A side by side comparison of Glock’s insanely reliable pistols – the Glock 17 vs Glock 19.
Deciding to get a Glock is the easy part. Deciding which Glock to get between the Glock 17 vs Glock 19, can be a bit trickier.
The Glock 17 and Glock 19 are two of the most popular pistols on the market today. The two guns are nearly identical (the G19 and G17 share many of the exact same parts), which can make deciding between the two almost impossible.
We’re going to examine these two popular polymer-framed pistols so you can make a more informed decision about which one is right for you.
Is the Glock 17 or 19 Better?
The answer depends on who you ask.
The Glock 17 is responsible for initiating the polymer pistol revolution and may be the most popular pistol ever produced (Sorry, 1911!). There are currently more G17s in use around the world than any other handgun. The pistol has seen service with the Norwegian, Swiss, German, French, Russian, British, and Swedish Armed Forces. It is also the preferred duty weapon for law enforcement agencies worldwide.
In the United States, more G19s are sold each year than any other handgun. This is quite an accomplishment considering the G17 is more widely used by law enforcement agencies in the country. Most Glock 19s sold in the US go to the civilian market, with this pistol being insanely popular for concealed carry.
It’s also worth noting that the Glock 19 is the sidearm currently used by US Navy SEALs, MARSOC, and Army Rangers.
What makes these Glock pistols so popular? Some would argue it’s simply effective marketing. And while that may be true to an extent, no company can maintain Glock’s share of the market for long with snappy advertising campaigns alone. Performance, reliability, affordability, and ergonomics have definitely helped earn Glock’s sweetheart status among American shooters.
Glock 17 vs Glock 19: Specs
Before we dive into the intangibles, let’s compare the technical specifications of these two handguns.
|Glock 17 (Gen 4)||Glock 19 (Gen 4)|
|Length||7.95 inches||7.28 inches|
|Height||5.47 inches||5.04 inches|
|Width||1.26 inches||1.26 inches|
|Weight||24.87 oz. (32.28 loaded)||23.63 oz. (30.16 loaded)|
|Sight Radius||6.5 inches||6.02 inches|
|Barrel Length||4.49 inches||4.02 inches|
|Magazine Capacity||17 standard (19, 33 available)||15 standard (17, 19, 33 available)|
The biggest differences between the G17 and G19 on paper is size and magazine capacity. Glock 17 barrels and grip are both almost half an inch longer than Glock 19 barrels and grips. The G17’s longer grip leaves room for a slightly longer magazine that holds an extra two cartridges of 9x19mm ammunition.
Technically, the Glock 17’s longer barrel and sight radius should give it an advantage in accuracy. When locked in a vise, the G17 does perform infinitesimally better at 25 meters than the G19.
However, 25 meters is much farther than the average real-world shooting scenario. At normal engagement distances, even skilled shooters will be hard-pressed to notice a difference, and only if they are allowed to take calm, carefully aimed shots. Since that’s unlikely to happen in a combat or self-defense situation, the accuracy difference between the two pistols practically disappears anywhere except maybe the gun range.
With slightly more weight than the G19, the Glock 17 should have an advantage in the recoil department, too. However, those extra two ounces aren’t really enough to absorb much recoil. Plug some numbers into a recoil calculator, and you’ll find the recoil energy generated from a G19 and a G17, both fully loaded with identical 9mm Luger ammo, only differs by .25 ft/lbs.
The bottom line: Both pistols produce minimal recoil that is fairly easy for even recoil-sensitive shooters to handle.
G19 vs. G17: Weight and Concealability
The G17 and G19 have identical trigger pull and slide action, which means even the most familiar Glock shooters will have a hard time telling these two pistols apart if they aren’t paying attention. I’ve actually shot my son’s G17 during drills thinking I was shooting my own G19. I didn’t realize I had the “wrong” pistol until I holstered and the extra few ounces on my waist tipped me off.
