Okay, full disclosure: the 80,000-round count is for my two Glock 19 Gen 4s. I got my first Glock 19 Gen 4 in December of 2013. In less than 2 years I had ~55,000 rounds through it and figured I’d better get a backup. So in September of 2015 I got a second Glock 19 Gen 4, this one with “factory” Cerakote (more on that in a minute).
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I find the Glock 19 to be the perfect pistol: perfect size, perfect dimensions, perfect capacity, and perfect efficiency of design. Or if not the perfect pistol, the perfect pistol hobby kit, since modification is something Glocks often embrace or invite and in some respects, I’d say require. Still, no pistol is more worthy of nor responds better to lovingly applied modification than the Glock.
I continue to shoot my original G19 and currently have 58,000 rounds through it. My new one, now eight months old, has 22,000+ rounds through it. So having spent quite a lot of time running this pistol, mostly from concealment in training drills and competition, I’m sharing my impressions and learned lessons here. I hope you find this information useful.
Why Consider the Glock 19?
The first and last reason to consider any Glock 19 is reliability. In all the 58k rounds through my first G19 I never had a single legitimate malfunction attributable to the pistol. My second G19 initially had first-round feeding issues for a while, due specifically to the negligently poor Cerakote job. After a few hundred rounds that issue went away and I’ve never had another malfunction with this pistol, which I now carry and shoot in competition.
Another important reason to consider the G19 is the fact that there are no unnecessary external controls. Glocks are often criticized for their blocky, unadorned appearance, but this appearance results from the very important consideration of removing everything that is not necessary to put rounds on target and change magazines when empty. The Glock 19’s controls are minimized or internalized, resulting in an excellent example of deliberate, practical efficiency. As a design professional, I cannot help but admire the excellence of Glock’s design and recommend it on that basis.
I further recommend that you consider this pistol because it thoroughly blurs the line between concealed-carry and duty pistols. It is both a practical shooter with good capacity for home defense or duty carry and it is easily concealable for civilian daily carry.
Glock 19 Specs:
- Caliber: 9x19mm
- Length: 7.28”
- Height: 4.99”
- Width: 1.18”
- Barrel: 4.02” – 1:9.84” RH twist
- Trigger: 5.5 pounds
- Sights: Polymer “U” dot configuration, rear adjustable (standard)
- Weight: 23.65. w/empty magazine
- Slide Finish: Black Melonite
- Capacity: 15+1 (10 – if you live under tyranny)
- Price: ~$550 (often found for more and for less)
Shooting the Glock 19 – and – Lessons from the First 80,000+ Rounds
I find the G19 to be a joy to shoot. Having put more than 80k rounds through it, it is the standard against which I measure shooting all other pistols. I rarely find it matched in the dimensions of shootability and balance vs. size.
The bulk of the 9mm ammo I’ve run through the pistol is 115gr ball from Federal, Blazer Brass, Winchester, Freedom Munitions, and Stand 1 Armory, but I’ve run over 1000 rounds rounds from an assortment of Federal Premium 147gr Hydra-Shok JHP, Federal Premium 124gr HST JHP, Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P GDHP, Hornady Critical Defense 115gr, Hornady Critical Duty 135gr, and Winchester PDXI 124gr +P JHP, and even thousands of rounds of Copper Matrix frangible 88gr …all with flawless performance.
As with every other Glock pistol, the G19’s trigger guard transition to the grip is quite angular and typically uncomfortable for the strong-hand middle finger while shooting. Therefore, I suggest that EVERY Glock pistol must have a Dremmel tool taken to the side and bottom of the trigger guard junction with the grip in order to create a smoothly rounded and reduced profile there. There are some who disagree and find the G19 or any Glock pistol to be just fine without this slight modification work. I, personally, would never own a Glock that had not been adjusted in this way.
The only malfunctions I’ve experienced shooting my Glock 19s had nothing to do with the pistol itself. With my first G19 (58k rounds), the only failures I experienced were directly related to the faulty aftermarket recoil springs I foolishly used for a while. Every single one of them either broke in short order or failed to properly send the slide into full battery on occasion. I quickly reverted to stock factory springs and have never since had a malfunction of any kind.
