Glock brand pistols have become the standard of semi-automatic polymer pistols. And two of their early models are still considered some of the best options for 9mm handguns today.
These models are the Glock 17 and the Glock 19. Let's look at each individually and then see how they differ.
The story of the Glock 17 begins in the 1980s. The Austrian Army was looking to replace their Walther P38s with a modern combat pistol. They came out with a list of seventeen parameters ranging from the pistol being self loading and chambered in 9x19 Parabellum to being drop safe and not needing a tool to load the magazine.
When Gaston Glock heard about the tender the Austrian Army submitted and decided to put forth their own pistol. This led to Glock assembling a group of experts in 1982 from the military, police, and sport shooting communities to determine what were the best features for a combat handgun.
This resulted in the Glock 17. The pistol won the competition against eight other pistols. The success of the Glock 17 even earned it an invitation to the XM9 Pistol Trials held by the United States in 1983. Glock declined this offer due to unrealistic requests on their manufacturing capabilities.
But what about the Glock 17 itself?
The Glock 17 brought a number of interesting features to the 1980s firearms market. It featured no manual external safety, instead relying on a firing pin block that was moved out of the way when the trigger was properly depressed, similar to early Double Action revolvers. It used a plastic polymer lower when other companies used aluminum or steel for almost all parts of their pistol frames. All of this was game changing in a firearms world that was just transitioning to the “Wonder Nine” Years and still relied on 1911s, revolvers, and other WW2 era pistol designs on the whole.
These advancements, combined with the additional refinements of the following generations of Glock, paved the way for the pistol to become one of the more widely used sidearms in the world. Let's look at some of its specifications.
Starting with the trigger we have the built-in “Safe Action” system that removes the need for a manual safety. This is a small fin that protrudes out of the trigger. The trigger itself is a two stage trigger coming in at roughly 6 pounds of force on current standard triggers while others might be closer to 5 pounds. This trigger is not as crisp or “comfortable” as 1911 triggers but when compared to other Double Action systems it is an improvement.
The Glock 17 is a Double Action Only (DAO) pistol. This means that the trigger will cock the firing pin (in this case finish cocking the firing pin) and release the firing pin with a singe trigger pull. This combined with striker fired system means there is no external hammers like on other Double Action/Single Action pistols. This also means that there is one less snag point on the pistol.
Next we have the frame. The frame is made of polymer and has had several different grip textures among the different generations. Since the frame is polymer it made modifications easier for end users to fit their preferences, most notably the removal of the finger grooves found only on the Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks.
Glock 17 Specs
This brings us to the overall dimensions of the Glock 17. The Glock 17 has an 8.03 inch overall length. This breaks down to a slide length of 7.32 inches, with the remaining length taken up by the projection of the grip. The slide has a width of 1 inch and when combined with the frame results in an overall pistol width of 1.26 inches.
The overall height of the pistol and standard magazine is 5.47 inches. This will obviously change depending on the magazines used or any after market extensions. The 9mm capacity options for the Glock 17 are 17+1, 19+1. 24+1, 30+1, and 33+1 using magazines from the factory.
The pistol weighs 22.05 ounces without a magazine, 24.87 ounces with an empty magazine and 32.28 ounces with a loaded magazine. This brings the pistol to about 2 pounds loaded without any additional accessories. This about 7 ounces less than a standard 1911 and 2 ounces less than a Sig Sauer P226 by comparison.
The barrel is 4.49 inches long and features the polygonal rifling that is standard on most Glock models, barring the .45 ACP and .45 GAP pistols. This combined with the sight radius help make the Glock 17 an accurate pistol within its expected usage.
The sight radius changes from factory sight to factory. The polymer sights are have the longest sight radius at 6.5 inches. The next longest is the steel sights at 6.46 inches. And the shortest are the Glock Night Sights 6.42 inches.
This brings us to the little brother of the Glock 17, the Glock 19. Released in 1988, this pistol was designed for law enforcement and military usage. Visually similar, but in a reduced size package, the Glock 19 is officially considered a compact sized handgun. This is reflected in its overall dimensions.
For the most part the Glock 19 is very similar to the Glock 17. The trigger pull is similarly weighted. The magazines can be shared. And it comes in with one of three stock sights: Polymer, Steel, and Glock Night Sights.
Glock 19 Specs
However these are all modified to be shorter than the Glock 17. The Glock 19 is only 7.34 inches long overall, and it features a 6.85 inch long side. Its width matches the Glock 17 at 1.26 inches overall with a 1 inch slide width. Its height with its standard 15 round magazine is 5.04 inches.
