Glock 17 vs. Glock 19: The Devil is in the Details

The long-running stand off between the Glock 17 and the Glock 19 is one of the most hotly-debated issues among many Glock owners.

People take this comparison very seriously, and discussions about ‘which is better’ can quickly become heated.

I know, therefore, that I am going to get some angry emails after writing this review, from people who say that I am deluded. I’d like to respond to those people before we go any further, by saying that I know that the ‘best gun’ is always the ‘best gun for you’.

If you prefer to shoot with either the 17 or the 19, good for you. Ultimately, having the gnu that is correct for you makes you a better shooter.

But I’ll just come out and say it – to my mind, the Glock 19 is better. Both the Glock 17 and 19 are truly outstanding guns, making use of the latest materials and a design which is simple and reliable.

Both of them offer the same triple-safe-action mechanism, both are best-selling handguns, and both boast deadly accuracy in the right hands. But – and it is a big but – the Glock 19, being a little smaller, is simply better for concealed carry, and for this reason it is my preferred gun.

That’s not to over-simplify the issue. Let’s take a look at the main points of similarity and difference between the guns, and why you would choose one over the other.


Glock Specs Comparison Chart: G17 vs. G19

G17

G19

CALIBER/SYSTEM 9×19 / Safe Action 9×19 / Safe Action
LENGTH 204 mm / 8.03 in 187 mm / 7.36 in
HEIGHT 138 mm / 5.43 in 127 mm / 4.99 in
WIDTH 30.00 mm / 1.18 in 30.00 mm / 1.18 in
BARREL HEIGHT 32 mm / 1.26 in 32 mm / 1.26 in
BETWEEN SIGHTS 165 mm / 6.49 in 153 mm / 6.02 in
BARREL LENGTH 114 mm / 4.48 in 102 mm / 4.01 in
WEIGHT (unloaded) 710 g / 25.06 oz 670 g / 23.65 oz
WEIGHT (loaded) 910 g / 32.12 oz 855 g / 30.18 oz
TRIGGER PULL ~2.5 kg / ~5.5 lbs ~2.5 kg / ~5.5 lbs
TRIGGER TRAVEL ~12.5 mm / ~0.49 in ~12.5 mm / ~0.49 in
BARREL RIFLING Right Hand, Hexagonal Right Hand, Hexagonal
LENGTH OF TWIST 250 mm / 9.84 in 250 mm / 9.84 in
STANDARD MAGAZINE 17 15
OPTIONAL MAGAZINE 10/33 10/17/33

Specifications

Let’s get some basics out of the way, for those of you who are new to this debate. The Glock 17 and the Glock 19 are, essentially, the same gun, except that the Glock 19 has a slightly smaller barrel and grip. This means that it is classified as a compact, and not a full-sized pistol.

Beyond this, the guns are actually very similar. Both take 9mm cartridges, both are made from the same high-quality mix of steel and polymer, and both of them are prized by police and military forces around the world for their reliability.

When Gaston Glock, an Austrian genius, ssat down to design these weapons in the early 1980s, he had no previous firearm-making experience.

This makes what he came up with truly outstanding achievement – the Glock 17 was quickly adopted by shooters all over Europe, and even received a NATO stock number. The 19, as a compact version, was first released in 1988.

Both weapons continue to develop, with the most recent models being the Gen 4 series. These are slightly smaller than their Gen 3 predecessors, though in all other respects pretty much the same.

Some veteran shooters prefer the older Gen 3 models, but in my experience there is very little difference between them.

Cost

Again, terms of cost, both weapons are fairly similar. In terms of handguns, they both come in at the more expensive end of the range, but you get what you pay for when it comes to handguns.

In addition, the fact that both the Glock 17 and the Glock 19 have been around for quite a long time now means that there are plenty of accessories available for both, from good holsters to advanced after-market sights.

Getting either means that you are investing more in a ‘weapons system’ rather than a simple handgun.


But Which Is Better?

Well, in truth the best one for you will depend on a variety of factors. Let’s take a look at a few.

Handling

When you first pick them up, the size of the two guns is the most obvious difference.

The Glock 17’s grip will extend below the hand of most users, whilst the grip on the 19 ends in line with the bottom of your hand. The difference in size also extends to the trigger mechanism, with the 19’s being a little more tight that the larger 17’s.

These differences will affect which you prefer, but only if you are particularly large or small. For most of us, though the difference in size can be felt, neither gun is too big or too small.

Of course, some people simply prefer the feel of a larger gun. On the other hand, having a smaller gun can improve your ability to conceal it (especially for women who carry), on which I will have more to say below.

Accuracy

This is by far the most common reason used by those who claim that the Glock 17 is the better gun.

With a longer barrel, they claim, the 17 is simply more accurate than its smaller brother. I hate to break it to them, but both in my experience and after pretty extensive research, I think they are wrong.

The reason for this is because a gun’s mechanical accuracy is generally less of a factor than how experienced you are using it. Face it, the half-inch difference between the barrels on the two guns is tiny in comparison to the skill of the person shooting it.

