25,000 Rounds with the G17 gen4

17-Jul-11 – 21:03 by ToddG

After seventeen weeks of daily carry and more than 200 hours of range time, what do I think of the gen4 G17?

Shootability: It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the Glock is a very shootable pistol. Its widespread success in gun games such as USPSA and IDPA or its selection as a duty weapon by some of the most experienced SWAT teams and military units are both big hints. I’ve turned in some very strong numbers on various drills.

But when I compare it to my personal gold standard of pistols, the HK P30, I’m not really seeing a huge difference… at least, not one that isn’t attributable to the additional 75,000 rounds of practice I’ve had in the year and a half since the P30 test ended. The Glock has a lower bore axis, and that means it takes less effort to track the sights; the Glock has a shorter reset and that means it takes less movement to fire a followup shot. But those differences aren’t translating into huge obvious gains for most drills. Is my Bill Drill faster? Yes. But more comprehensive tests like the F.A.S.T., Hackathorn Standards, and Dot Torture aren’t turning in dramatically better numbers.

I realize some will see this as a slam on the Glock, but it’s not. Saying that I find a gun as shootable as the P30 is like saying a painting is as good as the Mona Lisa.

Accuracy: The gen4 guns have definitely changed my opinion about Glock accuracy. With their tighter lockup they turn in very good numbers. New, my G17 test gun averaged 2.52″ 5-shot groups at 25yd from the bench. At the 25,000 round point, the same ammo turned in an average of 2.87″ groups. The barrel was dirty; gun was last cleaned more than 2,000 rounds prior to the accuracy test. Pictured here is the best group of the day, which measured 1.87 inches with three of the five shots in the 1.51″ diameter 10-ring of the NRA B16 target.

When comparing these numbers to previous test guns, keep in mind that the Glock is using much wider front sights (the Hackathorn front for the initial groups and the Trijicon HD for the 25k groups). That lends itself to a bit rougher a sight picture and subsequently could be turning in slightly larger groups than if I were shooting with more traditional competition-type sights. Still, I have to admit I miss the laser accuracy of the P30 (which was shooting 1.5″ groups at 50,000 rounds).

Reliability: Ah, the Great Question. It would be easier simply to answer, “42” and be done with it. Let’s face it, the gun got off to a bad start… and a lot of evidence suggests it was not an isolated issue. Anyone who denies there is a noticeably greater percentage of gen4 9mm Glocks suffering problems than previous generations is living in either a cave or denial.

Having said that, ever since the Extractor Fairy sent me some spares to try out the test gun has run very reliably, indeed. It’s running, one might say, exactly the way you’d expect a Glock to run. The gun has only been cleaned four times, three of those in the nearly 22,000 rounds since the current extractor was installed. During that 22,000 rounds there has been only one other stoppage which is an exceptionally good reliability rate.

Clearly, a 9mm gen4 pistol can be extremely reliable. But depending on your luck, it might work that way out of the box, or only after you’ve spent some time and money swapping out parts, or maybe never.

Durability: Nothing has broken or worn out. In fairness, one would not expect much to fail on a 9mm Glock at 25,000 rounds.

The recoil spring assembly has been replaced three times (every 7,500rd) per Glock’s recommendation. Given how little difference there is between the tension on the slide with a new spring versus one with 7,500rd on it, I’m confident the recoil spring assembly could easily be put into service for 10-15k without a problem. But for the purpose of the test, I’ll continue to use the recommended 7,500 interval.

The slide lock spring has been replaced once at 15,000. I had originally planned to replace it every 7,500 with the recoil spring because when it breaks the gun is completely shut down. But the current generation spring seems to be holding up much better and it is not something Glock recommends be changed regularly to begin with, so we’ll see how 15k works. I’ll also be replacing the trigger return spring every 15,000 rounds though I may do the next one early just to get on the same schedule (30k, 45k, etc.) as the slide lock spring.

The magazine catch spring and striker spring have been replaced once at 22,500. They will continue to get replaced every 22,500.

