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Glock 34 vs 17: Handgun Comparison

Glock 34 vs 17: Handgun Comparison

Posted by XS Sights on Dec 6th 2023

The Glock family of pistols has been revolutionary. Glock handguns, (more or less) singlehandedly, completely displaced metal DA/SA pistols in the 90s, just like metal pistols replaced revolvers. Glocks have also had tremendous staying power; into their fourth decade, they are perhaps more popular than ever. And their popularity is not limited to a single market sector. Glock pistols are immensely popular with law enforcement officers, private Citizens, competitive shooters, and military special operations units.

The Glock 17 is the original Glock, and still the most popular among law enforcement officers. But it has some competition. The Glock 34 is very closely related to G17, but the two models have some major differences. The differences between these two pistols, while seemingly pretty small, can make one a better choice for certain applications. This article will explore these differences, and help you decide which is best for you.

Overview: Glock 34

The Glock 34 is built on a full-size frame. The grip frame holds a 17-round Glock magazine. It also has an accessory rail for the mounting of lights and lasers. It is available in Gen3, Gen4, and Gen5, allowing the user to take advantage of the classic, Gen3 finger grooves, or the updated, interchangeable backstraps. So far, this sounds like pretty standard Glock fare.

Longer Slide & Sight Radius

The things that set the Glock 34 apart from other Glocks are in the upper half. First, the slide is almost an inch longer than standard, full-size counterparts. This might seem like a fairly small difference, but one that can equal huge increases in performance. The longer sight radius makes shooting easier and more accurate, allowing the user to make precise shots and get hits at longer ranges.

Longer Barrel for Increased Performance

But that’s not all. The longer slide also has a longer barrel. This extra barrel length equates to better bullet performance in two ways. First, velocity is generally better out of a longer barrel. This ensures that hollow point bullets reach their expansion envelope. The added velocity also applies to external ballistics. The faster a bullet is pushed, all other things being equal, the flatter it will shoot. This means less bullet drop, which equates to less holdover, which, in turn, means more accurate shot placement at distance.

Lighter Trigger Pull

Finally, the Glock 34 has a slightly lighter trigger than most standard Glock models. It’s trigger weight is 24 Newtons (5.4 pounds) versus 26 Newtons (5.85 pounds) for most Glock pistols. Interestingly, the Glock 34 comes with one other non-standard feature” an extended slide release lever.

All this adds up to a pretty formidable advantage, regardless of who is employing the pistol. For law enforcement officers, this means a more accurate, easier-to-shoot pistol. For law enforcement agencies, this means a pistol that is easier to train with due to it’s lighter trigger. For competitors, the Glock 34 offers faster and more precise shots on small, longer-range targets. For home defense, the larger pistol is an outstanding package due to its size, accuracy, and increased velocity, while still being very easy to shoot.

Of course, the Glock 34 can certainly be improved. Glock makes a good pistol, but XS Sights can make the G34 an outstanding pistol. Replacing the mediocre factory sights with some really good sights – like XS’s Minimalist Night Sights – can help you wring out all the accuracy the larger Glock 34 is capable of.

Overview: Glock 17

The Glock 17 is Gaston Glock’s very first successful model. Designed as a contract submission for the Austrian military, the Glock 17 became popular almost immediately. Once it made inroads in to the U.S. law enforcement market, it took the world by storm! The Glock 17 was a radical departure from the metal guns of the era. It featured a polymer, “plastic” frame. The magazine capacity exceeded nearly all commercially available pistols.

Reliability

Unlike most semi-autos of the day (1911s and DA/SA guns), the Glock had no manual, external safety. But what really made the Glock 17 a success was the tremendous reputation for reliability it built the only way you can build such a reputation: by working day-in and day-out under the toughest conditions. Semi-automatic pistols were still not fully trusted as revolvers had been, but the Glock helped change that, probably more so than any other pistol.

Frame & Popularity

The Glock 17 is Glock’s flagship full-size pistol. It has a full-size frame that accommodates a 17-round, standard-capacity magazine. The frame is coupled to a 4.5-ich barrel. The G17 is available in Gen3, Gen4, and Gen5. The Glock 17 is one of the most iconic, trusted pistols in the world today, being used by countless militaries, law enforcement agencies, and as one of the most popular pistols on the civilian market, period.

Aftermarket Upgrades

The Glock 17 is amply supported by the aftermarket. Parts of every variety and variation are available for the Glock 17. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in holster selection. The variety of holsters available for the Glock 17 is perhaps only exceeded by those available for the compact and equally popular Glock 19. And XS Sights are available in the broadest possible range of options for the Glock 17.

The Glock 17 is an incredibly versatile pistol. Though it is big enough for duty carry, it can also be carried concealed (the author has carried one both concealed in his personal life, and openly, on duty). It is a near ideal size for duty use. It performs admirably in the home defense role, has acquitted itself well in competition, and is an excellent all-around pistol. There is very little that the Glock 17 can’t do and do well.

Glock 34 vs 17: Detailed Comparison

Now, let’s compare these two pistols against each other. Both the Glock 17 and Glock 34 are outstanding pistols. First, the grip size and magazine capacity are the same. In fact, the frames of these pistols are pretty much identical, at least from a user perspective. Both are accurate and both have legendary Glock reliability. We prefer the Glock 34, and the difference comes in when looking at the slide and barrel.

The Slide

The longer slide definitely has some “pros.” First, the sight radius – the distance between the front and rear sight – is a full inch longer. That makes a huge difference as accuracy is concerned, especially when it comes to shooting very small or distant targets. The Glock 34 won’t magically turn you into a better shooter, but it will amplify your skill slightly by taking out some margin for error in sight alignment.

The Barrel

The longer barrel also gives the gun a bit more punch. The longer barrel allows more powder to burn, boosting velocity, making hollow points more potent and letting FMJs smack steel a bit more decisively. The greater velocity also increases accuracy over distance where bullet drop is a factor. Admittedly this is only a factor in some small segments of competition, and perhaps for law enforcement officers. The Glock 34 is a clear winner in a competition handgun.

Negatives of the G34

The downsides of the longer slide are the additional size of the gun. The length of the slide makes concealing the gun more difficult, and makes carrying it less comfortable. Even in duty gear, the holster must be longer, which makes sitting a cruiser less comfortable. The shorter barrel and shorter slide of the Glock 17 are welcome in these circumstances. The Glock 34 also carries a couple extra ounces of weight. Though this might not seem like much, ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain when you’re carrying the gun all day.

Which Glock is Right for You?

So, which one should you choose? As with so many things in life, that depends. It depends on how you plan to use the gun. It also depends on which factors are most important to you. Is the longer slide of the Glock 34 a benefit in your use-case? Does the boosted velocity and longer sight radius matter to you? Is the way it matters meaningful, or is it merely academic? Or is the shorter slide and greater versatility of the Glock 17 desirable. Are you sitting in a cruiser for 12 hours at a stretcher, or concealing the gun, where the longer slide could actually hurt your cause? Then maybe the Glock 17 is the better choice. Ultimately, it is a choice only you can answer.

Regardless of which you choose, neither will be any good without high-quality iron sights, and many Glock models come out of the box with notoriously poor sights! XS Sights can solve that problem with a huge variety of sights unlike any others. The DXT2 Big Dot Night Sight is the fastest-acquiring sight anywhere. Our R3D 2.0 Night Sights come equipped with a traditional three-dot picture but with a high-visibility front sight. The F8 Night Sight puts a big front sight over a single dot in the rear notch. All XS Sights are made in America, and all are duty tough. Let XS Sights help you get the most out of your Glock pistol, no matter what model you have.