Gun Review: Glock G19 (Gen4)

I’ve always disliked Glocks. My Glock aversion started the moment I first shot Gaston’s pistol. The gun left this small-handed shooter feeling like he’d shaken hands with a Genoa salami. My groups were wider than Julia Robert’s smile when Richard Gere tries to snap off her fingers with a jewelry case in Pretty Woman. Somewhere along the way this dislike grew into hatred. I’m sure it has something to do with marketing. What kind of firearms company sells a series of handguns that don’t fit a large percentage of the shooting population as “Perfection”? And then spends thirty years doing nothing about it? I became so incensed with the “Gaston knows best” snake oil, and the large number of shooters who swore by it, that I eventually grew disenchanted with all polymer pistols . . .

After discounting any and all Glocks for a carry gun, I opted for a Springfield XD. BUT—after training, my Sheriff’s department colleagues held a little shooting competition. I constantly placed second to a certain someone shooting a 1911. I convinced myself I was losing to the pistol, not the shooter. Although I knew polymer guns are inherently more reliable than JMB’s design, accuracy was the thing.

I cut my teeth on the 1911 as a youngster; I know how to run the gun. I find the grip angle extremely comfortable. In terms of stationary, non-threatening paper targets, I can put several bullets through the same hole at combat distances all day long. And the 1911 shoots the almighty .45 ACP. Those factors outweighed the cons: more parts that can go wrong, 44 ounces (unloaded), and seven round magazines.

So I bought and happily carried a 1911. I practiced regularly, shooting inch-wide groups at 15 yards, with a gun whose classic styling let you know she could kick ass like a prohibition era G-Man. I reckoned I’d made the best choice for defending me and my family. Then the day came that would shake the very foundations of everything I’d come to consider “law” in the world of firearms and self-defense.

Back it up . . .

If you read my preview and first impressions, you’ll know that Gen4 Glocks were undermining my enmity even before the first trip to the range. Thanks to the interchangeable back strap system, a Glock had suddenly become a pistol to have and to hold from this day forth—without wondering how I’d wandered down the deli aisle. Equally important, the Gen4′s rough texture frame provided crampon-level purchase for my strong hand.

The Gen4′s ergonomics were, dare I say it, perfect. In fact, the Gen4 G19 had somehow become the most comfortable gun I’d ever held, including the new Recaro-seat-like Springfield XD(m)s.

Unwilling to pass around the Gen4 Kool-Aid without a factual foundation, I hit the ‘net. The results were inconclusive. Every supportive comment about the latest iteration of the Austrian firearm was followed by ferocious firearms flaming. And shameless boosterism. XDs are better looking. M&Ps are more reliable. 1911s more accurate. Whether true or not, they gave voice to the Jiminy Cricket in my head reminding me why I’d refused to assimilate into the Glock Borg.

The Road to Damascus

When I packed up for the range last Friday, I thought I’d be returning home to write that the Gen4 Glock 19 had pleased me with its form-fitted finesse, but didn’t quite win me over with its grace under fire or accuracy.

When I reached the range, I began my session by running my 1911 through my standard 50-round qualifier. I experienced not one but two malfunctions, both of which required a tap rack bang. I achieved a score too embarrassing to post on TTAG; only 36 rounds had even touched paper.

My confidence had been shaken, to say the least. The gun to which I compared all others had failed me.

Thoroughly unnerved, I pulled the virgin Glock G19 out of its case and loaded some magazines. I sent the target out to 15 feet and racked the slide. I brought the pistol up to target. I immediately noticed the weight difference. Jiminy had his final say “No way a pistol this light can control recoil effectively.” Only one way to find out . . .

Even before the bullet hit the paper, I was deeply impressed. Dry firing the Gen4 G19 had foreshadowed the experience. As good as it was, and boy was it good, dry-firing the G19 was like getting caught stealing home. Close, but no Cohiba. Releasing 115 grains of nine mil down the tube was like hitting a grand slam over the Green Monster.

I’ve chosen the metaphor carefully. You know that feeling you get when your bat connects with a fast ball, when you swing with perfect timing and make contact right in the middle of the club’s sweet spot? The G19′s 5.5 lbs. trigger pull provides the same crisp contact, followed by the same seemingly effortless rush of power. This gun says home run even before the bullet leaves the barrel.

