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Glock 19 Gen 4 Review: Reputation Upheld

Table of Contents


By Kip Staton

October 2015 set another record, as far as NICS background checks are concerned. Then again, monthly NICS check records are sort of old news at this point. It’s a simple fact that people are buying more guns now than ever before, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, at this point, estimates indicate that the average gun owner now possesses around eight firearms. That’s a lot of guns.

While there’s nothing wrong with owning lots of guns, I tend to think that keeping nine or ten AR-15s or Glocks around can become pointless rather quickly, especially if the owner hasn’t invested in a stack of ammunition or a high-production rate reloader.
There’s nothing wrong with having a gun safe crammed full with the latest and greatest guns and gear, and I applaud anybody with who is so situated. On the other hand, there’s also nothing wrong with owning one handgun and a literal mountain of ammunition for it.

So, within that line of thinking, is there just one handgun out there that will perform all tasks well? The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” And, the solution just so happens to come in a Glock 19 box.

Proven Performance

The Glock 19 Gen 4 pistols really need no introduction. They did have a few teething problems when first introduced, like extraction angle issues and bad recoil springs, but these snags have been overcome.

I will say that my pistol was one of the ones that shipped out prior to the new recoil springs becoming standard and would occasionally have stovepipes (normally during IDPA matches, of course). A quick call to Glock with the serial number had a replacement recoil spring out in a few days, free of charge. No more reliability issues.

Generation 4 Glocks include the trademark Glock pistol case, instructions, a magazine loading tool, cleaning rod/brush, adjustable back strap kit and three magazines (which is a very nice touch). Short of ammo, a quality holster and magazine pouches, there isn’t much else you need to get started.

The Perfect Size for Carry?

One of the biggest benefits of the Glock 19 Gen 4 is its rather unique size. It’s not quite a compact pistol and definitely isn’t a full sized duty gun. This middle ground means that the pistol is actually a pretty good tool for pretty much anything.

The grip is long enough for my larger-than-average hands (I’m 6’2” tall) to achieve a full firing grip on the handgun, yet is still short enough to comfortably carry and conceal in the appendix position. I like to compete in local pistol matches with it as well, and the grip length doesn’t slow me down coming out of a USPSA Production division-legal holster.

Additionally, this grip size lends itself well to a useful magazine capacity: The Glock 19 holds 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition and is capable of accepting Glock 17 and Glock 18 magazines as well. Personally, when carrying my Glock 19 Gen 4 inside the waistband, I also pack a Glock 17 backup magazine.

My holster of choice for carry is a Raven Vanguard II. This minimalist-style holster really shines in the appendix position and is very comfortable even when worn all day. It’s not without its unique drawbacks (like the inability to quickly reholster), but it’s a good piece of gear.

Glock 19 and Raven Vanguard II.

Replacement Sights

Out of the box, the Glock 19 Gen 4 includes a set of factory polymer sights. While serviceable, I found that after a couple of years carrying in the Raven Vanguard II that the front sight lost its crisp top edge. These sights are just not very durable in the long run.

Furthermore, a proper sight picture requires that the shooter “split” the front dot in half with the bottom edge of the rear sight. This can be confusing, as it’s the top edges of the front and rear that really matter.

I fixed this issue with a set of Ameriglo Defoor Tactical sights, designed by Kyle Defoor. These sights are made of rugged steel and feature a serrated front sight. Interestingly, they have the same front/rear ratio as the popular Sevigny competition sights but in a shorter height that’s better for carrying.

The Ameriglos provide a rugged alternative to the stock versions, with a favorable amount of light around the front post. They are the only thing I’ve changed or upgraded about the pistol (other than the replacement recoil spring, but that doesn’t really count).

Kyle Defoor Glock Sights.

Customizable Grip

Since my G19 is a Generation 4, it includes interchangeable polymer back straps. These can be quickly swapped out by using the included plastic punch to knock out the retention pin, hooking the bottom of the selected back strap into the bottom of the grip, swinging it into place and replacing the pin.

Logic would dictate that I should use the largest back strap on the pistol with my big hands. However, I found that I kept experiencing slide bite while using the largest one. Removing it and running the pistol with no back strap helps my hand sneak in under the reciprocating slide, while letting me get as much finger on the trigger as possible.

Newer Glock 19 Gen 4 handguns ship with a cool looking beavertail back strap, which would probably solve slide bite issues for anybody that happens to suffer from them.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just use what works for you.

Field Stripped Glock 19.

While we’re talking about the grip: Many have labeled the entire Glock line as un-ergonomic. It’s true that a Glock will point differently from every other pistol on the market, but I’ve never put much stock in this interpretation of handgun ergonomics.
I find that as long as you put the sights on the target and press the trigger without disturbing the sights, everything works well for the most part with pretty much any handgun out there, regardless of the grip angle.

Decent Trigger

Out of the box, the G19 has a pretty stiff trigger compared to most other pistols on the market. So-called trigger quality isn’t something that I’m terribly concerned about when it comes to shooting, and I dislike discussing triggers with mostly meaningless comparisons to things like glass rods and staple guns.

Glock triggers are not the lightest on the market, and they are not the heaviest. The return spring is pretty strong, and it does its job with some authority. If you’re willing to put in a moderate level of dry firing practice, the stock Glock trigger isn’t going to slow you down one bit. I haven’t found a reason (yet) to do anything to it.


I’m not the best shot with a handgun, and my 25 yard groups aren’t really anything to write home about. At 15 yards, however, it’s pretty easy for me to stack a magazine of quality ammunition into a 2” or so circle, offhand.

Most of the “accuracy testing” of my Glock 19 has been on head boxes in local IDPA-style matches. It’s perfectly capable of head shots at all common competition distances and is more than accurate enough for anything that most people need to do with a handgun.

Is There a Better General Purpose Pistol?

I’ll be the first to say that the G19 isn’t the only handgun available that fills the “compact full size” niche in the handgun market. But, I do think that it’s the only pistol that does it with such a unique balance of reliability, features, size, accuracy and price.

The Glock 19 has been touted by many as the most universally applicable pistol currently available. I happen to agree with that assessment, based on my own personal use. It’s small enough, it’s big enough, and it’s accurate enough.

If I was forced to choose and own only one firearm, it would be a Glock 19 without a moment’s hesitation. In fact, I’d say Glock has indeed achieved perfection. Add one to your collection (or purchase it as your first handgun) without a moment’s hesitation.

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