As far as wear, there is precious little to note:

The trigger bar has a patch of plating that is wearing off. It was noticeable when the gun was new and has actually changed relatively little over 25,000 rounds.
The underside of the slide shows just slight wear at the locking surfaces. Keep in mind the gun only gets lubricated every couple thousand rounds and cleaned far less frequently.
The loaded chamber indicator on the extractor has the finish pretty much completely worn off the LCI protrusion. This is caused by the kydex holsters I’ve used. Somewhere, someone on the internet will claim this bright spot will result in my death the next time I am hunted in the dark. To that I can only respond, “Please get off the internet.”
Top of the barrel shows minor finish wear at the ejection port and muzzle locking points.
Underside of the barrel (yes, I resisted a “bottom of the barrel” joke) shows a skid mark. This appeared fairly early in the gun’s life and has not worsened.
Right side of the barrel’s breech block also shows contact wear of the finish from where it rubs the slide when unlocking.

Concealment & comfort: Ease of concealment comes somewhere between the P30 and the HK45, basically the same as the M&P9. Candidly, I would prefer a Glock 19 but the “Glock blister” that comes from reloading the shorter frame wasn’t worth the easier concealability.

The trigger guard is eating my right hand middle finger alive. I finally surrendered and broke the edges a bit to relieve the worst of the problem. Why Glock doesn’t just undercut the trigger guard like so many custom ‘smiths do these days is beyond me.

The gen4 stippling hasn’t caused any problem while shooting or while carrying. It provides very good purchase even when my hands are sweaty. I see no need to add grip tape or other stippling.

Safety: I don’t care how many people chant “it’s a training issue,” pulling the trigger to disassemble the gun is bad. Not bad for all the Perfect People who Never Make Mistakes, but for the lesser mortals who sometimes also buy guns it has proven time and again to be a fantastic opportunity to shoot floors, tables, walls, furniture, and sometimes even people. Spend time dealing with enough large Glock-issuing agencies and you will see plenty of evidence. It’s not the serious dedicated shooter who has a problem usually. It’s the guy who gets a week’s worth of training (or less) and then only handles the gun twice a year. That guy may just forget exactly which order things have to go in to take the gun apart properly. That guy just might rack the slide before ejecting the magazine. Did he make a mistake? Yes. Is the resultant Big Loud Noise his fault? Absolutely. But nonetheless, that Big Loud Noise would not have happened with other guns. I don’t like it and never will. It’s no mistake that a major selling point of the M&P series from Smith & Wesson is that the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled as part of the disassembly process.

Safely holstering is also a concern, especially if you’re used to the added layer of protection provided by a manual safety or an external hammer. Luckily, I’ve got the gadget. It’s probably asking too much to hope that “Install a Gadget” will become the fifth Cardinal Rule of Gun Safety, though.

Customization: In four months my Glock 17 test gun has used three different sight arrangements, six trigger configurations, two grip sizes, and two magazine catch locations. On its surface, that’s great. The overwhelming number of aftermarket options for the Glock is one of its strongest features. But it is also something of a trap, because if you make that many changes you’re never shooting the same gun for long. I don’t mean it as a criticism… after all, the easiest way to avoid the problem is to stop screwing around with the gun. But as I spend time evaluating this new sight and that new trigger combination obviously I’m also spending practice time having to relearn things. If the change ends up being for the best, it’s worth it. If it ends up getting discarded, though, some of that time, ammo, and effort was wasted.

The Vickers Tactical Slide Stop is working great. I can reach it easily to perform a slidelock reload but it doesn’t result in constant premature lockbacks as the factory extended slide stop did with previous gen4 guns I’ve shot.

The Glockmeister gen4 Grip Plug is a definite must-have for these guns. They say you can’t buy skill but installing one of these $7 plastic widgets in my guns cut my reload times significantly. My backup gen4 G17 still has factory plastic sights, factory slide stop, and a standard connector with NY1 spring in it… but it’s got a Glockmeister Grip Plug.

Ubiquity: It’s hard to argue that the Glock is the most widely supported combat handgun in the world. Every accessory, sight, holster, and widget that hits the market has a version for the Glock. There are more training tools associated with the Glock, too, including the blue-framed G17/T Simunition-firing gun and the red-slide SIRT dry fire training guns pictured at the top of this post. At least to me, those are things that go far beyond whether I can have different colored pins or twelve different aftermarket barrels. The Glock has grown into a true shooter’s system with almost unlimited training capabilities.

