Glock 17 RTF 9mm Handgun, by Pat Cascio

Many readers have asked me to review the Glock 17, even though I’ve already reviewed the Glock 19 – which is my favorite Glock model. Other than their size, there isn’t a lot of difference between the two models per se. However, since I received a lot of requests for my input on the Glock 17, we’re taking a close look at it today.

It was 1987, and my family and I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado – actually we lived slightly outside of The Springs, right next to the Peterson Air Force Base. Even though I was in partnership with my friend Tim, in a gun shop – although most guns were sold at gun shows – I loved going to Payless Drugs to see what the latest firearms selections they had. And, I might add, at great prices. I had never heard of a Glock at that time – they were new to America. I picked up the new Glock 17, and was more than a little confounded at the “plastic” frame – but the darn gun felt good in my hand, and it held 17+1 rounds of 9mm and came with a second magazine. Back then, not many gun makers included a second magazine with their handguns. I was sold, and went home with the Glock that very day.

The complete line of Glock handguns can be found on the Glock.com website  They’ve come a long, long way from the first Glock 17. To be sure, many folks thought that it was called the Glock 17 because it held 17 rounds of ammo. Nope! It was actually the 17th patent that Gaston Glock, the inventor of this handgun came up with. Now, believe it or not, the very first model 17s are now selling for a lot more than they were first sold for – in many cases, you can find the original “Gen 1” Model 17 still in its original “Tupperware” style black plastic box selling for twice what it sold for brand new. Go figure.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

Now, I’m not one of these people who insists on having the newest generation of Glock – far from it. Some iterations or generations only had a couple of improvements, and it wasn’t enough for me to sell or trade one of my old Glocks for a newer generation.

I’m reviewing my own personal Gen3 Glock 17, and it is a bit of an odd one. It it sort of a Gen 3 and half. It has what Glock calls Rough Textured Finish (RTF) – on the black polymer frame. It has tiny – and fairly sharp – pyramidical dimples Glock 17 Right Side Grip Surfaceall around. And they are sharp – a lot of folks didn’t much care for this sharpness, but I love it. It was more or less a very limited run with the RTF to see how it would be received. The current generations of Glock have this similar texture on the frame – just not as “sharp” as that found on the interim RTF version.

We still have the smaller magazine release on the RTF version – and I can live with it or with the larger mag release found on the Gen 4 and beyond models. And of course, we have the standard 17-round magazine. Mine came supplied with two. The newer generations come supplied with three mags, these days. However, Glock mags can be found for under $20 each if you shop around. The 17 weighs in at 22.73 ounces, so it is still a lightweight handgun, because of the polymer frame. It also has the finger protrusions on the frame’s front strap, so you can’t put your fingers exactly where you’d like when you grip the gun. That is not a deal breaker for me, as my fingers go where they belong when I grip this gun. We also have a 4.49-inch barrel, putting it into the full-sized “duty” handgun – that many law enforcement and military personally still pack on their hip to this day. However, even though this is a full-sized gun, it can be easily concealed, given the right holster and choice of clothing.

Fortunately, most current Glocks have a fixed rear sight. The first models into the USA were required to have an adjustable rear sight, to be considered as a “sporting” firearm. Glock soon figured this out, and replaced the fairly fragile adjustable rear sight with a fixed rear sight. Both the front and rear sights are plastic, and the front sight can, and often does break off easily. However, it is inexpensive and easy to replace both sights with some all-steel sights – only takes a few minutes and just about anyone can do it. Some of my Glocks have night sights, and others have fiber optic sights – and some have the factory original plastic sights – that I just haven’t gotten around to changing, yet!

Tenifer Finish

The finish on most Glocks is something called Tenifer. This is a form of ferritic nitrocarburizing, considered a “diamond-like finish”, because of its hardness. A similar process is called Melonite. While the black coloring on the slide will eventually wear in places, the Tenifer doesn’t wear off – don’t believe me? Try to blue the bare holster wear spots on a Glock’s slide – it won’t take. The nitrocarburizing is that deep into the metal of t slide. So, no worries about the slide rusting if some of the coloring comes off – that’s not the Tenifer – its just some of the coloring.

