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When most shooters hear the words Glock the first two words that come to mind are reliability and perfection. The Glock has many variations and the Glock 18 can typically be used with an extended 33-round-capacity magazine. There is also the possibility of using other magazines from the Glock 17 that are available in capacities of 10, 17, 19, or 24 rounds.
Glocks are without a doubt some of the most reliable firearms in the world. To say these handguns are reliable is an understatement. You can submerge it in water and mud, handle it rough but the Glock would still spit.
Perfection is a concept, and Glocks are a lot of good things but are not immune to catastrophic failures either. No firearm is.
If Glock handguns were perfect, why is there always a newer generation of Glocks coming out? Are we to assume that perfection just fades over time?
Understanding Glock Generational Differences
Since its introduction, the Glock pistol has featured a series of improvements. Some are small adjustments while others are quite substantial. The changes affect both the frame and the pistol’s internal mechanism and this is why there is the talk about Glock generations.
First Gen Glock
The first Glock handgun is a Glock 17. It had a rounded dust cover and polymer frame sporting a plain. The grip has only its side panels slightly roughened with the texture wrapping around the front and back strap.
The main recoil spring and guiding rod are separate, with magazines built completely out of plastic. The barrel has a thinner profile compared to later models and is sometimes called a pencil barrel.
Glock Gen 2
As the second generation Glock is introduced, the defining differences in features are that the grip has slightly raised side panels but with the same texture as the previous generation. However, the texture wrapping of the front and back straps sports a deeply engraved squared checkering.
The magazines feature a metallic skeleton over which the polymer is molded. It significantly improves feeding. Also, the barrel wall thickness was increased and the main recoil spring together with the guiding rod assembled in a captive- configuration.
The rear slide guide length is also increased. The serial number on the frame is etched on a metal plate molded in the polymer frame. Some of the early Second Generation Glock pistols do not have the metal serial number plate.
After a while in the market, a third cross pin appeared in the handgun. The use was to support and distribute the energy transmitted to the polymer frame by the locking block. Since then the three-pin-system has remained unmodified and is still in use today.
Glock Gen 3
All Glock pistols had a blocky grip area up until the 1990s. In the latter years of the generation 2 Glocks, some makeovers advanced the gun both in ergonomics and aesthetic appeal.
The finger grooves are added to the front of the grip, including a notch that acts as a thumb rest on all sides of the upper grip area.
The dust cover on the frame has a rail for attaching lasers or flashlights. It is called a universal rail and has since featured in the next generations.
Besides the visual changes, Gen 2 Glocks have a new case extractor with an indicator. It is helpful as it makes the user know if the chamber is loaded.
These changes in 1996 are what we now know as the Glock Gen 3. To date, these models still exist in the market. The Glock Gen 3 is the longest-running generation of these plastic handguns. However, it does not mean they stopped improving it.
A new feature added in the later productions of Glock Gen 3 models is an ambidextrous magazine release for left-hand shooters. Until Glock added that new ambidextrous mag release, all prior magazines had one release notch and it was on the right side. It had malfunctions and the ambidextrous feature was a welcome innovation for shooters.
In 2009, Glock started producing a newer Rough Textured Frame (RTF) for all versions of their pistols. The textured frame comprises a very aggressive needle-like checkering. The rear slide now has curved serrations instead of the typical vertical ones.
Glock Gen 4
In 2010, Glock released the Gen 4. And it was at this point that Glock acknowledged the way enthusiasts categorized their pistols based on generational improvements.
Since then, all new models that have significant design improvements compared to all previous Glock releases have a Glock Gen 4 laser-etched on their slides. It makes them distinguishable even to those who are new to the Glock fanboys.
Also, All Glock Gen 4 models have other new features that are readily visible out of the box, the most obvious is the finish.
Understanding the Difference between Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks
The Glock Gen 4 outstanding innovations are essentially two.
- A new recoil spring structure
- Interchangeable back straps
These two changes alone resulted in the non-interchangeability of the main components with the previous models.
New Slide Finish
Glock uses a salt-bath ferritic-nitrocarburizing process which helps to give the slide’s surface corrosion resistance. However, the coating is different compared to previous versions and it results in a lighter shade of gray finish in all Glock Gen 4 models.
New Interchangeable Backstrap Options
Glocks Gen 4 comes with different-sizes of interchangeable backstraps in the box. It also comes with three magazines as opposed to two in Glock Gen 3 models.
