Glock handguns were a revolution in firearms technology when they came along in the 80s. Utilizing a polymer frame that had never been seen before positioned the Glock as something of a novelty. The film Die Hard 2 catapulted it into the public consciousness with a bunch of patently false statements… but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Once the news wore off, the Glock cemented its place among American law enforcement, concealed carriers, and even military units with its exceptional reliability.
Lightning struck twice in quick succession for Gaston Glock. His Glock 17 pistol is still the most popular handgun for law enforcement agencies in the United States. Even still, the slightly smaller, compact Glock 19 remains one of the highest-selling pistols of all time. Despite four decades on the market, the popularity of these two handguns has not slowed.
Understanding Modern Glock Models: Glock 17 and Glock 19
Introduction to the Glock 17
The Glock 17 was the first viable handgun produced by Gaston Glock. It was designed to compete in a handgun selection trial for the Austrian military, a context it handily won. That was way back in 1980, and the Glock 17 has been the flagship Glock model ever since. The Glock 17 began to make its way across the Atlantic at a time when American law enforcement was in a transitional period between revolvers and semi-autos. Metal-framed, DA/SA semi-autos were in widespread use, but still far from universal.
The Glock 17’s History in Law Enforcement
The Glock 17 took the American law enforcement market by storm after overcoming a few hurdles. First, the unconventional appearance took a while to be accepted. The other big hurdle was the lack of an external, manual safety – cops just weren’t used to this. It did have the famed Safe Action trigger which prevented the gun from firing unless the trigger was intentionally pulled, though. It didn’t take long before everyone recognized the lightweight, magazine capacity, accuracy, and above all, the reliability of the Glock. Now, it is kind of rare to see a cop without one.
Glock 17: Specifications
Designed for military use, the Glock 17 is a full-sized pistol. It has a full-sized, polymer frame that accommodates a standard-capacity magazine of 17 rounds. The barrel length is 4.49 inches, weighing 22.05 ounces with no magazine inserted. The Glock 17 also introduced the concept of polygonal barrel rifling, a departure from the button rifling common in American firearm manufacturing, which supposedly provided slightly higher bullet velocities.
Introduction to the Glock 19
The Glock 17 led the way for the Glock 19. The Glock 19 had a shorter grip frame, slide, and barrel than its big brother, making it well-suited for concealed or plainclothes carry. The barrel of the Glock 19 is 4.02 inches, and it weighs only 21.16 ounces, unloaded. With a standard magazine capacity of 15+1 rounds, and the ability to use longer Glock 17 magazines it was an instant hit.
The Glock 19’s Concealed Carry Popularity
Citizens concerned with personal defense and concealed carry immediately recognized the benefits of the Glock 19, as well. When concealed carry laws began opening up in the United States in the 90s through the 2000s, the popularity of the Glock 19 soared. It is compact enough for carry, but still big enough to shoot like a full size gun. While the massive proliferation of compact 9mm pistols has taken some of the G19’s thunder, it is likely to be a long time before we will see any single pistol model beats the popularity of the Glock 19.
Glock 17 vs 19: Generational Popularity
Modern Glocks come in a variety of iterations or “generations.” The Gen3 Glocks are still incredibly popular, and their reliability is legendary. The grip has finger grooves, and this was the first Glock with a provision for mounting a light. The Gen5 Glock is the latest. It has interchangeable backstraps, a reversible magazine release, and the Glock Marksman Barrel rifling for better accuracy. Most Glock models are also available now with a cut for mounting a pistol-mounted optic.
Glock 17 vs. Glock 19: A Side-by-Side Comparison
Let's compare these pistols side-by-side, starting with the top end (the barrel and slide). The longer barrel of the Glock 17 is 4.49 inches while the shorter barrel of the Glock 19 is 4.02 inches. That’s roughly one-half an inch of difference between the two pistols, and it does provide a slight ballistic edge to the Glock 17, giving just a bit of extra muzzle velocity. On the other hand, it does increase the G17’s overall length, and the shorter slide and barrel make the Glock 19 easier to carry.