The Glock line of handguns are pretty easy to gunsmith. Depending on which model and who you are talking to, a Glock – like this model 17 – has either 33 or 34 parts and there is only one tool required – a Glock Tool – a combination pin punch that is needed to completely strip the gun down to its bare frame and slide. Nice! Simple is always better, especially when it comes to firearm: less things to break. In all my years owning and using many Glocks, the only thing I ever had break was an extractor on a Model 27 and the tiny trigger spring in the frame. That’s it!

Umpteen Upgrades & Accessories

These days, you can find just about any kind of accessory you want for a Glock, I believe only the grand ol’ Model 1911 might have more add-on accessories than a Glock does. Of course, everyone laughed at the first Glock that hit our shores, saying it wouldn’t – couldn’t – hold up with that thin polymer frame. However, most American gun makers now offer many different models of handguns – all with polymer frames. And  some even flat out copied some of Glock’s patented innovations and were promptly sued by Gaston Glock – and he won. That’s how good his guns are.

With the original Glock 17, the company originated their safe-action trigger. It was a unique design with the safety that is actually a little lever in the middle of the trigger. It make look strange, but it works. If you keep your finger off the trigger, until your sights are on the target. The gun is drop-safe, too – it won’t go off if dropped. It did take me quite a while to get used to the “spongy” feel of the triggers – but these days, if you like, you can replace the factory trigger with match-grade triggers with a very crisp trigger pull. Just seems to be no end to the things you can change out on a Glock handgun these days.

I don’t see myself trading or selling my Glock 17 RTF 9mm pistol, for a new generation now being offered from Glock – my sample handles and shoots just fine – all of the time. However, my wife, like some others, don’t care for the RTF on the frame – they say it “bites” their hand when they grip the gun tightly and under recoil.

Target Shooting Tests

The only thing left to do, for this article, was to shoot the 17 RTF sample, for accuracy – I know the gun is 100% reliable – it has never failed to function with any ammo I put through it. The great folks at Black Hills Ammunition have been supplying my ammo needs since I first started writing in 1992. I’ve shot hundreds of thousands of rounds of their ammo, and never had a problem. They produce premium ammo, not your run of the mill ammo. They also produce a special round of 5.56mm ammo for all of our Special Forces, and are even producing the 5.56mm round in limited supply for our regular military troops as well.

From Black Hills Ammo, I had their new 100-gr HoneyBadger +P round and their 125-gr HoneyBadger sub sonic round – both are fantastic for self-defense – it what I carry in my 9mm and .45ACP handguns these days. I also had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 124-gr EXP HP Extra Power, 124-gr JHP and their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P loads. So, this was a great selection to run through my GLOCK 17 RTF for accuracy testing.  The HoneyBadger sub sonic round was the most accurate, producing groups of 3” inches at 25-yards. Hot on the heels of the HoneyBadger load was the 124-gr JHP and this is a non-+P load, and another great one for self-defense…everything else was right around 3.5-inches and close to 3.75-inches. I know my 17 is capable of even better accuracy than this, with Black Hills ammo. I wasn’t 110% on my game that afternoon of shooting, but I was more than satisfied with the shooting results. I know the gun can break under 3-inches when I’m having a really good day!

I hope this satisfies all our readers who asked me to review the Glock 17. It is a fine combat handgun, although the Model 19 remains my favorite – it just feels better and balances better in my hand for some reason, and I can shoot it a little bit faster. I keep my Model 17 RTF in a Blackhawk Products tactical Serpa thigh holster with two spare mags inside of two mag pouches. This is my grab and run handgun these days, if I don’t have time to grab any other handguns. So, that says a lot if you ask me, about the reliability of the Glock 17.




22 Comments

  1. There can be some significant differences in the accuracy of Glock factory barrels from batch to batch. One G19 consistently shot one 2.5” group from 20 yards only to turn around and shoot the exact same model G19 and get routine 4” groups and yet another was something crazy like 5”. That said I prefer the simplicity and reliability of the Glock over most other manufacturers and have been watching for a Gen 4 G17 MOS to hit the used market locally. They are probably the simplest handgun to operate and maintain and are incredibly reliable, and they are easy to customize. Also a great option for a group standard if you are part of a MAG. Can’t say I don’t like other stuff out there but if I had to choose a group standard my vote would be a Glock 17 or 19.

