It seems for most of us whatever gun we have we want a better trigger, sturdy steel sights, an enhanced barrel, a very durable finish, and improved internals to help with accuracy. Some also want ambidextrous controls, a beveled magazine well, no grip finger grooves, and safety features for their mags. Others do not want these things as standard features or at least do not want to pay for their additions.
Lefties love ambidextrous controls, while a few righties think they may interfere with control or get disengaged by the holster. What if your strong hand is disabled or used for something else and you need to operate the gun with your support hand?
We are all so very individualistic in our preferences and situations vary. One reader told me “I like the finger grooves on my Gen 4.” A fellow instructor told me the grooves don’t fit and interfere with a solid grip for his large hands. A student said to me “An ambidextrous slide lock interferes with my grip and causes me to have to buy a new holster to fit this Gen 5.” (By the way, some [not all] Gen 4 holsters will fit Gen 5 guns.)
Well, Glock has just introduced their Generation 5 (Gen 5) 9mm pistols to enhance their Glock 17 and 19 pistols with some changes. Some are doing backflips in celebration, while others are spitting nails in disgust. Whatever your position on the Gen 5 changes or the lack of what you wanted on the Gen 5 pistols, there are some noteworthy and useful “enhancements.” Several of these changes are similar to those on the Glock 43 subcompact pistol that I reviewed here earlier.
Well, now I want to review the new-for-late-2017 Glock 17 Gen 5 9mm, with its changes, and evaluate it with my criteria and personal feature preferences. Glock was nice enough to send me one of their hot off the new production line to review.
I want to start by giving you my 10 criteria for evaluating the G17 Gen 5 pistol and any pistol. Then, I will present Chart #1 which compares some of the key differences between the Gen 4 and Gen 5 G17. Next, comes Chart #2 which shows the G17 Gen 5’s specifications and features. Finally, I will then evaluate the G17 Gen 5 against my criteria factor by factor and give you my recommendations and opinions about it. You might be interested in my recent book, “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials,” and my thorough analysis, comparison, and ranking of my Top 21 Concealed Carry guns.
You should know that I am not a shill for any gun manufacturer and that I am not on the Glock payroll, have not been paid by them or any manufacturer for this article, for my opinions, nor influenced to say certain things about this or any gun or product. My purpose honestly is to be helpful to shooters and everyone involved by sharing my personal G17 Gen 5 opinions and research. A win-win-win-win result. I sincerely enjoy doing this and may want to buy this gun myself.
I wondered if there were available custom holsters for the G17 Gen 5 with the ambidextrous slide stop? If I were to buy this full-size gun, I would wear it Outside-the-Waistband (OWB), so I found two fine custom holsters for that. One was a beautiful, high-quality Kramer Handgun Leather OWB Leather custom holster. It is extremely well-made, very comfortable, and a very functional OWB Leather holster. The Kramer Handgun Leather OWB holster is high riding, with an FBI forward tilt, with the butt of the gun tucked snugly into the body. It is a quality rendition of the classic “pancake” design and is well suited for range use, competition, home use, and general concealment. For the month of October 2017 ONLY, a 15% Discount is available from Kramer Handgun Leather. Just use the special Discount Code of “ColBen15” when ordering.
Another high-quality custom holster for the G17 Gen 5 is the Blackpoint Tactical Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Leather Wing hybrid holster. This Blackpoint Tactical kydex body holster curves to the shape of your body with its flexible wings made of leather. A nice combination. It is very comfortable, comes in several colors, has a sweat guard, and has fine retention. It feels good when worn. For the month of October 2017 ONLY, a 10% Discount is available from Blackpoint Tactical. Just use the special Discount Code of “ColBen10” when ordering.
Here are images of the 2 quality custom holsters for the G17 Gen 5.
Glock 17 Gen 5 Review: Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the G17 Gen 5. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Glock 17 Gen 5 9mm Range Test
I shot about 250 rounds for the range field test. I shot various high-quality Sig Sauer V-Crown 115 grain JHP (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 ft lbs Muzzle Energy), Sig Sauer Elite Performance 115 grain FMJ (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 fl lbs Muzzle Energy), and Sig Sauer V-Crown 124 grain JHP (1165 fps Muzzle Velocity, 374 ft lbs Muzzle Energy) ammo. Shooting all of this powerful JHP and FMJ ammo confirmed for me how the G17 Gen 5 could handle different bullet weights and ammo types. Usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days to decide if I want to carry the gun or not, but I had the information I needed after shooting about 250 rounds. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. I shot the gun fast-fire, slow-fire, did mag changes, and shot from a rest and standing at distances of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards using the drills in my book. I checked it thoroughly for malfunctions and performance with different types of JHP and FMJ ammo. I had no failures to fire, no misfires, no failures to eject, no squibs, and really no problems or stoppages at all. Thanks to Sig Sauer for providing their rounds to test and evaluate this Glock 17 Gen 5 full-size 9mm pistol. You should know that Glock includes in their manual a statement that “Use of reloaded, remanufactured, or handloaded ammo will void the warranty.”
