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 all 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!
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.