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September 09, 2013
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Ron Avery The PoliceOne Firearms Corner
with Ron Avery

The Gen 4 Glock offers improvements on an excellent design

Compared to the Gen 3 Glock, the new Gen 4 is noticeably slimmer in the hand

In 1986, Gaston Glock introduced the Glock semi-auto pistol, and the world has never been the same. Many cops were still carrying eight-shot Model 1911 Colts or Browning Hi-Powers when along came a rugged, inexpensive, reliable handgun with a simple trigger system that was easy to understand and relatively easy to operate.

Still, Glock faced an uphill battle to establish the gun. As a die-hard 1911 guy myself, I initially had a hard time warming up to the “Tactical Tupperware” gun. Weird grip angle, slippery grip texture, sharp recoil in .40 caliber and light weight made for some problems for shooters who carried them. “It’s not a 1911” or “it’s ugly” or “it points high” were the most common — and printable — descriptions of the gun. 

However, the Glock concept took off. Since its introduction in 1986, the Glock pistol has pretty well set the standard in modern times as one of the most rugged, serviceable handguns for duty or defensive carry and has dominated the market for many years. National and World Championships have been won with Glocks against all other brands of firearms, so the gun is definitely no slouch in the shootability department.

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Answering the Competition
When the patent expired on the Glock trigger, Smith and Wesson, Springfield, FNH, SIG, and others have tried to grab a share of the polymer pistol market. This has led to some competition with Glock. Both the S&W M&P and the Springfield XDM come with an adjustable backstrap that fits different hand sizes. They also were textured to allow a more secure grip on the pistol. 

Glock responded with the new Gen 4 handgun. Introduced at the 2010 SHOT show, the new Glock featured some innovative changes. Most notable was a slimmer grip, more aggressive texturing on the side panels and a double spring recoil system. 

I’ve owned or shot pretty much every Glock model there is — one of the benefits of running a shooting academy. I’ve also shot just about every other firearm out there, whether used by law enforcement, military, competitive shooters, or hunters. 

While running an instructor school a while back, I became acquainted with Warren Ackerson, now a regional Glock rep. Warren provided me with different Gen 4 handguns to shoot and try out, and I took that opportunity to test out several Gen 4 pistols as well as shoot others that students had brought to different classes. 

The Glock 19, 23, and 35 were the three guns that I tested over a period of time. I also had the opportunity to handle — but not shoot — the new 30S in .45 ACP.

Gen 4 Feels Different
Compared to the Gen 3 Glock, the new Gen 4 is noticeably slimmer in the hand. For me, this translated into a stronger grip on the gun with my firing hand and a slightly shorter reach to the trigger. The new aggressive texturing was also an improvement over the Gen 3 Glock. Picking up and shooting both types gave me the impression that the new Gen 4 was more “responsive” in my hand. I could point it better and it just felt like it fit my hand without benefit of using the backstraps that come with the handgun.

As far as felt recoil, the double spring system in the .40 is a definite improvement over the single spring system. Initially, there were some problems with the double spring systems, and Glock offered to replace any springs that might be faulty. 

Although some have reported some problems with the guns cycling, after shooting the Gen 4 guns extensively, I do not have any problems to report with the spring systems, ejectors or extractors. 

The guns just run, time after time, round after round. In my research, I’ve read — or heard rumors — about MIM parts breaking in the Glock. I have not seen or heard that in my dealing with the Gen 4 guns. I have seen MIM parts break on other guns, so it is not unique in the industry.

As Always, Training is Key
You do need to have good shooting technique to shoot the Glock well with the double spring system. Having soft wrist tension/hand tension can lead to failures to eject or extract. I consider that a shooter-induced error and not the fault of the gun. After watching videos of various shooters trying to shoot the Glock, I can see why they were having problems in the first place. 

For a duty or defensive gun, about the only modifications I would consider doing would be to put 3.5 lb. connectors in them and change out the sights to night sights. Maybe someday Glock will re-contour the backstrap and make it more ergonomic. I am not holding my breath. For now, I shoot the Glock like it is and have learned to like it. 

During testing, I carried the Glock 23 Gen 4 as a CCW pistol. I quickly grew accustomed to the weight of the gun and spare magazines. Being a pound lighter than my 1911, it was remarkably easy to carry but still offered a full firing grip and more rounds. 

For those who still might have concerns about the dual spring system, there are aftermarket springs and parts to convert the Gen 4 dual spring to a Gen 3 system. New polished connectors will allow for a much smoother trigger system, and there are replacement sights that offer very good day/night visibility for the Glock.

All in all, the Glock is one gun that you can literally take out of the box and use “as is.” That kind of reliability speaks volumes for the system. 

Is the new Gen 4 worth getting if you have a Gen 3? I would have to say yes. 

The magazine release is far easier to manipulate, the dual spring recoil system makes a difference, and the slimmer grip is more ergonomic to shoot, along with better texturing of the grip for increased friction.

About the author

Ron Avery is President and Director of Training for The Practical Shooting Academy, Inc. and Executive Director of the non-profit, Rocky Mountain Tactical Institute - both training institutions dedicated to professional firearms and tactics courses, higher police standards and training and use of force research. Train with Ron Avery. Visit his Course Calendar. Ron is a former police officer with many years of street experience, which he brings into the training environment. He is internationally recognized as a researcher, firearms trainer and world class shooter. His training methodology is currently being used by hundreds of agencies and thousands of individuals across the US and internationally. Ron has worked as a consultant and trainer for top level federal agencies, special operations military from all branches of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies across the US. He is a weapons and tactics trainer for handgun, carbine, select fire, precision rifle and shotgun, as well as advanced instructor schools, defensive tactics, team skills and tactics, low light tactics, arrest and control and officer survival. Contact Ron Avery



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