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Glock 19 Gen5 9mm: One of the Best Guns on Earth?

The Glock 19 made its debut in 1988, six years after the company’s legendary first firearm, the Glock 17 in the same caliber. And it keeps just getting better.

Glock 19 Gen 5. Image Credit: Glock.
Glock 19 Gen 5. Image Credit: Glock.

One of the most historically significant models from Glock is the standard Glock 19 (not to be confused with the Glock 19X). 

Glock 19 History and Specifications

The Glock 19 made its debut in 1988, six years after the company’s legendary first firearm, the Glock 17 in the same caliber.

It didn’t take the G19 long to emulate the company’s earlier firearm and become wildly popular in its own right.

Besides offering a more compact alternative – 4.02-inch barrel, 7.28-inch overall length – to the G17, the G19 only incurred a 2-round drop-off in magazine capacity to 15+1 rounds, which still put it at the same carrying capacity as the full-sized Beretta 92F/M9 and SIG Sauer P226 traditional double-action (TDA) autopistols, with the benefit of significantly lighter weight – 30.16 ounces fully loaded –thanks to the Polymer frame.

The G19 gained an additional boost of credibility when it was authorized by NYPD circa 1989 for issue to certain elite detective units within the Department. This eventually paved the way for autopistols, in general, to be authorized for department-wide carry, which was kind of a big deal when you remember that NYPD was among the last domestic law enforcement agencies to resist the nationwide transition from DA revolvers to semiauto pistols

The Glock 19 hasn’t remained frozen in time, which brings us to the subject of the Gen5 Glock 19. As noted by the manufacturer’s official info page: “The GLOCK 19 Gen5 pistol in 9mm Luger is ideal for a more versatile role due to its reduced dimensions. The new frame design without finger grooves still allows to instantly customize its grip to accommodate any hand size by mounting the different back straps. The reversible magazine catch and ambidextrous slide stop lever make it ideal for left and right-handed shooters. The rifling and the crown of the barrel were slightly modified for increased precision.” 

Personal Shooting Impressions/Range Report

My first firing the Glock 19 (the Gen1 version, of course) took place in February 1990 – I was 14 years old at the time – at the Firing Line in Northridge, California. As hard as this may seem to those of you familiar with my articles, it may surprise you that my initial impression of the G19 was kinda “meh.”

But then again, I didn’t even have six months’ worth of shooting experience at that time. Over the intervening years and decades, I’ve honed and enhanced my shooting skills, and my disdain for Glocks eventually transitioned to big-time “fanboy” status.

So, fast-forward to July 2023, in a session at Cindy’s Hot Shots in Glen Burnie, Maryland, where the super-cool staff hooked me up with their rental Glock 19 Gen5.

Ammo-wise, I started off with 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 124-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) AKA “hardball.  The test fire was divvied into 25 rounds of head shots at 21 feet and 25 rounds of center-torso shots at 75 feet, all delivered from the Classic Weaver Stance. The target used was the USPSA Silhouette Target from Baker Targets.

But goshdarnit, you know what? I enjoyed it so much that I ended up buying up a second 50-round box of ammo, all fired at 50 feet – divvied evenly into torso and head alike!

I gotta say, the trigger is the nicest factory stock Glock trigger I’ve ever experienced – not counting the aftermarket 3.5-lb trigger connectors. The trigger was noticeably better than other recently-released Glocks I’ve tested such as the G43X and G19X/G45 and night and day better than the miserable Glock 27 .40 cal! Ergonomically, the grip fits just right. The extended ambidextrous slide stop/release and the redesigned flat rectangular mag release were an interesting touch. The latter definitely ensures a swifter and more positive ejection than, say, Gen1 Glocks. 

In his extensive three-part series on Glock pistols for GUNS Magazine back circa September 1990, Massad F. Ayoob noted that simply pressing on the release button wasn’t sufficient and that the shooter had to then take his/her thumb off the button to ensure a clean magazine drop.

Accuracy-wise, the excellent sights were a huge plus in keeping my hits centered, which enabled me to obliterate the A-zone box of the target head at 21’, with only three shots straying from what would’ve been a ginormous one-hole group. At 75’ feet, I nailed 13 A-zone, 10 C-zone, and two D-zone hits wherein I simply lost concentration. 

Splitting the difference at 50’, twenty of my torso shots took the A-zone and five got the C-zone. Switching back to head shots, I got six in the A-zone, 15 in the B-zone, and four complete whiffs wherein I again lost concentration—MY fault, NOT the gun’s!

All-in-all, after 33 years of shooting Glocks, I’d have to rate the Gen5 G19 as the second-most enjoyable model I’ve ever fired, edging out the G17 and G26 and beaten out only by my G21SF .45 ACP! Having said that, there are still several other handguns from competing manufacturers that are higher on my wish list

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).