Gen5…or Gen4.5? A Look at the New Generation of Glocks
Far from being the first to report on the new generation of Glocks that was released just last week, I’m sure this article is one of many seeking to analyze and give feedback on the new Gen5 Glock 17 and 19 pistols. What seems to be the biggest debate in industry circles is whether or not these changes merit an entirely new generation, if they address the demands of Glock customers, and if these changes serve good purpose. Being a Glock fan myself, I trusted the integrity of these improvements, albeit forgiving them for upgrading to features that other companies have had long before now.
It would be unfair to give my recommendation on the Gen5’s fully until I’ve shot them – which I hope to do sometime in the next week – but at the very least, I wanted to highlight Glock’s newly released pistols and praise their improvements.
Taking a look at the outside, we can start to see subtle changes to the usual “boxy looking” pistol that Glock has made a reputation with. The removal of finger grooves comes immediately to mind, as well as the beveling on the muzzle of the slide. The former improvement has been clamored after for a long time, the implementation of which now allows someone of any size hands to establish a full grip on their firearm much more easily. However, the muzzle bevel – as ridiculed as it is that the slide and the frame don’t exactly align in perfect harmony – does provide a distinct improvement. Both drawing and holstering the weapon results in less contact, creating a funnel to streamline the holstering action.
Instead of the usual melonite finish sported by its predecessors, the Gen5 has a sleek, darker nDLC finish, not just on the slide but the barrel as well. DLC is professed to be slightly harder than melonite – but more importantly, that even if the outer layer wears off, there are two additional layers are left between you and the substrate material at its core. The friction coefficient – resulting from the surfaces of contracting parts that move against and put pressure on each other – is notably lower with DLC as well. Where melonite does not hold lubrication, DLC not only does so, but administers it as is required. What’s important to note here is that the quality and structural integrity of the DLC finish is heavily dependent on how the steel is finished prior to the DLC finish being applied; harder materials coated in DLC will perform better than other, less durable ones. In general, DLC is heralded as tougher all around, as it is an ion bonded finish rather than merely tenifer finish, but time will tell if it holds up to the claims.
Same sights, minor difference – Gen4 (left) and Gen5 (right)
Glock opted for the same sights on the 17 and 19, but they are noticeably narrower. Seems to be more for simplification purposes than aesthetics or tactical advantage, as the actual measurements of the sight’s height and internal width are the same.
Gen5 slide stop and 2 pin design (left), compared to its 3 pin predecessor (right)
The slide stop is fully ambidextrous, a new feature rejoiced by lefties (dominant hands, that is, not political lefties). The magazine release, too, can be installed on either side, as was the case in the Gen4 models. Another interesting note, Glock has gone back to a 2 pin design, after having released a 3 pin design due to the failure of Gen2 40 cal’s locking blocks. Glock’s either listening to their customers, or improving on a former design and trying to stick to their core competencies – simple, effective, and reliable.
Gen5 Glocks feature a flared mag well that doesn’t quite meet competition standards, but assists in a self defense situation by improving the ease and efficiency with which the firearm is reloaded and the magazine inserted. This is further improved by a new cutout opening in the fore side of the mag well, and an extended floor plate on magazines for quicker magazine change. The follower is a nifty orange color too that allows for high visibility when checking your round count.
A pretty notable change to the barrel can be seen with the new Glock models as well. The new Marksman barrel rifling can now accommodate reloaded ammo, allowing for plated bullets and solid lead projectiles without obstruction. In former years, Glock barrels were polygonal, and the presumed theory was that they were less able to fit reloads. While the choices for ammo open up a little with the Gen5, however, it is important to keep in mind that the chamber is still slightly unsupported; this means that when a round is in the chamber, you can see just the slightest bit of the wall of the round. In order to prevent overpressure and case rupture, as was the case with former Glocks (and the reason behind why reloads simply weren’t possible), you should not load high pressure or overpowered rounds into your Gen5 Glock.
Take off the slide and take a look at the inside of a Gen5, and you’ll see subtle differences that help make it a smoother shooting weapon. The firing pin block is now more of a block with tapered edges, rather than a cylindrical pillar, helping the trigger bar move more smoothly against the firing pin safety. This results in a cleaner, easier firing.
What seems to be a significant motivation behind the release of the Gen5 is its ambition to provide exceptional reliability, especially after the MHS contract was given to Sig Sauer. After comprehensive testing left both Glock and Sig Sauer as the sole contenders, Glock then decided to pursue further modifications, and the Gen5 models appear to be the result of this goal. The Gen5 is professed as being capable of doing “better than 30,000 rounds of the MHS test with a better rate than 2,000 mean rounds between stoppages” (as stated by James of The Firearm Blog in this video).
It’s pretty clear that, by sticking to their core competencies, Glock has remained a major contender in the game for a safe, durable, reliable firearm throughout the years. It may not strike the fancy of its rivals, and at first may appear more like an iPhone update than truly a “new generation” of excellence, but Glock’s legacy of producing what is arguably the best line of self defense guns on the market continues nonetheless.
Special thanks to Greg over at Tactical Advantage for letting me play with the new Glocks and taking pictures with his superior camera skills!