Glock released the Gen 4 pistol line in early 2010, which addressed some caliber-to-frame durability issues and brought some mild external changes. Roughly seven years later we’re presented with the next generation in Glock’s lineup. The Gen 5 differences are equally mild on the surface, but there are some interesting changes that are not immediately apparent.
I’ve been using my Gen 5 Glock 19 since late August and have put roughly 4,000 rounds through it since. I’ve run it for static precision and in dynamic defensive drills from concealment, with and without a light attached to the rail. I have also spent time with it disassembled, getting familiar with the internal changes and issues with parts replacement (since Glocks are fun hobby kits).
Mostly, the Gen 5 Glock 19 is just a Glock 19, but there are some interesting and odd changes that warrant examination. There are also some caveats that early purchasers should be aware of. I hope to cover most of all of them here, but keep in mind that these insights are from less than 2 months of use, several times a week. More time may tell more tales.
Much of this review will deal with Gen 5 differences from previous versions and Gen-5-specific user issues (for carry, shooting, accessories, etc…). For a more basic review of the Glock 19 I encourage you to read my Glock 19 Gen 4 review here (“Review: Glock 19 Gen 4 – After 80,000 Rounds”). Note also that the photos shown in this article do not depict factory-new pistols. Rather, these are photos of the pistols of someone who uses them hard several days every week. They tend to get a bit beat up.
Why Consider the Glock 19 Gen 5?
The first and best reason to consider this pistol is because it’s a Glock 19; arguably the best all-purpose handgun ever made. It is large enough to be a duty gun and offer functional accuracy and a substantial magazine capacity while being small and light enough for everyday concealed carry.
Additionally, one cannot ignore the excellent record of reliability offered by Glock pistols. From my own experience, I’ve shot well over 100,000 rounds through Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glock pistols and the only malfunctions I’ve ever experienced were due to failed non-Glock replacement parts and a botched Cerakote job. With stock parts, a Glock pistol is near flawless in operation, even under harsh conditions.
Specific to the Gen 5, you might consider the new Glock 19 for a couple of compelling reasons. First, the slide lock lever is now double-sided. So if you’re a lefty, switch the mag-release to the right and you have a fully-left-handed pistol. For those of you who like Glock pistols, but not the grip finger grooves, the Gen 5 comes with a flat-face frontstrap on the grip. No customization necessary.
Glock 19 Gen 5 Specs:
- Caliber: 9x19mm
- Length: 7.28”
- Height: 5.04”
- Width: 1.34”
- Barrel: 4.02” – 1:9.84” RH twist – Blued
- Trigger: 5 to 6.5 pounds
- Sights: Polymer “U” dot configuration, rear adjustable (standard)
- Weight: 23.99 oz. w/empty magazine
- Slide Finish: Black Melonite + nDLC coating
- Capacity: 15+1 (10 – if you live under tyranny)
- Price: ~$560 (often found for more and for less)
Shooting the Glock 19 Gen 5
The Gen 5 brings very little that is new to the shooting experience, with 2 notable exceptions. The Glock 19 has always been a soft-shooting, easily managed pistol and it has always had accuracy that will outstrip 99.9% of shooters’ ability. What’s new to this experience is brought by the new Gen 5 barrel and the flat frontstrap of the grip.
Having shot a lot with Gen 3 and 4 Glocks, I find the lack of finger grooves notable. I’m used to the grip snugging up to fill my strong hand and now it feels different. I don’t find the difference to be bad, but as the finger grooves fit my hand perfectly and I miss them on this pistol. I know a lot of folks have never liked them, so many will be pleased by this change.
The new barrel rifling profile is purported to double accuracy at longer ranges (4” groups at 50 yards, Glock claims). I’m not yet good enough to get 4” groups at 50 yards, but I did find that my groups at 25 yards were noticeably smaller with the Gen 5 as compared to my Gen 4 shooting. I can’t say for sure, but I’ll assume that this is due to the more accurate barrel.
The Gen 5 trigger is perhaps a slight bit better feeling than the Gen 4, but it’s subjective and hard for me to tell. The Gen 5 trigger assembly is completely different from the Gen 4, configured like the Glock 43. It has a “New York” trigger spring that uses a polymer spring support and a compression spring (rather than an expansion spring hooking the bar to the cruciform). I tried a 3.5lb connector and felt no press-weight difference at all. So I tried a 2lb connector and got the 4.5lb press that I expect in my pistols. Interesting.
The bulk of the 9mm ammo I’ve run through the pistol is 115gr ball, but I’ve run rounds from an assortment of Federal Premium 147gr Hydra-Shok JHP, Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P GDHP, Federal Premium 124gr HST JHP, Hornady Critical Defense 115gr, and Hornady Critical Duty 135gr …all with flawless performance.
I have experienced none in ~4,000 rounds with my Gen 5 Glock 19. The only remarkable issue I can report is that inside of the first 1000 rounds I occasionally felt a slight hesitation as the action chambered the first round of a magazine. Instead of the standard “chick” sound/feel of the slide going into battery, there was sometimes a “ka-chunk” that felt like a slight hesitation with the round chambering. This anomaly went away after about 1000 rounds and never did impact the performance of the gun. Every round chambered and fired.
Comfort & Controllability
As with every other Glock pistol, the Gen 5 G19’s trigger guard transition to the grip is quite angular and typically uncomfortable for the strong-hand middle finger while shooting. Therefore, I suggest that EVERY Glock pistol must have a Dremmel tool taken to the side and bottom of the trigger guard junction with the grip in order to create a smoothly rounded and reduced profile there. Other than this issue, the Glock 19 is plenty comfortable enough. There are some who disagree and find the G19 or any Glock pistol to be just fine without this slight modification work. With this modification I find the Gen 5 Glock 19 to be very comfortable. Without it, unusable. I, personally, would never own a Glock that had not been adjusted in this way. Sure would make for a nice Gen 6 upgrade.
