The Gen 5 Glock 19: A Comprehensive Review
Glock is an Austrian weapons manufacturer best known for its line of polymer-framed pistols; in fact, it’s an unusual company for its size because it only makes polymer-framed pistols, not shotguns or rifles, and only one type of pistol at that: every Glock pistol is a polymer-framed semiautomatic with a distinct look, and while Glocks are available in various calibers and sizes, there’s no mistaking that a Glock is a Glock.
Glock pistols are used by armed forces and LEOs worldwide, including most law enforcement agencies in the United States. They are also hugely popular among civilians for home defense and concealed/open carry, for several reasons; they’re considered highly reliable, they are able to function well under extreme conditions, and they can fire a wide range of ammunition types. Their polymer frame makes them lighter than typical aluminum or steel-framed handguns, an attractive feature for people who need to carry a firearm for extended periods of time, and the simplicity of the Glock – the trigger is the only operating element, and all three safeties are automatically disabled when the trigger is pulled – makes them simple to use and removes many potential sources of error when you need to operate your handgun under stress.
Many people consider the Glock 19 the best all-purpose handgun ever produced; it is large enough to be a duty gun, functionally accurate, and has a generous magazine capacity while still being small and light enough for everyday concealed carry. Glocks are designed to be simple; the average stock Glock pistol has just 35 parts, considerably less than the 1911 or Colt Python, which typically have 57 or 58 parts. Fewer parts means fewer potential failure points and simplifies repairs, maintenance, and modifications – yet another reason why Glocks are so popular.
The Gen 5: A New Era for Glock
The simplicity of the Glock is also the reason why it’s big news when the company introduces a new model or makes any changes – and that’s especially true for the Glock 19 Gen 5, a completely redesigned Glock with more than 20 design changes compared to previous generations. The Gen 5 is basically the commercial version of the Glock19M made for and adopted by the FBI, and it reflects the FBI’s obsession with functionality. The new model shares few interchangeable parts with Gen 3 or 4 Glock 19s – only the trigger connector, striker spring, striker spring sleeve, and striker spring cups are the same, which also means (for now, at least) that there are few aftermarket parts available for customizing the Gen 5, so if you intend to personalize and upgrade whatever Glock you buy, the Gen 5 is not for you. (The same goes if you were hoping to re-use all your upgrades from your Gen 3 or 4 for the Gen 5 – it’s not going to happen.) If you just want to buy a Glock that is ready to go right out of the box, however, the Glock 19 Gen 5 is possibly the closest thing to perfection that Glock has ever made.
Benefits of the Glock 19 Gen 5
What’s so great about the Glock 19 Gen 5? First, the trigger pull (always a downside to the Glock – they’re notoriously heavier than most other handguns) is now lighter, sharper and crisper than previous generations. Second, while the company has changed the design of the new Gen 5 magazine, previous generation magazines will still work in the Gen 5. The new magazines feature a much bigger lip on the front of the mag, which can be accessed via a cutout on the front of the frame. They also have high-visibility orange followers, a neat idea clearly borrowed from Magpul, and while Glocks have never been particularly difficult to reload at speed, the new integral magazine well at the bottom of the frame on the Gen 5 has received a lot of positive attention for making reloading even simpler and faster.
The Gen 5 also integrates several features as standard that most Glock owners previously replaced with aftermarket parts, because the stock parts were practically junk; these include the front and rear combat sights, which are excellent and vastly better than the sights on previous Glock 19 models, and the slide lock lever, which is now double-sided – so it’s easy for left-handed users to switch the mag-release to the right and have a fully left-handed pistol. (A huge change is that the Gen 5 model is available in three different sighting configurations; although we’ve found them available for less online, the Glock 19 Gen 5 with the standard plastic sights reviewed here has a recommended retail of $559; the model with Glock night sights costs $595, while the model with AmeriGlo Bold sights retails for $645.)
The Gen 5 has also done away with the grip finger grooves of earlier models, which fit a few users perfectly but irritated many more (because let’s be honest: it’s rare to have your fingers perfectly fit the grooves on a mass-produced gun) – so if you’ve used an earlier model Glock 19 and found the finger grooves annoying, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve been replaced with a flat-face front strap on the grip – no customization necessary.
Another slightly controversial change is that there are no forward cocking serrations on the slide; some users have reported their fingers slipping off the ultra-slick slide, but you should always be racking the slide from the rear for speed and safety anyway – there’s no reason to put your hand over the ejection port. The rear slide serrations only seem to be ‘too slick’ for a few users of brand new, clean, dry Gen 5s. Another change is the new proprietary nano diamond-like coating (NDLC) on the slide, designed to reduce corrosion and improve performance in adverse conditions. Most reviewers love the look of the darker, smoother new finish – although some have noted that dropping the gun repeatedly will scratch the slide and even flake off spots of the NDLC coating, and you’ll find the smoother surface means fingerprints are much more noticeable.
