Gun Review: GLOCK 17 Gen5: The Evolution Continues

There are few companies in the world that get global coverage when they announce their newest widget or update. Inside the firearms industry, it is even rarer. The exception to this phenomenon is GLOCK. While they are obviously well known in the United States, their reach extends from the Arctic Circle to the sands of the Sahara. It is with this as a backdrop that GLOCK officially announced the release of their newest generation of Safe Action Striker-Fired pistols. Say hello to the Gen5.

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With the included four grip inserts you can set up your Gen 5 for the perfect fit.

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Kind of Secret

Whispers about a new GLOCK have been circulating for months after word got out the FBI was going back to 9mm. GLOCK VP Josh Dorsey said, “The development of our Gen5 pistol was the result of the constant pursuit of perfection and a desire to meet the requests of the consumer market. We have combined the standards of high-level performance and reliability with distinctive design enhancements to improve durability, accuracy, and performance. The benefits enhance the shooter’s experience at the range and in high-stress situations where fractions of a second matter.”

The Gen5 pistols are a variation of the gun GLOCK developed for use by the FBI. Labeled the “M,” it was built following a request by federal law enforcement for a new service pistol. “Our goal was to meet the demanding needs of law enforcement agencies while maintaining our standard of perfection,” said Dorsey. “Once the pistols we submitted proved themselves in testing and were adopted, consumers began asking for those pistols. The Gen5 pistols we are introducing today meet that demand.”

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”The Gen5 pistols are a variation of the gun that GLOCK developed for use by the FBI. Labeled the “M.”

On The Surface

As with any new product, the company is quick to tout its’ benefits and improvements. For the Gen5, GLOCK has focused on five specific points they believe are the heart of the improvement. First on the list is the use of a new finish. While GLOCK’s are well known for their surface durability, the engineers have gone a step further and applied a DLC finish to the Gen5. This new finish is exclusive to the Gen5 guns and will increase protection against scratching and corrosion. It’s also designed to help the gun continue to run in even the most adverse conditions. I am certain this finish will launch a hundred new durability tests we will bear witness to on YouTube.

The second item of focus is the inclusion of an ambidextrous slide stop lever. This combined with the ability to switch the magazine release to the other side of the gun makes the Gen5 a winner for those who shoot left handed. No longer will you need to just “get used to it.” It is also a solid addition for hard-core shooters who understand the need to be able to run and operate the gun with your support hand. In the “built for speed,” category is the inclusion of a flared mag well.

A common item in competition shooting, the larger opening makes loading at speed and under stress easier. There has been a long-standing joke about the finger grooves on the GLOCK (and other pistols as well). Most people wonder just who in the hell these finger grooves were actually made for. Well, GLOCK has put an end to that by removing the finger grooves on the Gen5. This will allow the gun to fit a wider variety of shooters regardless of their finger size.

The last improvement making the top five is a pretty good one. GLOCK has developed a new barrel they are calling the GLOCK Marksman barrel. It has enhanced rifling based on their proven polygonal barrel design. The result is a pretty solid improvement in accuracy.

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The Ambi slide stop and reversible mag release makes the Gen 5 lefty friendly.

The Gen5 is a winner for those who shoot left-handed

Under The Hood

While these are the official talking points, a quick tour inside the gun tells us a great deal more. On first inspection, you will quickly see that the Gen5 is missing a pin. With this generation dedicated to the G17 and G19, both 9mm, the engineers were able to skip the locking block pin which came to be because of the .40 S&W round.

As you flip the slide over I will hear an audible, “What the heck?” as you see the new firing pin safety. The geometry of the safety has been transformed from a plunger to a triangle — this allows for a much smoother trigger pull. The striker has also changed, along with the firing pin hole. It is now teardrop shaped compared to the Gen4 and prior slot design. The purpose of this is to increase tolerance for foreign debris in the firing pin channel.

This, in turn, reduces the potential for a light primer strike because of debris or grime. Even the slide cover plate has been modified in the Gen5. GLOCK has also done away with the old leaf spring on the slide lock lever and gone with a real coil spring. In fact, a great deal of the gun’s internals are new. I am sorry to announce this will break the heart of those looking to do some part swapping. GLOCK has even worked to improve their magazines.

The new mags have an easy to see orange follower for easier inspection as well as a small lip molded into the front to help with reloading. The good news is all previous gen mags will work on the Gen5. The last item may not be one you see but should be aware of. GLOCK is offering three different sight configurations on the Gen5 guns. These include three-dot night sights, Ameriglo GLOCK Spartan Operator sights, and the traditional GLOCK plastic sights. This may not seem like a big deal, but I believe it is an effort on GLOCK’s part to make these guns “shooter ready” as they come out of the box.

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Gen 4 and older firing pin channel
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New Gen 5 firing pin channel.

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New style firing pin (top) was designed to increase tolerance for debris in the firing pin channel.

Does It Shoot?

My shooting impressions of the Gen5 gun were all positive. The new angled safety plunger and other internals made for a distinct improvement in trigger pull. While it still retains its’ same weight, the action is significantly smoother. I also could see a difference in my groups with the new barrel design. Granted, I have a billion-ish rounds through Glocks and I am a little more in tune with their performance than the average shooter, but this will not go unnoticed by many.

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The Gen 5 magazines come with a bright orange follower. All previous mags will still work in the Gen 5.

In the end, the new Gen5 ran flawlessly. With the small and sometimes major changes in the gun, GLOCK has improved on its’ durability and function. The official word is that the Gen5 GLOCK has set a new record in testing for mean stoppages between rounds at 11,000. The only challenge I had with the Gen5 was with the new Ambi slide stop lever. It didn’t fit my Bladetech holster quite right and offered some unwelcomed resistance during my draw stroke. This is worth mentioning because while the inability to swap parts between guns can be easily brushed off, the holster issue can be more problematic. While I can’t speak for every holster out there, I would keep in mind that your favorite carry rig may not quite fit this new generation.

While some will nitpick about the lack of serration cuts, or GLOCK’s failure to include an integrated grenade launcher or other absurdity, the Gen5 is a winner. The question of whether we will see other models beyond the G17 and G19 in a Gen5 configuration was answered with a very simple, “We will see.”  I have officially parked my Gen4 G17 and moved to the new Gen5 model. I have a feeling I am going to be just one of many.

GLOCK Gen5 Specifications:

GLOCK Gen5 G17

  • Chambered: 9mm
  • Length: 7.95″
  • Height: 6.14″
  • Width: 1.34″
  • Weight: 26.26 oz. empty
  • Capacity: 17

GLOCK Gen5 G19

  • Chambered: 9mm
  • Length: 7.28″
  • Height: 5.04″
  • Width: 1.34″
  • Weight: 23.99 oz. empty
  • Capacity: 15

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