9mm Carry Semiautos: The Bad, The Good, and the Not-So-Ugly
These two Glocks' grips have been improved, and the gun’s otherwise basic appeal remains--reliability, durability, acceptable accuracy. Of the two, we like the compensated 19C better because of the better muzzle control the barrel holes provide.
Glock 19 and 19C
Our recommendation: Glock successfully upgrades its gun ergonomics to put two of the company’s most aggressive (and one of the loudest) midsized-caliber handguns into the hands of more defense-minded citizens. We’d buy both the $616 noncompensated G19 or the compensated G19C, $646, but we prefer the blowhole model.
A recent check of street prices for these guns found a range of retail choices, with a low price of $430 for a mail-order gun. With necessary fees, shipping, and insurance, that would translate to an actual street price of $500 to $515. As well, we’ve seen these guns advertised at retail for that amount up to an additional $45 to $50.
In these two pistols we see the further improvement of Glock pistols. One of the very first complaints heard about Glocks was the boxy, uncomfortable grip. Hogue and several other grip makers even went so far as to bring out a sleeve to add finger grooves to the original models, as there was no other alternative to the standard grip. In response, these latest models feature an indentation along each side for the thumb, and finger grooves with molded-in checkering on the frontstrap.
Checkering also adorns the rear of the grip, and its contour is similar to that of an arched mainspring housing a la the 1911 frame. With the magazine removed you can see the hollow cavity that creates this profile and a hint of the original grip that shared ergonomics with a 1-by-2 piece of pine. Also new is the standard inclusion of a track molded into the full-length dust cover designed to fit a flashlight attachment. These improvements add up to the best feeling Glock yet, in our estimation.
However, the sides of the grips are still very slippery. Brownells, among other dealers, sells grip enhancers such as the Grupo Mercari Decal Grip (tape) cut specifically for these new finger groove models, as well as the older standard-framed Glocks. These inexpensive add-ons are worth the money.
In all but one way, these models are duplicates. Their magazine capacities are 10, and it would seem more space is available for foreign or law-enforcement issue. Mags drop free, unlike the earlier Glocks where the mag, once released, would stay in place until they were physically plucked from the frame. Perhaps this is the influence of practical shooting games demanding rapid reloads. Old-school mags were often referred to as offering a battlefield reload, where you wouldn’t be coming back for the mag but would pocket it for now in hopes of having a chance to refill it later. The mag button is out of the way to prevent accidents, so it will require most shooters to shift the gun in the strong hand to operate it. The slide is boldly serrated to the rear of the ejection port and the ejector is externally mounted. The front sight is part of the slide and shows a white dot. To the rear is a U-shaped white outline on a rear blade that is dovetailed into place adjustable for windage. The 19 and 19C are tactical pistols, and as such the sights are of the low-mount variety.
The trigger operates a striker system with shooting characteristics similar to a double-action design. While not a true double-action pistol all that is needed to break a shot is to pull the trigger. Simply put, the trigger will not fire the gun unless the spring-loaded lever in the center of the trigger is first depressed. This prevents accidental discharges from forces other than direct pressure to the trigger, much like a double-action revolver. A point of contention is that this type of gun fires too eagerly. While some pistols will not fire without the magazine in place, the grip squeezed (see P7M8), or a slide safety released, Glocks are ready, willing, and able to fire with one stroke. Of course, this is what defensive handguns are for.
The only true difference between the 19 and 19C is the feature of a compensated barrel on the 19C. The C model presents two slots midway in the bore measuring 0.40 inch that direct gas upward at approximately a 45-degree angle to counteract muzzle flip. Slots of 0.93 by 0.28 inches are cut into the slide to correspond with the ported barrel and further accommodate the blast. The result is more control and faster recovery time from shot to shot. While the 9mm is not the heaviest-recoiling gun, it is a lot of fun to look through the shots and completely track the sights. The loss in velocity is a trade off (only 41 fps, on average) to control. Another result is an increase in noise level. This could be detrimental in an enclosed area like an automobile, or perhaps beneficial serving as a further deterrent, making this pistol seem more ferocious than it is.
Inspecting the barrel on either gun is one of the easiest chores in the industry. Pull back the slide about .25 inches, pick up the latch with thumb and forefinger and slide the top end forward and off. Actually, there are many modern-design non-1911 pistols that can be disassembled by a second party even when the gun has been presented in self-defense. While any of these pistols can be prevented from firing by simply pushing the slide back 0.25 inch or less, to the Glock’s credit the top end cannot be easily removed with one hand.
The Glock 19C's compensator helps control the gun, as the time-lapse photo shows. Notice how little movement occurred during the half-second it took fire three shots.
This review was originally published in October 1999