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[Review] Glock 19 Gen 5: 3500 Round Report

Full disclosure: I like GLOCKs.

After more than a decade running a ridiculous number of handguns, GLOCK remains a relied-upon staple in my gun wardrobe.

If you’re hunting for a reliable self-defense handgun they should be on your list.

Kat shooting G19
The author with the first Gen5 she ran when they were first launched in fall of 2017.

Wondering if the fifth generation of Gaston’s creation is worth it?

Here’s my take.

The Bestselling G19

My first self-defense handgun was a Gen3 G27, a pistol that saved my life one day and earned a permanent place in my safe. This means I do have a little bias in favor of polymer handguns (as long as they’re reliable and accurate).

And although I don’t carry my old G27 much anymore I refuse to give it up. Say what you want, there’s nothing wrong with .40 Smith & Wesson. But I digress.

Glock 19 Gen 5, Stock
Glock 19 Gen 5, Stock

The most popular model of GLOCK currently on the market is, of course, the G19.

Yes, the G17 is a common duty gun for law enforcement and alphabet agencies around the globe, but the G19 is where it’s at (or so the sales say). In fact, when GLOCK launched the G19X they sold more than 100,000 of them in under six months–just one reason why they’re on our best Glocks list!

There aren’t just hundreds of thousands of these plastic fantastic pistols out there, there are millions. More than ten million. (If you don’t own one, go ahead and give in to peer pressure. Get a GLOCK. Get three.)

Here’s the kicker. The G19 is not my favorite model. I own a few and I’ve built Polymer80 versions but my heart is with other models.

Various Polymer 80 Glocks
Various Polymer 80 Glocks

Due in part to my reluctance to commit to this particular model I decided to spend more time running G19s and see if it changed my mind.

After years spent reviewing guns for a living I’ve turned into a bit of a handgun snob; for better or worse I have a tendency to make snap decisions regarding whether or not I want a gun for my personal use.

Changing my mind tends to be an insurmountable task, but here we are.

That History, Though…

Did you know GLOCK Ges.m.b.H didn’t start out manufacturing firearms?

Gaston Glock founded the company back in 1963 but it wasn’t until the 1970s he made his foray into firearms in an explosive way – by manufacturing grenade casings and machine gun belt links. (Admit it, now you want a GLOCK grenade.)

Then, in 1981, a 52-year-old Gaston designed and manufactured his first gun for the Austrian military. Sorry, G19 fans, the first GLOCK was a G17. Thus began Gen1.

Gen 1 Glock17
Glock 17, Gen 1. Doesn’t look much different, does it?

For your sake, I’ll subdue my inner gun geek and summarize the gun’s history instead of taking a deep dive into the generations.  Basically, Gaston created the inaugural model to meet the military’s specific needs.

The Austrian military wanted a handgun capable of being fired quickly and accurately; when it came down to it, Gaston decided in order to meet the level of speed they demanded, external safeties had to be eliminated.

He spent eighteen months designing the Gen 1 GLOCK, developing the well-known SAFE ACTION System and its trio of internal safeties: trigger, firing pin, and drop safeties. The internal safeties of the GLOCK the most-argued feature of the handgun.

Glock Safe Action Safety System
Glock Safe Action Safety System

GLOCKs are simple.

The average GLOCK contains 35 parts, way less than the approximately 58 of a 1911 or a Colt Python with 57 parts.

Fewer parts translate to fewer potential failure points and have the benefit of simplifying repairs, maintenance, and modifications. Sounds like a win to me.

There are currently five generations of GLOCKs.

Over the years changes have been made like the Gen2 texturing of the front and backstraps, Gen3’s forward accessory rails and locking block pin, and Gen4’s reversible magazine release, to name a few.

One important change made during Gen2 is often glossed over by fanboys but bears discussion: the AD heard ‘round the world.

The AD Heard ‘Round the World

American Handgunner gets credit for the phrase describing what happened to a Suffolk County, New York LEO on January 2, 1992.

He was kitting up for night shift and chambered a round prior to holstering his weapon. Well, that round that ended up embedded in the wall. He immediately reported the accidental discharge to his range officer who assumed it was all the LEO’s fault.

Bad cop, no donuts
In defense of the RO, most “accidental” discharges are human error.

The officer persisted, though, and insisted the gun be examined before his shift. When the LEO arrived at the range the R0 was so convinced it was negligence he didn’t bother taking the GLOCK inside. Instead, he walked outside, intending to school the LEO on trigger safety.

As part of his demonstration, he chambered a round while keeping his trigger finger high and clear of the gun’s trigger.

The gun fired.

