The recent passing of Gaston Glock had me thinking about the great work he accomplished over his life. From the introduction of the game-changing model 17 in 1982 to the most recent model 49 in 2023, Glock pistols are known for outstanding reliability and durability, and yet, still offering affordability to the average shooter. However, with so many new models coming out, all looking similar, all named a number (the order in which they were invented/patented), it’s become harder and harder to distinguish between the different Glocks.
Generations, Variations, and Features
Before getting into the complete lineup, it’s important to take time to discuss the current generations and some variations of features. Glock’s current generation is Gen 5. These pistols feature no finger grooves on the grip However, top features include forward slide serrations, ambidextrous slide release levers, Glock Marksman barrel, and rounded muzzle (for reholstering). There are also a few minor changes in construction, such as two frame pins and a coil spring for the takedown tabs.
Glock also offers Gen 3 and Gen 4 models for shooters who prefer the classics and whose motto is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They’re also around for those living in states with a firearm roster who may be prohibited from purchasing the newer guns. Additionally, these are still popular with those who like to customize and change out parts on their pistols, as there is an overwhelming amount of aftermarket support.
Another term you’ll see in reference to the Glock model, is “MOS.” This stands for “Modular Optic System” and refers to the use of a plate system for mounting red dot optics. The slide is precut from the factory and the firearm ships with different mounting plates for your optic of choice. Different optics will use different footprints that match up to these plates. This makes mounting an optic easier and more convenient.
Glock even still offers a few “C” models that come standard with factory ported barrels. These have currently only been available for Gen 3 and Gen 4 pistols in 9mm, .40, .357, and .45, and are fairly scarce compared to standard catalog models.
The Glock 44 is the company’s only rimfire offering. The .22 LR pistol has a 10-round capacity and 4-inch barrel in a compact frame size. The pistol is much lighter, at just under 15 ounces with an empty magazine, due to hybrid slide design comprised mostly of polymer with steel inserted where needed. The G44 makes the perfect training partner to a centerfire Glock defensive pistol. They will look and function identical, but you can shoot the cheaper, lower recoiling .22 ammo for practice while you get a feel for the pistol.
The main .380 Glock you’ll run into is the model 42. This is a single-stack pocket pistol that’s very easy to carry concealed. With a 3.25-inch barrel and 6-round magazine, this ‘baby’ Glock comes in at just over 13.5 ounces. It exhibits very manageable recoil for a pistol its size and handles well. You’re rather limited in firepower, but this covert option can go with you anywhere.
There are a few other models, namely the G25 compact and G28 subcompact, that are available overseas or where “military calibers” are banned for civilians. These have only recently started to pop up in the U.S. as Glock shifted some manufacturing to the States. These are the same dimensions as the 9mm G19 and G26, only chambered for the smaller .380 round.
Alright, let’s get into the meat and potatoes, all of Glock’s various 9mm models. Due to the popularity and versatility of the cartridge, there are more 9mm models than any other caliber.
The Glock 17L is the longest 9mm offered, with a 6-inch barrel. It is currently only offered in a Gen 3 configuration, but has fallen off in popularity since the introduction of the model 34. The Glock 34 is a similar setup, with a slightly shorter 5.31-inch barrel to fit into the IPSC box for competition. The G34 is available with all the modern Glock generational improvements and both pistols (17L and 34) utilize a standard G17 frame, magazines, and parts. In addition to the longer barrel, the longer sight radius makes these longslides more accurate at longer ranges.
The Glock 17 is the standard full-size pistol for duty and self-defense. It features a 4.5-inch barrel and accepts 17-round magazines. At 25 ounces with an empty magazine, it’s light on the hip despite its size. There’s not much that needs to be said about the G17 that hasn’t already been discussed. It’s one of Glock’s most popular models and what it built its name on.
Glock also (briefly) offered the model 17M, which is basically the same as a standard Glock 17 Gen 5, except it came as it was spec’d out by the FBI with an extended slide release and Ameriglo night sights. Some seem to have come with nDLC coated internals. However, some did not. I suspect this was a rolling change on the manufacturing line.
The Glock 47 is another option that is functionally identical to a standard 17. However, the G17 features a frame with a shortened dust cover and accepts some Glock 19 components. This parts compatibility allows the use of an additional compact G19 slide on the full-size frame, giving you more options to customize and configure your pistol. Since the frame is what is legally considered a “firearm,” shooters with a G47 can simply order an extra slide and have it shipped to their house. Better yet, many shooters may already have these parts on hand.
The Glock 45 is a similar idea, however it comes with a full size frame and compact length slide standard. This configuration is ideal for those getting in and out of a vehicle often, as the shorter slide helps avoid jamming into the seat. It has quickly become a popular duty sidearm and is only available in a Gen 5 configuration. The Glock 19X is basically the same configuration designed for the U.S. military. This crossover pistol is immediately distinguishable due to the FDE color scheme. It also incorporates factory night sights, extended slide release, and a lanyard loop.
The Glock 49 is the reverse. It pairs a G17-length slide with a compact frame. For concealed carry, this is hard to beat, as it gives you the improved ballistics and sight radius of a full-size pistol as well as the more concealable compact grip frame that prints less. Shooters can also use full-size Glock mags with an X-Grip insert for a lengthened grip when at the range or concealability isn’t a factor. Currently, this is Glock’s latest pistol, and is only available as a Gen 5 model.
