Glock has come to dominate the service gun market based on handguns that offer proven reliability, long-lived rugged construction and good combat characteristics. Glock pistols are uncomplicated, fast into action and offer good practical accuracy. They are effective personal-defense handguns, and anyone should seriously consider his or her options before paying more for a handgun (or, come to think of it, less). Most importantly, the Glock is an industry baseline for reliability.
The Old Days
Gaston Glock rocked the world with an innovative striker-fired, polymer-frame handgun more than 35 years ago. Perhaps there was nothing revolutionary in the design, but it was clearly evolutionary. The Glock operating system was unique in its implementation. It has been copied — sometimes badly — but not quite equaled. The Glock action is ideal for institutional use and a good choice for most concealed carry permit holders.
The Glock, with its double-action-only trigger, doesn’t exhibit a heavy trigger press. When the slide is racked, the striker is partially prepped against spring pressure. As the trigger is pressed, the striker is pressed to the rear until the sear breaks and the striker goes forward, firing the pistol.
The Glock operating system was unique in its implementation. It has been copied — sometimes badly — but not quite equaled.
The Glock 17 was introduced at a time when the transition to self-loading handguns among police agencies was just about to hit full speed. The Beretta and SIG Sauer DA/SA pistols were proven in military testing and were top contenders, but double-action-first-shot handguns require considerable training in the use of two trigger actions: the first long double-action press and then subsequent short single-action compressions. They also require the user to train on a decocker.
The double-action-only Glock has a much simpler manual of arms: Load, holster, draw and fire. Not too terribly complicated compared to even a double-action revolver. The Glock trigger compression — at 5.5 pounds — is controllable and can be staged to provide a crisp press for precision fire.
The 17 was the rare pistol that was accepted by administrators and bean-counters. Neither liked to allocate money for training, nor did they like the liability of a short-press trigger action. Even the most proactive chief was reluctant to approve a single-action handgun for duty use, and the Glock seemed to solve a lot of problems.
The double-action-only Glock has a much simpler manual of arms: Load, holster, draw and fire.
The 9mm G17 was a success and remains an immensely popular handgun. Part of the success of the pistol lies in Gaston Glock’s approach. He began with a new factory and true innovation when other companies were using what was basically Walther P38 technology — meaning circa 1938 — with the addition of the 1935 Browning Hi Power magazine.
Successful as it turned out to be, the 17 was met with some resistance among traditionalists. Shooters, however, began to appreciate the pistol. The development of superior sights and succeeding improved models removed most complaints.
Glock followed with a compact version. The Glock 19 is shortened at the slide and the mag well, resulting in one of the best-balanced self-loaders ever designed. Other variations have followed, including .40-caliber, big-bore .45 and 10mm iterations, but the Model 17 and 19 9mms are by far the most popular. Over the years, these pistols have been updated with an improved grip texture, an integral light rail and a frame insert that mates the grip frame to different hand sizes.
Generation 5 Glock 19X
The Generation 5 Glock is the result of experience with service pistols. The improvements are more incremental than sweeping, but important nonetheless. The Gen 5 is currently available in Model 17 and Model 19 versions.
The blend of service pistol and concealed carry handgun in the new Glock 19X, the third example of the Gen 5, is an appealing option. Some do not see the point, and I respect their opinions. But give the piece a chance.
The Glock 19X might be termed a “Commander-style” Glock. The allsteel 1911 Commander is simply a Government Model with a slide that is 3/4 of an inch shorter than the Government Model. At 7.36 versus 8.03 inches, the Glock 19 and 19X slides are .67 inches shorter than the Glock 17’s. At 4.99 versus 5.43 inches, the Glock 19 is .44 inches shorter than the Glock 17 and the 19X. To put it bluntly, picture a Glock 19 slide and barrel installed on a Glock 17 grip frame.
The difference in the butt means more to conceal in appendix carry for some body types, but the difference for most of us is in the slide. A long slide will pinch some people when they’re seated or when they wear the gun in the appendix position. I find the shorter slide makes for a faster presentation from concealment. I have used the Glock 19X with the Tulster Appendix holster and the JM Custom Kydex IWB with excellent results.
The improvements are more incremental than sweeping, but important nonetheless.
The 19X features Gen 5 improvements, such as an ambidextrous slide lock, a reversible magazine release, an assortment of four grip inserts and improved steel night sights. Night sights should be standard on a combat pistol, and these sights are a great addition to the platform. The Gen 5 trigger usually breaks at 5.5 to 5.8 pounds.
The Marksman Barrel is of a hexagonal type that is designed to limit bullet deformation and maintain a tighter gas seal for good velocity. Per my testing, the Marksman Barrel results in a credible improvement in accuracy.
The sum of all of these parts is an interesting combination of features. The pistol is finished in coyote brown, similar to the Vickers Tactical Model. It ships with three magazines, including two with extended floorplates. The flush-fit magazine holds 17 rounds, while the “+P” plate magazines hold 19 cartridges. This is quite a bit of firepower — another advantage of the 19X.
I have fired the 19X extensively in high-speed drills and find the pistol handles and comes on target quickly, making it more accurate in a practical sense than a standard Glock 19. The short slide offers good concealment, and with most concealed carry holsters, the longer grip rides high against the body and isn’t difficult to conceal.
As I near 1,500 rounds of ammunition, there have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject across a variety of ammunition, ranging in bullet weights from 92 to 150 grains.
While the 19X has an impressive reserve of ammunition, it is best to get the job done with as few rounds as possible, and many light blows do not equal a heavy blow (just ask any prizefighter). Since this is a service-grade handgun, +P loads should be strongly considered.
While the 19X has an impressive reserve of ammunition, it is best to get the job done with as few rounds as possible, and many light blows do not equal a heavy blow.
I tested the Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain JHP +P and Black Hills Ammunition 124-grain JHP +P extensively, and I prefer the 1,300 feet-per-second 115-grain load for its excellent balance of expansion and penetration. I certainly would not feel uncomfortable with the 124-grain load, and were I still in service, the 124-grain +P, with its great predicted penetration against a wide range of targets, would get the departmental nod of approval. Across the board, the Glock is completely reliable with +P loads.
As for accuracy, the 19X is the most accurate of all Glock 9mms I have fired, including the Generation 5 Glock 17. I have shot several 2- to 2.5-inch groups at 25 yards with the 19X, which is better than service-grade and provides the shooter with a lot more gun.
I cannot think of anything I would change on the Glock 19X; I like it better than the Glock 17 and the Glock 19. You may not, but it’s worth a shot — or a whole box of ammunition — to decide for yourself.