I was expecting some major changes from my already-owned Glock guns. But, while there were some improvements and useful changes (see my Chart #1 above), for ME I found this Gen 5 to be a classic Glock design, with its dependable reliability and nicely-textured grip feel, the steep grip angle, solid feeling in my hand, and trigger. The trigger does have a shorter reset distance than on the Glock Gen 4, but the G17 Gen 5 I received had a hard trigger press, about 7.5 pounds. Certainly, it will improve after break-in and more rounds down range. I believe that this gun’s new nDLC coating on the barrel and slide will prove to be very durable and helpful. Also, the slightly flared mag well, ambidextrous slide stop, dehorned muzzle, and the optional BOLD tritium night sights option ($799) are worthwhile and are appreciated by me and a large number of shooters. The Gen 5 has a modified trigger spring and bar. The Gen 5 compared to the Gen 4 for the G17 is slightly taller, wider, and heavier (see my Chart #1 above.) While my wife did not like the feel, width, and weight of the gun in her small hands, it did help dissipate the felt recoil for her and me. I understand the need to help clear malfunctions and double feeds by forcefully stripping stuck mags, but the mag cutout at the bottom front of the mag well for this was sometimes a minor concern for me. I kept getting my pinky finger of my medium-sized hands in the cutout for my grip and it felt weird. I’ll get over it, but maybe the mag cutout should be smaller? My handling and performance at the range, however, was not affected by it.
This gun is well designed with nice utilitarian ergonomics. There are no finger grooves on the new Gen 5 which several are praising and a few are moaning about. I have no problem with the finger grooves myself, but I have medium-sized hands and fingers. The G17 Gen 5 grip texturing is comfortable and grippy enough for me, just like the Gen 4 RTF3 (standard frame texture), and I like it. There is no difference in the Gen4 and Gen 5 frame feel for me. It comes with 2 extra modular backstraps and 2 beavertails, so your grip can be customized with or without the beavertail. It did not have a manual safety nor did it have a magazine safety. It can be fired without a magazine in place. Also, the mags are interchangeable with previous models. I like that the magazine release button is enlarged for easy and quick operation. In the hard case I received, three 17-round mags, a speed loader, cleaning rod and brush, cable lock, Instruction Manual, and safety brochure. There is a small accessory rail.
I had high hopes for an improved trigger over the Gen 4 and there were some nice changes. To help the trigger bar move smoothly, the Firing Pin Safety was reshaped, so there is not a Gen 4 circular pin, but a squared one which fits into a squared ledge with ramps on the sides. The firing pin is thicker and different, the safety plunger for drop safety is angled differently, and the extractor is different. Several changes are like the G43 changes (see my previous Review here.) Also, the Recoil Spring Assembly has a dual recoil spring and is different.
Taking down the G17 Gen 5 was easy and quick, like all Glocks. Remember, you must press the trigger to disassemble it. With the gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction, pull the slide back about 1/8 inch, push down both takedown/slidelock levers on both sides at the same time, and then push the slide forward and remove it. Easy Peasy, as the Urban Dictionary says. But, Safety First- so make certain the gun is pointed in a safe direction, the magazine is first removed, and you physically and visually check the chamber to ensure a round is not in the chamber and the gun is empty, before you press the bang switch. Also, remember when cleaning it, do NOT put cleaner or lubricant inside the firing pin channel, since it could cause contaminations of ammo primers and failure to fire.
Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The accuracy of the G17 Gen 5 was very acceptable for me at distances of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards, given my aging eyesight and average shooting skills. My rapid-fire groups at the closeup distances of 5, 7, and 10 yards averaged about 2.75 inches, while it was about 3-3.25 inches at 15 and 20 yards. The hard for me 7.5 pound DAO trigger press was harder than I wanted and than I am use to with my full-size and compact single-action 1911s and my striker-fired single-action guns. I prefer the press to be in the ballpark of 4.5 to 6.0 pounds and wanted this to be near the advertised 5.5 pound press. It will get better after more rounds fired. The felt recoil was controllable for me. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and mostly the center-mass sight picture. I shot premium Sig Sauer V-Crown JHP and FMJ ammo of various weights. The gun was not picky and digested it all. The included medium beavertail grip option I added allowed me to grip the gun high on the backstrap to help control it, but it made the grip thicker, so I took it off. There was not a small beavertail.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 8
The trigger press averaged 7.5 pounds with 10 readings on my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. For me, I wanted it to be less, since I am use to shooting my 1911 single-action and striker-fired semis with lighter presses. A harder trigger press requires more pressure to be exerted, which usually causes more movement, and can influence accurate hits. I did notice after firing about 250 rounds, the trigger was somewhat softer. So, it will probably improve more. Personally, if I buy this gun I will probably use it primarily as a range gun for fun, recreational plinking or possibly home defense. The hard trigger press, however, was smooth and crisp.
