Glock 19: The Perfect Compromise 9mm Double-Stack

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The G19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.
Now in its fifth generation, the Glock 19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.

An excellent compromise between full-sized and sub-compact, the Glock 19 remains a top choice in double-stack 9mm pistols.

Why you should consider the Glock 19 for concealed carry:

  • Outstanding middle ground between full-sized and sub-compact pistols.
  • Handles and shoots much like a full-sized pistol.
  • Magazines are and will always be plentiful.
  • Variety of magazine capacities available.
  • Very trim compared to other 15+1 capacity pistols.
  • Relatively easy to conceal.
  • Widely used in law enforcement.
  • Glock 19 Gen 4 and Glock 19 Gen 5 offer removable backstrap systems.

The Glock 19 was the second Glock pistol released to the civilian market, with production beginning in March,1988 (It beat the G17L by one month). The Glock 19 is one of the two pistols that have been around for all five generations, though first-generation G19 Glocks were only prototype, so they are extremely rare. After all these years the Glock 19 is still the second most popular Glock model, after the Glock 17.

Glock 19 Vs Glock 17

This compact 9mm Glock is just a G17 that has been made 0.67 inches shorter in length and 0.56 inches shorter in the grip. It’s about 1.4 ounces lighter. It is an excellent compromise between the full size and the sub-compact. The definition of a “compact” pistol can sometimes get a little murky because if you look at the Glock 19, it looks like a full-size handgun. The designation is relative and differs from company to company. What one company calls a full-size, another calls a compact. This is especially true for companies like Glock, which manufactures combat/duty pistols that are often larger than other pistols.

A field stripped G19.
A field stripped G19.

The Glock pistol sizes can be summarized by how they are used within police departments—the full-size pistols (Glock 17, Glock 22, etc.) are generally issued to uniformed police officers who open carry. The compact pistols (Glock 19, Glock 23, etc.) are generally issued to plainclothes officers, where concealment is not necessary, but being discreet is.

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The sub-compact pistols (Glock 26, Glock 27, etc.) are generally issued to undercover officers, where concealment is needed. Of course, this is a generalization and not always the case; some departments just issue the compact pistol to everyone.

If I could only own one handgun, which is thankfully not the case—God bless America—it would be this one. It’s big enough that it handles and shoots much like a full-size handgun, yet compact enough that it can be concealed with a jacket, vest, or even a properly designed shirt. It’s roughly the size of a 1911 Commander, though a little bit smaller and lighter. It makes for an excellent “go to” handgun.

The 9×19 cartridge is the most common cartridge in America, and aside from the popularity among civilians, it is the US military standard cartridge, the NATO standard cartridge, and the choice of many police departments. Plus, since it also uses Glock 17 magazines, with the sheer number of G19s and G17s in America, magazines will always be plentiful.

Glock 19 Capacity

Whether real or perceived—and I’m going to refrain from entering into politics here—the threat to “high capacity” magazines (or what we in the gun community call standard capacity) has led to a boom in sales of these magazines, with boom being an understatement. So there are a lot of them out there.

A G19 barrel and spring (the top barrel and the top spring) compared to a G17 barrel and spring.
A Glock 19 barrel and spring (the top barrel and the top spring) compared to a Glock 17 barrel and spring.

Glock engineers have always been excellent at stuffing the maximum number of rounds into their magazines. Evidence of this is found when you compare the same-class offerings of other manufacturers. Compare the Ruger SR9c, Smith & Wesson M&P9c, and Springfield Armory XD(M) 3.8 Compact. To compare magazine capacity, one must consider height, which is determined primarily by grip height, and this, along with grip width, is one of the biggest determinants of magazine capacity.

Glock 19 Size

Of the compact models, the Glock 19 has a 15-round capacity, with a 4.9-inch height and 1.18-inch width. It has a slightly longer grip than the other three, but that extra grip gives you the highest magazine round count at 15. The XD(M) 3.8 Compact is 4.75 inches in height with a magazine capacity of 13 rounds, so it’s only .15 inches shorter than the Glock 19, but loses two rounds. The Smith & Wesson is 4.3 inches in height with a 12-round capacity. It’s 0.6 inches shorter than the Glock 19, and it loses three rounds. It’s not a terrible trade-off, three rounds for just over half an inch—better than losing two rounds for only a .15-inch shorter grip.

The Ruger falls somewhere in the middle, with a 4.61-inch grip height, but loses out in capacity with a 10-round magazine—five rounds less than the Glock 19. That’s only two-thirds the capacity. I’m a fan of Ruger, but in this case it looks like they chose lawyers and economics over consumer desire for higher magazine capacity.

The popularity of the 9mm is at an all-time high in the US. So when advancements are made in handgun cartridge design, it’s going to hit the 9mm first.
The popularity of the 9mm is at an all-time high in the US. So when advancements are made in handgun cartridge design, it’s going to hit the 9mm first.

Everyone has to make a 10-round magazine for states like California, but Ruger chose to make all of its SR9c magazines 10-round capacity. I guess that saves money because they only have to have one type of magazine made for them, and only half the models in inventory  (other companies have two of each model, one regular-capacity model, and one 10-round magazine model for states that have magazine maximum capacity laws—effectively making two models for what would only be one model).

I don’t like it when lawyers drive design, and I also don’t like it when companies go strictly off the bottom line. I realize that a company needs to be profitable, and it’s their choice to only offer a 10-round magazine, but I think in the long run it hurts their market share.

Glock 19 Specs:

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Weight (unloaded): 21.16 ounces (Gen 3 & 4); 21.52 ounces (Gen 5)
Barrel Length: 4.02 inch
Overall Length: 7.36 inch
Slide Length: 6.85 inch
Overall Width: 1.26 inch
Slide Width: 1.0 inch
Height (including mag): 5.04 inch
Sight Radius: 6.02 inch (polymer); 5.98 inch (steel), 5.94 inch (GNS)
Trigger Distance: 2.80 inch (Gen 3); 2.76 inch (Gen 4 & 5)


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