For those who are not handgun aficionados, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not the Glock 19 should actually be a preferred choice to the Glock 17. No shootouts over the debate have been reported, but the debate shows how much people know about their guns and why they own them. Maybe not a popular reason for the anti-gun advocates, but true nevertheless.
The first difference is the physical size of the gun. The Glock 19 is smaller and shorter, with a 4.01 inch barrel compared to the 17’s 4.48 inch barrel. This shortens up the distance between the sights, but the barrel heights are the same. Most of the other physical features are very similar in comparison, so the 19 ends up basically being a bit smaller of a gun. This will show up when you first pick up the Glock 19 as the grip of the 19 will just reach the bottom of a normal person’s hand.
One of the most critical aspects of a handgun is its accuracy. Though both are Glocks and have a long history of being very accurate, there is an argument that the shorter barrel length and distance between the sights reduces the accuracy of the 19 by some measure. There are conflicting views on this point because advocates of the 19 maintain that it is more about the person using the weapon than the small difference between the sights. Existing research shows that there is no meaningful difference in accuracy, but we have to agree with the Glock 19 proponents that it depends who is firing the weapon.
Magazine capacity is one of the more obvious differences as the standard Glock 17 holds 17 rounds while the 19 holds only 15. You can upgrade both models to 33 rounds with a high capacity magazine, but we are discussing standard purchases here. The 7 round difference can be huge if the person who owns the Glock is not an experienced shooter. There are people who go to the firing range more than they change their underwear, and these folks will argue that 10 rounds are more than enough. But as a matter of self-defense for people who want a gun primary for personal protection, a higher magazine capacity is a great confidence booster. It is easier to adhere to the principle of “shoot until they stop” even if your aim isn’t the best.
The most obvious advantage to the Glock 19 due to its smaller size is its practical everyday use of you have a concealed carry permit. The smaller 19 is less bulky and will be easier to conceal under most types of clothing. It is only 2 ounces lighter but that might be a significant factor if you are carrying it around all day. The lighter, more compact Glock 19 will likely be preferred in this case.
All this discussion centers on the average person using the two weapons. But if you are talking to someone who has weak hands and the weight and recoil of a handgun become an issue, the added recoil of the 17, however small will not only affect the handling of the weapon but also its accuracy.
Purpose of Use
Another unmentioned part of the comparison is what the purpose of buying the gun is. There are people who use Glocks to shoot in competitions, and the added 2 rounds of the standard Glock 17 configuration can make a big difference. Then there are collectors who simply want to have the full range of existing Glock models, so for them there really isn’t much of a debate, but the technical differences are significant.
The unfortunate truth is that these two guns are very similar in virtually every specification, including the price. Though there are technical differences, if you are deciding on which Glock to buy it will end up being a matter of person choice. If you haven’t owned a Glock then you should try both models out and see which one feels best for you personally. If you have a Glock 17, you’ll have a hard time justifying spending an extra $500 on a gun whose sole advantage is that it is more compact.
The debate will go on because gun owners love to debate these kinds of things. Non-gun owners can think of it as listening to music and debating about which song by the same group is better. As one person commented – buy both.