The Glock 19 is in no way snappy and it’s very easy for one to manage recoil. The location of the magazine release is good and I only have to modify my grip slightly to get my medium-sized hands into position to actuate it (as I do on every pistol made). Even with Glock’s minimalist slide-lock lever, my grip often interferes with the lever and I find that the pistol will not lock open on the last round of a magazine from time to time. This is in no way the fault of the gun. It’s all me.
Concealability & Capacity
Even though it is a compact, the Glock 19 is larger than some in that classification. However, with a good and well-made holster, it is easily concealed in several positions on your belt, inside the waistband or outside. I wear a Glock 19 with a light in appendix position every day and never have a printing problem.
Note, however, that concealability is managed significantly by the holster and its configuration. Most holsters made for concealed carry are made poorly are not configured to properly angle the pistol to aid in concealment. Be careful!
The Glock 19’s fifteen-plus-one capacity is ample, especially for a compact. It is no mistake that the Glock 19 sets the standard for size to capacity ratio in the pistol world.
Components and Materials
The Gen 5 Glock 19’s largely unadorned slide comes in black Melonite finish that is then treated with an nDLC coating. The result is a darker and, reportedly, more durable finish. I really like this new finish and the aesthetic it delivers. I can’t say if it is more durable. I can say, however, that dropping it onto gravel repeatedly in training will scratch the slide and flake off spots of the finish, as shown here:
The scratches shown above came from doing a few dozen reps of the “wounded wing” drill, shown here:
The polymer frame is much like the Gen 4, except that the grip is slightly flared on the sides to imitate a magwell (it is only imitation) and the finger grooves on the frontstrap are gone. The Gen 5 also features only one pin near the locking block instead of the 2 pins common to recent generations. Perhaps because of this change, the frame is very slightly wider and very slightly taller than that of the Gen 4. The grip texture is identical to the Gen 4 and is serviceable, unless you have wet or bloody hands (therefore, be sure to stipple your Glock if it is a carry gun).
IF YOU CARRY A GLOCK 19 WITH A LIGHT, note that the Gen 5 with a light will not likely fit your Kydex light-bearing holster. The dimension from the top of the slide to the bottom of the accessory rail is slightly greater on the Gen 5 than with the Gen 4. This means that your gun will probably be too tall to fit into a hard (Kydex) holster with a light. It will likely take a short while before manufacturers are prepared to offer Gen 5 light-bearing models.
The Gen 5 brought some changes that will for a while play havoc with some popular customizations. None of the previous-generation Glock OEM or aftermarket triggers will fit the Gen 5. The dual-sided slide-lock lever necessitates a reduced-size area on the top of the trigger shoe. If you like aftermarket triggers, you’ll have to wait until manufacturers release a Gen-5-specific setup.
The very slightly wider frame means that the takedown tabs are ever so slightly more recessed than on previous generation models. Therefore you might opt for an extended slide stop with trapezoidal tabs. Note, however, that the slide-stop spring is no longer a leaf spring, but rather a traditional compression spring (which is very hard to install once disassembled!).
Beyond these issues, the Gen 5 is much like any other Glock pistol with regard to customization. (Caveat: if you opt for modification of your pistol, make sure you’re either trained to do so or allow a trained professional to do it for you. Altering the components of a deadly weapon is no joke.)
The Glock 19 Gen 5 is a Glock 19, so it is the perfect combination of size and capacity. Some folks will like the absence of front-strap finger grooves. The nDLC coating delivers a better looking finish than that of the Gen 4. Like the Gen 4, the Gen 5 has interchangeable back straps. The Glock pistol is likely the most reliable pistol on the planet, and Glock claims the Gen 5 is the most reliable yet.
Same old plastic sights, same old odd back strap shape. The slightly different frame dimension can present holster-compatibility issues is you have a mounted light. The new internals mean you’ll have to relearn some disassembly points and many aftermarket parts are incompatible with the Gen 5.
So for rating the Glock 19…
This is an eminently shootable pistol. Controlling the recoil during shooting strings is quite easy. It is neither too big nor too small for precision manipulations and keeping rounds on target. The trigger is “fair,” but good for a Glock trigger.
The Glock 19 is not the most ergonomically designed pistol, but with modification it has the potential to be quite nice. The lack of finger grooves will allow this version to better fit some folks’ hands.
This is as good a shooter as most pistols, but the looser tolerances in the design mean that slight variations can creep into the results at longer distances. The new barrel rifling profile seems to more than make up for this beneficial flaw.
There is no more historically reliable a pistol in the world. My only caveat here is that the Gen 5 is new and we have yet to learn of any inherent flaws or wear issues.
The Glock 19 has been the most customizable pistol in existence. However, the Gen 5 presents us with some incompatibilities and new mechanisms that will require time for the aftermarket to catch up. Four stars instead of five here.
The Glock 19 Gen 5 is in most ways, just another Glock 19, but there are some interesting and perhaps useful changes here. I can’t say that the Gen 5 changes are reason enough to replace your previous version, but if you don’t have a Glock 19, the Gen 5 model is well worth picking up.
I like both my Gen 4 and Gen 5 Glock 19s and I look forward to seeing what the aftermarket manufacturers come up with in the way of augmentations and accessories. If you’re interested, but not sure if the Gen 5 if for you, rent one and put a few rounds through it. See what you think.