Glock 17 vs. Glock 19: Which is Better for You?

Glock 17 vs. Glock 19: Which is Better for You?
October 25, 2022 Edited March 30, 2023 615 view(s)
Glock 17 vs. Glock 19: Which is Better for You?

Anton Glock sure stirred up the pistol world when he introduced what would eventually become the best-selling line of 9mm pistols in the world in 1982. Looking at online pistol sales figures for the first quarter of 2022 we see that the Glock 19 Gen 5 came in third (behind the Glock 43 and Taurus G3C). Other Glocks that made the list were models 44 (5th), 43X M.O.S. (6th), 19x (7th), 20 (9th), and 26, Gen 5 (10th). In addition, the Glock 19 was the best-selling pistol of 2021. It’s no secret that Glocks are the king of the polymer, striker-fired pistols hill.

We will look at the G19 and the one that started Glock on the road to sales domination, the G17. (We’ll stick with the current generation, Gen5). You would be well-armed with either of these – they are the standard by which such guns are measured. But why is that so? How did they get to the top of the heap? Let’s look at a bit of history.

[Make sure to check out our huge selection of barrels for Glocks, all available at unbeatable prices!]



Herr Glock did not start out building guns. That was, arguably, one of the furthest things from his mind. His company was known for its curtain rods. It wasn’t until he heard that the Austrian military was going to be looking for a replacement for the Walther P-38 that they carried that he got interested in competing for the contract. So, he surrounded himself with pistol experts from all over Europe and began the process of learning how to build pistols.

Not having any previous experience sometimes pays off, provided you have the right team around you. He had a lot of experience with advanced polymers, which paid off when it came time to make the pistol’s frame. (Please remember that Glock didn’t build the first poly-framed pistol – H&K did that with their VP70). He also introduced the process of ferritic nitrocarburizing, otherwise known throughout the industry as Melonite (S&W) or Tenifer (Glock). This helped protect the metal from corrosion and provided a tough, durable finish.

After passing the list of 17 Austrian military requirements which (among other things) stated that the pistols:

  • be self-loading;

  • be in 9x19 NATO;

  • be drop-safe from 2 meters (6 feet, 7 inches);

  • have magazines that did not require loaders;

  • pass a 15,000 round test with one final 73,000 p.s.i. pressure round (normal 9mm pressure is 36,000) without coming unglued.

The gun passed and bested pistols from H&K, Sig Sauer, Beretta ,and Browning to win the contract. That was the Glock 17, which was the gun that started it all for the company. The Austrian army was happy, as were Austrian LEOs. The gun basically took over the pistol scene in their military and police units with its adoption in 1982. Norway, Sweden, Britain, and France eventually followed suit, with other countries including the U.S.A. joining in. By 1992, 250,000 Glocks had been sold in the U.S. alone. The rest, as they say, is history.


Generations… What Does That Mean?

Glock’s pistols have evolved since their introduction. The improvements can be broken down by what has come to be referred to as generations. A new group of mods would be named a new generation. But what were those changes?


Gen1, 1982:

  • Smooth, pebble grip texture

  • No rail

  • Glock safe-action trigger, polygonally-rifled barrel

  • Models introduced included the 17 and 18 (full-auto-select-fire version of the 17)


Gen2, 1988:

  • Addition of a steel plate in front of trigger with serial number to satisfy an ATF requirement

  • Magazine spring was strengthened to improve feeding and the base plate was altered

  • Recoil spring was made captive; Gen 1 spring and guide rod were separate

  • Frame texture was changed to checkering instead of the pebble finish from Gen 1

  • Large-frame guns were introduced.

  • Models introduced included the 19, 22, 23,24, 26, 27, and the 17C (ported version of the 17)


Gen3, 1998 (Most Gen3 models are still in production):

  • Raised-“bumps” texturing replaced checkering

  • Finger grooves were added to the front strap

  • The Universal Glock Rail was added to the dust cover

  • An additional cross pin was added to the locking block for extra strength in that area

  • The extractor was modified to serve as a loaded chamber indicator

  • Tiffany Blue, FDE and olive drab color options were offered on certain models

  • .357 Sig and .45 GAP models were introduced

  • Models introduced included the 36, 42, 43, 34, 17L, 40 and 41


Gen4, 2010:

  • The Glock Modular Backstrap System was introduced

  • “Gen4” is rollmarked on the slide

  • Magazine release was enlarged and swappable to the other side

  • Grip texturing was changed to a modified, rougher texture

  • A dual recoil spring was introduced for all Gen4 models


Gen5, 2017:

  • The button-rifled Marksman barrel was introduced, increasing accuracy at distance

  • The slide release lever was made ambidextrous

  • The barrel and slide sported a DLC (diamond-like coating) finish

  • Finger grooves on the front strap were discontinued (yeah, I hear you!)

  • The barrel crown was deepened

  • The magazine well was flared and sported a half-moon cutout on its front

  • The extra locking block cross pin introduced on Gen3 models was omitted

  • The magazine featured a floor plate lip to aid in manual extraction and an orange follower

  • Forward slide serrations were added

  • The frame and slide were strengthened by being made a bit wider (example, the model 19 went from 1.26” at the frame to 1.34”)


Those are the major changes for each generation. The guns have truly evolved and are now more popular than ever. Check out our complete guide to Glock Generations for more information.


How are the guns the same? How are they different? 

Here are the specs for both guns (both Gen5).


Model 17

Model 19










Weight (w/empty mag), oz.






Barrel Length




Glock 17 and Glock 19 stacked to show length difference
Stacked. The 17 sticks out.