My second G19 (22k rounds) came with “factory” Cerakote and, much to my surprise and chagrin, included Cerakote inside of the slide rails and on the frame rails surfaces. The addition of this coating changed the dimensions, tolerances, and friction coefficient of these critical components. The result was not surprising, as in the first 600 or so rounds I had a few instances of the first round of a new magazine failing to feed. After a few hundred rounds the Cerakote in/on the rail mechanisms wore away enough to allow for flawless function ever since. I must, however, warn you away from these Accusport Cerakoted (erroneously called “factory Cerakote”) Glock pistols. The Lipsey’s Cerakote is done far better and is only ever applied to the slide (never the frame or rails).
Comfort & Controllability
Firearm fit and comfort are highly personal issues. Even with the palm swell placement on the grip and other caveats (which I’ll detail in a moment), I find the Glock 19 to be quite comfortable. The Gen 4’s varied-size, replaceable backstraps allow for a good number of personal fitting options.
The grip angle on a Glock is different than that of many other pistols. I find the G19’s grip angle to be fine and my training with this grip angle makes sight alignment automatic (even with eyes closed), but some may prefer the more vertical grip angle found in other popular platforms (1911, CZ, etc…). The Glock 19’s grip finger ridges are another sore spot for some shooters. Personally, I love them as they fit my hand perfectly. But hand sizes vary and so will opinions of this grip feature. Some folks prefer to sand them off, but I would never do such a thing.
The Glock 19 is by no measure “snappy,” but instead quite easy to control while shooting. In fact, it’s a soft shooter despite the comparatively short and light slide as compared to many full-sized duty pistols. I have no trouble performing a Bill Drill in less than 1.9 seconds from concealment with it, so the G19 should present absolutely no controllability issues for shooters.
Concealability & Capacity
Even though it is a compact, the Glock 19 is larger than many purpose-made concealed-carry pistols. That said, its size presents little or no obstacle to IWB concealment for many people, especially when positioned on a body angle (4, or 5 o’clock positions) and in appendix position. I have carried the Glock 19 in the appendix position for a long time and never have to worry about printing even when wearing just a light t-shirt.
The 15+1 capacity is respectable for a duty weapon and very nice for a compact carry pistol. If you adopt an advisable practice and carry at least one spare magazine, that gives you 31 rounds; likely plenty for even a messy firefight, should your life prove to be so dramatic.
Components and Materials
The Glock 19’s largely unadorned slide comes in black. Hope you like black. The slide was once produced with a wonderfully hard, beautiful, and durable Tennifer finish, but somewhere along the line that was eschewed in favor of a Melonite finish (for environmental reasons), which has a different texture and aesthetic. I prefer the Tennifer, but the modern finish is okay, too. Just not as attractive or durable.
The polymer frame is serviceable. It’s not as aesthetically busy or as heavy as other companies’ frames, but it does the job of a frame just fine. I’d call it perfectly minimalist. Also, it accepts modification without much fuss.
The controls are in exactly the right place on the Glock 19. Neither the slide lock lever nor the takedown tabs of the slide stop get in your way. There is no goofy “takedown lever” and no external, manual safety to turn intelligent people into unsafe and incompetent operators when the brain becomes disconnected from one’s extremities. I find the Gen 4’s magazine release to be just fine, but if you don’t there are plenty of aftermarket options for this component…and for just about every other component, if you swing that way.
The trigger is, well, a Glock trigger. It’s not the worst and it’s not the best. I find, however, that swapping out the stock trigger connector with just about any 3.5 lb. connector will remove about ½ pound from the pull weight and, more to the point, smooth out the trigger significantly. Shooting a few thousand rounds with your G19 will also pay trigger-smoothness dividends. Do try it.
Glock’s reputation for never-fail functionality is well deserved, as a Glock 19 will continue to function under conditions no other pistol on earth can survive. This reliability has some consequences, though, as it derives in part from the lose tolerances baked into the pistol. This means that pinpoint accuracy is not among the Glock 19’s core qualities. While in no way an inaccurate weapon, the Glock will have small variations in accuracy, especially at longer distances (25 – 100 yards). While this variation is largely insignificant, the Glock 19 is not a perfect nail driver. The upside is that it is more reliable than any other pistol you’re apt to find. If you plan to use your G19 for purely static marksmanship competition, there are plenty of aftermarket options for match-grade barrels.
Customization and Glock go together like Forrest Gump and Jenny. There is no pistol on the market with so many aftermarket components, add-on prosthetics, and design alternatives. While one need not necessarily opt for component replacement or modification, they are, on occasion, efficacious and fun (Caveat: if you opt for modification of your pistol, make sure you’re either trained to do so or allow a trained professional to do it for you. Altering the components of a deadly weapon is no joke.).