The men then moved to the range itself where the gun repeated the sequence. Finally, it AD’ed a three-round burst. They FedEx’ed the G19 to Georgia. GLOCK never officially took responsibility for AD but did end up announcing a “voluntary product upgrade.”

air quotes
“Voluntary Product Upgrade”

The upgrade involved replacing the firing pin, firing pin safety, extractor, spring-loaded bearing, and upper trigger bar. Suffice to say there were significant tooling changes made.

Today’s GLOCKs are renowned for being both reliable and affordable. They’ve become the workhorse of the gun world, the guns some see as the Butterface of the firearms world (hot body, ugly face). Then there are those – myself included – who are fond of the blocky black pistol’s appearance.

The Gen5 G19

When GLOCK launched the Gen5 G19 it was the removal of the finger grooves that thrilled me right off.

Let’s face it, it’s rare to have your fingers precisely fit grooves on mass-produced guns.

Glock G43X and G48
Glock also left finger grooves off of the new G43X and G48 – hopefully, they are gone for good!

There were about twenty changes made to the gun including non-polygonal rifled, match-grade barrel, nDLC finish, ambidextrous slide lock levers, and a ramped striker safety plunger.

They replaced the leaf spring of the slide lock lever with a coil spring, too.

Glock 19 with Faxon TiN Threaded Barrel
Glock 19 with Faxon TiN Threaded Barrel

A multitude of changes, but do they really matter?

I wanted to know.

The New Frontier

As soon as the Gen5 G19 was available I got my hands on one.

It wasn’t love at first grip, exactly, but it was mild infatuation.

The gun fits my hands more comfortably than previous generations thanks to the removal of those pesky finger grooves. It wasn’t just that, though; the dimensions of the Gen5 G19 may not technically be different but it has an entirely different feel in your hands than the earlier generations.

A cutout in the magwell of the Gen5 G19 falls right under my pinky finger while shooting. PLUS no finger groves!

Trigger reach remains at 2.76-inches but the changes to the grip itself made it fit my long fingers better. The gun is fractionally heavier than the other gens, too. Those might sound like inconsequential changes but sometimes it’s the seemingly minute details that make a gun rock.

The Technical Part

For those who want technical details, this is for you. The Gen 5 G19 and G17 are versions of the 19M and 17M GLOCKs used by the FBI. These new-to-the-civilian-market GLOCKs are made for duty use and affordability.

The Gen5 disassembles just as GLOCKs always have, requiring you first pull the trigger.

Holstering is meant to be easier with these Gen 5 guns thanks to a somewhat more aggressively tapered slide; choosing a holster is as easy as always, too. There is a possibility your old G19 holster will be a bit snug but most likely the Gen 5 will fit well.

Best Value (IWB)
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

A number of internal changes were made to the Gen 5, none of them really impact you the shooter/owner though. But it does change the landscape of aftermarket options you once had…

Basically, the only components the Gen 5 has in common with the previous four generations are the trigger connector, striker spring, striker spring sleeve, and striker spring cups.

So if you were hoping to re-use all of the awesome upgrades you have in your Gen 3-4 for your new Gen 5…think again.

Externally, there are no forward cocking serrations on the slide. Some shooters have complained about this, but here’s the deal: you should be racking the slide from the rear, anyway. Speed and safety, guys. Quit putting your hand over the ejection port.

Lack of forward cocking serrations

The GLOCK Marksman barrel is a solid upgrade.

It features aggressive rifling – still polygonal – a recessed crown, and promises greater accuracy overall. Of course, accuracy is partially dependent on the trigger. The good news is the triggers seem better in the Gen 5s, too.

After running four Gen 5 G19s I can attest with confidence to the lighter triggers and the slightly crisper break. They’re still the expected GLOCK factory trigger, meaning a lot of people will replace them, myself included. It’s improved but not vastly.

Remember, prior-gen aftermarket triggers will not fit your Gen 5.

Pew Pew

Let’s jump right into the awesome times I’ve had with the Gen 5 G19.

In July of 2018 I spent a couple weeks in Washington State attending MAG-40, Northwest Tac-Con, and Active Shooter Interdiction at the Firearms Academy of Seattle (FAS).

Mas Ayoob and Gail were in attendance for the duration, putting me in the interesting situation of shooting alongside them as students rather than instructors (it rocked, watching them do team drills together is truly inspiring, #goals).

The author used Mas Ayoob’s Gen5 G19 during training in July 2018; after a few days making 50-yard shots with it, she was sold.

As a writer I attend these trips using specific guns supplied by the manufacturer, and let’s just say it wasn’t going well.

It goes down as the most horrific trip for failures I’ve ever had. After watching me curse and fight with multiple review guns, Mas offered his Gen 5 G19.

Yes, I had a slight fan-girl moment.

