Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review – The Glock 17


I suppose I am a bit late to this particular party. Gaston Glock first introduced the Glock 17 in the early 80s with his first military contract with the Austrian Army being signed in 1983. His US plant opened in Smyrna, Georgia in 1985 – and the rest, as they say, “is history”. Hundreds of reviews have been offered by the shooting community of this revolutionary hand gun. Why one more? A couple reasons:

It’s one of the three handguns I believe every shooter – especially new shooters – should own. Given my strong feelings, I think I need to offer a bit more than “because I said so”.

I want to present it from a “first gun purchase” point of view. If you have limited funds and want/need to purchase your first hand gun – I believe the Glock 17 (or sister Glock 19) should be your choice. You deserve an explanation for my strong belief in that.

It was unique at the time of its introduction – and continues to be unique in many different ways even today. The differences are worth noting.

It fits a broad range of needs for a new shooter, I want to detail them for you.

And, it’s “on my list” of posts I wanted to write. With all the Prepper posts lately, it’s time for a gun post – what better topic that a review of the Glock 17.


The Details

Let’s get to details out of the way:

  • Length: 8.03 in.
  • Height: 5.43 in.
  • Width: 1.18 in.
  • Sight Radius: 6.49 in.
  • Barrel Length: 4.48 in.
  • Weight – Unloaded: 22.22 oz.
  • Weight – Loaded: 32.12 oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs
  • Trigger Travel: .49 in.
  • Barrel Rifling: Right Handed, Hexagonal
  • Twist Length: 9.84 in.
  • Capacity: 17 9x19 rounds
  • Safety System: Safe Action

So what does all this data mean? Let’s walk through it.

The Glock 17 is a “full sized” handgun. It is NOT a compact or sub-compact weapon. This implies that as a carry weapon, you will need to find a place/way of carry that fully conceals it while still allowing it to be easily accessible. My personal choice is a Blackhawk IWB holster worn at the 4 o’clock position. It conceals easily and draws smoothly from that position.

For the new shooter, most course work is done with an OWB holster worn on your dominant side. My choice in this environment is the Blackhawk Serpa holster.

In either case – concealed carry or course work – I find the Glock to be an excellent full sized handgun.

However, size does matter – and if you have a smaller frame I believe an excellent alternative is the Glock 19, a compact version of the Glock 17 and more easily concealed on a small framed individual.

Sight Radius is the distance between the rear and front sight. The longer the sight radius, the more accurate your sight alignment is. Since most defensive situations occur within a 50 ft. distance, sight radius is not a significant factor until you reach the sub-compact sized handguns where the sight radius can quickly drop to the 3 in. range or so. The Glock 17’s 6.49 in sight radius offers excellent accuracy out to 25 yards and beyond depending on the skill of the shooter.

Barrel Length allows the rifling of the grasp the bullet longer, increasing its spin and thereby increasing its accuracy. Sight radius and Barrel Length work together in this instance to insure that shot placement is dependent of the skill of the shooter – not the mechanics of the weapon.

Weight is simply weight. 1.25 pounds empty, slightly over 2 pounds full. It’s noticeable; especially if you have a poor holster or are wearing it is a position that is not comfortable. It is something that must be taken into consideration when choosing your clothing, your pistol belt and the position you choose to wear your weapon in.

Trigger Pull should be stiff enough to help reduce the possibility of a negligent discharge yet not be so stiff that your sight alignment is affected during your trigger press. 5.5 pounds is pretty much the “standard” weight for a defensive handgun. Although, some law enforcement communities move that all the way up to 10 pounds just as a reminder to the LEO that he/she is, indeed, pressing the trigger.

Trigger Travel is the physical distance your finger pad travels from the time you touch the trigger until it “breaks” and your weapon fires. Again, for defensive pistols, a half-inch has become a standard.

Rifling is the system of “lands” and “grooves” that grip the bullet as it travels through the barrel giving the bullet its spin. A hexagonal rifling pattern is fairly “aggressive” in its grip. This matters little for copper jacketed bullets, however for lead bullets; it can easily increase “leading” of the barrel requiring more frequent cleaning with solvents to remove the lead that is stripped off the cast bullet. The solution for this is to use cast bullets with a Brinell hardness number of 18 or so that have been sized – or drop in a replacement barrel built with a gentler rifling that will more readily accept cast lead bullets.

Twist is simply a measurement of how quickly the rifling makes a full revolution within the barrel. In the Glock 17’s case, it would take 9.84 in. for a full revolution to occur.

Capacity only becomes important if it becomes important. What happens when you fire the 6th round in a standard revolver and the threat isn’t down? What happens when the 7th round leaves the magazine of a standard 1911 and the threat isn’t down? What happens with multiple intruders come into your home? The 17-round capacity of a “double stack” Glock 17 magazine gives someone new to the defensive use of a handgun some true insurance should things go sideways on them. A second, fully loaded backup magazine increases this insurance. This is another reason I am fond of the Glock 17 for a new shooter.

Unique Aspects of the Glock 17

At the time of it’s introduction, it was unique in its blend of steel and plastic components. Components that were required to handle the pressures of a firing cartridge – barrel, return springs, striker, ejector, slide – were all made from steel components. Parts of the weapon that merely housed items like triggers, sears and other mechanical components – but did not have to absorb the massive pressures of a firing round, was made of strong plastics. The combination of these two materials – steel and plastic – resulted in a lighter handgun that was designed to fit a wide range of shooters. It instantly became a favorite handgun of military and police departments across the world.

Simple Disassembly / Reassembly

For the new shooter, I appreciate the simplicity of breaking down the weapon by simply drawing back the slide 1/8th inch, pulling down two small levers, and releasing the slide forward. The return spring, guide rod and barrel drop out easily. That is all that is needed to give the weapon a good field cleaning after a range trip.


Should the need arise, removing the retaining plate at the rear of the slide allows ease access to the extractor, striker and striker spring. Again, it’s very easy for the new shooter to master.

The ease of disassembly / reassembly encourages the new shooter to properly maintain their weapon. A habit that then can be transferred to more complex handguns should the shooter decide to use a different handgun platform.

Safe Action Safety

The safety mechanism is integrated into the trigger.  As you press the trigger, it releases a striker block allowing the striker to be fired when pressed to the rear.  this is one less operation to learn – disengaging the safety – prior to engaging an oncoming threat.  For the new shooter, this can be a real advantage at a critical time.


The Glock 17 is simply the most reliable semiautomatic handgun I have. And I have two of them. For personal defense, for defensive handgun courses – it simply goes BANG each and every time I press the trigger. This level of reliability is simply a must for the new shooter. If they must spend half their time clearing feeing malfunctions or weapons malfunctions – they will tire of learning this new craft and abandon it. Reliability is a KEY ingredient to my recommendation of the Glock 17.

So there you have it. Are you looking for your first defensive weapon? Your first “range gun”? Your first gun to take to your first shooting class? I strongly recommend you give full consideration of the Glock 17 . . . .

. . . . one of the handguns that needs to be in every shooter’s range bag.


  1. Bought my first one in 1988, out of the USCG Exchange in Kodiak, AK. Only failure I've had was a trigger spring that broke about 5 years ago. Dead reliable is right!

  2. Thanks for all the good info. Wish I lived closer, would like to take a class or five from you. Making due with what's available to me here, it isn't pretty. A lot of good ol boy clubness...sigh

  3. I'm actually looking at the 19 because it's similar in size to my 36.