More importantly, if you ever have something break on your Glock, odds are you can find a trained armorer with spare parts in less than five minutes. You know your gun has reached Everyman status when students in a class can say, “Dammit, my Glock 23 keeps malfunctioning” and four other students offer to loan them their spares. When you get home, there are eleventy bazillion online stores that sell every single part ever made for every model of Glock. And with very few exceptions, all the parts are dirt cheap, too.

Just remember to mark your magazines. Because if you’re on the range with a dozen other shooters, odds are half of them have Glocks and all your mags are going to look alike. Personally, I use the orange floorplates for all my training magazines. But please do me a favor, do not use the orange floorplates. Because if you do, then we might get our mags mixed up.

Conclusion: As someone who spent eight years working for companies that considered Glock our biggest competitor, I was far from a fan of the brand. Add to this my previous experience with personally owned Glocks — one each G27 and G30 that ran properly; a 90’s era G19 that suffered more than twenty of the infamous “phase three malfunctions” before I finally got rid of it; a G23 that was so unreliable Glock actually replaced it free of charge; and of course the gen4 G19 that was supposed to be this year’s endurance gun that also had to be replaced by Glock — and it would be safe to say I am not going to qualify as the Glock Cheerleading Camp Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

But between the results of the ATF New Weapon System testing and the past four months with the G17 test gun, it’s hard to remain unimpressed with the Glock from a shooter’s standpoint: easy to shoot, easy to maintain, easy to customize and accessorize.

I look forward to the next 25,000 rounds.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


  1. 25 Responses to “25,000 Rounds with the G17 gen4”

  2. Thank you for the excellent in depth review!

    By Steve B on Jul 17, 2011

  3. I tried to order a Glockmeister grip plug a few days ago but stopped when it was going to take $9 to ship a $7 part. Glad to hear I’m not the only person that has trouble repeatedly drawing a Glock thanks to the blister is leaves on my middle knuckle. I do wish that ALL pistols companies would take this into account since Glock isn’t the only offender. I have a permanant bump on my finger as a result.

    By Emanuel Plotnikov on Jul 17, 2011

  4. I think it is obvious that you have an affinity for the P30, but if that weren’t an option would you take the G17 (in current reliable configuration) or a HK45 into combat or on duty? I have had a hell of a time finding a duty holster that fits the LEM HK45, but that is a different story. Exclude holster/support equipment options.


    By bart_p on Jul 17, 2011

  5. bart_p: I’d take either of them without worry. If you’re asking for my preferences, it would definitely be for the 9mm. More bullets and less recoil trump five hundredths of an inch bullet radius in my book.

    By ToddG on Jul 17, 2011

  6. Todd,

    any reason why you switched back to the shaggy from the Cane and Derby holster?

    By shepardj on Jul 17, 2011

  7. Excellent review Todd!

    I am currently Glockless after a friend had to have my OD G19. It was not a hard choice because I also like the P30 better but I respect Glock and what they have done. Hopefully they can get their QC department back on track and keep building out of the box reliability.

    By Kirk in Utah on Jul 17, 2011

  8. shepardj — I find the Shaggy is more comfortable during extended wear (especially while seated, such as during long drives) and slightly more concealable.

    Kirk — I don’t think it’s a QC issue. There was a design or material change that was not adequately tested and it’s bitten Glock in the keister.

    By ToddG on Jul 17, 2011

  9. Todd, you could be right about the material issue but when I see what has happened with the later 3rd Gen models it makes me wonder. The design seems to be solid because many run fine out of the box but it also could mean a more susceptible design that is sensitive to tolerance stacking. Time will tell.

    By Kirk in Utah on Jul 18, 2011

  10. Thanks for the time you took to complete this test, look for to the next 25 grand.

    But, I’m sticking with my trusty HK P30

    By John P. on Jul 18, 2011

  11. Well, I’m still not tempted to give up my M&P’s, but that was a great writeup anyway. It’ll be interesting to see just how well it holds up over the next 25K.

