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Glock 26 Gen 5 Subcompact Pistol Review: A New Hope

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By Trampas Swanson

It’s no secret that I have been a long-time fan of the Glock family of firearms. Through carrying various Glocks daily throughout my life for work and personal endeavors, that has only grown stronger. As I studied into the night as a young college student, Glock was there. When I made it through the Police Academy and took the oath of office to join the Sheriff’s Office Glock was there. Through stand offs, shoot outs, high risk warrant services, again Glock was there. During the most beautiful moments of my life such as my wedding, Glock was well represented concealed by myself and all my groomsmen along with half the attendees. Even during the birth of my two children and being tasked to forever be their father and protector till death, there was a Glock riding concealed. When I was asked to review the Glock 26 Gen 5 chambered in 9mm, it sent a flood of memories and emotions rolling through my mind as I immediately agreed to the project!


The Glock 26 9mm sub compact semi-auto pistol just so happened to be the gun that started it all for me when it comes to a relationship with Glock. As a college student from 1994 – 1998, I discovered Glock firearms when I decided to purchase my first pistol the week after my twenty-first birthday. Having grown up shooting rifles, shotguns and handguns since age six, buying my own gun wasn’t viewed a life changing event rather just a natural rite of passage for turning twenty-one. Little did I know this pistol and company would be part of many grand adventures, life threatening situations and best moments of my life even today. As previously mentioned, my choice came in the form of the model 26 also known as the G26. At the time, this sub compact series of models was very new to the market with plenty of reviews in the gun magazines I regularly read. I discussed this choice with my Dad and my Grandfather which both agreed with the benefits of having one with me living off campus and the reputable manufacturer I decided to go with. Not to mention, as a college student living off warm beer and cold pizza, 9mm ammo was much more affordable than Grandpa’s favorite .45 ACP!

From day one, I shot my new Glock religiously at least once a week until I felt 100% confident in my marksmanship abilities with it. I took it apart and put it back together again until I could literally do it with my eyes closed. A year later, I joined the Police Academy and began our adventures into law enforcement. The G26 I purchased that day would go with me for years as my back up gun carried on my ankle as well as every day off duty. Although there had never been previous versions of that particular model, it was considered to be a Generation 3 to coincide with the other generation of pistols in the Glock catalogue. It would come to be the pistol I used to compare against all others I purchased in the future.


This past August, Glock surprised a lot of people with the introduction of what they officially title the Gen 5 series pistols consisting of new versions of the model 17 and model 19 chambered in 9mm. This came on the heels of Glock landing major new Federal Law Enforcement and Military contracts over the winter and spring months for both the model 17 and 19 alike. As with the Generation 4 pistols, I tested them extensively and really liked the new upgrades from the Gen 3 and even Gen 4 pistols. When I tested the Gen 4 series, I wasn’t too keen on the more aggressive grip the newer series compared to my trusty smooth textured Gen 3. My wife commented on the grips of the Gen 4 feeling as if they chewed into her hand when shooting.

In the weeks leading into the huge Industry-ONLY trade show in Las Vegas know as the SHOT SHOW, Glock let the cat out of the bag early with the announcement of 3 new pistols under the Gen 5 banner, one being the G26. Remembering the last models released in the series had a much less abrasive grip texture than its Gen 4 predecessors, I was eager to see what the new Glock 26 Gen 5 had to offer.


First Look

Once I got the call from my local gun shop letting me know the writer’s sample of the Glock 26 Gen 5 had arrived, I headed over to pick it up. Upon my arrival, I opened the box to get a first look at the new version of my old friend. As with the previous Gen 5 samples I have tested, the lack of finger grooves gave an uninterrupted grip purchase on the pistol. The grip texture itself was more aggressive than the Gen 3 without digging into your hand as was my experience with the Gen 4 G26.

Unlike other Gen 5 models tested, the front strap lacked the “U” shaped cut out in which an extended magazine lip protruded. The Gen 5 Glock 26 magazines did not have this protrusion on the base plate but did include the bright orange followers including on the other new model magazines. I believe this omission comes from lack of real estate on the grip rather than not being needed on the pistol.