Model 17

Glock 17 side view


Model 19

Side view of Glock 19


Uses of Each

Each gun has its own niche in terms of usage, but there is a lot of overlap as the guns are pretty close in terms of size and capacity. It isn’t exactly rocket science to understand those uses. Let’s do a quick listing…


Glock 17

The 17 is at home in many LEO’s holsters. It also tends to serve as a home defense pistol, especially with a light mounted on the rail. Yet another use is competition… get the model with the optics cut and mount a red dot on it. The Marksman barrel is more amenable to better accuracy at distance than the older barrels were, so the 17 gets used by many competitors. Its usefulness extends into military hands… many nations use the 17 or a derivative in the hands of either mainline troops or special units. A final category for the 17 would be civilians who like to carry duty-size pistols. I know you’re out there and you have my total respect! I just can’t pull it off. The 17 is a very popular pistol, but not quite as popular as the model 19. Why?


Glock 19

The 19 is one of the best-selling pistols Glock makes for a good reason… it is what thousands of shooters consider to be the best of both worlds. It was, as I mentioned above, the best-selling pistol of 2021. There are reasons…

It is large enough (larger than sub-compacts and micros) that you can get a good grip on it without having a chunk of the grip sticking out below your hand. But… it is also small enough to be easily concealed. Many police and military units issue the 19 to their personnel. 

Plus, you don’t have to worry about decreased capacity with the 19. First, there’s only a two-round difference. Secondly, Glock mags are compatible with Glock pistols. All Gen5 mags of varying capacities will work with all Gen5 same-caliber guns, depending on the original capacity, meaning that you wouldn’t want to stick a 15-round mag in a 17-round gun – that wouldn’t work, but you could use a 17-round mag in a 15-round gun.

The 19 comes with three 15-round mags but you can use higher-capacity mags. There are 17-, 24-, 31- and 33-round mags that will work with the 19. (The same thing applies to the model 17. The 24-and-up round mags will work in it, as it comes with 17-rounders).


What’s In A Name?

I keep mentioning the number 17… what significance is it? Many think that the Glock 17 was named that because it sports a 17-round capacity. Wrongo, Batman… It was the company’s 17th patent. It had nothing to do with capacity. All Glock model numbers represent the order of the patent number that they received. Knowing that, it isn’t hard to realize that the 19 was a very early release, since we’re into the 40s now. There was a model 18, but that was a select-fire pistol issued to military and police personnel. And on it went from there…


Which is Right for You?

As you look at each gun, your eye might be trying to spot differences between the two. There aren’t too many. A glance at the specification table above will reveal that dimensionally they are very similar. They are also not very far apart in terms of capacity, only two rounds. And, as I pointed out above, that 2-round advantage that the 17 enjoys can be offset in the 19 by using extended mags. They may stick out a bit, but so does the 17’s grip when compared to the 19’s.

What are you wanting one of these for? How are you going to use it? Here are a few recommendations. Remember, these can go either way depending on the shooter.

Concealed Carry: Glock 19

Home Defense: Glock 17

Competition: Glock 17

Hiking/Trail: Glock 19

Law Enforcement: Either, depending on job assignment, method of carry, and purpose

I was stretching my feeble brain to come up with these, since either gun could fulfill any of these uses. So, what do you do? If you can shoot them both before buying, do that. They both shoot pretty similarly.

The extra ½ inch of barrel that the 17 has does move the front sight further away from the rear sight and might help a bit with recoil, but I can’t tell a difference when I shoot them. Now, if you’re talking about a model 43 or 26 versus a 17, yeah… there would be a difference, a pretty big one. But that’s apples to oranges.

It boils down to the fact that you have to put each gun in your hand in order to see any differences between the two and to see which one you prefer.


So, Which is Better?

Either of these guns would most likely do whatever job you asked them to. You could carry either one, although the 19 was built for that purpose. You could use either one in a home defense scenario, although the 17 was employed for that purpose early on. I personally like the 19, especially since I own two 33-round 9mm Glock mags for my 9mm carbine. They would, of course, work in the 17 as well but that extra ½ inch of barrel and slide length doesn’t melt my butter, and my hand is small enough that the 19’s grip works.

But… that’s me. I only mentioned that in order to give you maybe something to think about. Your hand is most likely either larger or smaller than mine so another grip would fit you better. Or, you want the longest sight radius you can get, so the model 17 is indicated. Everybody’s different. At any rate, let’s hear from you below on why you bought what you did. Time to get shootin’!

[We'd like to give a huge thank you to Mike Hardesty for his hard work on this article! For more valuable content check out our guide to PCCs and 45 ACP vs. 9mm. Also, if you haven't experienced our Glock 17 barrels or Glock 19 barrels you're missing out; check them out today!]


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October 29, 2022
I love Glock handguns. Glock 17 and 19 are both awesome. Glock 19 is easier for CCW. I have 2 Glock 17s and a 19X love them all. The Glock 19 don't fit my hands as well do to the size and the Glock 17 and 19X fits like a glove. I have got them all new and my Gen3 Glock 17 is 22 years old and still shoots awesome like the day it was new. Love all Glocks and hand guns.
December 15, 2022
I had a Glock 19 NYPD gun that was gifted to me 15 years ago. When the barrel conversion kits came, I sold the G19 and bought a G23. It is the same gun size wise as the G19 but in 40SW. The 9mm barrel conversion works perfectly in it. I liked it so much that I also bought a 357sig conversion barrel which proved to be be the most accurate of all.
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