    By Michael in Utah on Jul 18, 2011

  12. Todd = Glock Fanboy


    By Rob E on Jul 18, 2011

  13. Emanuel: Call up GlockMeister, they have/had a low cost (USPS) shipping available for phone orders that are sub $20.

    By James V on Jul 18, 2011

  14. A year ago there was a good bit of concern bordering on hyteria in some corners about how fragile the new frame and RSA unit might turn out to be. That much anyway is pretty much put to bed. Great 25K review.

    By JHC on Jul 18, 2011

  15. “42” Haaahaaahaaaahaaa

    Anyway. Most people don’t get the system approach. This is most important when you scale up beyond individual needs and get into organizational needs.

    I wouldn’t buy a duty weapon that wasn’t a “system”. You simply must be able to run Sims for FoF training, be able to access armorer training, etc.

    A friend spent right about $2000 on his 1911, and no doubt it’s a great gun that shoots circles around my G17.
    But, I bought a G17, a G26 as a BUG, holsters for both, a TDSA-Tulsa class, sights, carry ammo and a couple of cases of ball ammo, all for what he has in that gun alone.
    I believe this makes me better armed than he is, regardless of how uber cool his gun is..

    By Chuck on Jul 18, 2011

  16. Thanks James, order is in! And thank you Todd for letting us know that these were available.

    By Emanuel Plotnikov on Jul 18, 2011

  17. Great timing! Im on my way to purchase a new Gen4 G17 right now….wish me luck!

    By Nick Drakulich on Jul 18, 2011

  18. I initially had some failure to extract issues with my Gen 4 Model 17 but I could not reproduce the issue consistently. Coming from the 1911 Platform I use an extremely high grip and it was at a LAV Class that he diagnosed my issue: my strong side rhumb was applying enough pressure on the slide to slow it beneath the threshhold of pistol operability. A grip change helped and a product called Grip Force Adaptor alters the perceived grip angle and the beavertail forces a slightly altered grip such that I am not conscious of my grip and the pistol has proven reliable thus far.

    By Kevin on Jul 18, 2011

  19. Nice test, results and review Todd!

    I too was not a big Glock fan until a couple of years ago, despite owning a Glock since the early 90’s. The G34 was the turning point, but my Gen4 G17 sealed the deal. I got an early serial numbered model when they first hit the market.

    As a for fun pistol and not my primary pistol, I put about 12K rounds through it fairly quickly in about 8 months. In the 1.5 years that I have owned this pistol, it has seen around 16K. I did my share of no cleaning and no lube tests for several thousand rounds. I added a factory extended stop, 3.5 connector and sights. Other than that I have not replaced anything else as of yet. I am trying to see how far it will go on stock springs etc.

    I have 3 Gen4’s now (17/22/19). While I do not discount issues being reported, I must be the luckiest Gen4 owner.

    By Surf on Jul 18, 2011

  20. “Somewhere, someone on the internet will claim this bright spot will result in my death the next time I am hunted in the dark.”

    This is priceless …

    By 1234567890 on Jul 20, 2011

  21. Surf, we are as lucky as you with four Gen 4 9mm’s and about 15K across them.

    By JHC on Jul 20, 2011

  22. Yeay! My new Gen4 G17 came with the “Dot” connector in it. Trigger is pretty nice out of the box.

    By Nick on Jul 21, 2011

  23. You don’t have to pull the trigger to remove the slide, unless you are pulling the slide back too far to begin with. So if you are then yes that’s a training issue. I have never had to pull the trigger on my glock to remove the slide.

    By Matt on Jul 24, 2011

  24. Matt — How do you remove the slide?

    By ToddG on Jul 24, 2011

  25. I couldn’t seem to disassemble without pulling the trigger.

    Yes Todd, I agree, it would be more ideal to not have to pull the trigger to disassemble.

    By AW on Jul 25, 2011

  26. Lock slide to rear, remove rear slide plate, remove striker and striker block etc.
    That’s the only way I know of doing it.

    By Rob E on Jul 25, 2011

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