In the late 1980s, GLOCK took law enforcement by storm when they introduced the GLOCK 17. After a short period of time, GLOCK dominated the law enforcement handgun market – largely due to the high capacity offered by their pistols compared to other handguns of that time.
The primary reason GLOCK pistols continue to dominate the law enforcement market is the reliability and dependability of the GLOCK Safe Action System®. These pistols have proven to be durable and trustworthy companions of police officers worldwide.
Even with the introduction of new handguns by other manufacturers, GLOCK continues to garner a majority of the law enforcement duty gun marketplace. However, the powers that be at GLOCK recognized that, if they sit on their laurels, the other manufacturers are lining up to dethrone the king. Enter the new GLOCK Gen 5 handguns: the GLOCK 45, the GLOCK 19 MOS and the GLOCK 17 MOS, three new duty ready handguns any crime-fighter would be happy to carry.
GLOCK Gen 5 Pistols
I’ve tested numerous GLOCK handguns, including bone stock and slightly modified versions, as well as some high-dollar custom GLOCK pistols. The Gen 5 pistols are, by far, the best GLOCK duty pistols I’ve ever shot.
Numerous upgrades abound. External improvements include the tougher and more durable nDLC finish on the barrel and slide; an ambidextrous slide stop lever; an enlarged and reversible magazine catch; and a slightly flared magwell which makes reloads quicker and easier. GLOCK redesigned the front of the slide and frame to a more rounded profile, making holstering a little smoother and easier.
Gen 5 pistols include the proven Modular Backstrap System (MBS) which was introduced on Gen 4 models. The interchangeable backstraps allow for individual adjustability and a better fit. In addition, the finger grooves on the front strap of the grip frame have been removed which should prove more comfortable to a wider range of shooters.
Internal improvements include the new GLOCK Marksman barrel which is said to deliver improved accuracy. A traditional coil spring has replaced the leaf spring under the slide lock lever. A redesigned striker safety plunger, new strikers, extractors, and even slide cover plates round out a short list of these changes. The magazine follower is now a bright orange color which makes it easier to check the round count in loaded magazines and the base plates are larger which make them easier to strip from the handgun if they fail to fall free during a reload or a malfunction.
The trigger on the Gen 5 pistols is noticeably different and has a new feel. I found them to be smoother with a “crisper” break than previous generations. The trigger reset has the familiar feel along with the audible click which many GLOCK enthusiasts prefer; however, it’s shorter and quicker to the next shot.
The Newest Gen 5 Pistols
In September, I had the opportunity to observe where the Gen 5 lineup was headed. These new duty handguns include the GLOCK 45, the G19 MOS and the G17 MOS. The three pistols get all of the Gen 5 upgrades and more.
The GLOCK 19 Gen 5 MOS and the GLOCK 17 Gen 5 MOS are capable of mounting a Miniaturized Red Dot Sight (MRDS) via the GLOCK Modular Optic System (MOS). They come with four adapter plates, making it easy to mount a variety of MRDS optics. This system can be used either with just the slide cover plate or adaptor plates which can be utilized to mount MRDS optics from EOTech, DOCTER®, Insight, Meopta, Trijicon RMR®, C-MORE, Vortex, and Leupold.
One of the notable changes is the addition of forward slide serrations which has been a popular aftermarket add-on for many years. When the GLOCK 19X and Gen 5 pistols came out, shooters continued to ask for these, as they are useful for press checks and are now common to most duty-class handguns. It may not be all about the bling, but many of us think they look pretty cool, too.
The new pistols are available with three different sight configurations, including the standard plastic sights, GLOCK 3 dot night sights or the AmeriGlo sights with a tritium and photoluminescent front sight. The AmeriGlo sights are listed as the GLOCK BOLD sights and are an excellent addition to a duty pistol. The front sight has a bright orange outline surrounding a green tritium insert. The result is a front sight which is quick to acquire. The rear sight is a familiar, serrated, traditional squared notch tritium rear sight.
This may cause some confusion. The GLOCK 45 is the newest addition to the 9mm family and is not available chambered in the venerable .45 ACP. The GLOCK 45 combines the fast handling of the GLOCK 19 compact-sized slide with a full-size frame and a magazine capacity of 17+1 rounds. GLOCK calls it a “Compact Crossover” which improves on the design of the GLOCK 19X.
