Uh oh. I hope I didn’t give this article a controversial title!
Elsewhere on the blog (here, for example), both John and I have expressed our affinity for the Glock platform in general, and the Glock 19 in particular. However, I thought it worthwhile to write an article specifically about the Glock 19. Now, let me be clear. I am NOT saying that the Glock 19 is the greatest pistol ever made; nor is it even necessarily the greatest pistol available right now. It is up to each individual to determine his or her needs when it comes to handguns, and then purchase accordingly. Let me also stress here that our focus in this article—and most of the blog—is self-defense against two-legged predators.
What makes the Glock 19 such a good self-defense pistol is that it has an amazing combination of characteristics. In no particular order, it is simple, reliable/durable, of a “perfect” size, light in weight, accurate, reasonably priced, and backed by excellent customer service. It also carries a high-capacity magazine (in “free” states), has a ton of accessories available for it, and can be easily modified by the end user. Some of these characteristics relate to the Glock platform in general (as opposed to the 19 in particular), but we will examine them each in turn.
There is no arguing that the design of the Glock is genius in its simplicity. The pistol can easily be field-stripped for basic cleaning and maintenance, and the entire pistol can be detail stripped with nothing more than the Glock disassembly tool (which is little more than a punch). The simple design is also quite safe, although some would argue that pulling the trigger as part of the disassembly process is a less-than-perfect design.
There is seemingly no limit to the number of professional and amateur torture tests Glocks have been subjected to over the years, many available on YouTube. Glocks have been frozen, submerged in water, dunked in mud, run over with trucks, dropped from great heights, and endured other tests I cannot even recall right now. Just recently, I saw a case where a police officer’s Glock 22 was knocked away by a suspect and then run over by an assisting officer’s cruiser. Other than some cosmetic damage, the pistol still functioned perfectly afterwards. It should also be noted that the Glock platform—including the Glock 19—has been in use by various U.S. Special Operations Forces, and was recently adopted by Naval Special Warfare as their standard sidearm.
John has mentioned elsewhere on the blog and has quoted Paul Howe as saying that the Glock 19 (and it’s “compact” sized brethren, the Glock 23 in .40 caliber and Glock 32 in .357Sig) are the perfect size. They are small enough to be comfortably carried concealed (though shaped differently, it is basically the size of a 2 inch barreled Colt Detective Special), but are large enough to serve in the duty role (again, witness the above-mentioned decision by NSW, and also the fact that the Glock 19 is by far the most popular duty choice of the officers of NYPD). The third and fourth generations of these models include an accessory rail for the mounting of lights and lasers.
One of the virtues of the Glock handguns is their light weight, and it is one of the many reasons that so many police departments were quick to adopt it. In comparison with a large double-action revolver or common semi-automatics from the time period during which the Glock first appeared (third generation Smith and Wesson semi-automatics, Sig Sauer P226, Beretta 92, for example), the Glock 19 is significantly lighter. Weighing in at only 30 ounces fully loaded with 16 rounds, the Glock 19 is comfortable to carry all day.
This is always a bit subjective, but the Glock 19 is certainly quite capable in the accuracy department. Anyone who follows Kyle Defoor on Facebook regularly sees the groups he puts up from his mostly stock Generation 4 Glock 19, which invariably are all in the black on a B-8 from 25 yards, and I’ve done the same myself (though not as consistently as someone like Defoor). Realistically, it’s as accurate as any similar pistol.
Though it varies by region a bit, a brand new Glock 19 can usually be found for around $500, and that cost has remained relatively steady for the last ten years. Considering all that the Glock 19 has going for it, this is, in my opinion, a reasonable price. In addition, magazines for Glocks tend to hover in the $20-$25 range, and with new options like the Magpul and Elite Tactical Systems magazines coming on the market, cheaper options are now available to the consumer (John and I have been reviewing the ETS offering here and here).
Despite their reputation for durability and reliability, Glocks are not immune from “issues”. Indeed, due to their popularity, any issues that come up tend to end up very well “publicized” on the web. Having said that, these issues tend to be rare, and I know of even fewer issues that were not rectified in short order by the Glock people in Smyrna, Georgia.
