Throwback Thursday: Glock17 Gen 4 Review

Glock 17 Gen 4 barrel pointed down and to the right on a white background.

The Glock pistol is now over 30 years old. Those that grew up in the past few decades may not realize how sensational the Glock pistol was when it was first introduced. With groundbreaking polymer construction and a safe action trigger, the Glock 17 was a revolutionary handgun. While there had been polymer frame handguns before, none were as affordable or widely available as the Glock 17. The pistol also offered 17 rounds of potent 9mm Luger ammunition.

Dark silver Glock 17 Gen 4 barrel pointed down and to the right on a white background.
The Glock 17 Gen 4 is a result of experience with the Glock and important detail changes.

Glock has introduced many variants in larger calibers since. The Glock has been redesigned into the Mini Glock and other versions, but none of these variations is as easy to shoot well as the original. The Glock 17 is still a sensational handgun.

Unique Features

Let’s look at a few of the features that make the Glock unique:

  • Strong, lightweight frame
  • Impervious to most solvents, oil and water
  • Trigger action does not require extensive training—press, fire, release to allow reset and fire again
  • Minimal maintenance
Dark gray Glock 17 Gen 4 slide on gradated white to light gray background.
Note the precision cut and fitting of the slide. The round part near the firing pin channel is the firing pin block.

Many modern handguns are a triumph of the technical over the tactical: the Glock remains tactical. As an example, the action is simple and offers excellent combat accuracy. When the slide is racked, the firing pin or striker is prepped against the firing pin spring. In other words, the pistol is partially cocked. When the trigger is pressed, the striker is forced to the rear. Finally, the sear breaks and allows the striker to run forward, firing the pistol. After the shot breaks, the slide recoils; the spent case is extracted and ejected, and a fresh cartridge is chambered as the slide runs forward—orthodox operation in an unorthodox handgun. There are no locking lugs as the barrel locks by butting the barrel hood into the ejection port. The barrel features angled camming surfaces to effect unlocking and tilting the barrel during recoil.

The primary advantage of the Glock in training is there is only one trigger action to master, compared to a double-action, first-shot pistol, and the action is reliable and repeatable. With sufficient time and effort, you can learn the Glock trigger action and shoot it well.

New Design Makes This a Great Pistol

The pistol features a good reserve of ammunition. If you are caught in a situation in which you are outnumbered, much may be said for a fast handling pistol with light recoil that allows a trained shooter to make multiple hits quickly. The advantages of the Glock became apparent in law enforcement and the pistol was adopted by many agencies.

The drawbacks are few. The Glock demands a locked wrist when firing, or the pistol will short cycle, but this is common with many self-loading handguns. Simply grip the pistol properly and it will feed and function. But nothing is perfect and over the years there have been a number of improvements on the original handgun. Added to the pistol are serrations and finger grooves to improve adhesion. Interchangeable grip panels on new production pistols allow the individual shooter to obtain a near perfect blend of firearm and hand fit.

The pistol features a newly designed recoil rod that helps control recoil and limit wear on the handgun. Among the first features you notice on the Glock 17 Gen 4 is the slightly extended magazine release. It works as advertised, affording a speed advantage during magazine changes. The RTF or rough texture frame is welcome.

Dark gray Glock 17 Gen 4 with focus on textured frame and the extended magazine release button. Barrel is pointed down and to the left on a white background, with a gray strip at the bottom.
In this illustration you can see the new frame texture and the extended magazine release button. Small details that add up to a much improved handgun.

There is a raised bridge around the slide lock that helps protect the it from being inadvertently engaged. This is a good addition as the thumb sometimes locks the slide open when firing the pistol, especially when firing +P or +P+ ammunition. Overall, the G17 Gen 4 is an improved pistol with good features. The grip inserts allow a degree of custom fit; the grip allows better adhesion than ever before, and the detail changes result in a better handgun.

The Glock 17 is supplied with three magazines. With a 16-round capacity, this gives you 48 rounds on tap. Even better, a magazine is in the gun and another on the belt and the third resting. Rotating magazines in service this way results in long magazine spring life, however, Glock magazines are famously long-lived.

When firing the pistol to slide lock, the slide always locks back on the supplied magazines. For the purposes of this evaluation, the pistol was broken out and lightly lubricated. While the Glock needs little, to no, lubrication, a drop on the trigger bar is indicated. The pistol was loaded with Black Hills 115-grain FMJ for the initial evaluation.

