The Glock 17 Gen 5 is a credible firearm, but the sum of its parts is not a great leap forward over previous handguns, in our view. We like the new Marksman barrel and the ambi safety. In this shoot out, the Glock 17 suffered when its power and accuracy were compared to the other handguns. We have recently tested the Glock 17 Vickers Tactical and liked it better.
We chose the Glock Gen5 as a well-known baseline of firearm and cartridge against the more powerful handguns. For personal defense, when pitted against the 38 Super, the 9mm didn’t look that bad; but the 357 SIG outclasses the 9mm by 200 fps. We emphasize again that we did not compare average 9mm loads to the hottest load in other calibers, but rather the most capable in each caliber.
The Gen5 Glock features a modified trigger action that will not accept older aftermarket parts. The pistol features a true ambidextrous slide lock, a grip frame that fits most hands well, and a new-style flared magazine well that aids in rapid replenishment of ammunition. The orange-follower magazine holds 17 rounds and features a different basepad treatment compared to previous Glock pistols. The pistol’s barrel isn’t interchangeable with older Glocks and is rifled in the manner Glock terms as hexagonal rifling. The barrel also features a recessed barrel crown, uncommon in service pistols. The sights are only slightly different from previous Glock sights. They sat higher and the rear notch is wider. While the sight picture is improved, the taller front sight also resulted in the pistol firing low with most loads, about 1 inch to 1.5 inches low at 15 yards. The pistol is supplied with four slip-on grip inserts that are held in place by a single pin. It isn’t difficult at all to change the grip inserts. We used the pistol as issued for most testing, but in the end fitted a beavertail type insert, the thinnest issued. It seemed to aid control.
The incremental improvements, such as a coil spring replacing the flat spring on the take down catch, are appreciated but are not necessarily anything that would make us trade an older Glock for. On the other hand, a new Glock buyer should purchase this handgun rather than the older models, we believe. Another improvement we noted is the new tear-shaped striker. This avoids trapping debris in the firing pin channel. We have seen dirt and grit affect striker operation, and this area is generally overlooked in cleaning, so this is a good change.
Ammunition tested in the Glock included DoubleTap 115-grain JHP +P rounds ($29/20 rounds at CheaperThanDirt.com), Hornady 124-grain +P American Gunner ($18.21/25 at CheaperThanDirt.com),
Federal 124-grain HST ammo ($23.97/50 at AmmunitionDepot.com), and Winchester 124-grain PDX +P rounds ($21.49/20 at MidwayUSA.com). In firing 100 rounds of CCI Blazer 115-grain FMJ loads during the combat course, the pistol did well in practical terms. Recoil is modest and control is good. The trigger broke at 5.5 pounds, standard for a Glock. In comparison, we thought the Springfield 1911 in 38 Super was superior on the combat course, with the XD in 357 SIG being about equal. In firing from the bench, the Glock 9mm performed well enough, but it was not outstanding, only slightly besting the Springfield XD. We failed to find an advantage in the new trigger action or barrel.
Our Team Said: The primary focus of the shoot out was to compare self-defense handguns and calibers, and the Glock 9mm is a better-than-average defensive firearm. In this case, however, we feel the good handling and power of the more powerful Springfield XD outclassed the Glock. The Glock is acceptable for personal defense, but would be behind the XD’s and Coonan’s curves for defense against feral dogs and big cats. In the 9mm Luger chambering, we would recommend the previously tested Vickers Tactical Glock 17 9mm Generation 4 ahead of the stock Gen5 Model 17.