Now, the beloved Glock 19, Glock’s most popular model. In fact, it may likely be the most popular pistol in the United States. For its size, weight, and round count, it’s hard to beat as a do-it-all pistol. The G19 has a 4-inch barrel and holds 15 rounds in the magazine. It is easier to conceal than the G17 but handles recoil basically the same. Like the 17M, Glock also offered a 19M model with the FBI-requested features.
Moving down in size, the Glock 26 is a double-stack subcompact holding 10 rounds in the mag. It’s a bit thicker than guns like the SIG P365 or Springfield Hellcat, but handles recoil much better. It also accepts all of the various sizes of 9mm double-stack Glock mags. This means you can conceal it with a flush-fitting magazine, but have a full size magazine as backup.
The Glock 43 is the 9mm baby Glock. It’s a single-stack 9mm that holds 6 rounds in the mag and utilizes a 3.4-inch barrel. This is a solid carry option that conceals easily. For those looking for a little more firepower, the Glock 43X is a crossover pistol with a G43 slide and a longer grip (the length of a compact G19). The grip is a little thicker than the standard G43, but it accommodates a staggered-stack magazine allowing it to hold 10 rounds (aftermarket magazines holding 15 rounds are available as well).
The Glock 48 utilizes the same frame, but pairs it to a compact length slide that has been slimmed down. Think of it as a G19 that went on a diet. MOS models of the G43X and 48 feature an accessory rail, while standard models have a smooth dustcover.
.40 S&W/.357 SIG
Glocks chambered in .40 S&W and .357 SIG operate on the same frame design as the 9mm models. They’re the same thickness, fit in the same holsters, and the only real differences are the chambering and magazine capacity. This makes them popular for those who don’t want an increased footprint but would prefer a larger caliber.
The Glock 22 is the .40 S&W full size model comparable to the Glock 17. It holds 15 rounds in the magazine (instead of 17), and exhibits a bit more recoil. The Glock 23 is the counterpart to the compact G19 and holds 13+1, while the Glock 27 (9+1) is the same for the subcompact G26. The Glock 35 is the .40 caliber longslide model for competition. Glock 24 was the original longlide like the 17L, however these are only available on the secondary market.
As for .357 SIG, the Glock 31 is the same as the G22, except for the chambering. The G32 is the compact and the G33 is the subcompact. They hold the same number of rounds as the .40s, as the .357 SIG is basically a necked-down .40 S&W with a 9mm projectile. Glock does not currently offer a longslide .357 SIG, although conversion barrels are available.
.45 ACP/10mm Auto
The .45 ACP and 10mm Auto models stand out with their thicker frames and slides to handle the larger, more powerful cartridges. They look and function identical, however, the 10mm models are able to squeeze a couple extra rounds in the mag due to the lesser cartridge diameter.
Longslide models for these calibers are also a touch longer, with a 6-inch barrel standard. The Glock 41 is the .45 ACP variant, while the G40 is the 10mm. Both are built on the same full size frames as the Glock 21 (.45 ACP, 13+1) and 20 (10mm, 15+1) duty-size pistols. The G20 and G21 have 4.6-inch barrels and weigh in at just under 30 ounces. They’re available as Gen 3, Gen 4, and Gen 5 versions.
The Glock model 30 is considered the .45 ACP subcompact. However, it is more comparable in size to a compact G19, with a slightly shorter grip. Still, it holds an impressive 10 rounds in the magazine and has a 3.8-inch barrel. The G30 is available as a Gen 3, Gen 4, and Gen 5. Within the Gen 3 models, there are G30SF and G30S configurations.
The SF stands for “short frame” and it is the same grip circumference as the Gen 4/5, but slightly smaller than a standard Gen 3. This was to allow it to fit more hand sizes and gives it a slightly shorter trigger reach. The S variation stands for “Slim,” and it features a narrower slide the same thickness as a double-stack 9/.40/.357 Glock — the same slide as the Glock 36. The G36 is a single-stack .45 subcompact that is a bit more true to its name. With a 6-round magazine, the G36 carries much easier than its bigger brothers.
As for subcompact 10mms, the Glock 29 is your only option. It’s available as a Gen 3, Gen 4, and Gen 5, holds 10 rounds in the magazine, and is slightly shorter than the G30 due to the flat magazine floorplates. Like the G30, the G29 Gen 3 is also available in a SF variant for those with smaller hands.
The .45 GAP, and subsequent pistols chambered for it, was invented to provide a .45 caliber option that would function in a smaller frame size. This was possible due to the shorter cartridge length and single-stack magazines. .45 GAP is a good alternative for those with smaller hands or who simply want the thinner footprint. Despite Glock’s best efforts, the .45 GAP never really caught on and you don’t typically see these pistols in stores. However, they are still available under Glock’s regular lineup.
Ballistically, most .45 GAP ammunition is loaded to comparable pressure to .45 ACP. However, production is limited and cost is a bit more (roughly 10 cents more a round). .45 ACP may also be loaded to higher pressures and has more ballistic potential.
Glock offers three .45 GAP pistols: G37 full-size 10-round, G38 compact 8-round, and G39 subcompact 6-round. These are fairly close in size and weight to standard double-stack 9/.40/.357 models, but are about 0.10-inch thicker to accommodate the .45 caliber round.
Which is your favorite Glock model and why? What models do you hope will come out in the future? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.
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