The Glock 17 (G17) was first released in 1982, igniting what would turn out to be a revolution in firearms manufacturing and forever changing the world of modern combat handguns. Only overshadowed by it’s younger sibling the Glock 19, the number of G17s in the hands of citizens, police agencies and military units world-wide is staggering. And for good reason: only lacking in traditional flair and luster, the Glock 17 pistol is a workhorse that will deliver a lifetime of service.
With this kind of history, I obviously use “long term review” loosely. I can reasonably guarantee that there are first generation G17s with thirty years and hundreds of thousands of rounds down the barrel that are still in use to this day. My third generation review gun has only clocked about 7-8,000 rounds in a period of five years. Again, those numbers aren’t earth shattering, but I can’t think of a another piece of equipment that I have carried nearly every day for five years that has such a pristine service record.
‘Fit and Finish’
Manufactured in 2009, this G17 wears a Tenifer finish that is renowned for its superior corrosion resistance and surface hardness. Sometime in 2012, Glock transitioned to a Nitride finish for their guns, drawing criticism from some fans who say it wears faster and is more prone to surface rust than the Tenifer treatment. Even with the proven Tenifer finish, my G17 shows a healthy amount of holster wear on the edges of the slide. I would actually be disappointed if my G17 didn’t show any character-building markings: it’s a tool not a display piece.
The polymer frame, aside from my chosen grip stippling pattern, is nearly flawless. Although my pistol has never been abused (I’m not a tier one snake eater), it has seen it’s fair share of use in climates ranging from the dry and dusty high plains of Colorado to hot and humid New England Summers. The frame shows no signs of discoloration, cracking or deformation. The frame rails are pristine as are the pistol’s internal components. You would be hard pressed to differentiate between this gun and one that rolled off the assembly line in Smyrna last week.
A quick look at the chamber and rifling shows nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that I should be a little more diligent in my cleaning regiment. This barrel will outlast my lifetime ammo budget and then some.
I can honestly say that in 7,000+ rounds, that this G17 has not had one malfunction of any kind. It’s a trait that we, as daily carriers, sometimes take for granted in a modern combat pistol, but one that should not be easily overlooked. If you are placing your trust and confidence in a piece of hardware, it should be backed by hard (and personal) evidence. The majority of the ammunition run through this gun has been a steady diet of Winchester Ranger 147gr JHP, Federal HST 124gr and 147gr JHP and surplus +P FMJ. This Glock 17 is a true omnivore when it comes to ammo types and has yet to experience one hiccup.
Probably the most contested feature on Glock pistols is the trigger. Granted, the G17’s trigger is no where near as buttery smooth as a custom tuned 1911. And rightly so, since Glock’s Safe Action System negates the need for an external safety. Having said that, the Glock trigger just works for me; it’s crisp with a defined reset that allows for fast and accurate follow up shots. Obviously trigger pull weight and feeling is a matter of personal preference, but I have yet to find a trigger that’s works as well for me on a carry gun as the 5.5lb stock Glock trigger.
The second, let’s say controversial, feature of Glock pistols is the grip angle. And I will relent and agree that the grip critics do have a point. The learning curve (and the angle of the grip) is steep. Many new Glock owners tend to shoot a little high with the muzzle pointing slightly upward. This is nothing that can’t be overcome with training and I have actually come to prefer the angle of the grip. Pushing the muzzle of the pistol down tightens up my wrist and makes for a solid and stable shooting position. Full disclosure, I did decide to go with a professional grip reduction and stippling pattern from Business End Customs that allows me to better position my giant hands around the grip. I probably would have skipped this step if I bought a fourth generation G17 with swappable backstraps.
The longer overall length, the added weight of a larger gun and the 9×19 cartridge makes the G17 a flat shooting gun with just a little muzzle rise even under fast strings of fire. It’s not uncommon for me to be able to accurately place three aimed shots, drawing from the holster, in less than two seconds. I’m not a competition shooter, but that’s a decent split time for that stage of fire using full power loads.
Carrying the G17
I don’t believe Glock had concealed carry in mind when they engineered the G17. It was designed more for uniform/open carry mainly because of it’s slide and grip length. Although, with the right holster and body type, the G17 is a more than decent carry piece. If you are smaller in stature, the equally iconic Glock 19 is probably a better fit as it shaves about an inch on either end. My gun has the additional bulk of a weapon light, a Surefire x300, which I believe is a must-have for any combat handgun.
My G17 has spent its entire working life housed in a Raven Concealment Phantom holster except for the rare occasion when it rides in a Safariland drop-leg. With the literally hundreds of holster options on the market, Raven still rises to the top and complements the G17 nicely. Someday I will do a long term review on Raven’s offerings because they really are top notch.
Getting past the bulk of a full size gun, the G17 truly is an awesome weapon to be able to carry around as a defensive handgun. With a standard capacity of 17 plus one in the chamber, I rarely find myself carrying a spare magazine on my body. With my setup, the Taran Tactical Innovations (TTI) magazine baseplates adds an extra two or three rounds. That’s a decent amount of firepower for a concealed handgun. One side benefit of the TTI baseplates is that their smooth aluminum surface gives an anti-snag quality to the gun when carrying under a shirt or a jacket.
I firmly believe that there is no perfect defensive handgun. Every shooter is going to have their own priorities and will be forced to make compromises based on their personal situation. For me, the G17 is probably as close as it gets to being my all around favorite. Some of that belief is based on intangible characteristics that give you that feeling of confidence whether you are gripping the G17 or just knowing that it is on your hip. Either way, it’s a classic pistol with a solid history and every gun aficionado should have one in their arsenal whether or not you choose to make it your go-to defensive weapon.
Weight (unloaded): 25.06oz
Weight (loaded): 32.12oz
Magazine capacity: 17
Trigger pull: 5.5lbs