The three interchangeable back straps are to make the handgun comfortable for different users. People with bigger hands can make adjustments and therefore enhance the grip. A comfortable grip allows better recoil control and more accurate shots.
And this adaptive grip feature is not befitting to only shooters with big hands. People with smaller hands also profit, the design for all Glock Gen 4 pistol grips are relatively thinner compared to all previous generations of Glocks.
New Checkering Texture
Compared to Glock Gen 3 models, not including Rough Texture Frame versions, All Glock Gen 4 grips have a more aggressive texturing.
But unlike RTF versions with grips that have needle-like checkering, the Glock Gen 4 uses flat-cone-like checkering which is easy on the hands and comfortable while giving the same level of grip traction for easier recoil control.
Larger Magazine Release Button
Before the release of Glock Gen 4, all Glock pistols suffered from an annoying problem of having a small low-profile magazine release button. However, it is only small because, with enough practice, the smaller magazine release eventually becomes easier to operate. Most Glock pistols have high-capacity magazines, which makes this only a nuisance in the range.
For a typical self-defense situation, a Glock 19 that has 16 rounds of 9mm (15 in the mag and an additional round in the chamber) is more than enough to stop any adversity. Unless you are the military or law enforcement, you may not need so much firepower. In which case an AR15 is among the best assault rifles.
A lot of people shared their sentiments complaining about the tiny magazine release button on the Glock Gen 3 pistols. It is the reason the Glock Gen 4 felt the need to make that button significantly larger.
Another significant difference is the Glock Gen 4 is also reversible out of the box as opposed to ambidextrous. To make sure that the reversible mag release will work reliably, all Gen 4 magazines now have a notch on both sides. Now left-handed shooters can easily put it on the gun’s left side and push it with the left thumb. But if you want, the aftermarket ambidextrous mag release buttons are still available for Glock Gen 4 models.
New Recoil Spring Assembly
As we compare the business end of a Glock Gen 4 pistol to that of a Glock Gen 3 model, the first mention is that the recoil guide rod’s diameter is bigger on the Gen 4.
It is not for aesthetic appeal solely. The mechanical reason behind this exciting new feature is that the Glock Gen 3 pistols chambered for .40 S&W use similar dimension recoil spring and recoil guide rod that Glock Gen 3 9mm pistols use.
Glocks are originally designed for the 9mm rounds which has a weaker recoil to the .40 S&W. The recoil spring and recoil guide rod rated for 9mm recoil are considerably weaker against the recoil of the .40 S&W. It means that there will be faster frame wear in Glock Gen 3 Glocks chambered for the .40 S&W.
To counter this problem, Glock Gen 4 uses a newly designed recoil guide and rod-spring assembly. It has two captive springs, a larger one and a smaller one. Because it uses a larger spring this time, the recoil guide rod’s front end diameter has also been increased.
The new spring and guide rod assembly allow a better recoil force absorption that minimizes significantly the frame wear. In turn, this ensures a better user recoil control in Glock Gen 4 pistols chambered for any caliber higher than the 9mm. Also, a better recoil control will allow a shooter a faster sight re-acquisition and even faster follow-up shots
Different Components in Glock Gen 4 that are Interchangeable with Previous Glocks
It is now a rounded bump on the part that deactivates the firing pin safety, but it is still perfectly compatible with other previous Glock generation guns
The magazine release has not been moved from the left side, and any proper capacity magazine ever produced for the Glock can be used.
The new Gen 4 trigger housing makes it have a different angle, it is because the connector features a modified angle so that it preserves the same trigger pull weight of the Glock Gen 3 pistols. Interestingly, a Glock Gen 4 connector is compatible with a Glock Gen 3 model. However, it will alter the weight of pull significantly.
All Glock Gen 4 pistols use new designs that are compatible with the older guns. Current Glock Gen 3 pistols still use an ejector. Though many work flawlessly, some may act up and develop ejection problems. The spent brass falls everywhere or can even be ejected directly in the face of the shooter. You can replace the stock ejector and it may solve these malfunctions. Additionally, you can opt for an older extractor to improve the overall ejection
The problem here is that the ejector is not sold alone. It is only available on the mounted Trigger Housing, hence you must buy a complete housing.
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Glocks are hard to break and this makes them reliable. They are also evolving and among the easiest handguns to use and accurate as well. They are readily available but vary in prices. The Glock 22, brand new comes with night sights and three magazines in case you are looking for a Glock handgun.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.