During Active Shooter Interdiction I ran the GLOCK out to 50 yards on steel doing shoot-and-move drills and also did team drills with my friend Paul Lathrop, the host of the Polite Society Podcast.

This is an accurate, reliable gun (pictured: five shots from ten yards firing offhand using Remington 9mm 115 grain UMC).

I experienced one FTF with Winchester white box ammunition but the gun otherwise ran flawlessly (I’d borrowed a handful of the ammo and immediately unloaded it following the failure). I’d shot the model before, but it was at this class the gun won me over.

Working for days on end from the holster on moving targets, in the dark, and on longer-range steel plates – longer for a 9mm – was enough to show me this gun runs and hits like a champ.

At home, I put the gun through a variety of drills. Whether I was drawing from the holster on a timer or shooting slow and steady playing card drills the GLOCK performed with consistent accuracy.

Just like with any gun the groups are tighter with some brands of ammo than with others.

Best 9mm Range Ammo
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

With some brands of ammo than with others.


By The Numbers

Reliability 5/5

Spanning all four Gen 5 G19s I’ve run, I’ve put over 3500 rounds through this model (the number continues to grow since it’s the gun currently at my side). The only failures have been ammo-related.

I prefer to put a minimum of 500 rounds through any handgun I’m considering carrying and the Gen 5 G19 soared through those first 500 rounds beautifully. This is a reliable gun (of course it is, it’s a GLOCK).

The Pew Pew Tactical team has also had great success with suppressing their G19 and it running flawlessly.

Suppressed Glock 19 with Faxon Barrel and Banish 45
Suppressed Glock 19 with Faxon Barrel and Banish 45

Ergonomics 5/5

This is a slightly subjective evaluation. The gun fits my hands as if it was made for me, but it might not fit you the same way. The removal of the finger grooves is a huge bonus, in my opinion, and the alterations to this generation somehow made it more natural for me to draw and fire.

Trigger pull weight averaged 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces out of five pulls with 5 pounds, 3.9 ounces being the heaviest

I can work the controls without shifting my grip and fire it quite precisely one-handed, strong or support side. GLOCK included a cut-out at the front of the mag well which does annoy me because it’s directly under my pinky finger. It’s a minor thing but worth mentioning.

Accuracy 4/5

The Gen 5 G19 loses a point here because it dislikes some ammo. For example, it consistently shot ragged one-hole groups at ten yards, shooting offhand, when loaded with Remington 9mm 115 grain UMC. But when I switched to Federal Syntech 9mm 115 grain RN the groups expanded.

This is not unique to the model; the majority of firearms prefer one ammo over another. It is less a complaint and more an observation.

Customization 3/5

Here we fall to a “3” because the Gen 5 aftermarket parts are not yet available at the same incredible number of prior generation’s mods. Give it time. I’m sure they will be.

That said, normal accessories like lights, lasers, and sights are compatible for the most part – especially lights. The Streamlight TLR-7 is a perfect companion for any defensive-oriented pistol.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Value 4/5

GLOCKs are workhorse pistols. They aren’t high-priced BBQ guns and I don’t expect a factory gun to perform to the same level as a custom gun. With AmeriGlo Night Sights – an upgrade I always want on my self-defense guns – it has an MSRP of $699.99.

This is a significant price bump above the current going rates of $499.99 for a new Gen 4 model. Is it worth it? I think so, but it does make some sense if you want to wait for the prices to drop a bit more.

Overall 4/5

Bottom Line

The Glock 19 Gen 5 makes some great improvements over the last generations. It’s no wonder countless police agencies and military units choose the G19 for its legendary reliability, decent ergonomics and accuracy, and ammo capacity. Plus the size lends itself for concealed carry.

Glock 19 Gen 5, Stock
Glock 19 Gen 5, Stock

Although I’ve liked the other gens of this model, the Gen 5 was the first to make me love it. My planned mods include taking advantage of the ambidextrous slide stop to move it out from under my strong-side thumb and replacing the trigger.

If you’re in the market for a reliable, accurate carry gun chambered, this gun is well worth checking out!

Are you running a Gen 5 Glock? If you are running an older model still, maybe it’s time to upgrade with some of the Best Glock Upgrades!

And some even more fun Glock articles:

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20 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Excellent review. Thank you.

    I've carried concealed for 15 years, the last five of which a 19.4, and lately a 19.5. Now, I also own and carried a 23.4; for the life of me I cannot make up my mind whether to settle on my 19 or 23.

    I shoot both platforms well, with the nod to "back on target" to the 19. However, I enjoy the 23 and trust the .40 S&W.

    Perhaps you can help with my dilemma. I ask because I noted the .40 has a special place in your heart. Thanks!