One of my favorite upgrades new to the Gen 5 series was the addition of an ambidextrous slide stop levers located on the left and right of the frame. These are actually a “U” shaped one-piece design that just brings an extra bonus to devout Glock shooters. Despite finding myself wishing Glock had extended the shelf on each side of the lever to that similar of popular aftermarket options, I did not have any issues with manipulating the lever from either side when shooting right or left handed. This slide stop is held in place by Glocks “new” two pin frame system. Some diehard fans will remember, Glock’s original designs featured a two-pin system but once platform moved away from its initial 9mm chambering to include more powerful calibers, a third pin was needed for frame integrity. According to Glock, the Gen 5 was only meant to be in 9mm, so a 3rd pin was not necessary in the new guns.

The slide and barrel coating itself has often been pointed out as another major change with the Gen 5 Glocks. Departing from the traditional Tinifer finish, Glock has opted for a new nDLC finish. This finish is supposed to last longer and provide a smoother metal to metal interaction between barrel and slide. Although my Gen 3 G26 finish wore off within only a few years of constant shooting and needed to be refinished with DuraCoat, I can’t say the same about any of the Gen 4 pistols we own. With over 10,000 rounds cycled through my Gen 4 Glocks with Tinifer finishes, I really have not seen any wear issues with the status quo, but I have never been one to be against possible improvement either. Time will tell if the new nDLC coating does prove to be a better fit for the Glock platform.


In addition to the noted changes to the Gen 5 series’ exterior, a few notable changes were made internally as well. The most important change comes in the form of how the barrels are now cut. Traditionally, Glock offered a very non-traditional polygonal rifling to ensure reliability while providing better than average accuracy. This fielded a wide array of aftermarket barrel companies providing what they claimed to be more accurate spiral cut barrels in a number of configurations. Gen 5 Glocks now include what is labeled by the company as a “marksman” barrel (GMB) featuring a slight change up in how the company cuts the barrel’s lands and grooves. Glock now boasts for these new barrels to be more accurate while still being just as reliable as the Glock standard. According to Glock spokespeople, the 50-yard accuracy has been cut in half to hold an acceptable 4” group.

A look deeper inside the new Gen 5 model’s frame revealed subtle changes such as the leaf spring for the take down lever replaced with a coil spring, the absence of a downward tail on the trigger bar’s crucifix section, angled drop safety and the trigger return spring has been replaced and moved inside the mechanism housing. Additionally, the slide revealed a new tear shaped firing pin hole departing from the traditional round one. This is listed as a way of to clear more dirt and debris away from the firing pin to cut down on light primer strikes. With all the changes noted, it was then time to see if they new Glock 26 Gen 5 lived up to all the hype of the recent series has gathered.

Glock 26 Gen 5 Specs

  • Caliber: 9×19 mm
  • Overall Length: 6.42”
  • Height: 4.17”
  • Width: 1.3”
  • Barrel: 3.43”
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 10 Rounds
  • MSRP: $749

Range Time

As with most firearms we receive in for review, a trip to “The Swamp,” a private training grounds here in North Florida is a must to start things off right. One of the first noticeable items when taking the first five shots with the Glock 26 Gen 5 was the trigger. Set from the factory as a standard 5.5 lb. trigger such as every model and generation, it somehow felt different. With new trigger bar and connector set up, there was a constant tension on the trigger all the way through the shot break rather than the traditional slack before hitting the “wall” in which breaks the shot. After a brief learning curve, I found it helped with keeping the trigger release to only the point of trigger reset without any unnecessary over travel. This kept follow up shots on target and faster.


Once my opinion was formed on the new version of one of my old favorites, it was time to turn it over to an accomplished shooter and NRA Firearms Instructor, my wife, Candace Swanson. Out of the dozen or so Glocks we own in all sizes and calibers, it is my original Gen 3 model 26 in which she carries daily in her travels for work and around town with the kids. Combined with a custom Kydex holster built for her by the “King of Kydex,” John Phillips of Survivor Creek Tactical featuring an UltiClip for secure attachment with minimum footprint on clothing, the gun rides virtually unnoticeable inside her waistband.

