Potential concealed carry handgun buyers face a dizzying array of options in the modern handgun market, with what seems like every firearm manufacturer in existence bringing forth several new products in the last few years. Naturally, almost every one is labeled as being ideal or perfect for concealed carry. Choosing just one of these handguns isn’t a quick and easy process.
Those looking to purchase a handgun for home defense face a similar dilemma. Perhaps not to the same extent as the compact handgun market, the full-size handgun market includes some old favorites as well as a lot of new blood.
However, the midsize handgun market hasn’t seen the explosion of new models that the above two market segments have. There have certainly been attempts by a number of manufacturers, but one is far more likely to find half a dozen “pocketable” .380 autos than half a dozen true midsize handguns in the average gun store.
What, though, is a midsize handgun? Is it a poor compromise, a pistol that’s just a bit too big for concealed carry, but too small to use for home defense or duty use? In some cases, this is true. Manufacturers often inexplicably choose full-size frames with short slides and barrels, or make the grip just a tiny bit too small for average-sized hands. However, others produce firearms that perform brilliantly in almost any semi-automatic handgun role. An example of the latter is the Glock 19.
As the first major expansion of the Glock concept, the Glock 19 became very popular in military and law enforcement circles when it was first introduced in 1988. Seemingly minor reductions in size compared to the original Glock, the G17 – about half an inch was removed from the length of the slide/barrel and the grip – make the Glock 19 an eminently concealable handgun. No special cover garments are required, and its immense popularity means that holsters are available for practically every desired method of carry.
However, it’s still an easy handgun to shoot. The slide assembly weighs almost exactly the same as the Glock 17, which helps maintain the legendary reliability Glock 9mm handguns are known for. A side benefit of this is that the G19 possesses excellent recoil characteristics. The sight radius is long enough to make target shooting at longer distances, or precise shots up close, quite easy.
In addition, the magazine of the Glock 19 holds 15 rounds, which is more than double the capacity of the average single-stack 9mm or .380 concealable handgun. While using proper 9mm defensive ammo will go a long way in a self defense situation, having more ammunition is not a bad thing.
Most importantly, the grip was shortened just enough to allow the 19 to protrude much less when being used in a concealment role, but not so much that a full grip on the frame of the handgun is an impossibility for all but those with the tiniest of hands. This grip length is also quite well suited to being able to properly grasp and draw the pistol under stress.
Glocks are also an incredible value. Simplicity in design and manufacture leads to average retail prices of around $500. However, these aren’t “cheap” handguns. Glocks are more reliable and durable than practically any handgun available at any price. While they should be maintained properly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, the Glock 19 is about as low-maintenance as they come. Spare parts are readily available, too, and disassembly/reassembly of the pistol is very easy.
If a weapon-mounted light is called for, the third-generation Glocks (the second generation of the G19, but the third for all Glock models including the G17) added a dust cover rail that is suitable for a wide variety of weaponlights. Aftermarket lasers are also available, some of which mount to the grip, while others attach to the rail.
Is, as Glock advertises with its “Perfection” tagline, the Glock 19 perfect? No. Many find the trigger to be uncomfortable, although it is very consistent. Changes made to the fourth generation models had a negative effect on function, and although it appears that these problems have been fixed, the third-generation 19 is still available new and might be a better choice. Alternately, a used Glock 19 is likely to be an excellent and affordable choice if it hasn’t been extensively abused or modified.
There are many firearms that conceal well, and there are many firearms that are easy to shoot, but there are not very many firearms that do both extremely well. It’s this balance – easy concealment, but a full firing grip with a double stack magazine; a shorter slide assembly with a proportionally shorter grip, but with nearly ideal dimensions; high quality, but with a low price tag – that makes the Glock 19 such a versatile handgun.