    1. I’ve read about them, but that is as far as it goes ( my son is in love with his glock ), I still shoot the 1911 that my uncle sam tried to teach me to shoot back in the late 60’s ( couldn’t the broad side of a barn ) although I carry and shoot a S.A roc9 now.

  2. Thank you Pat for this review. I love my Gen 1!

    It’s worth mentioning that you cannot use cast lead or unplated lead bullets in Glock Pistols as the polygonal rifling is not compatible.

    Unsafe operating pressures will result of you use cast lead ammo.

    That’s about the only drawback to these pistols I can think of.

  3. Good review of a very good pistol. A State Senator from Missouri has introduced a bill REQUIRING all men over 21 years of age to own an AR-15 and all persons at least a pistol. My guess is that Glock sales there will go crazy if this is passed into law.

  4. I almost completely agree with your assessment of the G-17. My only disagreement was the original Glock felt like a 2X4 when I held it. My brother had one and much as I tried I could never get comfortable with it. My first Glock was the G-36 in .45 and that was my everyday carry/duty gun when I worked as a PI in Illinois. Bought it in the late 2000’s and still have and shoot it to this day. However my everyday, go to gun is my G-22, Gen 4. To me it fits like no other gun I’ve ever used and I grew up as a 1911 fan. I still don’t understand why the military went with first the Beretta and then the SIG when the Glock was available and proven. To me it’s the best gun on the market today.

    1. KAS,
      I don’t understand why the U.S. military changed from the 1911 when there were sooo many new and upcoming varieties of clone weapon systems out there. Like, Wilson combat, Les Bear, Kimber, just to name a few. If I remember right both Wilson combat and Les Bear had guns in the tryouts and they’re made in the U. S. …

      1. Perhaps they did have models in the competition, but they weren’t rejected for being American made. As to why we abandoned the 1911, there were several reasons given. But mostly it was to gat higher capacity and a weapon system that was easier to use and maintain in the field by the average G.I. But another consideration was we had to do some PR repairs with our European allies after we caused them to switch first to the .308 caliber and then a few short years later switch again to the 5.56. Those two moves cost the allies, and us, a lot of money and time. So choosing a European made handgun was almost a given. My question wasn’t about why we switched from the .45 ACP to 9MM, it concerned why the Glock wasn’t picked in the first place. Especially when you remember all the problems we had, first with the Baretta frame cracking and now with the SIG malfunctions.

          1. I know what you mean, but hi-cap .45’s don’t work well with people who have small hands. That doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider the large grips on most wonder 9’s, but then you have less recoil for those small handed people to handle. I also take issue with the thought that the 9MM has become a much better man stopper with the new bullet designs and better powders, my answer is that you’d get similar results when those new designs and powders were applied to the .45. But what do I know?

        1. The number one reason Glock was not selected in the 1980/1984/1988 tests by DoD was because Glock did not enter the bidding war. (Glock wasn’t born until 1982). S&W, Beretta, H&K, Steyr, Walther, and FN were the competitors, with even Star entering the first round. By most accounts Beretta did not cleanly win the competition, which was challenged and rechallenged until Beretta was the ‘clear’ winner…. Many indications of other political chicanery followed the trials; shortly after Beretta ‘won’ the bid, the U.S. was allowed to place some fancy land-based missiles in Italy. Coincidence?

          One detail that struck a chord was the fact that the Beretta slide crack issue was already a known fault when the weapon was accepted for service by the USMC. When the USMC first fielded the M9 in 1989, I was fresh off a WestPac and working in the 1st Marine Division armory. We had to follow a strict round count on the M9 pistols, and when they reached 1,000 we had to deadline the pistol. The fix was a new left handgrip with a brass pin atop, and a new slide which was notched on the left rail to allow for the pin. That way WHEN the slide cracked, the pin would direct the slide up and over the shooter’s head to minimize getting bit in the head. I remember reading USMC contract documents that accompanied our first batch of M9 pistols and it was like $400 per pistol and an additional $192 for the retro slide/grip which was included with each pistol. For $592 they could have ended up with far superior weapons to be sure.

