Glock 19: Rough and ready
Probably one of the most popular handguns in modern times is the Glock 19. Sure, it’s not pretty. What it is, though, is reliable. And for a fighting handgun, is there any trait more desirable?
Falling somewhere between the typical compact pistol and a full-size handgun, the Glock 19 is equally adept as a concealed firearm or as a duty pistol. While that might sound like a compromise gun, the pistol carries none of the negative traits commonly associated with compromise.
The G19 is chambered for the 9mm cartridge and can handle +P loads. Stuff this gun with a high quality load like the Speer 124 grain Gold Dot +P or Winchester Ranger 127 grain +P+ and you will be well served by this pistol.
While I find 9mm to be a perfectly acceptable self defense caliber, I know others who prefer something with a little more punch. Glock also makes the 23 and 32 which are the same size as the 19, but chambered for the .40 S&W and .357 SIG cartridges respectively.
The normal capacity magazine for the G19 load 15 rounds, and low capacity 10-round mags are available for less-free states. The 19 will also accept the 33-round magazines developed for the full-auto Glock 18 machine pistol.
More often than not, I am wearing a pair of cargo shorts. This allows me to carry a flashlight and a second magazine for the pistol. Barring a real zombie apocalypse, 31 rounds of 9mm +P will likely see me through any emergency I encounter. To me, the 33 rounders are fun to play with, but aren’t terribly practical for most applications.
Regular readers might recall than I typically carry my Glock 19 in a Milt Sparks Summer Special II IWB holster. I find this holster is a near-perfect match to the pistol for concealment, comfort and affordability. For open carry, or under a winter jacket, I like the BLACKHAWK! SERPA belt holster for my G19.
I have also carried the 19 in a so-called fanny pack. I’ve never carried the pack in such a way that it rode my posterior, so I’m not sure why it is called a “fanny” pack. Using a bag custom made for me by a now defunct company, I’ve found this carry method to be good for outdoor hikes in the winter when I am wearing multiple layers of clothes.
My 19 is a second generation gun easily distinguishable from other variations as it has a grenade grip, no finger grooves on the front strap and no light rail. I personally dislike finger grooves on pistol grips beyond words, so I’ve had no desire to move into a newer Glock 19 pistol. If I ever get a current generation Glock pistol, I’m immediately taking it to a custom shop to have the grooves ground off.
I used to keep track of how many rounds I have shot through this pistol. I stopped somewhere north of 5000 rounds when I moved and lost my documentation. That was more than seven years ago, and I’ve put thousands of more rounds through the gun since then. I conservatively estimate my gun has run 10,000 rounds.
In all of that shooting, I only had two failures. Both of the failures happened with the same magazine shortly after I had purchased the gun. At the time, I lived less than 10 minutes from the Smyrna factory, so I dropped in to see if they would check the gun. The staff at Glock was very accommodating and in less than 30 minutes, they replaced the problem magazine and gave the pistol a complete once over.
Since that time in 1997, I’ve never had a single malfunction of any kind. That’s really saying something considering I have run the gun in the sun, snow and rain. I’ve also used ammo of all types: high-quality, surplus and reloaded. No. Problems. Ever.
The current 19 is manufactured in Gen 4 trim. Glock finally caught up with other manufacturers in the industry by making the Gen 4 pistols adaptable to people through the use of a modular backstrap system and a reversible magazine catch. Having worked with enough shooters through the years, I know that one size does not fit all. These changes will make the G19 accessible to more people.
The new Gen 4 pistols also have a new texture and recoil spring assembly when compared to the third generation guns. The new texture, called RTF (rough textured frame), is more aggressive than the older texture. This allows the shooter to obtain a more secure grip on the pistol with sweaty hands or in the rain. God forbid you are bleeding when you put this pistol in your hand, but you are more likely to have a secure hold on the gun if you are as compared to prior iterations.
The recoil spring assembly is completely changed from prior G19 pistols. Previously, a single captive recoil spring was used in the gun. Glock now uses a dual recoil spring assembly similar to what is found in the company’s subcompact guns like the G26 and G27.
The effect of the new assembly is supposed to be a greater reduction in recoil. Shooting the pistol, I can’t really tell any difference in recoil from the prior generations. Other people state that the recoil reduction in the new guns is significant. Note that Glock is voluntarily exchanging the springs on the early Gen 4 pistols, so if you have a Gen 4 guns, check with the company to make sure you have the correct spring assembly.
If you do not like the Gen 4 changes, Glock is still making third generation G19 pistols. It is unclear how long the company will continue to do this.
I think the Glock is an ugly gun. However, self defense isn’t pretty work – it is generally a nasty business that is often accomplished by causing the other guy to bleed. The Glock 19 is perfectly suited for this activity. I’ve found it to be utterly reliable in all conditions and with all ammunition. While I am not willing to give up my second generation Glock, I have no doubt that the Gen 4 guns will continue to serve the armed citizen and law enforcement officer well.