3. Trigger – Score: 9
The trigger had a small amount of creep. I really like that the Gen 5 trigger has a consistent, positive, and short reset. Overall, the trigger improved after firing 200 rounds and more. The trigger face with its safety had a smooth feeling, felt good, and allowed fast follow-up shots.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 10
The 4.49-inch barrel combined with its weight of about 29 ounces loaded with premium ammo contributed to its accuracy. This is a great range, recreational, duty, and home defense gun, but generally not for concealed carry, although some do, given its increase in width and height over the Gen 4. I was able to control the recoil and muzzle flip, as well as the felt recoil. It was manageable for me, probably due partially to the dual recoil spring. The Gen 5 has a new crown design and rifling. The new nDLC barrel coating will help durability.
5. Sights – Score: 9
The standard polymer sights are acceptable, but not what I want on my self-defense gun. Glock offers 3 sight options, including the standard fixed sights, Glock Night Sights, and Ameriglo BOLD tritium steel Night Sights (green front and rear tritium vials.) I wanted tritium and steel night sights and I asked they send the BOLD option night sights (about $100 more than the standard fixed sights.) They were very good, especially at dusk and nighttime. Even with my color blindness, I had no trouble seeing the bright tritium front and rear green sights during low and nighttime lighting conditions. I conducted my usual test of putting the gun in my completely dark closet and I could see the front and rear sights very clearly, after just a minute of light exposure. I was very pleased with them, wish they were included as standard, but worth the extra cost.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The about 28 ounce loaded weight was expected for a full-size gun and the weight helped to control my movements and positively affected my accuracy. The weight was acceptable for me to control it. This is a very nice gun for range use, duty use, home defense, and possibly competition use for me. It and some of its features are similar to other full-size striker-fired 9mms in the market now I have reviewed, like the Walther PPQ M2, S&W M&P M2.0 9mm, Sig Sauer P320, Beretta APX, Springfield XDm, Ruger American, H&K VP9, FNS-9, etc. Personal preferences and how well you shoot it will be the primary determining factors.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
It was easy, comfortable, and natural for me to shoot the 9mm Caliber. I strongly prefer the 9mm caliber, used with appropriate ammo with the right ballistics and grain weight for your purpose. The newly-designed beveled magazine well helped me to quicker handle mag changes and to smoothly glide the mag into the mag well without hesitation. The 9mm G17 Gen 5 is a very nice and quality gun. The 9mm felt recoil is tolerable & very controllable.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
In the package I received, there were three double-stack magazines included. This is nice and convenient and saves spending more money after a major purchase, if standard. Each of the magazines’ capacity was 17 rounds and there were witness holes to view the round count. This large capacity is very good and helps ease the shooter’s mind. The mags were polymer and my medium-sized hands were comfortable with them.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 9
Overall, the ergonomics of the G17 Gen 5 full-size were very good. However, for ME the grip angle is just too steep and I have to adjust my grip when quickly firing it, so I don’t shoot high. But, I could tell a grip difference from my other guns with a straighter grip angle and my Glock 43 and the way they feel in my hands. This is a very personal and subjective matter, so decide for yourself. The G17 Gen 5 did not slip in my hands and my grip was firm while shooting and very comfortable when not firing it. Without any doubt, this gun is reliable and I did not have any malfunctions. The slide stop lever and large mag release button were all easy to quickly locate and operate. There are no front serrations which is fine with me. ALL mags did drop freely and quickly. The ergonomic features helped minimize my felt recoil.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed, cleaned, and re-assembled the G17 Gen 5 before I shot it. I did have to press the trigger to disassemble it which is not a real problem, just first remove the mag and do your safety check. I like that it was very easy and quick to take apart. (Remember, do your SAFETY check to ensure any gun is unloaded before disassembly.) The basic price of the gun is reasonable for the quality and features you get. It costs extra for the Glock Night Sights and the Ameriglo BOLD Night Sights. It comes with a nice hard case, owner’s manual, cable lock, brush, plastic rod, loader, and three mags. I believe the inclusion of two or three mags varies by model, but it was nice to receive 3 mags in the case for Model PA-1750203. It does not include accessories like some have, e.g. a holster or mag pouch. There is a Limited Warranty for one year for the original owner.
Total Points = 92 out of 100 Possible.
I certainly RECOMMEND this G17 Gen 5 striker-fired 9mm pistol. Consider it for home defense, fun, recreational shooting, competition, duty, or range use. The reliability is there. Finger grooves have been removed for this Gen 5. There is a new more durable nDLC finish for the barrel and slide, ambidextrous slide stop lever and flared mag well added, with an improved barrel and a high-capacity of 17 rounds. The trigger press is smooth and crisp (although heavy) and it has no external safety with fine overall ergonomics. While the trigger press is a little harder than I prefer in my triggers, it certainly is acceptable and I must practice with it. The recoil is very manageable for me and it has a short reset. Because of the ambidextrous slide stop, some previous holsters for other models may not fit. Some will. There are some fine custom holsters available and in this Glock 17 Gen 5 review above are included holster discount codes from 2 quality manufacturers. I hope this Glock 17 Gen 5 review and my opinions has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting only about 250 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo , over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always!
Smyrna, GA 30082
Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown & Performance JHP-FMJ Ammo
Kramer Handgun Leather
Tacoma, WA 98411
Use Discount Code “ColBen15” when ordering.
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Use Discount Code “ColBen10” when ordering.
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].