          The saddest part of the transition was sorting through the hundreds of M1911s and boxing them up to ship to MCLB Barstow. Some of the weapons were Colt of course, but included were samples from Remington Rand, Ithaca, and Singer. It was amazing to handle those slices of history, but I am certain many never made it past the receiving line at Barstow and instead ended up in collections.

  5. My CCW is a Gen3 26 and my bedside gun is a Gen3 34 with a light, so I’m a Glock Kool-Aid drinker for sure.

    Neither is sexy, and I didn’t call all my friends to come shooting with me when I bought them, but they simply work and I won’t miss them much if they end up in a police evidence locker for years.

    1. I recently purchased a Gen 5 G-45. I must tell you this is the best feeling handgun I’ve ever owned. I am a 1911 guy too. I have no qualms when carrying this pistol. Now I’m just searching for the perfect round. I’m thinking the Hornady critical duty 135gr +p.

  6. Pat,

    You would not recognize the Springs now. Approaching 500,000 people (700,000 in El Paso County) and at 195 sq miles it has a bigger footprint than Denver now. What used to be Banning-Lewis Ranch and farm pastures all the way up Route 24 from Peterson AFB to the north are all half-million dollar town-homes and pricier single family residences. Fort Carson is not a sleepy little post anymore and has 24,000 soldiers. The East side of the Springs is totally developed all the way to Black Forest and anyone under the rank of Colonel, or Senior Tech Engineers are priced out of the market for homes north of Templeton Gap.
    They did finally get a Les Schwab in 2016, so that was a plus!
    My family received a calling to come back home and save what is left of Oregon so we have relocated back to Lane County just an hour south of you now. Nice to be back in the Willamette Valley again,

  7. Excellent review. I’m not a 9mm fan, preferring the .45 and the .357 of my youth. I have a Gen 4, model 41 Glock and love it. I can palm a basketball so finding a pistol that fits was hard. By putting the largest backstrap addition on it dit my hand wonderfully. I also EDC with it and because of my size have no problem concealed carry. When in the mood I go retro and carry my Ruger GP 100 six inch. My duty gun from ’79 – ’93 was an S&W model 686 with a breakfront holster. Oh, those were the days my friend!

  8. I am a big fan of Pat’s gun reviews. I read almost everyone and always enjoy immensely. I have several hand guns, but no Glock. My most recent purchase is a new model 19 S& W . It is very accurate and was the gun that Mr. Bill Jordan advocated that Smith and Wesson manufacture. Production started in 1952. I think it is more reliable than a Glock. It does not jam. I know, it only holds 6 and is slow on the reload. What can I say, I am old school to the core. Thanks for the great articles.

  9. Great review. I bought a G19 back in the mid 90’s. Thing is awesome. Of all the 1000’s of rounds fired, only had one problem. No it was not mechanical or anything to do with design. It was cleaning. Usually fire 115 gr but one time I got some 150 gr 9mm Chinese ammo. Ohhh my gosh, talk about carbon. Fired about 300 or 400 rounds one day and spent hours cleaning. I would clean and clean and when done, run a swab around and it was like I never cleaned it. That Chinese stuff was really cheap and now I know why. Never fired the rest of the supply. I think I gave it away or something. Don’t know what Gen the Glock is, but it is awesome. It has been my EDC for many years. Only time I don’t carry it is when I want more concealment and then it is the LCP II.

  10. Carried the Glock 22 for 10 years and bought Glock 27 as a off duty carry piece. Was officially known as a Glock goober. That is until talking my sister into buying a Glock 42.

    That thing was a jam-a-matic. The factory did nothing to address the issue and before anyone starts about “proper grip” she shot my Kel-Tec 380 with absolutely no problem.

    I’m sure the New Gen 5 17 is a great gun, but they’ll never get another dime of my money or my family’s.

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