History of the Glock 17
Development of the first Glock model began in 1980 by Gaston Glock (the owner of the company) after he overheard military officers discussing the need for a new service pistol to replace the Walther P38.
Being a fabricator of curtain rods and polymers the officers did not have such high hopes in the Glock design.
This was the first time the company would develop a firearm after just recently getting a contract with the Austrian military for manufacturing bayonets.
In 1981 Glock secured the patent for their handgun design and in 1982 what we know today as the Glock 17 was born and accepted into military service with the Austrian armed forces.
I particularly find the story of Glocks winning the bid for their handgun fascinating for two reasons.
- Gaston Glock was already in his 50s before he started development on his first pistol. Therefore it doesn’t matter how old you are when you start something, all that matters is that you have the will to see it through.
- The other companies competing for the military contract all had extensive experience and reputation in the industry. We are talking about H&K, FN, Sig Sauer, and Beretta. But still, this first-timer still created a product so well-conceived that it
was able to beat out these reputable established brands.
The Glock 17 had extraordinary magazine capacity for the time at 17 rounds.
It was cheaper to produce because of the polymer frame, was easy to maintain, and reliable.
That’s not to say that it didn’t come under fire from people who were opposed to the design. Using a lot of polymer in firearms manufacturing at the time was not looked at highly and there were many dissatisfied with the simplistic design.
Over the years popularity grew for the G17, with military adoption leading to police interest in the pistol.
Many law enforcement agencies were happy to ditch the service revolver they have been using for so long for something semi-automatic with higher capacity.
With the professional use of the firearm, the Glock 17 started to become widespread across the civilian market and is now the most well-known pistol in the world.
Features of the Glock 17
All early generation Glocks were manufactured in Austria. New generations are made in both Austria and the U.S.A.
In addition to the standard 17 round magazine, factory magazines can be found up to 33 round capacity and even larger options are found in the aftermarket.
With a barrel length of 114mm (4.48 inches), you can expect approximately 375m/s (1230fps) muzzle velocity.
Polygonal rifling has been a staple feature on Glocks since the beginning. The gun has a relatively long sight radius at 165mm (6.5 inches) making accurate shoots easier out at long distances.
Ease of maintenance was a high point to pass the military trials at the time. Today’s Glocks are made using only 34 parts, which means fewer things to break or go wrong. In no time at all a user can field strip the pistol giving access to the majority
of cleaning needs.
Glock 17 generations
The Gen 1 Glock 17 revolutionized the industry by being a lightweight, high-capacity pistol that you could rely on.
The “pebble pattern” grip texture on this generation was not as rough as the following generations. This could give your hands a hard time maintaining form if the frame got wet for any reason.
Adding a Hogue wrap-around grip helps a lot in this problem and is a cheap recommended solution.
Very few gen 1 Glocks made it to the U.S. making them a valuable collector’s piece. The earliest gen 1 Glocks were shipped with smaller diameter pencil barrels and these are the most desirable for collectors.
The second generation Glock 17 was released in 1988.
The major difference between gen 1 and gen 2 was the added texture to the frame in order to allow users to get a more positive grip on the handgun.
The front strap and trigger guard were checkered while the backstrap was given serrations with the checkering.
In 1991, the old two-piece recoil spring and assembly was replaced with an integrated recoil spring assembly.
This generation introduced in 1998 added the Glock Accessory Rail. Allowing mounting options for a laser or light.
A thumb rest was cut into the frame to create more comfort in holding the pistol and maintaining grip.
Yes, as mentioned before the finger grooves were added to this revision. Much to the woe of small-handed folk this inclusion was not well received.
Later-generation 3 models also included an upgraded extractor that also seconded as a loaded chamber indicator.
A locking block pin was also added above the trigger pin that relieved some force put on the locking block and the locking block itself was also enlarged.
In 2009 the gen 4 saw its release (2010 in the U.S.) this was the first generation to give the user more individuality.
Interchangeable backstraps were introduced allowing the pistol to be fitted to many different hand sizes.
The magazine catch was redesigned and was made reversible, a much-appreciated feature for left-handed shooters. The magazines also needed to be modified in order to accommodate the changes in the release.
The recoil spring was further redesigned to a double recoil spring. This allows for less felt recoil than the previous variant and is especially delightful on snappier calibers.
The front portion of the slide and frame needed to be widened internally in order to fit the new recoil spring.
The rough-texturing on the frame was changed and is very comfortable while sticking in your hand like glue.
The fifth-generation hit the market with a bang in 2017. It further improved many systems and introduced welcome changes.
Those pesky finger grooves that were introduced in the gen3 were finally deleted, small hands rejoice!