Drawing from a Blackhawk holster and getting on target quickly at 7 yards, the handgun and the shooter performed well—

  1. Draw
  2. Get the front sight on target
  3. Press the trigger—you have a hit

The low bore axis of the 9mm Glock and the rapid trigger reset are a great aid in rapid-fire combat work. The pistol’s front sight simply hangs on target.

Moving to the Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P, we rediscovered one of the advantages of the 9mm. There is little difference in the recoil between standard loads and +P loads, at least not in a full-size pistol such as the Glock 17. Results with this load were excellent. In fact, I was shooting tighter groups, perhaps because I was subconsciously tightening the grip in order to control the +P loading.

In any case, this is a lot of horsepower in the form of a sizzling fast, 124-grain +P. Likewise, the recoil seemed light and the pistol was very easy to control and use well. Carry a shorter and lighter gun if you must, but the Glock 17 is a great house gun or carry gun when it can be concealed.

Glock 17 Gen 4 combat sites on a striated light gray background.
Glock’s combat sights are high visibility and offer rapid acquisition in speed drills.

Moving to 15 yards, the pistol gave good hits as long as attention to the sights was maintained and the trigger properly pressed. The pistol is impressive on the range and would make a great choice for IDPA competition. Firing the pistol for accuracy from the benchrest produced interesting results. The Glock isn’t generally tagged as a target grade pistol, and it isn’t, and the Glock 17 is more accurate than many realize.

The Glock does better with one load than another—like most pistols—2.5 inches at 25 yards is the norm. This performance isn’t bad at all for a polymer-frame service pistol.

To put the accuracy of the pistol into context: at the generally accepted, most common gunfight range of 21 feet, the Glock 17  groups practically any type of ammunition into a single, ragged hole time after time.

The Glock 17 is a great combat pistol. It is fast into action and easy to handle. If you’re an occasional shooter who, like many of us, simply cannot get in the practice needed, the 9mm handgun makes a lot of sense. With modern high performance ammunition it is difficult to be appreciably better armed without spending a great deal of time and effort in mastering a heavier caliber.

Accuracy Results

  • 5-shot groups
  •  25 yards
Manufacturer Bullet Weight Type Grouping
Black Hills 115-grain FMJ Remanufactured 3.5 inches
Black Hills 115-grain EXP 2.0 inches
Black Hills  124-grian JHP +P 2.5 inches
CCI Blazer 124-Grain FMJ 3.25 inches
Speer 115-grain Gold Dot 2.5 inches
Federal 124-grain HydraShok 2.4 inches
PMC Bronze 115-grain 4.5 inches
Wolf 124-grain FMJ 4.0 inches

The Glock is simple to operate and reliable. This means that instead of spending valuable time learning to manipulate the piece or to correct malfunctions, you can focus on marksmanship and tactics. That means a lot.

Glock 17 Gen 4
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 4.49 inches
Caliber 9mm
Overall Height 5.43 inches
Overall Length 7.32 inches
Overall Width 1.18 inches
Weight Loaded 31.91 pounds
Sights Fixed
Grip Interchangeable backstraps
Magazine 17 rounds
Frame Rough Textured Frame


Did you get one of the early Glocks? What did you think of it? Have you checked out the Gen 4s? Share your experience with us in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. Is that a typo regarding the “16-round capacity” for the magazines? Glock 17s have always had 17-round magazines, and according to the Glock website, they still do. So that gives you 51 rounds plus one in the chamber, for a total of 52 rounds available in a fully loaded Glock 17 with two additional spare mags.

  2. I started with a gen 4 19 for semi auto and I love it. Manageable recoil very accurate and smaller frame than g17 for concealment

  3. I asked a trusted source what would be a good pistol for a rookie? He did not hesitate and said, Gen 4 Glock 17. BTW, he is a Navy Seal. I just passed my CCL and shot well with the 19. It is phenomenal. By no means a sharpshooter, and despite nerve-addled shaky hands, the 17 “allowed” me to cluster well. With a lesser gun and the ‘shakes” I am sure I would have been lucky to pass.

  4. Great article. My first Glock 17 has a born date of April 1990 making it a G2. My second Glock 17 has a born date of October 2015 making it a G4. In many ways they are the same gun but in an equal number of ways they are different. Btw, I love them both. In the 26 years I’ve had my original G17, it has never misfired and it has always been extremely accurate. I wouldn’t even begin to guess how many rounds I’ve cycled through it. My new G17 is equally accurate. I’ve run approximately 400 rounds through it. The adjustable back strap is really nice. Of course I’m a bit biased, but I would highly recommend the Glock 17 G4 to anyone looking for a large frame pistol.

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