It’s for this reason that making a direct comparison of the technical accuracy of both pistols is somewhat useless. Both are capable of far more accuracy than I (and probably you) are able to extract from them.

And so, on this criteria, I have to conclude that there is essentially no difference between the Glock 17 and the Glock 19.

Recoil

Technically, the Glock 17, being slightly heavier and larger, should give less recoil than the smaller Glock 19. In tests, though, this turns out not to be the case.

In reality, the difference in weight between the two guns is so small as to be impossible to feel for the majority of users, and the same goes for the recoil.

For this reason, I’m tempted to suggest that the people who feel a difference between the two guns in this regard are simply imagining it.

Reliability

When it comes to handguns, reliability is probably the most important criterion for me personally. So, which is more reliable — the 17 or the 19?

The answer to this question is answered pretty simply – both these guns are Glocks, and so they are really reliable.

It’s worth noting that the Glock 17, the older of the two models, was originally designed to replace a WW2-era pistol used by the Austrian police, and that therefore reliability was priortized above all else in the design and manufacture of these guns.

In my personal experience, I have honestly never seen either gun jam. I’m sure it is possible, through a series of handler errors, to make them seize up, but for most people most of the time both guns are as reliable as it gets.

Magazine Capacity

Ok, now we get into the real differences between the guns.

In discussions of which is the better gun, much is made of the fact that the Glock 17 has a bigger ammunition magazine than the 19. This is true, of course – the Glock 17’s standard magazine carries 17 rounds, the Glock 19’s 15.

Now. There are some situations in which this matters. If you are using your Glock for certain types of competition, for instance, and are actually going to fire a whole magazine at once, it makes sense to go for the larger magazine.

However, in my opinion this two-round difference means very little for practical purposes. There are some who would say that, in a self-defense situation, you can never have too many rounds in the magazine.

I imagine these are the same people who, in that situation, will fire off their whole magazine in two seconds, and maybe hit once. It makes no sense to design your self-defense strategy around how many times you are going to miss.

If you need 17 rounds (or 5, for that matter) to disable an attacker, you need to spend some more time on the range.

For this reason, I regard this category also as a draw.

 


A Larger Gun is More Impressive (or Is It?)

Well, maybe. Perhaps, one time in a hundred, a potential attacker is going to be more discouraged by a Glock 17 than a 19.

But, following that logic, you might as well get an assault rifle. And honestly, if you are worried about half an inch, your insecurities are not going to be reduced by a Glock 17.

It’s what you do with it that counts, after all.

Concealed Carry

There is an area in which the different sizes of the two guns makes a real difference, though, and that is in concealed carry.

In this regard, I’ll first point out that it is not actually the barrel size that makes a difference, but the grip. The half-inch that has been shaved off the Glock 19’s grip makes carrying it concealed a lot easier than that number, on paper, would indicate.

If you are lucky enough to live in a hot climate, where thin shirts are commonplace, pistol grips are typically more at risk of printing than barrels, and for this reason the Glock 19 is preferable in these situations.

All that said, however, concealed carry is more of an art form than a science, and the size of your gun is only one factor in being able to conceal it well. Where you carry it, and what kind of holster you use, can make all the difference. In addition, your choice of clothing can really effect concealment.

For these reasons, I’m not going to say that the Glock 19 is a perfect concealed carry pistol. Both of these guns can be concealed well. However, the slightly smaller profile of the 19 gives it the edge.

Glock 17 vs 19 Infographic

For a fun summary of everything in this article, check out the infographic below (and see our “winner”).

epic debate of the glock 19 versus glock 17 - compared side by side in an infographic

Keep the debate alive! Share this image on your site. 🙂


Final Verdict: Which Glock Wins?

No review can ever recommend the perfect handgun. The best gun is the one you are used to, can rely on, and have practiced for many hours with.

Both of these weapons – both the Glock 17 and the Glock 19 – are great handguns. The simplicity of their design, and the rugged materials they are composed of, mean that they are incredibly reliable.

Both will achieve great accuracy, as long as you develop the skills necessary to make use of them properly. Both are suitable for both beginner and experienced shooters, with the lack of recoil being a particular advantage for learners.

Of course, there are differences. The slightly larger ammunition capacity of the Glock 17 means that you get an extra two rounds. In truth, though, this will make very little difference unless you are shooting in competition, and also adds some weight to the gun.

Our choice: Glock 19

in the great debate of glock 19 vs 17, the winner is the 19 opinion 2017The major difference is the size of the two weapons, and this is ultimately what leads me to choose the Glock 19 over the Glock 17.

If you are looking for a handgun for concealed carry, but one that also handles like a full-size pistol, the 19 is a great gun. The half-inch smaller frame makes concealing it just that little bit easier, without affecting the way it handles.

Of course, if concealed carry is not an issue for you, or you simply prefer the feel of  the larger Glock 17, you are free to disagree.

Though my preference is for the 19, I have no doubt that the long and passionate stand-off between these two guns will continue for quite some time.

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