Gen 4 vs Gen 5: Which one is right for you?
Many gun owners regard the G19 as the best Glock handgun the company has ever produced. Popular with both law enforcement and people who use it for concealed carry, the polymer Glock 19 is a 9mm, striker-fired semi-automatic that offers an excellent ergonomics and magazine capacity in a smaller and more concealable package than the Glock 17, making it a great choice for self-defense.
Over the years, Glock has continually updated their designs starting with the earliest Gen 1, Gen 2, and Gen 3 models to the more recent Gen 4 and the new Glocks, which are Gen 5. The many variants of Glock pistols can leave some shooters feeling a little overwhelmed. Do not worry, we are here to help.
Today we are going to focus exclusively on the Glock 19 Gen 4 and 5. We will explain the major differences between these two firearms and it will hopefully give you a better idea of which one is right for your next firearms purchase.
Glock 19 Gen 5
Since most shooters are familiar with the Glock 19 Gen 4 by this point, we will focus first on explaining some of the specs of the Gen 5 model. This firearm has a 7.28-inch overall length and is 1.34 inches wide with the slide only being an inch. It is 5.04 inches high. These specs are mostly identical to the Gen 4 model except for the overall width. The Gen 4 is slightly slimmer at 1.26 inches overall width. The weight of the Gen 5 with a full mag of ammo is the same as the Gen 4. Both guns come in at 30.16 ounces fully loaded.
There are some obvious changes to the Gen 5 that experienced Glock shooters will notice right away. The most notable being the elimination of the finger grooves on the grip. It seems like every shooter has an opinion on these grooves with some people appreciating them and other people hating them to the point that they would turn to aftermarket solutions to eliminate them.
Another noticeable difference is on the slide. For Gen 5, Glock added a second set of serrations to the front of the slide, and they also beveled the front of the slide to make it draw faster out of a holster with less snagging. It also gives the Gen 5 models a slightly less blocky look than earlier generations of Glock.
The other noticeable change is the magwell. Glock decided to flare it out slightly on the Gen 5 models which is going to make it slightly easier to reload. Some shooters even report that little flare makes the gun sit in the hand a little better than Glock Gen 3 and 4 models. Glock also introduced a new NDLC finish for the new generation to both the finish and the slide that they say protects better against scratches and corrosion than the older models. One last obvious change is that for the Gen 5, Glock went ahead and made an ambidextrous slide stop lever standard. No switching around needed. The gun is ready to be used by any shooter no matter their dominant hand straight out of the box.
What are the internal differences between Gen 4 and Gen 5 Glocks?
Most of the differences between the two generations of pistols are extremely subtle and probably not even noticeable to many gun owners. We will talk about the Glock Marksman barrel first. The barrel length is identical between generations at 4.02 inches. However, the company changed up the polygonal rifling slightly to create tighter groups in the G19 Gen 5 model. The recoil spring on the two guns look nearly identical, however Glock says they made some slight improvements to reduce felt recoil to the shooter in the newer models.
Glock also says that they adjusted the trigger pull to be slightly crisper through subtle changes in the trigger spring and a redesign of the safety plunger. It should be noted that most users report minimal differences in the triggers between the two despite all the marketing buzzwords. If triggers are important to you, it might require a field Glock vs Glock test to determine which one you like better.
Another subtle but major difference between the two generations is a change in the pin system. You will notice the company returned to a simplified single pin system for the Gen 5 models. This means they were able to remove the extra locking block pin completely. We have not heard anyone who has noticed any major changes because of this change, but it does give the newer models just a few less parts, which anyone can appreciate.
Some things have not changed dramatically between the two generations. The firing pin is mostly unchanged, as is the magazine release or slide release. The backstraps are also largely unchanged, which some people will love or loathe depending on their opinions of the interchangeable backstraps of prior models. Glock also kept the same grip texture from the Gen 4 models on both the Glock 19 and Glock 17 Gen 5 models.
Can you use Gen 4 mags in Gen 5 Glocks?
The answer to this is a resounding yes. Thankfully, Glock realized how much people loved the interchangeable function of magazines in the same caliber across different platforms. One notable new feature of the Gen 5's magazines is that the company added an orange follower. This was a welcome change by many shooters since it makes it much easier to glance inside and see the chamber is clear. It also made it easy to see how many rounds are loaded in a mag since the orange is easier to see through the holes in the back of the magazine.
Gen 5 magazines will also function backwards with Gen 4 models if you desire to have that follower visibility in an older model. We have heard unconfirmed reports that there may be issues if you have the ambi magazine release switched to the other side of the gun, but we have not gotten the chance to test it for ourselves. Make of that what you will and be warned it could be an issue.
Is the Glock 19 Gen 5 worth it?
This is going to depend on who you ask. Some of the Gen 5 Glocks were criticized early after their release, but it seems the company has worked out most of the kinks people were experiencing by this point. We recommend going to your local gun shop and handling both because everyone is going to have a different opinion on the feel, especially with that change in the finger grooves.
The thing to keep in mind is that the Glock 19 is a heavier concealed carry option. If you want something smaller in frame and lighter, consider the Glock 43 or the Glock 26 instead. It is a 9mm, so if more firepower is your thing, the Glock 21 in .45 ACP may be more your style.
For most shooters, the Glock 19 is the perfect compromise between a subcompact sized gun and something with a full-sized frame like the Glock 17. This company has spent years building up a solid reputation for tough, reliable firearms and it is hard to go wrong with any of them.