tough on the hands, but it wasn’t. For that one person out there who still shoots with the support hand index finger on the front of the trigger guard, the new texture pattern there is comprised of a series of horizontal ridges. Just saying.

  • Recoil Spring Assembly: Like the Generation III models, the Gen IV features a captive recoil spring assembly that makes field stripping a little less embarrassing in the event you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing and let the spring fly. Unlike the Gen III models, the new Glock 17 utilizes a dual spring design. An inner full-length spring is partially surrounded by a metal sleeve, and both of those are surrounded by a partial length outer spring. According to Glock, the dual spring design not only reduces felt recoil, but increases the lifespan of the spring assembly. One item to note if you own or buy a Gen IV Glock 17: Glock has released several versions of the spring assembly and will supply customers with the most recent one if you call customer service at 877-745-8523. Have your model and serial number handy. Our test gun was fitted with an earlier model spring assembly version and the replacement set did not arrive in time for this review. However, we did not note any reliability or other problems, excepting the erratic ejection pattern discussed in this article. When the new assembly arrives, we’ll see if the ejection pattern issue changes and post and update if appropriate.
  • The new Glock Gen IV recoil spring assembly

    The new Glock Gen IV recoil spring assembly

    Modular Back Strap System: This is a fancy marketing term for ‘different grip sizes.’ We know this because we’re marketing people by trade and words like ‘modular’ are very much in vogue on Madison Avenue. Lot’s of current generation pistols offer this feature, but the Gen IV Glocks take a different, and we think better approach. The default grip is a solid, one-piece, molded assembly that’s ready to go out of the box. This default size is a tad (a tad is about .08 inches by the way) smaller than the Gen III Glock 17 in terms of distance to trigger. Adding on the included medium grip panel makes the Gen IV exactly equal to the standard Gen III in terms of trigger reach. The large grip panel makes it a tad bigger. The difference with the Glock approach is that the smallest setting is permanent – you simply add to additional panels to that to make the grip larger. Compare to a Beretta PX4 for example. On that pistol, the back of the grip is ‘empty’ and you insert one of three different size panels to size the grip. Not a huge deal, but I kind of like the idea of having a very solid and complete grip as a starting point from which to build. An interesting and efficient approach to the  problem of multiple grip sizes.

The Tactical Light Issue

We’ve had personal experience with older style Glock 22′s with mounted weapon lights. Utterly reliable without a mounted light, we’ve seen the same gun deteriorate to below average performance once a light was attached. According to X-Box geniuses with additional Mall Ninja certification, this had something to do with polymer frame flex characteristics on recoil. Whatever. In any case, we decided to give the Gen IV G17 a thorough workout with a Streamlight TLR-1 – the same light that has given us fits on older Glocks. Results? Awesome. We couldn’t make it fail. And we know a lot about failure. We shot an array of 115 grain and 124 grain high velocity self-defense ammo using a variety of grips (limp-sissy, medium, and strong) and function was flawless. Just for fun, we tried some ultra-light hand loads with the light mounted – 124 grain plated bullets loaded to about 1,050 feet per second. Again, function was flawless with weak and strong grips – even with ammo than can barely cycle the action.

Ejectile Dysfunction

Before our test model arrived, we had seen plenty of internet Couch Commando discussion about Gen IV Glocks having a tendency to eject brass straight back at the shooter. Other, apparently more knowledgeable, Recliner Rangers dismissed these observations as shooter error and ‘limp wristing.’ While we’re as limp wristed as the next guy, we decided to put this claim to the test. For starters, our model did have a bit of erratic ejection. With same bat grip and same bat ammo, ours would eject 80-90% of the brass out and back at about a 45 degree angle. No problem. The remainder did have a tendency to eject straight up. While they did not eject towards the face, they did on occasion land on top of our head. Good thing we’re not bald. We did a little experimentation on the Recliner Ranger limp wrist theory – shooting a series of rounds with a grip so solid that aim was impossible and another series with the most fairy-like hold we could muster – without getting beat up by other nearby shooters. Interestingly, there was no difference in the ejection pattern of significance. The solid grip did have a tendency to shift the pattern a little more to the side, but did not stop the occasional up and on-the-head brass fling. Our test gun came with an earlier version of the recoil spring assembly and when the newer recoil spring assembly arrives, we’ll run the test again – just for fun. In any case, this turned out to be a practical non-issue as no steaming hot brass hit us in the face. Internet myth in our opinion.

Relative Velocity

We thought it would be fun, and a great excuse to turn more money into noise, to see if the hexagonal rifling of the Glock 17 yielded any velocity difference one way or the other compared to something with similar barrel length and standard rifling – in this case a Beretta 92FS. While the Beretta has a potential velocity advantage with a 4.9″ barrel compared to the Glock’s 4.49″ barrel, we proceeded to try a few 9mm loads to see what happened. OK, we admit it, this test had no real practical or scientific value, but it did give us a great excuse to break out our Shooting Chrony Beta Master. Might as well share the results though:

Georgia Arms 124 grain Gold Dot
Glock 17: 1,235 fps
Beretta 92: 1,235 fps

124 Grain Berry’s Plated Handloads
Glock 17: 1,082 fps
Beretta 92: 1,082 fps

Interesting that the (non-scientific) results came in almost identical with the Glock having a half inch shorter barrel. Again, no real conclusions can be drawn, but this exercise did impress a number of novice shooters at the range today – and that’s gotta count for something.

Glock 17 Gen 4 Basic Stats:

  • Weight: 22.05 oz unloaded, 31.92 oz loaded
  • Length: 7.95″
  • Sight radius: 6.5″
  • Barrel length: 4.49″
  • Height: 5.43″
  • Width: 1.18″
  • Trigger pull weight: 5.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds

 

He said She said
I really like this gun and don’t tell her, but I bought the evaluation sample. I hope to use it as my new Steel Challenge gun. One of the things I like about it is the crazy reliability. I like a gun that shoots equally well from any shooting position. As discussed in our review of the Glock 32, I tend to favor a gun that will still function and cycle no matter what type of grip I have. Just for fun, I tried this one with the most pathetic and lame grips imaginable and was unable to make it fail. That’s a good thing. I really like this one as well. Too big for most of my concealed carry needs though. Don’t tell him, but it’s going to become my new Steel Challenge gun! I really like the default (smallest) grip size. Gives me a perfect reach to the trigger with a natural grip. I also really like the default Glock sights. The “U” shaped rear sight with the white dot in front is really fast to pick up and great for Steel Challenge shooting. We’re reloaders and it would be nice to be able to shoot lead bullets as they are cheaper, but not a huge deal. I’ll just make him order plated bullets instead!

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

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