Glock 17 vs Glock 19: Picking A Plastic Pistol

Sam Hoober for TTAG

If you want a GLOCK 9mm, but don’t want one that’s too small (like the G26 or G43) nor too big (like the G34) then the GLOCK 17 vs GLOCK 19 are your choices. And yes, lots of people — both new shooters and experienced gun owners — wonder which pistol they should buy, which leads to articles like this one. The answer is actually that you should get a 1911.

Just kidding! Anyhow, both GLOCKs are good pistols, but you might find one more suited to some purposes than to others. Both the G17 and G19 are great general target guns; you can punch a lot of paper with both. Say what you want about Gaston Glock, but he designed pistols that do that exceedingly well.

The GLOCK 17 — long a favorite of law enforcement agencies –is more of a service/duty or full-size pistol. The GLOCK 19 is something of a Goldilocks gun. Big enough to do everything a service/duty pistol will do, but small and light enough for concealed carry.

Glock 17 vs Glock 19: Picking A Plastic Pistol

GLOCK 17 Gen 5 courtesy

The 17, of course, was invented to serve as a service pistol and the GLOCK 19, the smaller model, was devised for use by plainclothes police officers and so on.

How much so?

The standard GLOCK 17 has a barrel length of 4.49 inches, and a sight radius of about 6.5 inches, depending on exactly what sights you’re using. The GLOCK 19 has a shorter barrel length of 4.02 inches and a sight radius of about 6 inches, again thusly depending. Overall height of the GLOCK 17 is just shy of 5.5 inches including the magazine, the GLOCK 19 is right at 5.0 inches including the magazine.

Glock 17 vs Glock 19: Picking A Plastic Pistol

GLOCK 19 Gen 5 courtesy

The GLOCK 19 is billed as being better for people with smaller hands, but only marginally so; the trigger reach (the distance from the back of the pistol grip to the front face of the trigger) is only 0.03 inches longer on the GLOCK 17 vs GLOCK 19.

glock 19 vs glock 17 9mm pistol comparison

GLOCK 19 Gen 4 9mm by Robert Farago for TTAG

Standard magazine capacity is 15 rounds of 9mm in the GLOCK 19 and 17 in the GLOCK 17, though that’s not actually the reason why Gaston Glock dubbed it the 17. Seventeen is actually the number of patents held by GLOCK; completely new models get the newest number they’re up to, which is why the GLOCK 45 is the GLOCK 45, even though it isn’t cambered in .45 ACP.

Do the specs vary with the various generations of GLOCK handguns? In a few dimensions, they do. The Gen 3 and Gen 4 GLOCKs are almost identical save for the Gen 4 pistols having swappable backstraps, a revised magazine release button and a few other bits. The Gen 5 GLOCK pistols had a bit more of an overhaul.

Gen 5 pistols have a wider frame and fully ambidextrous controls, adding about a tenth of an inch to overall width. The sight radius is slightly shorter (roughly 0.05 inches shorter) and the Gen 5 pistols both have a trigger reach distance of 2.76 inches. So better in one dimensions for those with small hands, but a little worse in another.

So…which to get? It partially depends on what you want to use it for.

The GLOCK 19 is something of a do-it-all gun. It’s great at the range, as it’s still plenty accurate with its shorter barrel compared to the longer barrel GLOCK 17. It’s a good home defense gun and at an unloaded (sans magazine) weight of 21.16 oz for the Gen 3 and Gen 4 models (21.5 oz for the Gen 5) it’s also a great choice as a concealed carry pistol.

Some of you might be aware that I work for Alien Gear Holsters. As it happens, GLOCK 19 holsters are the most popular models we sell. So as far as CCW pistols go, the 19 is the standard by which all must be invariably judged.

The larger capacity G17 is a bit better suited as a home defense pistol if going by sheer size, as the dimensions – 8 inches long, 5.5 inches tall and 1.26 inches wide for the Gen3 and Gen 4 versions – are a tad large for a concealed carry gun.

It’s easily one of the best sidearms for self-protection available, however; more police and other law enforcement agencies carry the G17 pistol than any other. However, they’re also carrying the pistol outside the waistband.

In an IWB rig, the 17 can be a bit much for some people. Then again, a lot of people carry a 1911 every day and a loaded government-size frame weighs a full pound more than a loaded 17, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. There are some folks who do CCW a GLOCK 17 on the daily, so it isn’t undoable.

Prices start at about the same amount, usually in the $450 to $500 range for base models, so really it comes down to which pistol is better for you and your needs. Go out and handle both, shoot both decide you’d rather have a 1911 and get an idea as to which fits you best.

What do you think, though? 17? 19? Get one of each? Or get a 19X or GLOCK 45 and have the best of both worlds? Sound off in the comments!

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