If someone tells you that the GLOCK 45 is just a GLOCK 19X wearing a black finish, don’t believe them as it features some considerable changes (the most obvious change is the color). The GLOCK 45, like most of their pistols, has a black frame, slide, barrel, and controls. Compared to the GLOCK 19X, the lanyard plug has been removed and the extension of the front strap which covers the front of the 19X magwell has been removed. I like this because the front strap extension on the 19X has been the cause of several pinch blisters caused by shooters getting skin pinched in between the magazine and the front strap extension during reloads.
GLOCK 19 Gen 5 MOS
The GLOCK 19 Gen 5 MOS continues the tradition of durability, compactness and accuracy this model has been known for since its debut. Long considered one of the best all-around carry guns, the GLOCK 19 combines a compact frame and slide which is small enough for everyday carry, but large enough for some officers to utilize as a duty gun. This new handgun is even more versatile because it combines the option of adding a variety of popular optic sights.
GLOCK 17 Gen 5 MOS
The GLOCK 17 Gen 5 MOS is essentially the same as the GLOCK 19 Gen 5 MOS except it is the full-size version most commonly seen in duty holsters. The same MRDS mounting system is utilized and it shares the same forward slide serrations. I anticipate that this will become the most popular GLOCK pistol for duty use based on the full-size frame and full barrel length. All of the features and dependability which we have come to expect from the GLOCK 17 can be found on the new Gen 5 MOS version.
On the Range
When it came time to hit the range, my GLOCK Gen 5 T&E pistols were put through their paces. These pistols were used intensely over the last three months while teaching classes and during personal training sessions, including precision shooting drills and a great deal of combative shooting drills. Additionally, I never cleaned these pistols, but I made sure they were properly lubricated and ready to go.
All of them ran with the same reliability for which GLOCK pistols are known. Even when running a mixture of 115-, 124- and 147-grain training and duty ammunition, all of my T&E GLOCK pistols ran flawlessly without a single hiccup. After more than 1000 rounds through each, I never had a single malfunction. They ate everything I threw at them and just kept running.
Of the three new Gen 5 pistols, the GLOCK 45 surprised me the most. I didn’t expect to be a fan of the “Compact Crossover” design. However, this pistol performed much better than I had anticipated. The compact slide presents quickly from the holster and the GLOCK BOLD sights (AmeriGlo) were quick to acquire. The full-size frame allowed me to obtain a comfortable grip and maintain a stable shooting platform. From shot to shot, the sights on the GLOCK 45 were predictable and easy to track. I have to admit, I really like this new GLOCK pistol. To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Aristotle, the whole of this pistol is greater than the sum of its parts.
A GLOCK 19 Gen 5 MOS with a quality miniaturized red dot may be one of the fastest pistols you can get into action. The shorter slide helps to present it smoothly from the holster and, with some training and practice, red dot sights are quick to acquire. A proper draw and presentation from the holster brings the pistol onto the eye-target line quickly. Placing the red dot along the eye-target line means an accurate first shot can be delivered as soon as the operator recognizes the need to shoot.
The GLOCK 17 Gen 5 MOS is both fast and accurate to shoot. When you add the mass of a MRDS to the slide, the mild recoil of this pistol helps maintain its flat shooting characteristics. Multiple strings of fire were fast and the resulting groups were tight. Transitions from target to target were quick and smooth, and reloads were a breeze, thanks to the enlarged magazine catch and flared magazine well.
My only complaint with any of these pistols is the GLOCK BOLD sights by AmeriGlo have limited use as backup sights when an optic is installed on the MOS versions. Unless taller suppressor-type sights are used, if the dot fails, officers will need to understand how to utilize their sights while they are concealed by the optic. This is easily remedied with the addition of aftermarket suppressor sights and regular battery changes, but this means shooters miss out on those exceptional GLOCK BOLD sights.
In my opinion, these three new models are some of the best offerings you can find on the current handgun market. Many of the features seen on these models are a direct result of GLOCK watching the aftermarket and recognizing what customers want. Today’s modern crime-fighter would be well-equipped with any (or all three) of these new offerings.
Todd Fletcher is a sergeant in Central Oregon with over 23 years of law enforcement experience. He has presented firearms and instructor development training nationwide and at multiple regional, national and international conferences. He owns Combative Firearms Training, LLC which provides firearms training and instructor development classes to law enforcement, military, private security, and armed citizens. He can be contacted at Todd@CombativeFirearms.com.