Some of that has to do with the Gen4 G19′s beefed-up spring assembly. If you concentrate your mind on felt recoil and felt recoil alone, there’s not much to separate the old Glock from the new gun. But if you compare the overall experience of shooting, including the vastly improved ergonomics, Gen3 and Gen4 are miles apart. The Gen4 pistol feels all of a piece; every aspect of the firearm working in endlessly repeatable harmony to make the gun controllable. Yes, perfectly.

When I released the G19′s trigger, I was amazed by how little real estate I had to surrender to reengage the sear. Credit where credit’s due; despite early negligent discharges by clumsy cops moving from revolvers to combat pistols, Glock stuck by their original trigger design. Right answer. Once you get used to the Glock’s quick reset, anything else feels like you’re waiting for a fuse to light.

When I pulled the G19′s trigger for the second time, the next hole appeared directly on top of the first. Damn that’s good. But could I do it again?

The third shot made a nice little clover. So I decided to empty the Glock’s mag and see what happened. What happened was this: I created one large ragged hole.

I was floored by the gun’s accuracy and lack of recoil. But that was slow fire. Eight rounds and four strings of committed pairs later found four sets of holes ringing the slow fire hole, all in the black on an NRA slow fire pistol target.

Even so, I was not yet a born-again polymer pistolero. I needed to see how the G19 fared through the qualification. I sent the target out to 25 yards. Fifty rounds later I pulled the target in from the three yard line.

I was floored. Forty-seven rounds on paper with 40 in the scoring area for a final tally of 200. Keep in mind I had never shot this pistol before. Statistically and reliability-wise my 1911 had been utterly destroyed.

I stood in shock and looked down at the Tupperware gun in my hand wondering, “What the hell just happened?” In one hour, my attitude about Glocks had turned 180 degrees. For the first time I saw my 1911 for what it is: an iconic pistol that has been surpassed and outclassed by superior technology. I was holding an ergonomic, compact, accurate, lightweight, high-capacity pistol with the reliability of a Swiss watch. I had seen the light.

In My Waistband

Due to a sticky fingered someone, I didn’t have the pleasure of trying the Remora holster RF sent my way. So, I tested the carry-ability of the G19 using one of my “universal” IWB holsters and a BlackHawk Check Six OWB.

Wearing normal clothing, the compact G19 concealed easily. (Mrs. Finn commented that it disappeared under my shirts much more readily then my usual carry guns.) I wore it for several days and put it through your typical suburban dad routine. The G19 was comfortable through every trip to the playground, remained easily accessible and stayed put throughout every activity. And why not? At 21 ounces unladen, the Glock’s a featherweight compared to my 1911.

Psychologically, there’s a lot to be said for carrying 15 rounds of nine millimeter, plus another 15 rounds (or more if you like) in a spare magazine. While I prefer nice big holes in my bad guys, my LEO work has convinced me that multiple threats are multiplying, requiring multiple rounds. As Bud drinkers might say, the G19 is less weight, more killing. Win win for me; lose lose for the perp.

 

Conclusion

I sent my 1911 back to the minors and called up a reliever with a 1300 fps fastball. It wasn’t an easy decision. But when confronted with the facts, I feel more comfortable protecting me and my progeny with the G19. It’s easier to carry, easier to shoot and instills me with confidence no other pistol has [yet] achieved. Despite Patrick Carrube’s assertion about the primacy of a different pistol, and keeping an open mind, I now believe that the Gen4 Glock 19 is the best easily-concealable self-defense handgun money can buy.

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SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: 9×19
Barrel Length: 4.02”
Overall Length: 6.85”
Weight: 20.99 oz
Finish: Parkerized Tenifer
Capacity: 15+1
Price: $649 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five)

Style * * * *
It’s not the prettiest pistol in the land, but it’s no nonsense styling and finish get the job done.

Ergonomics * * * * *
The Glock fits so I must acquit. From ballistic brick to the most comfortable handgun I’ve ever held.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s a Glock. ‘Nuff said. (No hiccups of any kind.)

Customizable * * * * *
After the 1911 it’s one of the most customizable pistols money can buy: lights, lasers, sights, .22 conversion; you name it, they got it.

Carry * * * * *
Its compact size and heftlessness make the G19 more easily concealed than a guilty conscience. With plenty of holster options, you can easily bring it to any social engagement short of a White House dinner.

Overall Rating * * * * *
Accuracy, reliability, capacity. You can trust your life to this gun.