The longer barrel also means each gun has a longer slide. By itself, this doesn’t do a whole lot, but it does provide a longer sight radius. Sight radius is the distance between the face of the rear sight and the face of the front sight. The longer that distance is, the easier it is to shoot the gun accurately. The Glock 17, with its longer slide, has a longer sight radius of 6.50 inches with polymer sights. The Glock 19, with its shorter slide, has a sight radius of 6.02 inches.
The Grip & Magazine Capacity
Each of these two pistols has a different grip length, as well. The Glock 17’s longer grip provides an overall height of 5.47 inches. The Glock 19 has a shorter grip and an overall height of just 5.40 inches. The Glock 17 accommodates a slightly longer magazine with a standard magazine capacity of 17+1. This Glock 19 loses hardly anything, still maintaining an impressive 15+1 capacity. Not only that, but the Glock 19 can also use the longer Glock 19 magazines, making it incredibly versatile.
The larger Glock 17 is an outstanding full-sized pistol for duty use. With decades of service, it has proven itself as such time and time again. It is one of the most customizable pistols available, and its reliability is equal. With such a compact grip and lightweight, it is little wonder that the Glock 19 is the darling of concealed-carrying Citizens, and probably will be for a long time.
Choosing Between Glock 17 and Glock 19: Factors to Consider
So, which one of these pistols is right for you? Like so many things in life, the answer is, “It depends!” The specifics of each pistol optimize it for different use cases, but on the other hand, these are also really versatile pistols. So, let’s discuss the “ins” and “outs” to help you make the best decision possible.
The Glock 17 is larger than the Glock 19. It’s a bit longer (both in slide and grip) and a bit heavier. It also carries two more rounds in flush-fit magazines, and the longer grip frame gives a little bit more space for larger hands. This makes it ideal for situations where concealment is not a huge concern. For duty use, the Glock 19 will work but the Glock 17, with two extra rounds, is still the heavy hitter. The Glock 17 should also be one of your top candidates for home defense purposes, another scenario where concealment is not a factor.
Consider the Use Case
The Glock 19 is more or less the ideal pistol for concealed carry. The shorter barrel and shorter grip make it easy to conceal in a high-quality holster. With 15+1 rounds on board, it is still a very capable pistol that gives up little. Don’t let the small size fool you; the Glock 19 can – and has – served in uniformed duty. It is even the standard pistol of the United States Special Operations Unit.
There are plenty of other pistols on the market, like the S&W M&P, the CZ P-series, and many, many others. Most of the work is just fine. Some of them work just as well as a Glock. But you had to buy one gun and bet your life on its reliability, it should probably be a Glock 17 or 19. Which one you get will largely come down to personal preference, but it would be hard to go wrong with either. And maybe the right answer is…get both!
How XS Sights Can Improve Your Glock
Regardless of which Glock you choose, from 17 to 47, the sights are likely to be substandard. Though Glock does offer some basic steel sights, most Glock handguns ship with polymer sights by default. These sights don’t provide much of a sight picture to begin with, and we have seen, first hand, these cheap sights break off.
You can improve the performance of your Glock pistol with sights from XS Sights. First, they are machined from steel. Have no fear of your XS sight breaking – it’s just not going to happen. Our sights are made in America, and we stand by them. Most importantly, our sights are far more visible than OEM Glock options and will give you the edge you need to prevail, whether on duty, on the competition field, or in a personal protection scenario.
Night Sights for Glock from XS Sights
The XS Big Dot is what we are best known for – a huge, highly visible front dot. The DXT2 Big Dot is a large yellow or orange, photoluminescent front sight with a tritium tube in the center. It’s mated up to a shallow V-notch rear, providing an easy-to-see front sight, even in the darkest night. Best of all, this is also the fastest handgun sight you’ve ever shot. Our F8 Night Sights offer a tritium front sight coupled with a rear with a single dot below the notch, allowing you to simply stack the two dots. For a more traditional sight picture, our R3D 2.0 Night Sights offer a three-dot picture. We also offer suppressor height sights for use with a can or a pistol-mounted optic. No matter which Glock model you choose to meet your self-defense needs, put real sights on it. Trust only the best-in-class, XS Sights, for your duty or defensive Glock pistol.