Keeping in mind the size and weight outlined above, the Glock 19 carries a healthy 15+1 rounds with its standard capacity magazine. This makes for a very good size/weight/capacity ratio. Certainly there are pistols that hold more (including the older, bigger brother of the 19, the Glock 17), but again, 15+1 is basically a “standard” for duty use and is excellent for concealed carry.
As a top seller to civilians and law enforcement (largely because of the virtues extolled in this very article), there are an ENORMOUS amount of accessories available for Glocks. New triggers, new slide-stops, aftermarket sights (the major gripe of Glock buyers is that the stock sights are TERRIBLE), holsters, etc. I will also note here that replacement parts for the Glock, such as pins and springs, are generally easy to find and inexpensive.
Partly due to its simplicity, the Glock is easy to modify. These modifications can take the form of grip stippling, the addition of optics, trigger work (or wholesale trigger replacement), etc. For the most part, these modifications can be carried out by the owner without the need of expensive gunsmithing (though we have all seen the results of some poor home-done stippling jobs!).
Now that I have outlined many of the positives of the Glock platform in general, and the Glock 19 in particular, I am sure that there are readers out there who are thinking that their M&P, Heckler & Koch, Sig, Walther, Ruger, FN, Beretta, 1911, Hi Power, etc., is better. Glocks have their detractors who bemoan the grip angle, striker system (not unique to Glock), bad stock sights, finger grooves, aesthetics, disassembly procedures, etc. Glocks are surely not for everyone. Luckily, for the civilian, no one is forcing you to buy or use a Glock. There are many options available to us that we might shoot more accurately, fit our hands better, have safety features we prefer, etc.
Nevertheless, the Glock 19 IS the pistol against which all others are compared. A man who loves his Heckler and Koch VP9, for example, and who lauds its accuracy and how “high-tech” it is, will have to admit that the Glock 19 is cheaper (with cheaper factory magazines), has more accessories available for it, is more easily modified/customized in one’s basement, and is certainly backed by better customer service. In gun parlance, the Glock 19 is to pistols what the Colt 6920 AR-15 is to the AR world. There are, no doubt, “better” ARs out there, but the 6920 sets the standard for others to beat. Or, you can look at the Glock 19 as the modern day Smith and Wesson K Frame, as Dr. Sherman A. House, DDS, discusses in his blog post here.
Another analogy some favor is that the Glock 19 is like a Toyota Camry. It may not be the best car, and it may not fit the needs of everyone. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of advertisements for other cars comparing price, size, horsepower, legroom, etc., to the Camry. Like it or not, the fact is the Camry would probably fit the passenger car needs of most people.
It is for all of these reasons that when a potential first time pistol-buyer asks me what he should get for his first pistol, I always ask, “Have you looked at a Glock 19 yet?”
91 thoughts on “The Glock 19: The Self-Defense Pistol Against Which All Others are Measured”
Well, it used to be that if you drove a Toyota Camry in the 1990s you’d never get laid, but I definitely wouldn’t say that about a Glock! (I actually love the newer generation of Camries… Camrys?) The opinion I hear the most down here in the Lone Star State is, “Why the hell would you carry a G19 when you can carry a G17?” Granted, I’m 6′ tall and have roughly 36″ shoulders, so fat or skinny I can hide stuff on my body fairly well. Not so someone that’s 6′ 3″ and 165 lbs.
My Gen2 G17, that I believe you’d been acquainted with, is a tack-driver for me on most days. The gun out-shoots the shooter, and is stock, and was purchased in 1991? My G19 on the other hand, is less accurate but infinitely reliable and still more than adequate for home defense distances. My G19 is a Gen3 and having fly-swatter-like hands, the finger grooves interfere with the shooting but I haven’t worked up the chutzpah to grind them off and stipple the front… yet. Also, it’s a G19C, and some people tell me the compensator(s) must be interfering with my accuracy. I cry “baloney!” on that. I feel it’s a combination of shorter sight radius and mechanical shortcomings, as in, how my primary hand molds to the gun. As sweet as the VP9, G17, Hi-Power, and the beastly CZ-75 shoot for me, when things go bump in the night, it’s the G19c I grab as my initial investigative resource. It is even more maneuverable than a slightly longer gun in intimate distances, has less real-estate to grab and is easier to shield from a grab if I were somehow surprised. I guess having the compensator would have the added benefit of ***IF*** someone knew what they were doing and grabbed the gun locking the slide to the frame and I got off my 1 shot, which would then fail to cycle, it’d burn the grabbers hand unless they were wearing gloves; Or on methamphetamines or PCP, or any other drug for that matter (I would pray they were on Coumadin or Ranexa or Plavix *evil face*).
