Gun Review: Glock 17 EXO

I’ve been a Glock fanboy for my entire shooting career. I’m not ashamed to say that I look forward to new model releases with as much anticipation as a COD player. Glock doesn’t scratch that itch, much. Save the introduction of the Glock .45GAP and .357Sig, Gaston’s product line has remained almost identical—at least to the naked eye. Sure, there’s Gen4. But even I’m not thrilled by new textures and recalled recoil springs. In fact, I’d given up hope that I’d ever see a rad Glock. Until the Glock EXO arrived . . .

The big news is . . . wait for it . . . a stainless steel slide. Yup, it’s the same satin / high-gloss nickel look seen in Bad Boys II and The Dark Knight. Only those guns were custom pieces that cost more than a Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911. The EXO coated Glock clocks in at $580.

I wanted one. Bad. Securing a Glock 17 EXO proved more difficult than casting Heath Ledger in a new movie. After watching a brace of EXOs at my range vanish faster than an iPhone 4s, I asked my dealer to give me the odds of securing the elusive semi. After a few minutes pinging his distributors he laid it out: “Better luck next year.” I’d put it out of my mind (mostly) until Lady Luck walked in.

My dealer brought out a Glock 17 EXO with just over a hundred rounds through it. It had been blessed with Trijicon HD sights, a 3.5 pound trigger and an extended slide release lever. Sold! Only I couldn’t convince him to sell it to me. Cool as a cucumber in a Sub-Zero, I pleaded with him to let me know if he changed his mind. A week later the almighty dollar whispered sweet nothings in his ear. I had a new (to me) firearm for about $620 after tax.

The EXO finish is an aftermarket affectation created at the behest of our often taste-challenged friends at Talo distributors. You may remember their commemorative high gloss, jewel-barrelled G19 a few years back. In this case, they commissioned Fail-Zero to refinish the standard black oxide Glock 17 coating with an EXO finish. As the Tenifer metal treatment cannot be reversed, the EXO finish is overlayed on top.

[Note: you wouldn’t want to affect the Tenifer; it rust-proofs the Glock, not the black oxide. If the black is scratched off it still doesn’t rust; the surface of the metal itself is unaffected. In that sense, the Glock’s black oxide really only functions as paint.]

Flash gun lovers note: the Glock 17 EXO’s finish isn’t really shiny. In low light you could easily confuse the EXO for any of my other Glocks. Never mind. I prefer a matte steel look for my weaponry.  I carry and shoot everything I own; excess gleam is simply scuff marks waiting to happen. Here’s a picture of the EXO next to its older, traditional brother.

It’s not all about looks. The EXO’s dusky steel-colored barrel produces a distinct metallic clink compared to a standard Glock Gen 3 gun. Any self-respecting gun nut will follow my example and rack the slide several times before getting down to business. In addition to its added sexiness, the EXO’s nickel boron finish is purported to be more corrosion resistant than the standard finish and virtually self lubricating. How sexy is that? But is it really better?

The short answer: yes. The long answer: not really.

I took the Glock 19 EXO to the range on a brisk, 55 degree Cleveland day and forced two friends to accompany me. One had a Sig Pro he wanted to break in, the other needed to get a feel for shooting 9mm.

The resulting groups were the best I could manage with the EXO using half-frozen hands in an indoor range owned by a skinflint who probably won’t really turn the heat on until February. Despite my icy digits, I shot passably, as so did my compatriots.

The Glock is neither overly generous nor noticeably punishing to a new shooter. My groups weren’t any better than I shot with a standard black weapon. But I did notice significantly less slide sparks from the side of the gun.

I don’t run my Glocks with a lot of lube. As I hadn’t cleaned it since I got it, I shot the 17 EXO pretty much dry. It functioned with typical Glock reliability, without noticeable friction wear at the end of the session. With the addition of a Hogue rubber grip, the weapon remained as controllable as a Zen Master’s temper. My one-handed groups weren’t my best, but not my worst either.

I shot all targets at 21 feet. I had to bow out early in the proceedings; after 200 rounds. I discovered my accuracy tends to suffer when my nose runs onto my shooting hand in near-polar temperatures.

Cleaning the 17 EXO was easier than Lindsay Lohan after a couple too many. Again, that’s a good thing not a bad thing—and no different than a standard Tenifer-finished gun. On the positive side, tool marks on the barrel were notable by their absence. The new finish may be harder and more scratch resistant. Or it could be that tool marks are harder to see with the lighter colored finish. Or maybe the Austrian Elves had a good day at the factory the day mine rolled off the line. Your guess is as good as mine.

My biggest hangup with the EXO: the hype. I expected something a bit, I don’t know, blingier. Because of the EXO’s darker shade, I’m never totally convinced it’s stainless. And no matter what my brain says about the tactical disadvantages of a high-gloss finish, I wanted the Joker’s pistol, dammit!

As a random sidenote, everyone I’ve let handle the gun who owns a Glock says it’s lighter than a usual 17. Which is strange as I’m positive it weights exactly the same as the standard gun. Yup, the Glock EXO is a mistress of the optical illusion. It’s worth a look if you want a little extra flair in your brick. Meanwhile, Lego mine.


Model: Glock 17
Caliber: 9x19mm
Cylinder capacity:  17 rounds
Materials: Glass bedded polymer frame, stainless steel slide
Barrel Length: 4.6″
Weight: 22.04 oz empty
Overall length: 7.32″
Sights: Trijicon HD NightSights
Action: DAO
Finish: Matte silver EXO finish
Price: $580

RATINGS (out of 5 Stars)

Style * * *
I could add a star for it being stainless. But if Glock was aiming for flash (silly, I know) they might have added different shaped cocking serrations instead of using the muted EXO color. Cinema-worthy it is not. What it is is a Glock Block that looks a little off. You’ve got to learn to like it.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * *
I put a Hogue grip on mine to keep it from shifting in my hand, as I have issues from time to time and like the sure feel of rubber in palm. Glock ergonomics are what they are. You either like ’em or you don’t.

Ergonomics (carry) * * *
Fancy schmantzy slide or not, the 17 is a full-size gun. Not an ideal carry piece. Even so, I find myself toting it more often than I thought I would simply because I like that steel color. But that’s just me.

Customize This * * * * *
There is the Glock aftermarket. Need I say more?

Reliability * * * * *
Come on, it’s a Glock. The EXO finish can only add to the already fabled G17 reliability.

Overall * * * *
You get a Glock 17 that doesn’t look like every other Glock without sending it to a custom shop. If a full-size duty weapon is your cup ‘o tea, it’s perfect. I’ll reserve my fifth star for the G19 EXO, though, which is sold out. Still.