    February 1, 2021 6:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I had to chuckle when I read the comment about Winchester White Box 115 grain ammo. At the range where I go to train I cannot count how many times a newer shooter has complained of FTF, FTE and stove piping issues. When they talk to the range officer about the issue he/she will ask what ammo they are using. In the at least a dozen times I have heard the question asked, the answer has always been: "Winchester White Box 115 grain". When the range officers chuckle and say that is the problem the shooters are stunned.

    The ironic thing is that the original home of Winchester is in sight of the range. There were at one time 4,000 employees working across the road. As a result new shooters are conditioned to think that nothing could go wrong with Winchester ammo. The gunsmith at the shop/range is a retired Winchester employee and every time he hears someone asking about a problem with their ammo, he ducks back into his shop. I have posted this story elsewhere and be bashed pretty heavily. The facts remain.

    November 21, 2020 9:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Scott A Williamson

    Great read. Mas is the man

    January 31, 2020 7:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Phil Culver

    First time pistol owner, Glock 19G5. I've only been to the range once, but found that the grip pinky cutout is uncomfortable, edges are rather sharp. I really don't like that. I shot well right out of the gate but decided my glasses need an upgrade, too. Any others have negative thoughts about the cutout? Is there a solution to this?

    June 17, 2019 5:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joseph McDonough

      Buy the Pearce Magazine Baseplate for Glock 19 gen 5 and don't look back. These will make you love the gen 5.

      July 23, 2019 8:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Glock now is selling the Glock 19 Gen 5 FS (front serrations), which looks just like the more expensive MOS, but without the cut-out for optics on the slide. I hope that this will be the new Gen 5 version from now on.

        September 18, 2019 1:26 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    G19 Gen 5 is my daily CCW. I alternate between a Shield and the G19 depending on wardrobe. The G19 is my second Glock and while I agree they are not the sexiest, I know if I pull it and need it that it will work everytime. Like one of the commenter's I will not change triggers, but I did have the Ameriglo sights put on it and that is a fantastic add. Regardless, my biggest tip is to find one you are comfortable with and spend time at the range practicing. You MUST be confident and proficient if you are going to carry.

    April 21, 2019 12:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Great write-up but....you have a "gun wardrobe"? Can't say I've ever heard it put like that. For some reason I just can't get myself to like the Glock despite the millions that have sold.

    April 21, 2019 3:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I sold my gen3 g19 and brought a Glock45 9mm gen5...it was a hard choice between the g19 and g45 but In the end,it was well worth it...glock found the sweet spot in the pistol market with the g45..very nice gun...

    April 20, 2019 9:03 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Wow. A Gen 5. Must be nice.

    Poor Bastard in California, subject to the.... ROSTER.

    April 19, 2019 7:42 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Justin L

      Try to move to a free state

      April 22, 2019 9:19 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Says the guy that lives in a Free State.

        And the standard response from douche-bags...

        May 2, 2019 7:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Charles Hutson

    Glock's are like Budweiser, there is nothing inherently wrong with them...You just wouldn't want to take then to a party. Thy are still ugly and have a lousy trigger and sights.

    April 19, 2019 9:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mr. Untactical

    Excellent, comprehensive article. And thanks for a clean edit/proof! Makes for a much more enjoyable read.

    We are picking up a 43X for my wife this weekend. Some day I hope to be able to shoot it without having to aim 3" above the target - an issue I've experienced with every Glock model I've shot.

    April 19, 2019 6:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      You might be better with S&W. I read an article years ago about how the Glocks and S&W angle is different. I had the problem with S&W shooting low while I am right on with Glocks. It’s the way our bodies hold them.

      April 19, 2019 8:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The G19 is not my favorite model. I own a few and I’ve built Polymer80 versions but my heart is with other models.

    So which model is it?

    April 18, 2019 7:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Like the brand but not the best I have experienced in that price range. Nice pistols but I find I must change enough things on them that they become expensive in the end. Still, I have one and appreciate it. But one is enough.

    April 18, 2019 5:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    American Patriot

    Still no reason to upgrade from my customized Gen 3

    April 18, 2019 5:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I respect Kat Ainsworth for her knowledge and for the articles she writes. However, Glocks just do not fit my hands and I do not shoot them as well as some other brands. My handguns eat any ammunition I feed them,; my accuracy is better with them than with any GLock I have fired; and I do not change triggers on my carry guns for the potential for legal issues if I am ever forced to defend myself with my EDC. There are many loud, Glock voices and I am certain they work very well for many people. I am not listing my handguns because I am not arguing that my handguns are better than Glocks for other people.

    April 18, 2019 4:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Henry Sctt

    The Glock G19 gen 5 is my first Glock and I love it. I was not a big Glock fan but the meany changes won me over.

    April 18, 2019 12:45 pm