Glock 19: the World’s Perfect Fighting Handgun?

While there cannot be a single best gun for all occasions, there are certainly a number of contenders for best all-around gun that will serve admirably in most situations. Possibly the gun that tops that list is the Glock 19.

The Glock 19, or G19, is the epitome of the modern combat pistol. Chambered in 9mm, the pistol has a polymer frame and is striker-fired. A standard size magazine will hold 15 rounds, though the pistol can also be fed by 17-round magazines designed for the larger Glock 17 and the 33-round magazines developed for the full-auto Glock 18 machine pistol.

A medium-sized pistol, the G19 works well as a duty pistol for police officers, military service men and security guards. Yet, the gun is also sized just small enough to be very popular as a concealed carry pistol as well.

I purchased my first Glock 19 in 1996 as a reserve deputy sheriff. That second generation gun served me on duty and off for many years. In fact, it is still one of my favorite handguns. Paired with an appropriately fitted Glock 19 holster, that pistol worked well for me in nearly every circumstance I encountered.

Since that time, Glock continued to develop its pistol line. The G19 is now in its fourth iteration: the Gen4. Upgrades to the Gen4 pistols include an improved surface texture for a better grip, a significantly larger magazine release button and a double recoil spring assembly that is supposed to reduce muzzle flip. Additionally, the gun has an accessory rail for the addition of a white light or laser – a carry-over from the third generation of pistols.

This article originally ran in Sept. 2017.

Glock 19 Gen4

Recently, I purchased a Gen4 version of the G19. I’d shot one at a number of ranges, and though I liked my second generation gun, I was eager to commit to a Gen4 on a more permanent basis.


If there is anything the Glock pistols are known for it is their reliability. Glock pistols are not perfect, and yes, they do malfunction from time to time. However, the guns have an excellent track record of performance.

Even so, when the Gen4 Glock pistols first launched several years back, there were some reported problems with them. The company responded quickly and updated the recoil spring assembly. Since then I’ve not heard of any other problems with the guns.

I’ve run thousands of rounds through my Glock 19 Gen4 since I purchased it. While much of it has been 115 and 124 grain FMJ type ammo, I’ve also run the gun with quite a bit of self-defense ammunition: standard pressure and +P loads like HST, Gold Dot, PDX1 and Critical Duty. Thus far, I’ve had only two malfunctions resulting in a rate of less than one per thousand. That’s not bad in my book.

Ammunition Performance

In the below table you can see some of the velocity and energy information I recorded when shooting the G19. Performance was on par with other guns with a 4” barrel.

  Velocity Energy
Federal 124 gr HST +P 1160 fps 370 ft-lbs
Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr 1122 fps 321 ft-lbs
Liberty Ammunition 50 gr JHP 2012 fps 449 ft-lbs

The above velocity data was recorded with a Competition Electronics ProChrono digital chronograph. The chronograph was set up 15’ from the firing line, and the data given is an average of five shots.

New Feature Comparison

Glock 19 Gen4 recoil spring

The major reason I purchased the Gen4 gun was as an upgrade to my existing second generation pistol. The three features I liked the most were the larger magazine release, improved grip texture and the accessory rail. While the rail was available on the third generation guns, it alone was not enough to entice me to buy one.

Magazine Release – This is a significant improvement when compared to earlier pistols. I never had any problems with the older, smaller buttons, but I like the larger one much better. I’ve been shooting my Gen4 quite a bit recently. When I pulled out my third generation Glock 17, I was struck by how much smaller the old style button was.

If you have any problems activating the magazine release on older Glock pistols, the Gen4 button is worth the upgrade. Even if you have not had any issues with the old buttons, the new one is still nice.

Grip Texture – I really like the new grip texture. The older texture (second and third generation guns) was ok, but it did not do much to help lock the gun in the hand. When shooting on a hot day with sweaty hands, the gun had a tendency to wiggle a bit. Having a more “grippy” surface can help a lot with this.

Glock attempted to upgrade the grip texture previously with something called the RTF2. RTF, or rough textured frame, was a very aggressive surface that would literally wear holes in clothing. Some people liked it, but many people thought it was too much.

The Gen4 guns have a rough texture treatment that falls between the original surface and the RTF2. The result is a nearly-ideal blend of surfaces that vastly improves a hand hold without endangering a nice shirt.

Things I Don’t Like

Finger grooves. Seriously, the finger grooves or bumps that Glock started using with the third generation pistols do not fit my hand. The same grooves are used on the Gen4.

I’m sure they fit someone, but I’ve talked with a lot of people who do not like them. The FBI recently assigned a pistol contract to Glock with one of the conditions being that the company take the finger grooves off of the frame.

Final Thoughts

So, is the Glock 19 the perfect fighting handgun? Well, I’m sure it is for some people. For me, I find the gun very well suited for combat assuming I have it with me. Riding in a duty holster while on patrol, sitting in my quick access safe for home defense and riding in a IWB rig when I’m out and about – the gun works great.

There are times when the G19 is a bit large for my CCW needs. In times like this, I look at other pistols like the Glock 43 that are even easier to conceal. However, for most of my needs, yes – the Gen4 G19 is the perfect combat handgun for me.

Richard is a writer with a background in law enforcement and sports photography. In addition to his work in the firearms industry, he writes in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. More of his work can be found at GunsHolstersAndGear

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