Although the size and heft of these two pistols isn’t all that different, it’s surprising how much a half an inch here and a couple of ounces there can feel when you’re toting around a weapon all day.
Comfort and ease-of-carry are incredibly important in an EDC weapon. Your firearm will spend far more time in its holster than it will engaging threats to life and limb. If your sidearm is weighing down your waistband or digging into soft tissue, you might be tempted to leave it in the gun safe rather than carry it with you.
With slightly more compact dimensions, the G19 is slightly easier to conceal. If you’re concerned about printing, the G19 may have a minor advantage. However, because they have the same width, even for concealment, these two pistols aren’t all that different.
What Pistol Has a Better Grip?
The Glock 17 is exactly .43 inches taller than the Glock 19. That means there’s significantly more real estate on the grip of the G17. There are some “experts” out there in the shooting world that claim the extra grip length can be problematic for shooters with small hands. Others claim the shorter grip of the G19 will be uncomfortable for people with large hands.
Personally, I haven’t met anyone (whether with tiny girl hands or big, beefy man paws) who can’t transition between the two pistols without much fuss. Even the Glock Gen5s and their lack of finger grooves have pretty ergonomic grip designs. The grip width is identical on both pistols, and honestly the width will probably have more of an effect on your comfort than length will. (Unless you’re literally Sasquatch. Then all bets are off.)
Although, I can’t tell a difference between the two when I’m shooting, it’s probably best to give each a test drive to make sure you have the same experience.
With two more rounds than the G19, the Glock 17 really gets to brag in this area. There are plenty of gun owners who consider those two extra cartridges worth the additional size and weight.
However, it’s worth noting the Navy SEALs chose the G19 over the G17, deciding the bulk of a Glock 17 was not worth the extra mag capacity. Since SEALs regularly encounter bad guys in their line of work, those two rounds probably won’t make that much difference for the average civilian shooter. Keep in mind that, unless you’re using your Glock in a law enforcement or military capacity, you’re more likely to use it to get out of a tough situation than in a protracted gun fight.
Of course, two rounds doesn’t seem like that many… until you need them.
If you’re worried about magazine capacity, you can always upgrade your G19 mags. Practicing your mag changes isn’t a bad idea, either.
Which is Best?
As with most things in the world of firearms, “best” is a pretty subjective term when it comes to Glocks.
If you plan to add accessories (like a muzzle device, red dot, or weapon light), the lighter overall weight of the Glock 19 is a good place to start. The weight of add-ons can accumulate quickly, and the G19 is already lighter than the G17 by about two ounces.
The longer slide and sight radius of the G17 can slightly enhance accuracy when you can’t (or prefer not to) add fancy appliances. It can also be an asset on the competition field, if that’s your game.
If you plan to use your Glock as a concealed carry weapon, the slightly smaller dimensions of the G19 could play in your favor, especially for smaller shooters where a hefty handgun is more likely to print. However, speaking from personal experience (and as a thin-framed person), there isn’t much difference between the two, especially when I plan my wardrobe around concealed carry rather than the other way around.
The Glock 19x
If you’re having trouble deciding between the G17 and G19, the Glock 19x may be the answer to your prayers. This “crossover” variant is Glock’s attempt to combine the best of both worlds. They took the best features of the G17 and G19 and wrapped them up into one practical polymer package.
The G19x has the G17 frame and the G19 slide. It is perfect for anyone who wants to conceal a duty-sized weapon. As a bonus, you still get those two extra rounds the G17 provides.
The G19x Specs:
- Length: 7.44 inches
- Height: 5.47 inches
- Width: 1.3 inches
- Weight: 24.83 oz. (31.39 oz loaded)
- Sight radius: 5.98 inches
- Barrel length: 4.02 inches
- Magazine capacity: 17 standard (19, 24, 31, 33 optional)
Because the Glock 17 and Glock 19 (and the Glock 19x) are so similar, determining which will work best for you can be difficult. The good news is there is so little difference, that even if you don’t choose the “right” one, you’ll still have a damn good pistol.