One new feature that almost everyone agrees is a winner is the new Marksman barrel. It features aggressive rifling, and it’s still polygonal, but it’s a solid upgrade that Glock claims doubles the rifle’s accuracy at longer ranges (allowing for 4” groups at 50 yards, according to the company). Owners who’ve range-tested the Gen 5 report that the new barrel definitely seems to improves accuracy, even if they’re not personally skilled enough as target shooters to achieve 4” groups at 50 yards. Of course, accuracy is also partially dependent on the trigger, and the triggers are much better in the Gen 5, too (although many owners still intend to replace the trigger once aftermarket upgrades are available – the new triggers are better than Glock’s usual unpopular standard triggers, but still far from perfect.)
Disadvantages of the Glock 19 Gen 5
What’s not to love about the next-generation Glock? First, the polygonal rifling means it’s still not safe to shoot lead bullets through the Glock 19 Gen 5, a change Glock owners have long been asking for. Also, although the trigger pull is lighter and much-improved from earlier generations, it still comes in on the heavy side, meaning that unless you’re locking your pistol in a Ransom Rest before firing, precise shooting is going to be more difficult than with a pistol which has a trigger pull under six pounds.
Another negative is the price. Glocks are workhorse pistols, and you can’t expect a mass-produced factory gun to perform at the same level as a custom gun. But with the AmeriGlo night sights that most civilians will want on a weapon intended mostly for self-defense, the Glock 19 Gen 5 has a hefty MSRP of $645 – a big bump from the $499 you’d expect to pay for a new Gen 4 model, and almost verging on custom-rifle pricing.
Finally, it can’t be overstated enough that the Gen 5 is a completely redesigned Glock, and practically none of your aftermarket parts or accessories for the Gen 3 or Gen 4 will work with the Gen 5. Even your holster might need replacing – since the dimensions from the top of the slide to the bottom of the accessory rail are slightly bigger on the Gen 5 than the Gen 4, if you carry your Gen 5 with a light it’s unlikely to fit even in a specially designed light-bearing holster.
As the Gen 5 becomes the new standard, there’s no doubt more aftermarket options will become available so you can eventually customize your gun – but right now, those options are few and far between, and if you’ve invested a lot of money in aftermarket or custom parts for your earlier model Glock, you won’t be able to re-use those parts to make your Gen 5 a better fit for your needs.
This is a great all-round shooting pistol. It’s neither too big or too small for precision shooting and keeping rounds on target, and it’s very easy to manage recoil. The trigger is just okay, but good for a Glock trigger – you’ll probably want to replace it with an aftermarket trigger once they become widely available.
The new barrel rifling seems to more than make up for some of the looser tolerances of the design, which would otherwise make the Glock’s accuracy more likely to vary over long distances. Essentially, it’s as good as most pistols – although just as with other pistols, expect it to dislike some ammo for no obvious reason.
Reliability is where the Glock really shines – historically, there’s no more reliable pistol in the world, and early adopters of the Gen 5 have only reported ammo-related failures, no inherent flaws or wear issues with the gun.
This is always a subjective evaluation, but most people report that the removal of finger grooves on the Gen 5 is a major improvement, and the polymer frame naturally makes it lighter and easier to carry all day than steel or aluminum-framed handguns. The new, slicker slide design isn’t a hit with everybody, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re racking the slide from the rear – as you should be, for both safety and speed. The double-sided slide lock lever that allows left-handed users to switch the mag release to the right is also a clever update.
Expect this rating to change – the Glock 19 has long been the most customizable pistol in existence, but the major changes to the Gen 5 (more than 20 in total) means the aftermarket will need time to catch up – but if you’ve already spent big on custom parts for your Gen 3 or 4, you’ll sadly be out of luck trying to re-use them on the Gen 5.
Expect a bit of sticker shock compared to a new Gen 4 Glock 19 – but again, give it time. For most people, it will make sense to wait a while for prices to drop before investing in the Gen 5, but even at MSRP, it’s a lot of gun for a reasonable price. If you’re planning to use this primarily for self-defense, spending a little more for the night-sight upgraded option is also a no-brainer.
Glock has managed to produce a winner with the Glock 19 Gen 5 – it retains almost all the classic Glock features fans all over the world love while adding enough that’s new and improved to generate excitement for the Gen 5 and entice owners of earlier models to buy another Glock.
The main improvement Glock fans will notice is the complete overhaul of the trigger mechanics – the new trigger is a lot more responsive than on previous models, and although many owners will still want to customize their Gen 5 trigger, Glock has clearly been paying attention to the complaints of loyal customers who love everything about the Glock except its notoriously sluggish trigger.