The barrel was upgraded to the Glock Marksman Barrel. This was an enhanced version of the classic polygonal barrel found on all other generations.
The trigger was also redesigned and has a noticeably different feel to other generations and is a welcome change in my book.
Some people did not like how the slides on older Glocks did not match the color of the frame and how they wore and scratched easily. With the nDLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) slide finish all of these issues were addressed.
Going a step further in the ambidextrous direction the slide lock on the gen 5 is found on both sides of the pistol.
The mag well was flared on the gen 5 making it easier to reload and the mags themselves were also slightly modified with orange followers.
A half-moon cut-out was added to the bottom of the frame to help with reloading stuck magazines.
The locking block pin introduced in gen 3 was also omitted on gen 5.
Compare to other Glock models
The Glock 17 is the same form factor as the Glock 22. The major difference between the two is the caliber. The G17 is chambered in 9mm whereas the G22 is chambered in .40S&W.
.40S&W became popular with law enforcement and Glock capitalized on this with their 22nd patent.
Popularity for the larger round has since dwindled over the years and 9mm is seeing more demand again for LEO and it has always been the preferred caliber for military applications.
Soon after the release of the full-sized G17, there was a demand for a compact model. This birthed the Glock 19.
The Glock 19 is essentially a Glock 17 in a smaller form factor. Lending well for concealed carry and self-defense.
Both models share similar parts, the Glock 19 can even use the larger Glock 17 magazines.
Taking things one step further there is also the Glock 26. This is a subcompact pistol that even makes the 19 look large.
The Glock 26 is roughly the same size and weight as a snub-nosed revolver.
Similar to the Glock 19, the Glock 26 is also compatible with larger capacity 9mm magazines found on the bigger models.
Being such a small form factor the Glock 26 lends very well to any conceal carry applications or can be a reliable secondary gun that you can count on if your primary fails.
To field strip, a Glock just follows these easy steps.
- Remove the magazine and clear the chamber.
- Point the gun in a safe direction and pull the trigger.
- Pull the slide back approximately ¼ inch and hold it in place.
- Pull down the takedown lever and let the slide go forward.
- Gently allow the slide to slide forward off the frame.
- Remove the recoil spring & assembly
- Remove the barrel
Glock 17 Competitors
Smith and Wesson have been a big competitor with Glock using their M&P series. Both guns are very similar being a polymer frame, striker-fired pistol with similar magazine capacity.
Unfortunately for the M&P series, it had an arguably worse trigger in their first model but with the 2.0 release, both brands have similar offerings.
The M&P always offered interchangeable backstraps with their pistol series and also provided range kits that come with lots of other goodies.
A second big competitor for the Glock is Sig Sauer’s P320. The P320 beat out both the Glock and the M&P for the U.S. Army’s modular pistol program.
Like the other two pistols mentioned above, it is also a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol.
I really like the trigger on the P320 and think it is one of the best factory triggers for a striker-fired gun.
The extended magazine capacity and steel sights helped Sig Sauer secure the contract, as well as being a fully modular pistol by design.
Glock 17 Accessories
There is a vast aftermarket for the Glock 17 going back throughout the generations.
Between all the offerings I always recommend a holster to fit your needs and some extra mags because you can never have enough mags.
If a gen 3 or newer is in your future I would also recommend looking into picking up a weapon light or laser.
They can be directly attached to the firearm and can greatly increase your effectiveness in low-light environments.
In Die hard 2 Bruce Willis’ character states a bad guy “pulled a Glock 7 on him” and that it is a porcelain gun that is undetectable by x-ray machines, made in Germany, and costs more than what another character makes in a month.
Everything about this statement is false.
- The gun referenced in the movie is a Glock 17
- The gun is polymer and steel, porcelain would self-destruct after the first shot if you did manage to create a firearm using it.
- They are 100% detectable by metal detecting devices at the airport.
- Glocks are not absorbently expensive in terms of gun costs.
Sadly I still have had to correct people about this when they are interested in purchasing these guns.
Contrary to popular belief the model designation is for the patent number, not magazine capacity.
Even though the 17th patent was the first Glock firearm made, the company fabricated other products before getting into the industry.
Although Glock was an early adopter of both polymer frames and striker fire systems they were not the first to produce either.
Overall review of the Glock 17
For over 40 years Glock has been innovating in the firearms industry and has become the gun that other handguns compare themselves to.
They have a fanbase that loves the product for its reliability, accuracy, and dependability.
With a plethora of aftermarket support, you can really make a Glock a personal gun that fits whatever needs you may have.
You really can’t go wrong with any of the generations of the Glock 17, although gen 3 through 5 would be the most popular options.
Always make sure the firearm you are looking to purchases matches your needs before purchase.