Some Customization Recommendations:
- Do get your frame stippled; both the grip and the forward area for your support-hand thumb. There is no pistol in the world that has a frame texture that allows for enough grip purchase when your hands are wet (from rain, sweat, or blood) and the G19 is no exception. A stippled pistol is highly controllable and comfortable, to a degree not found on any non-stippled pistol. And, no, do not use adhesive grip tape. If you don’t train enough to melt or otherwise scrap it off, the tape’s grippiness is not going to help you much.
- Do replace the plastic sights with iron sights of your preference.
- Do use a Dremmel tool to round/smooth out the bottom and side of the trigger guard junction with the frame. It makes a HUGE difference in comfort.
- Do not replace the slide lock with an extended slide lock. It’s a LOCK and not a release. An extended slide lock will get in the way of your competent manipulation of the pistol.
- Do not put a plug in the bottom of the grip. That opening is there to allow for your thumb’s access to help remove the stuck magazine in the event of a double feed malfunction.
- Do not replace your slide stop with a trapezoidal, extended slide stop. These extend too far out from the frame and are both uncomfortable for your hand when shooting and will destroy your holster…and will catch on things when you are manipulating your pistol. As for easy fieldstripping, you don’t need to do that so quickly that an extension matters.
As for Maintenance:
- Do replace your recoil spring every 5,000-8,000 rounds – and use a factory replacement (only), not an aftermarket model of any kind.
- Do replace your trigger spring and slide-lock spring every 10,000 rounds.
For more maintenance advice, see this article on maintaining your Glock.
Carrying the Glock 19 Gen 4
I’ve carried the Glock 19 Gen 4 daily for quite a while. I find it to be a suitable and concealable EDC weapon for almost every style of dress, though I prefer a single stack for formal dress.
I carry in the appendix position and use G-Code’s Incog Eclipse holster for the G19 and all of my carry pistols. Even though the Glock 19 is not the smallest compact pistol, it never seems too big or bulky and, due greatly to the G-Code holster, it’s quite comfortable in the appendix position.
The Glock 19 is no pocket pistol and so must be carried in a belt or shoulder holster. Though I find inside-the-waistband to be the best for concealment, I know folks who carry it in OWB holsters and find it conceals well that way, too. Either way, there is significant comfort to be derived from knowing that in the event I have to go to my pistol for defense I’ll have a full grip and excellent capacity in my hand.
To that point, the Glock 19 is my carry gun, my training gun, and my competition gun. The fact that this pistol crosses all of these lines comfortably means that I never have to fuss with a range gun vs. a carry or competition gun. This flexibility inherent to the G19 means I’ll be a far more competent and prepared individual should self defense become necessary.
The Glock 19 is the perfect all-purpose pistol. It crosses all lines in pistol purpose. It conceals well yet has an excellent capacity and full grip. The dimensions are near perfect and the controls are perfectly conceived and positioned. The replaceable backstraps allow for a more tailored grip fit. It has fed and fired every type of ammunition I’ve charged into its magazines and it goes bang every time I pull the trigger, without fail.
Some may find the grip to be uncomfortable. The plastic sights pretty much require replacement. Yes, that’s all.
So for rating the Glock 19…
This is an eminently shootable pistol. The balance is excellent and controlling the recoil during shooting strings is quite easy. It is neither too big nor too small for precision manipulations and keeping rounds on target.
The Glock 19 is not the most ergonomically designed pistol, but with modification it has the potential to be. The fact that the finger grooves impose a certain specificity to the grip, and it otherwise very nearly requires modification, is why I gave it only 3 stars here.
This is as good a shooter as most pistols, but the looser tolerances in the design mean that slight variations can creep into the results at longer distances.
There is no more reliable a pistol in the world.
The Glock 19 is the most customizable pistol in existence. The Gen 4 comes with a variety of backstrap options and there are multitudes of aftermarket components and accessories for this pistol. As I mentioned before, if the G19 is not the perfect pistol, it is the perfect pistol hobby kit. There is almost no end to its potential for customization and modification.
The Glock 19 Gen 4 is a challenger to every other pistol in just about every respect. There is no pistol that is so flexible and reliable as this one and I suggest that every pistol owner should own at least one Glock 19.