The G19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.
The G19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.

A look at the other, more compact Glock 9mms and how they compare to the full-sized G17.


A field stripped G19.
A field stripped G19.

The G19 was the second Glock pistol released to the civilian market, with production beginning in March,1988 (It beat the G17L by one month). The G19 is one of the two pistols that have been around for all four generations, though first generation G19 Glocks were only prototype, so they are extremely rare. After all these years the G19 is still the second most popular Glock model, after the G17.

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 G19, 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.

The Glock pistol sizes can be summarized by how they are used within police departments—the full-size pistols (G17, G22, etc.) are generally issued to uniformed police officers who open carry. The compact pistols (G19, G23, etc.) are generally issued to plainclothes officers, where concealment is not necessary, but being discreet is.

The sub-compact pistols (G26, G27, 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.

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

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 G17 magazines, with the sheer number of G19s and G17s in America, magazines will always be plentiful.

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.

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.

Of the compact models, the G19 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 G19, 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 G19, 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 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.

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 G19. 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.

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.

In Part 2, Manning looks at the Glock G26 subcompact.

This article is an excerpt from…

Glock Reference GuideGlock Reference Guide
By Robb Manning
Undeniably one of the most notable and influential firearms designs in the past half-century, the Glock pistol maintains its reputation as the preferred autoloading pistol for law enforcement and personal protection. With Glock Reference Guide, explore the evolution of the Glock pistol from the beginning to the very latest models. Coverage of every model produced is provided, as well as detailed descriptions and images. Buy it here