As noted, the Glock 19 is roughly half an inch smaller in most of its longer dimensions than the Glock 17. For example the sight radii are shorter. The Glock 19's polymer sight radius is 6.02, the steel are 5.98 inches, and the Glock Night Sights are 5.94 inches.
This makes the Glock 19 slightly harder to aim, but training and practice would mitigate any problems. However the point of aim would still be different than the Glock 17.
Next comes the weight of the pistol. The Glock 19 weighs 21.16 ounces empty, 23.63 ounces with an empty magazine, and 30.16 ounces with a loaded magazine.
Differences Between The Glock 17 and The Glock 19
There are few differences between the Glock 17 and the Glock 19. The most obvious differences are the sizes of the pistols themselves. This can lead to sizing problems with end users.
While most Glocks feature interchangeable back-straps for their pistols this doesn't mean it will fit each and every hand. Those with larger hands will find the larger grip on the Glock 17 more forgiving than the Glock 19.
However the smaller framed Glock 19 is lighter than the full sized 17 by about an ounce. This can make a difference when modifications are factored in. The Glock 19 can reach Glock 17 dimensions with the addition of muzzle devices like compensators. The additional ounce also brings down the overall weight when a light and/or red dot sight are added to the pistol.
These modifications will add to the total weight of the Glock 17 but with an additional ounce more than with the Glock 19.
Which is Better Glock 17 or Glock 19?
This depends. What's your purpose for carrying a pistol? If its for duty use you might be hampered by department regulations or other bureaucratic restrictions. If you can't put modifications on the pistol the longer slide of the Glock 17 will aid in accuracy.
Additionally the larger grip of the Glock 17 allows for better control since there is more gun to grip. The weight will help with recoil mitigation in addition to the longer grip. However this can be mitigated with additional force multipliers that are added to the Glock 19.
If you are not restricted by what you can put on your pistol, such as in a civilian concealed carry role, the smaller pistol will be better suited to concealment. Compensators and lights add the “big gun” weight but also add additional benefits to the gun. Lights allow for positive identification and compensators can create an offset to prevent the slide from going out of battery with a contact shot.
But this all comes down to what you are willing to put on your gun or what you're allowed to put on it. And more importantly what you're willing to carry. The holster system used for open carry by a police officer generally offers better weight distribution than the concealable holster. This is from the use of more purpose built belts and harness attachments.
While a specialized belt can be had for concealed carry, most tend to not use one. This makes the lighter and smaller pistol more suited to that usage. There is also the psychological aspect where the end user doesn't think they conceal a handgun of that size. This is often true for smaller individuals. The smaller grip might be more comfortable for them as well.
Comparing the Glock 17 and the Glock 19 is both fair and unfair at the same time. They are very similar in size, dimensions, and performance. They both can be optimized to perform well beyond what most people expect pistols to be able to do.
However they are classed in two different size categories. The Glock 17 is from its inception a combat handgun. This means it's in the full sized pistol category and it better suited for fighting than other designs.
The same can be said for the Glock 19. However it is classed as a compact pistol. This can affect the end user by making them think that the Glock 19 is significantly smaller than the Glock 17. The difference is half an inch and an ounce between the two guns.
Both are very well suited for “fighting guns”. And the Glock 19 is a fantastically well rounded pistol. It's not too small and not too larger while still having a variety of capacity options for your needs or local restrictions.
But larger individuals or those who have larger hands might struggle with the Glock 19, prefer instead the longer grip of the Glock 17. The smaller pistol would increase the possibility of slide bite for the larger hands of the end user meaning they would have to get a beaver tail grip or grip lower on the gun. Gripping lower would impact control of the pistol making both the draw and the firing inconsistent, something that end users want to avoid.
Either way both of these Glock pistols will be the perfect every day carry pistol for an individual. What determines whether it is or not is the end user's situation. What they are willing to carry, the role that pistol will serve, and the environment that the pistol will be carried in.
Police have a larger likelihood of having to use their pistol as their primary weapon than a soldier or even a civilian. That means the pistol has to have enough capacity and controllability to effectively eliminate threats. This is different than the situation of the average concealed carrier.
For a CCW owner the pistol will more than likely be used to get out of a situation rather than engage in a potentially protracted gun fight.
To determine which is best for you, you need to assess your needs and abilities. Also consider what situations are more likely to occur in your area. This can be figured out by going through multiple firearms training courses, classes, and competitions. They will generally have a list of equipment you need to attend the class and push you to your limits while helping you to cope with stressful environments.
This stress inoculation and these competitive environments will reveal any short comings that need to be worked on and highlight any benefits found in either pistol and any modifications you might have added to the gun.
Hopefully this has given you some idea as to the similarities and close differences of the Glock 17 and Glock 19.