I like to take shots out at 25-50 yds depending on which range I’m shooting at, to work on being able to reliably make those shots to deter further murder and mayhem, or stop an assailant or protect the defenseless. But those shots are horrible (but still mostly on target at 25 yds) with the G19 compared to the G17 of the other handguns in my stable. I’m certain this can be overcome by spending a lot more time with it and getting the G19 to shoot as second-nature as my other handguns, but that’ll have to wait for me to finally buy my reloading rig. For now, it’ll keep me safe, and get me to the gun safe where “Hell Hath No Fury” abides.
I still recommend the G17 or the G19 to anyone new to shooting and hand-gunning. IMHO, they are unprecedented in value, reliability, durability, and also as you’ve mentioned, there’s an ubiquity of parts and service available, not to mention videos and other resources to help acquaint new shooters to the weapon system.
I just wish they’d offer a version with a flat front grip for those of us with wider paws that don’t line up with the Gen3+ versions. I *shudder* at the thought of modifying (as a n00bie) such an excellent weapon.
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Have you tried the extended mags? I thought the Glock (but I don’t remember the model I borrowed) as too tiny for my hands, but 5 extra rounds made it *perfect*.
Yes, the finger grooves are much maligned. They work okay for me, but even I have considered eliminating them and getting a stipple job done as well.
Your comment about “why not just carry a 17” is funny, as I see it all the time in online forums. I most often see it comparing the G26 with the G19, i.e. “if you can conceal the 26, you can conceal the 19!” And if you can conceal the 19, you can conceal the 17. And since the grips are the same size, why not the 34 or the 17L? So, transitive property of math: if you can conceal a 26, you can conceal a 17L! But I think we know this is not necessarily the case.
I guess this brings up the old adage to carry the biggest gun you can conceal effectively. For someone of my diminutive size, the 19 is about the biggest I can conceal in regular clothing (i.e., not a big overcoat or the like). But there IS a difference between all the models in size, however subtle it may be. So for me, sometimes it’s the 26, whose shorter grip, particularly along the backstrap, makes it all but disappear. Throw the new Glock 43 into the mix and then almost all bases can be covered.
I like the 19 as a “do everything” gun. If someone becomes more of an “enthusiast”, they may actually be better served with a 26 for concealment and a 17 or 34 for home defense.
It’s nice to have options!
I have a 17 and a 27 and I carry them both through the winter months. I normally wear sweatshirts so they both conceal quite easily. At 5’7″ and 160 lbs., they don’t conceal well during the summer with shorts and a t-shirt. I have both a 42 and a 43 which conceal beautifully under a t-shirt with a Crossbreed IWB. For home defense I like my 1911 or the G32 but the closest thing I can grab is a tactical 12. In any case, they will all suffice.
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I personally do not care for the Glock 19 for purely subjective reasons. I have owned a couple 19’s vs the 26 different models of Glocks I have owned over the years. Unless the shooter has large hands I recommend the Glock 19 for most new shooters.
Unlike the experts here, I have only been shooting for 62 years. Extensive combat experience in Vietnam 67/68/69. Started shooting competitively in 1958 and still do. Shot on my agencies shooting teams too. My point is that I have observed that some folks with hand or wrist medical problems or history have problems with the radical angle of the Glock, like my own arthritis.
I also have had a lot of problems with Glock magazines, even in the model 17. Some of the new non-factory magazines may solve those problems I had. Understand I would be very satisfied if I was ever issued a 9mm Glock (not ported). My favorite Glock is the Model 34.
Although they were predated by HK, Gasten & team designed a functional and marketing mega-success.
Great comments, and thanks for your service! I could not agree more that Glocks are not for everyone, and I said as much in the article. Many hate the grip angle, and I find that it does create issues if you switch platforms a lot (in terms of where it naturally points). Since I mostly shoot Glocks, when I pick up something with less of a grip angle, I find the angles of other pistol grips awkward. Guess it just depends on what you are used to.
Arthritis was not something I had considered, so thanks for opening my eyes a bit. I imagine an all metal pistol with a less extreme grip angle would be better.