You may notice the holster’s purple construction along with the black which is a reflection of her status as the state leader of Florida for the national not-for-profit organization called The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters. Five years ago, Candace established the first Florida based chapter during the early days of the national organization, now twenty-four chapters and almost 800 members later, these purple clad ladies regularly shoot every month and inspire others to do the same safely and responsibly.


Candace and I decided to directly compare her Gen 3 and the new Gen 5 pistols back to back on the range. By first shooting the Gen 3 version of the model 26 and then switching to the newer model, the goal was to see if there were any performance differences between the two while it was fresh in our minds. Candace noticed a firmer grip texture on the Gen 5 but could hold onto the Gen 3 better due to its aftermarket pinky extension base plate. All things being equal, the two Glocks initially performed the same. We both agreed the factory night sights made it easy to quickly acquire sight alignment and sight picture.

After several circuits of shooting the two pistols back to back, I did notice both of us eventually shooting slightly better with the Gen 5 model. Considering the thousands of rounds which have passed through the Gen 3 version to help break it in, I feel like the performance gap will widen as the Gen 5 continues to be broken in with a few thousand rounds from now. According to several of the videos both used and not used for the video segment, Candace and I noticed muzzle flip for both shooters grew smaller as we gained more time on the newer Glock. Shooting the Gen 3 model was like spending time with an old friend and just felt natural. I am confident that in time, the same could be said about the newer model.

Side Note: Not changing on the Gen 5 from the Gen 4 version of the G26 were the inclusion of four different add on back straps. Having tried them all on both versions, they just ended up back in the box in preference for the grip as is without any additions. Even shooters with large hands such as some of our guest shooters for range time preferred the standard unaltered grip. For Candace and me, these have never been of use due to our medium / smaller sized hands.


Final Thoughts

To wrap up this review, I would say several points were made and agreed upon across the board with all shooters involved in the testing process of the Glock 26 Gen 5. The first being the pistol was at least just as good as the Gen 3 G26 it was tested against if not better. The grip felt more secure in the hand, the trigger took some getting use to with the consistent tension throughout the trigger pull but quickly led to more consistent trigger pull and shot placement.

As Candace and I spent the remainder of the loan time with the Gen 5 G26, the more it seems to become a natural part of our family. The gun accompanied several of our personally owned Glocks to one of the TWAW meetings to educate the ladies on various generations and models offered by the company along with “hands on” range time afterwards. Candace and I took turns carrying the Gen 5 G26 concealed throughout the 90-day test period and agreed it just “fit” with our lifestyle and program the same as our original G26. I believe this pistol will become a permanent fixture among our collection.

If you are looking for a quality concealed carry pistol and don’t wish to be either limited to .380 of the model 42 or to only 6 rounds of 9mm with the model 43, I would highly recommend the Gen 5 model 26. A choice of high quality 9mm carry ammunition and top-quality holster would both be just as important as the firearm you chose. While all of our test shooters and I use a wide array of practice ammunition, we have found the Hornady Critical Defense and Remington Gold Dot hollow points are our top choices. As previously mentioned, the holsters often seen in our articles and in our personal use come from Survivor Creek Tactical due to their quality construction and comfort in everyday wear. As for which pistol may be right for you, I urge you to check out the wide range of Glock firearms available at Gritr Sports. Until next time, remember, a new product isn’t good to go until it’s been Swamp Tested, Swamp Reviewed!

Trampas Swanson

Born and raised in eastern NC, started shooting firearms at age 6, and life long hunter. Retired Deputy Sheriff serving as a supervisor and SWAT sniper unit with a background in narcotics and crime scene investigations task forces. Now living in Florida as a husband, new father, local gunsmith, firearms instructor and freelance writer for various firearms publications.

Comments (2)

  • Chris Churchsays:

    October 2, 2018 at 12:45 am

    Good review and video. I am considering upgrading to the Gen 5 26 from the Glock 43. I don’t feel the slight added size of the 26 will be a carry deterrent for me. I want the extra capacity, and Glock seems to be coming through with innovation in the tapered magazines to keep overall width down. Now I just need to find one… I prefer used, but for this gun and the Blue Shield discount I’ll buy new if I have to. Thanks for the interesting material. Be safe…

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