Thanks for reading!
I chose the G19 as my carry pistol al,most a year ago. I got the Springfield XD9 subcompact at about the same time. I was trying to figure out which one I wanted to carry. For me it came down to the weight of the 19 that made me carry it over the Springfield. I did end up removing the finger grooves after watching lots of videos about it. Removing them made it easier to grip the gun properly. I ended up stippling the gun and I am pleased with it overall.
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I have 5 Glocks, the 19 is my next purchase.
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When my husband reintroduced me to shooting (I shot a couple times as a teenager), he let me try several of his handguns. I settled on the G17 as being the most simple and reliable. He later bought me a 19 for car and carry. Later, I bought a gorgeous Dan Wesson 1911, but found it to be fussy. I don’t need fussy. Gimme my Glock.
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A G17 was the first handgun I ever fired. I own one, but prefer the 19 overall. It fits me better.
As for fussy, I agree. Life’s too short for fussy!
Thanks for the comment!
I use a g17 that I purchased in the late 80’s. 6 recoil springs and 3 barrels later it’s just as good as the day I bought it. The only complaint is that I’m so used to it that I can’t shoot my 1911 race gun for crap anymore
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I live in the Gunshine State, SoFla to be more precise. I’m also a new citizen and shooter. Where i came from (TnT) in the Caribbean there is no 2A. I have been shooting for the last 4 years. My first choice was a Gen 3 G19. Down here the atire is mostly tees and jeans or the equivalent. Concealment is important and being 5’7″ 170, bigger doesn’t conceal well. My carry pistols are G19 in a crossbreed super tuck and for backup an M&P Shield. The G19 conceals well for me, easier to draw from 4 o clock. I was able to change out the factory sights effortlessly to night sights, add a laser sight and tweak my trigger. As a newbie i was very thrilled to be able to do this on my own without going to a professional gunsmith. (same with my AR). I agree Glocks are not for everyone but its my go pistol when i get in a pinch. I have taught my wife and sons to respect it, disassemble it and use it if the need arises. Disassembly is about 40 secs not so with the shield. If it’s good for the Seals, who am i to argue. God bless you guys. MolonAbbe!
I recently rented several Glock pistols at a gun range in Riverside, Ca. I really liked the model 34 and 17. I recently purchased a Model 34 and I found a person that is selling me a model 43 for easy concealment. I will be picking them up soon, and I can’t wait to test fire them. I’m an old “revolver” guy, and I am new to semi auto pistols. After test firing the Glock pistols, I am impressed with the accuracy of both the 9 mm. and the 40mm pistols. Outstanding service, low recoil, pretty tight groups,etc. I’m proud to be a “GLOCK” man now, America! Thanks, Steve D.
Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but I procrastinate too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though.
Thanks for the positive feedback. Hope you stick around and keep reading (and writing!).–Robert
I have been a Glock 19 “fanboy” for years, I guess. Perfect size and capacity and all that, but there was something about it i didn’t like that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I started carrying the 43 then started shooting the 17 more and I finally figured it out. The location of the “hump” is the problem. It sits in an uncomfortable place on my palm and it also causes my initial uncorrected point of aim to be high. The 17 is much more comfortable to shoot because the “hump” is lower. Interestingly, the 26 is more comfortable as well, as the “hump” is higher. I bought the 19x, which gives me the best of both worlds, with the exception of good concealment. I carry the 43 90% of the time anyway and my larger guns are mainly “bag guns.” When I need a little more capacity, I opt for the 26 with a Pearce 39 grip extension, that ups the capacity to 13+1 and still keeps it shorter than a 19 grip. I cannot for the life of me figure out why Glock doesn’t just do away with the “hump” altogether. If people like it, the that problem could be solved with a back strap. Just my opinion. Thanks for a great blog!
Thanks for the comment and the kind words about the blog.
My double-stack Glocks are all Gen 3 models. In that guise, I prefer the feel of the 19 the most. The 26 does hit me a little high and feels like it forces my hand up oddly. Strangely, I shoot the 26 quite well, so it doesn’t seem to affect accuracy, just “feel”, which is quite arbitrary.
My advice if you don’t like the feel of the some of the Glocks is to try the Gen 4 or 5 versions with the detachable backstraps. There might be one combination you prefer.